Display Advertising vs. Affiliate Marketing

In digital marketing, there are multiple ways to monetize a website. One popular method is display advertising, which involves placing image-based ads on your site for businesses and brands targeting your audience. 

Another option is affiliate marketing, where you promote products or services from an affiliate network and earn commissions based on sales generated through your unique referral links.

Display advertising and affiliate marketing can be lucrative, but many publishers need help determining which approach best suits their website content, audience, and overall situation. 

Comparing the advantages and disadvantages of each method and when to use them individually or together, this article will help you determine which approach best suits your website content, audience, and overall situation.

  • Display Ads: Image-based advertisements on websites aimed at a specific target audience.
  • Affiliate Marketing: Promoting products or services from an affiliate network in exchange for commissions based on sales generated through unique referral links.

To help you decide whether to use display ads or engage in affiliate marketing – we will define each term more thoroughly while discussing their advantages and disadvantages. 

We’ll also examine how these strategies can work together within a comprehensive online money-making system, including social media promotion, optimized landing pages, and leveraging algorithms for maximum impact.

What is Display Advertising?

Display advertising refers to creating and displaying image-based ads for your business, brand, or company on other websites that target your desired audience. These ads can also include text elements but are primarily focused on visuals. 

Display ads typically run on a Cost Per Click (CPC) basis, meaning revenue is earned each time a user clicks on the ad.

The key to successful display advertising lies in serving these ads to the right audience; otherwise, engagement rates will be low and monetization potential limited. 

To achieve this goal, publishers often rely on digital marketing tools, such as social media, to drive traffic to their site, while optimizing their landing pages for better performance with search engine algorithms.

  • Digital Marketing: Utilizing online channels like social media and email marketing to reach target audiences
  • Social Media: Online platforms where users create/share content or participate in discussions
  • Landing Pages: Specific webpages designed to convert visitors into leads/customers by capturing information through forms or prompting an action (e.g., making a purchase)
  • Algorithms: Rules used by search engines like Google, to determine which websites rank higher based on relevance/quality of content

Other key components include: 

  • Targeting Options: Display advertising offers various targeting options to reach specific audiences. These include demographic targeting (age, gender, location), interest-based targeting (based on users’ online behavior or preferences), contextual targeting (matching ads to relevant website content), and remarketing (targeting users who have previously visited a website).
  • Ad Auction and Bidding: Real-time bidding (RTB) is commonly used in programmatic advertising. Advertisers bid for ad impressions through automated auctions, and the highest bidder’s ad is displayed to the user. This process allows for efficient and targeted ad delivery.
  • Performance Tracking and Optimization: Display advertising provides performance metrics such as impressions, clicks, click-through rates (CTR), conversions, and cost metrics. Advertisers can track these metrics to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns and optimize their ads and targeting strategies accordingly.

Display Advertising Advantages for Publishers

One significant advantage is the wide range of ad platforms available, each with varying CPMs and RPMs. Some popular options include Newor Media, Ezoic, and Mediavine.

Another benefit is that display ads require less maintenance than monetization methods like affiliate marketing. Publishers can concentrate on generating excellent content while making money from their website visitors.

  • No need for user purchases: Display ads generate money based on impressions rather than requiring users to purchase.
  • Variety of ad platforms: Having multiple choices of ad platforms with varying CPMs (Cost Per Thousand Impressions) and RPMs (Revenue Per Thousand Impressions) can bring several benefits to publishers, such as increased revenue potential and ad inventory monetization. These platforms include Newor Media, Ezoic, Mediavine, etc.
  • Variety of advertisers: With numerous brands seeking ad placements, publishers can choose from a wide selection of advertisers relevant to their audience.
  • Revenue directly correlated with content and views: The more engaging your content and higher your website traffic, the greater your potential earnings through display ads.
  • Built-in optimization for WordPress themes: Many WordPress themes are designed to display ads effectively without compromising user experience or site speed.

To maximize these advantages in your marketing strategy, it’s essential to select an appropriate ad platform and optimize ad placements according to algorithms that prioritize both user experience and revenue generation. 

Display Advertising Disadvantages for Publishers

Despite the potential profits, publishers should be aware of the drawbacks associated with display advertising before implementing it. 

  • Slow website: One primary concern is that ads can slow the website down, negatively impacting the user experience and search engine rankings. 
  • Inappropriate ad material: Publishers risk displaying inappropriate or irrelevant ads, which may deter visitors from engaging with their content.
  • User experience is negatively impacted: Another disadvantage is that display ads can sometimes be intrusive to users’ browsing experiences. Popups and interstitials are notorious for disrupting user engagement, leading to higher bounce and lower conversion rates. 
  • Revenue fluctuation: Seasonality also plays a role in fluctuating revenues; ad earnings may vary throughout the year depending on your content theme.

