If you want to make a bit of extra income from your blog, you might consider placing advertisements on your site. To do this, you’ll need an advertising network — a service that connects online advertisers with website publishers.
Most ad networks use an automated system to place advertisements in designated areas on your website. When users engage with these ads — for example, by viewing them, clicking them, and/or making a purchase through the ad — you receive a share of the commission, and the rest goes to the network.
During your search for an ad network, you’ve likely come across Google AdSense. It’s the most popular pay-per-click (PPC) program on the web, used on over 10 million websites. AdSense is lightweight, reliable, and offers publishers a fair share of revenue generated from clicks. But, it’s not the only solution.
In this post, we’ll discuss why you might prefer a different ad network for your site. Then, we’ll explore the best ad networks outside of AdSense you can use to quickly begin monetizing your blog.
Why Use an AdSense Alternative?
There are a handful of disadvantages to Google’s platform that make it unsuitable for certain blog sites. Here are some common and valid reasons to pick a competing ad network over AdSense:
Many networks, including AdSense, require that applicants hit certain metrics on their website before they can be a partner. If Google won’t authorize your blog for an AdSense account, you’ll need a network with more lax approval requirements to get started.
Because of the platform’s rigorous click fraud control, you might also have had your AdSense account disabled. For example, you accidentally placed an ad on a page you shouldn’t have, or you unintentionally clicked one of your own ads. It’s easy to violate the terms of service if you’re not paying attention, and you might need a more forgiving alternative.
With AdSense, publishers receive 68% of the revenue generated by ads on their website. This is a competitive rate, but some alternative networks offer an even greater share. You’ll need a top-notch website with steady and high traffic to qualify, but it’s worth it if you make the cut.
Some ad networks let you tailor the look of your ads to your website’s theme to help them fit in more naturally with your original content. The level of customization varies by service, but many let you adjust the color and sizing of a unit, which is more flexible than AdSense allows.
A network’s minimum payout is the minimum amount of earnings you need before you can receive a payment. AdSense’s minimum payout is $100, which is higher compared to some alternatives. If your website is smaller or less established, it could take longer than you’d prefer to reach $100 in earnings. You might be better off partnering with a service that offers a lower minimum payout.
Tailored for Your Blog
Huge ad networks like Google AdSense are built to serve any type of content-heavy site, from blogs to news sites to video publishers and everything in between. If you’re looking for an ad provider that works directly with you and can build a custom-fit solution for your specific blog, it makes sense to seek out an alternative to AdSense.
Additional Revenue Sources
Instead of replacing AdSense, you might want a companion network that runs on your site alongside AdSense, in order to provide an additional source of revenue. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you stay within the AdSense terms of service.
If any of these cases apply to you, there are many worthy alternatives that you can try. Let’s break down the best ones.
Media.net is a leader in contextual advertising. The service is run by Bing and Yahoo, and it is widely considered the go-to AdSense alternative. Media.net offers multiple types of display ads and native ads for desktop and mobile, and you can expect to earn about the same from these ads as you would with AdSense.
As with all AdSense alternatives, pay attention to Media.net’s approval requirements. To be accepted, your blog must offer high-quality content and adhere to a clean, professional design. Your traffic source also matters: Media.net requires that the majority of your visitors are located in the U.S., U.K., and Canada.
If you’re looking for a service comparable to AdSense in features, quality, and payout rate, Media.net is a great starting point. The minimum payout is $100 via PayPal, and payouts occur monthly.
PropellerAds is a fast-growing platform that provides monetization opportunities for both new and old blog sites. PropellerAds is known for pop-under ads, which load behind the current browser window and appear when this window is closed.
If pop-unders seem too aggressive for your blog, PropellerAds provides other targeted and non-targeted ad options for desktops, including native ads, banners, and video ads. PropellerAds also serves mobile sites and applications, and even offers a push notification ad type for these channels.
PropellerAds is accessible to established sites, but is great for newer blogs too: There’s no minimum requirement for site traffic, your account is activated instantly after creation, and the payout threshold is just $5 through PayPal. These payouts occur monthly.
Monumetric (formerly The Blogger Network) is a blogger-centric advertising network that pays special attention to its content creators and ensures the ads shown on your site are high-quality and appropriate for your readers. They do this in part by talking directly to their, and are available for support when you need it.
Monumetric runs a cost-per-impression model instead of a cost-per-click model, meaning you’re paid when visitors see ads on your pages, not click them. While earnings from impressions are lower than clicks, Monumetric makes up for this with highly-targeted ads.
