The Adjust Mobile Measurement Glossary

Mobile App Publishers | Definition

What is a publisher?

In mobile marketing, a publisher provides the capability and inventory that allows advertisers to run ads in their apps or on mobile sites. This can mean a publisher can be a website or an app. Publishers sell space on their property to buyers (app developers) and agencies (companies managing ad campaigns for advertisers).

What is the difference between a publisher and an advertiser?

An advertiser might be an app (like a mobile game or an e-commerce platform) or a brand who have a message they want people to see. A publisher is a place to display that message, with a viewership the advertiser is interested in converting.

It’s possible to be an advertiser and a publisher at the same time. If an app is running its own advertisements while also hosting ads, it is simultaneously an advertiser and a publisher.

What is the difference between a publisher and a network?

When an app decides it wants to run an advertising campaign, it has to work with publishers that are willing to display the app’s message to the public. However, apps typically don’t head straight to the publisher with their video ads and banners. Instead, an ad network steps in and connects developers and agencies with the publisher. The publisher signs up to a network and allows that network to use their ‘inventory’ to advertise.

How do mobile marketers buy and sell media?

Publishers earn money by displaying ads, and cost is usually based on four different pricing models:

  1. Cost per Install (CPI): This is the most common way to buy or sell media. An app wanting to increase the amount of installs will pay a set amount for every new install. The cost can depend on the app and the estimated lifetime value (LTV) of the new user. The network receives part of the CPI price for finding the best publishers for the specific ad campaign, and the publisher receives the rest.
  2. Cost per Click (CPC): In this model, the advertiser pays a price for every ad click. These are not as popular with advertisers as CPI campaigns because the cost of an install can increase exponentially with all of the ad clicks that happen. However, they are particularly advantageous for publishers.
  3. Cost per Action (CPA): These campaigns charge advertisers after the user completes a designated task. It could be signing up for the app, playing the first turn in a game, or buying a subscription.
  4. Cost per Mille (CPM): In this case, a ‘mille’ refers to 1,000 impressions. If a campaign is, for example, geared towards a brand and there isn’t a specific call to action (to download an app, subscribe, etc), Cost per Mille is typically the model of choice.

What are sub-publishers?

Through other publishers, sub-publishers deliver traffic for clients as a third party. If a publisher doesn't own their own traffic sources which an advertiser wants to run campaigns on, then they can buy traffic from other publishers – making them a 'sub-publisher'.

Publishers and Adjust

Working with a trusted mobile attribution provider like Adjust helps you determine the success of your campaigns and find out which publishers deliver your highest-value users. Adjust will never count a user twice, no matter which publisher sends them into your app. Our dashboard gives you a home to aggregate your conversion data, making it even easier to decide which publishers you’d like to run your next ad campaign with. To find out more about the hundreds of partners Adjust works with, take a look at our full list of technology partners.