By carefully considering these factors when implementing display advertising campaigns on your site, you’ll maximize revenue generation and visitor satisfaction.

Check our article on When To Put Ads on Your Website: A Comprehensive Guide to learn more about best ad placement practices. 

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a system where an organization rewards the affiliate (publisher) with a portion of each sale when their product link is used. Publishers are paid for each product purchased via their affiliate link

To succeed in affiliate marketing, you will need an established website with consistent traffic before signing up for an affiliate program.

Affiliate marketing is often compared to display advertising, but the two have some critical differences. Display advertising is a type of online advertising that involves creating and placing ads on websites, social media platforms, and other digital channels. 

Advertisers spend money to display their ads to a specific audience, hoping to attract potential customers and generate revenue.

To determine if you should be adding ads to your affiliate pages read one of our most recent blogs Should You Put Ads on Affiliate Pages?

Affiliate Marketing Advantages for Publishers

Affiliate marketing offers several benefits to publishers looking to monetize their websites. Some of these advantages include:

  • Earnings are limitless: Unlike display advertising, which depends on the number of impressions and clicks, affiliate marketing allows you to earn as much as you can sell through your unique product links.
  • High commission percentages: Many affiliate programs offer generous commissions, allowing publishers to make a significant income from each sale earned through their referral link.
  • Promote products in your voice/style: As an affiliate marketer, you can promote products that resonate with your audience. This personal touch can lead to higher conversion rates compared to traditional ads.
  • Leverage social media and email lists: You can use various online channels like social media groups or email lists to promote your affiliate links and earn more revenue. Learn how by reading about effective ways to use social media and email in affiliate marketing.

Affiliate Marketing Disadvantages for Publishers

While affiliate marketing can be a lucrative option, it also has drawbacks. 

  • Seasonality: One of the disadvantages is seasonality, which could affect how much you sell depending on the product being promoted. For example, if you promote winter clothing, your sales may drop during warmer months.
  • Contract termination: Another downside is that affiliate programs can terminate their contracts with you anytime. Even if you have put work and energy into endorsing a good or service, your income could suddenly end without warning.
  • Website design: A third disadvantage involves the appearance of the product’s website. Potential customers might only purchase through your affiliate link if it looks professional and trustworthy.

Unfortunately, as an affiliate marketer, you cannot control how the company’s website looks. It is essential to carefully select products from reputable companies with well-designed websites to avoid losing out on potential commissions due to poor site design.

Can Display Advertising & Affiliate Marketing Run Simultaneously?

Both display advertising and affiliate marketing can be used simultaneously to monetize your website. 

Some website owners may choose one method over the other, but implementing both strategies simultaneously won’t negatively affect each other’s performance. Using both options together can provide several benefits.

  • Increase in revenue opportunities: Running display ads alongside affiliate promotions allows you to earn from ad impressions, clicks, and product sales through your affiliate links.
  • Diversification of income sources: By utilizing both methods, you’re not solely reliant on one source of income, which helps mitigate risks associated with fluctuations in either advertising or affiliate earnings
  • Better targeting for specific audiences: Combining display advertising with targeted affiliate promotions enables you to cater to a broader range of audience interests and preferences within your niche.

To make the most out of running display ads and affiliate marketing simultaneously, it’s essential to ensure they complement each other without overwhelming or distracting users. 

This involves optimizing ad placements, while providing valuable content which encourages visitors to engage with your site and consider purchasing products through your recommendations. 

Publishers can benefit from the limitless earnings potential of affiliate marketing, while capitalizing on the wide selection of advertisers available through display advertising networks. The combination allows website owners to diversify their income streams, reducing reliance on any single business model or strategy.

This dual approach enables publishers to leverage passive incomes generated by display ads and more targeted sales driven by affiliate promotions.


Both display advertising and affiliate marketing offer unique advantages for publishers looking to monetize their websites. While they differ in approach, combining these two strategies can increase revenue potential.

We are a team of ad tech innovators with a vast array of demand partners who bid on our publisher inventory 24/7/365. We monetize display and video formats maximizing revenue for our publishers, using data-driven optimizations. Our technology offers real-time insights and coupled with our account team, provides the tools to grow your site’s revenue.

Try using our handy earnings calculator to explore how much your website could earn with our expert assistance!

Bridget George

Senior Account Manager, Publisher Development: Newor Media

Bridget is a dynamic business development and account manager. She has been in the ad tech industry for over 7 years and is known for her ability to drive innovative solutions and foster strategic growth. Passionate about her work, she excels in managing key accounts and ensuring client satisfaction.