Monumetric is also notable for its four monetization programs, which are tiered by monthly pageviews — these increase your level of support as your blog scales. While there is a minimum of 10,000 monthly page views to be approved, this threshold is lower than some other networks on this list, and can be achieved by mid-sized blogs. Also, note that blogs under 80,000 monthly pageviews pay a $99 fee upfront for setup.
Monumetric’s minimum payout is $10 via PayPal or direct deposit.
Revcontent is a leader in native ads, which are designed to match the look and feel of your blog content. These ads are highly targeted to help them blend in on your site’s pages. Revcontent also offers ads in other formats like display, mobile, and video.
Revcontent has a reputation for exceptional clients on both the publisher and advertiser side. It partners with publishers that are likely to generate a lot of hits on ads, which attracts advertisers who are willing to pay higher commissions.
The catch is that Revcontent is highly selective, even more so than Google AdSense. To apply successfully, your site needs to report at least 50,000 monthly visitors and generate valuable content regularly. There’s a chance of rejection, but it’s worth a shot for Revcontent’s promise of higher engagement rates. Publishers are paid monthly, and the minimum payout is $50.
AdThrive is another acclaimed ad network that takes good care of its bloggers. This cost-per-impression network works closely with both its publishers and its advertisers to ensure your blogging site is only showing ads for exceptional products by exceptional businesses. The AdThrive team works with you on a monetization strategy and will help you place your ads in the most optimal spots.
But, perhaps the best reason to join AdThrive is its 75% payout directly to publishers, as well as its payment guarantee — you’ll always be paid in full, on time, even if AdThrive doesn’t receive payment from its advertisers on time.
This all means that AdThrive isn’t for beginner bloggers. It requires at least 100,000 monthly pageviews, the majority of which must be based in the U.S. However, established blogs should consider this well-respected service. The minimum payout is $25 for PayPal and direct deposit.
With its 75% revenue share to bloggers and highly-tailored ad-placements, Mediavine is comparable to AdThrive, but only requires half the amount of monthly page views (50,000). This ad network pulls from a large pool of lifestyle advertisers, meaning this service is oriented toward lifestyle bloggers — if you write long-form content within this niche, definitely consider applying.
Mediavine also brings empathy to your partnership, which is surprisingly hard to come by in this space. It was started by bloggers who understand the importance of fast-loading, high-quality ads, as well as transparency: The organization will answer any questions you have about ads on your website.
Mediavine’s minimum payout is $25 for PayPal and direct deposit (or $200 for international direct deposit).
InfoLinks provides a viable alternative to display ads — its specialty is in-text advertising placement. InfoLinks searches for keywords in the body of your blog text, and automatically associates ads with relevant text snippets. When a visitor hovers over this special text, a relevant ad appears next to it. In-text ads work well on blogs since more words on a page mean more opportunities for relevant ads.
InfoLinks can monetize any blog, old or new. It requires no setup fee, and there are no minimum requirements for page views. Once set up, you can quickly implement in-text ads (as well as targeted display ads, if you’d prefer) and gain insights from the reporting dashboard.
InfoLinks pays every 45 days via PayPal (the minimum payout is $50), Western Union, and Payoneer.
Bidvertiser operates on a bidding campaign system. Rather than placing ads automatically, Bidvertiser sells display ad space on your website to whichever advertiser pays most.
There are pros and cons to a system like this. If your site brings in enough traffic, advertisers will try to outbid each other for space, and you might end up earning much more from the auction than you would from AdSense. But, if advertisers are unaware of your site, you might not receive any bids at all.
Before trying Bidvertiser think about which of these categories your blog falls into. If the bidding system works for you, you’ll benefit from Bidvertiser’s easy ad customization tool, zero approval restrictions, and payment for both clicks and conversions.
Bidvertiser users are paid monthly, and the minimum payout is $10 through PayPal.
SHE Media is a digital media company that produces content for and by women — it’s known primarily for its blogs SheKnows, Blogher, and StyleCaster, which combined garner tens of millions of monthly views. SHE Media also operates a partner network that matches female-focused advertisers with female-focused bloggers and content creators.
If your blog targets an audience of primarily women, consider SHE Media for monetization. If approved, you’ll share the same advertisers as its acclaimed blog properties, and associate with an organization that seeks to amplify female voices. You’ll also be given high-quality ads from vetted advertisers that promote products without pulling readers out of their experience.
To qualify, your website should bring in at least 20,000 views per month (though this is not a strict requirement). Your traffic must also be at least 80% U.S.-based and at least 70% female — you’ll need to prove this with your metrics. The SHE Media partner network pays out every month through direct deposit, or PayPal for bloggers outside the United States.
A relative newcomer to the industry, RevenueHits is gaining traction as a reliable monetization platform. RevenueHits highlights its advanced ad optimization tool, which learns from your ad performance and shows you where to best place ads on your site.
