How Publishers Can Improve Monetization and Stabilize Advertising Income

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Posted: December 21, 2015

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Keith Smith is co-founder and CEO of Payability, which provides the capital and platform to enable online marketplaces to offer early payment programs to suppliers. Previously, Keith founded CyberMortgage and Zango and served as co-founder and CEO of BigDoor. Keith also lends his time to early-stage startups via Techstars and serves as an advisor, investor, and board member for multiple tech startups.


There’s no way around it: Being in business is expensive. Cash is what keeps the content coming, why top talent sticks around, and what keeps the lights on at your business. Unfortunately, bringing money in is much harder than spending it—especially when you’re not getting paid on time.

As a publisher, you need a stable cash flow before you can advance your business. If drawn-out payment terms are postponing your cash flow, you’re missing out on vital opportunities to grow your business and retain talented content producers. Wondering what you can do to secure more regular revenue for your business? Here are three ways to do it.

  1. Stabilize Your Income

Every business’s first step must be finding a way to cover their costs, and we’ve learned that publishers are currently struggling. My company recently commissioned a survey of Survata’s publishing audience asking about their biggest costs. Overwhelmingly, the respondents pointed to payroll and development costs.

Every business has overhead. These costs are fixed, and unlike advertisers often do to publishers, you can’t exactly give your landlord or your top content creators 90-day payment terms. The best talent creates the best content that advertisers want to see. If you’re scrambling to fulfill payroll, you aren’t going to attract the best writers to your platform.

Once you’ve got the overhead costs covered, you can turn to product development. Unfortunately, this isn’t cheap either, and your development can’t stand still long without readers taking note. Stable revenues pave the way for you to improve the functionality of your platform, generate more content, hire new expert talent, invest in your own marketing efforts to grow your audience, and open new content channels.

So, the big question is how do you find that holy grail of business: sustainable, regular cash infusions?

  1. Insist on Change for Stability

Sustainable cash infusions aren’t about to come from a Net 30 or Net 60 payment structure—Net 30 is, by definition, an erratic payment schedule. When it takes 45 milliseconds to serve an ad, there’s no reason you should be waiting 45 days to get paid for it. With new technology and capital-as-a-service offerings, publishers and marketplaces are now empowered to determine better payment terms.

Publishers and developers are paid faster with Payability


  1. Challenge the Status Quo, and Start Refilling Your Coffers

Here are five key ways you can work toward change, and secure more regular revenue for your business:

  • Invest in your audience. Your publishing platform is only as valuable as the strength of your audience. The bigger your audience, the more you can earn through affiliate programs and cost-per-click advertisers.
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The easiest forms of monetization are affiliate and cost-per-click advertising, but these advertisers tend to offer the least flexibility and most uncertainty in their payment terms. You can insulate yourself from inconsistent cash flow if you develop long-term relationships with a variety of direct advertisers.
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Some advertisers think publishers should be grateful for their business, no matter what. Don’t let the big guys bully you into accepting payment terms that only benefit them. Accepting 90-day payment terms means that you’ll have to find a way to pay your staff (and yourself) to keep the lights on for three long months before you see a dime. Instead, negotiate for payment terms that are fair to everyone.
  • Work with advertisers that respect you. If you’re not satisfied with your relationship with an advertiser, just remember that there are always more fish in the sea. You don’t have to do business with an advertiser that makes your life more difficult. Work with advertisers that meet all the terms of your agreement, deliver materials on time, and—most importantly for the financial health of your business—pay on time.
  • Unite with other publishers to gain more leverage. Attitudes don’t change easily in the advertising world, especially when publishers stand alone. If you want to take on large advertisers who believe they can set their own terms, consider joining a coalition of publishers so you can speak and negotiate with a united voice.
  • Seek out alternative options. If you aren’t able to get the advertisers to change their payment terms, seek out a third party that can do the heavy financial lifting for you. This is what Payability does: We work with publishers to accelerate payments of their earnings from existing revenue sources. Our publisher customers receive the working capital needed to grow their business.

It’s time for publishers to take a hard look at their current income model, and start working to secure better payment terms from their ad networks and other revenue sources. When you stabilize your cash flow, you’ll not only be managing your business better—you’ll be equipped to produce better content, more often, and for a wider audience.

You can visit the Payability website here.