This term is relevant for sites that monetize through display advertising as well as for those that have a subscription business or sell products online.
Suppose that your site features a paid membership product. In order to increase awareness of your products and generate new signups, you may begin a display ad campaign by purchasing ad inventory on other sites.
When ads promoting your products or services appear elsewhere, they are simply ads. When these ads appear on your site, they are referred to as “house ads.”
Many publisher will create house ads for use in their remnant monetization strategy. In other words, when ads have not been sold directly to an advertiser, the publisher must decide what to show in the ad unit. House ads are an alternative to filling this remnant space with ads provided by CPC ad networks.
Below is an example of a house ad running on WSJ.com, the online home of The Wall Street Journal.
The 300×600 ad unit that normally displays ads from advertisers paying premium CPMs to appear there in this case features an ad promoting the company’s tech-focused product. There is no direct revenue associated with showing this ad as there would be if a CPM-based impression appeared, but the company still has the opportunity to generate revenue by funneling visitors to a different product on the site.
Below is another example on ESPN.com. In this instance, the ad is promoting a product on an entirely different medium (i.e., a TV show) that is owned by the same parent company:
House ads can be a valuable asset if publishers:
Many ad networks feature settings that allow publishers to label certain ads as “house ads” in their system. DFP, for example, has a House ad setting that can be used for any line item (link below).
It is now surprisingly easy to get high quality ads created if you don’t have a professional designer on staff. The following resources may be helpful:
There are a number of similar web-based platforms out there that let users create their own ads or put them in touch with professionals who can create ads in a quick, cheap manner.