With AdSense being one of the biggest names in display advertising, it might seem surprising that there are other alternatives out there that can compete or completely outdo AdSense–oh, but there are! In fact, apart from offering a streamlined process and ‘hands-off’ platform, they won’t offer much in terms of scaling your ad earnings.
So whether you’re looking to replace AdSense or integrate additional solutions, you’ve got options. Be sure to read on and understand how to find the right alternative without taking two steps backward with your ad earnings.
Motivators For Finding An Alternative
There are a variety of reasons publishers dislike or are lured away from AdSense. Some of the biggest motivators for finding a replacement are:
The biggest reason most publishers shy away from AdSense is the potential for more ad revenue. Surprising? Of course not! You are, after all, trying to make money with ads. AdSense works on a cost-per-click basis, which means you’re heavily relying on users engaging to make any money. Other networks commonly use a cost-per-thousand (CPM) basis, meaning you generate revenue when users view your ads.
Their ‘hands-off’ approach also means publishers are pretty restricted in what they can do to scale their earnings. Between that and their limited demand pool, publishers don’t get high-value ad units.
Other services provide an ample variety of ad types, sizes, formats, and layouts to work with while often helping to optimize said layouts; something AdSense really can’t compete with. Apart from the fact that being able to experiment with the various combinations is a surefire way to increase earnings, it can also help publishers design their website the way they want (ads and all!).
A ‘set it and forget it’ relationship is fine and dandy when you’re a new publisher, but as your website grows, the lack of increased earnings will become pretty disheartening! They use an Ad Rank system to determine which advertisers are awarded your ad units and how much they’ll pay. On account of this, publishers don’t know if they’re being paid out the highest offer. Between lack of ad control and missed insight into the auction, it’s nearly impossible for publishers to know the value of their ad units or how to increase them.
Spawning from the limited demand pool offered, website users are often served less relevant ads. The real problem with this is when it starts to compete with the content on your website and disrupts user experience. Opting for a more extensive size network will directly put more relevant advertisers in your stack and improve the quality of the ads you serve to viewers.
Even if you’re moderately happy with the platform and just stumbled on this article by chance, diversifying your revenue stream is never a bad idea. If anything, it’s a great way to make more money off your efforts! Why run from more money? Branching out to other networks will introduce you to a whole new catalog of advertisers and features for maximizing your ad earnings not supported by AdSense. You don’t even have to leave the platform altogether, as many networks are willing to work alongside them.
What a Good Alternative Should Provide
Getting involved with a new ad manager should be an exciting opportunity to make more money and improve on all the shortcomings of AdSense. Finding the right partner starts with quality research. Do your due diligence by exploring various networks and partnerships to determine what’s the best for you. Ask the questions you want to know. Are the pages loading quickly enough? Are the ads relevant and balanced in layout? Are ads being refreshed when you’re on a web page for a long time? How do I get paid? Knowing what you want is the easiest way to learn who you’ll want to work with.
The best factors to take into account when doing your research are:
Network size: One of AdSense’s biggest downfalls is its limited demand pool. Be sure to find a partner with a decent size network offering a significant amount of advertisers. Network size is important, as it will impact the relevancy of the ads shown, fill rate, and ad unit value.
Compensation: Not receiving payment is one of the greatest risks publishers face with ad companies. This may happen because of bankruptcies, network clawbacks, or (sadly) scammy networks that never intended on paying. In most of those situations, revenue recovery is impossible. Protect yourself by investigating payment history. Do they have a history of withholding payments? Do they pay on time? Be sure whoever you work with can prove they offer reasonable rates and dependable payouts.
Ad Management: How many ad units to have on your site, what types, what ad layout design, etc., all directly influence how your ad units perform. To create high-performing ad units, you’ll need to have the capabilities to change and experiment with ads. With ad control being so crucial, skip any network with fixed requirements or limited ad types, restricting you from testing and improving.
Safety: Brand and user safety should be at the forefront of every publisher’s mind when implementing ads. A top partner should offer you solutions to protect your website, your ad units, and the privacy and data of users.
Bonus Goodies: Though this may sound silly, the truth of the matter is if you’re not being offered other features and services, just walk away. There are so many ad management platforms that those who are not making an effort to compete or stand out are not worth your time.
Inquire about any layout optimization technology, revenue-generating solutions (like revenue recovery from Adblock!), and consent management platforms. Working with a team that can optimize the various aspects of your ad units can lead to revenue maximization!
How to Prepare for the Change
Just as you can afford to be picky, so can many networks. On your end of things, earning with advertising is all about providing website traffic and quality. So long as your site gets decent traffic, you’re sure to generate some passive revenue.
While some alternatives require no traffic minimum, they can still reject an application if they feel traffic or site quality is too poor. Therefore be ready to supply both. It should also be noted that:
- Fraudulent traffic is never tolerated and quickly leads to termination.
- Borderline content is almost always prohibited, meaning they won’t work with gun, sex, drug, or gambling-related content.
Networks to Get You Started
While there are many great alternatives, there are a few top recommendations we can make:
- AdSterra: Adsterra is a popular ad network amongst the smaller website community. They offer some of the highest CPMs and pride themselves on safety against bad or malware-hit ads through their fraud protection detection systems. They have a minimum traffic requirement of 5,000 impressions per month for pop-unders and 50,000 impressions per month for display banners.
- Monumetric: Another well-known ad network, particularly popular amongst lifestyle bloggers, is Monumetric. By committing to such a specific niche, they’re able to serve their publishers with highly relevant ads. You can sign up for Monumetric when your traffic hits 10,000 monthly pageviews; however, any blogs under 80,000 monthly pageviews pay a $99 fee upfront for setup.
- Media.Net: They’re a major advertising network that runs contextual ads fueled by the Yahoo! Bing Network. They offer an extensive range of ad types and a pretty impressive demand pool. Since they have no traffic requirement, they’re an easy alternative to get started with.
- RevenueHits: They’re a network that boasts a 100% fill rate and sizeable ad format inventory. Also worth noting, they offer quality app and widget monetization. They have no traffic requirement to join and have a strong payment history.
Getting started with header bidding
Header bidding is an advanced programmatic technique that auctions ad units to a host of networks. It creates a fair auction by having advertisers bid simultaneously in real-time and then chooses the highest bid. Since header bidding was made to combat the shortcomings of various ad networks, it’s quite possible the best alternative to AdSense.
In terms of networks, they provide a fully-loaded network stack–meaning less work for you. Premium providers offer a lot of those bonus goodies we mentioned before. While you may hear about AI technologies and optimizing ad units, at the heart of it, they’re really just balancing user experience with maximum revenue potential.
For publishers hitting the 30,000 impressions a month marker, upgrading to a premium header bidding provider like Newor Media is the best (and easiest) way to maximize earnings. Beyond having partnerships with top ad networks, they optimize ad layout, balance user experience, offer consent management platforms, and provide a host of revenue-generating solutions. They also have a dedicated publisher relations team to assist in all facets of header bidding management, from implementing units to getting paid each month!
Though maybe at one point in time Google’s AdSense seemed to be the be-all-end-all of ad monetization, it’s certainly now just another option available to publishers. Whether you’ve discovered the shortcomings yourself, or are just curious about your options, finding an alternative is a step in the right direction for your ad strategy.