There’s no minimum traffic restriction to get started with RevenueHits. However, it’s important to note that ads through RevenueHits are performance-based, not cost-per-click. This means that you won’t earn money from clicks alone. To generate revenue for your blog, visitors need to click your ad, then complete specific actions on the advertised website. These actions vary by advertiser, but are always less attainable than a simple click. Common examples include making a purchase or subscribing to a service on the website.
RevenueHits pays on a 30-day basis via PayPal and Payoneer. The minimum payout is $20.
Adcash serves more than 200 million active users and 850,000 app installs each month. It supports nearly all ad formats, from standard display ads to more premium units like pop-unders and instream video ads. It’s easy to place and customize any ad unit, and you can view real-time reports of your ad performance via the admin panel.
Like RevenueHits, Adcash also follows a pay-per-action model. It offers payouts through PayPal, Payoneer, Skrill, and WebMoney. As an added perk, the $25 minimum payout is fairly low.
If your blog generates consistently high traffic, consider BuySellAds, a self-serve ad portal for publishers. BuySellAds is highly exclusive — you’ll need at least 100,000 page views per month to join, and it only accepts English-language websites with excellent content and design.
If you can reach this high bar, you’ll enjoy a 75% commission per click. This is very competitive for the industry and significantly higher than Google’s commission rate of 62% per click. And, the minimum payout is just $20 with PayPal.
Ad formats include banners, text ads, native ads, RSS feed ads, email ads, and content sponsorships. Unlike other solutions, BuySellAds does not display automated or targeted ads. Instead, publishers sell the ad space available on their site to advertisers via a marketplace.
Skimlinks specializes in affiliate marketing, making it unique from other options on our list. It works by scanning text on your blog for links to other sites. If a link leads to one of its advertising partners, Skimlinks turns it into an affiliate link and you’ll receive 75% commission when a visitor clicks on it. You also earn additional revenue when users purchase products through your affiliate links.
Skimlinks is ideal for bloggers who want to monetize their text content without (or in addition to) display ads. It also works well for product reviews, which are more likely to mention brands by name. Skimlinks offers a very low minimum payout of $10. However, it only sends payments every 90 days.
You’ve heard of Amazon, but did you know about its display ads program? Amazon Native Shopping Ads, a division of theAmazon Associates program, allows you to place native Amazon product listings on your blog pages. These ads are targeted based on the surrounding page content.
When a visitor clicks one of these ads and then buys any product on Amazon, you’ll receive a commission from the purchase. Thanks to Amazon’s unparalleled reputation in e-commerce, your visitors are more likely to make a purchase this way than through competitors.
Amazon sends payments 60 days after the end of each month, and the minimum payout is low at $10 via direct deposit.
Closing out our list is Sovrn //Commerce (formerly VigLink), one more option for beginner publishers seeking out an AdSense alternative. This option provides blogs with a variety of display ads, video ads, and affiliate links to insert on their pages, and Sovrn //Commerce automates relevant ad selection based on your content.
Sovrn //Commerce is also big on insights — you’ll have a reporting portal in which you can track your ads’ performance and address which of your pages get the most ad engagement. You’re also allowed to choose between a cost-per-impression or a cost-per-click model for your monetization strategy.
Finally, there are no barriers to entry with Sovrn //Commerce — just sign up to get started. The minimum payout is $10 through PayPal and $50 through direct deposit.
If your website's monthly visits are at 100,000 or more, you should consider partnering with Setupad. This platform provides a selection of ad formats — like rich media ads (interstitial, sticky, expandable, native, and amp) as well as video ads (outstream and instream) and standard ad formats like display ads.
Setupad provides an easy-to-use Google Chrome extension where users can report unwanted ads and review real-time data like winning SSP, CPM price, and average eCPM up to the last minute.
Setupad uses header bidding technology to connect publishers with more than 15 buyers — including Google. Increased competition pushes buyers to increase their prices thus maximizing ad revenue. With Setupad, you can increase ad revenue by a minimum of 30% if you previously used Google Adsense. Publishers receive their first payment after 60 days and then every 30 days if the minimum threshold of €100 is reached. Otherwise, Setupad adds these earnings to the next month.
Ads Without AdSense
A high-quality AdSense alternative will help you secure an additional revenue stream that can motivate you to produce more blog content and help cover the cost of running your website.
When making your choice of ad network, don’t settle for the first one you try. Be sure to test at least a few different options over a set period of time, then determine which ones generate the most passive income for you without disrupting the user experience. It’s okay to do things a bit differently — you don't have to go with Google.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in October 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Mar 21, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated August 10 2021