UPDATED October 20, 2016
This post is based on extensive personal testing and use of many ad networks on my largest B2C niche site which currently receives over 2.5 million monthly page views.
With this level of traffic, I’m able to quickly test ad networks and determine whether they’re worth using.
Below is my list of 13 top Adsense alternatives or ad networks additional incremental revenue.
IMPORTANT: While I generate plenty of revenue with the following ad networks, nothing comes close to generating the amount of revenue Adsense does for me. That said, I reserve the best ad spots on my sites for Adsense so I’m sure if I placed Media.net ads in the Adsense spots, Media.net would perform better than it does currently… but I highly doubt Media.net would out-earn Adsense.
IMPORTANT: I still use AdSense; however, AdSense ads are fairly small part of my overall revenue these days (approximately 20% which is astonishing… but it’s thanks to Media.net, Monumetric and affiliate promotions.
This isn’t some regurgitated list of ad networks which you can easily find by searching Google yourself.
This list is based on a wide variety of ad networks I’ve tried. Some I continue using while others not any more, but I include them because they may be good for your to try.
Most importantly, the set of ad networks and options below are a diverse set of advertising options. In other words it’s not a list of ad networks that all use Ad Exchange. Instead, each ad network below offers something unique.
13 Best Ad Network Options Other than Adsense
Like Adsense, you can place up to 3 ad units on a page.
Overall, Media.net is a little more lenient about placement than Adsense… although they do have a terms of service you must be familiar with. Like Adsense, Media.net (and all quality ad networks) will not tolerate garbage traffic and click fraud.
Since starting with Media.net, I’ve consistently increased my revenue with them. Here’s a recent earning screenshot (just to show you can actually earn decent revenue with their ad network.
2. Monumetric (Formerly The Blogger Network)
Updated info: Monumetric is now my highest earning ad network. I’ve been working with them for most of 2016 and the results have improved throughout the year. They are very progressive in new ad concepts. For example, they provide desktop/mobile sticky ad units which earn ridiculously well.
Monumetric (read my Monumetric review here) is my most recent display ad addition to my sites. I rolled them out slowly. It didn’t take long to realize this ad network means business. The revenue they generate for me is excellent. I still don’t fully understand how they do it, but they have some excellent advertisers in their network (in addition to Ad Exchange).
Monumetric pays on a per page view basis instead of a per click basis. This is great, especially since their CPM is reasonably good.
Here’s a recent earnings chart from Monumetric for my bigger site. While it’s not a fortune in revenue, keep in mind this is purely incremental revenue from sidebar and footer ad placements.
Ezoic is a different ad network concept altogether. I’ve been working with them for quite a while and am very impressed. Read more about Ezoic here (my very recent and upated Ezoic review).
Ezoic is a certified Adsense publisher. Ezoic in a nutshell manages and optimizes your ad placement. Their software for testing ad placement is amazing.
They provide Ad Exchange ads which you can set up to split test with your AdSense. The split testing features are amazing. Moreover, via Ezoic you can have 5 ad units on your site instead of the usual 3 permitted by AdSense.
Currently, I’m using Ezoic for mobile (AMP). It takes several weeks for Ezoic to conduct testing. In fact, testing never ends, but the first several weeks is when the system really tests a lot of ad placements and layouts. As it does this testing, it rules out poorly performing layouts.
You can optimize your site for revenue, bounce rate and/or page views. I choose to focus on revenue.
At the time of publishing this post, I’m still in the initial testing phase with Ezoic, but the results are very, very good. I’m certain I’ll be sticking with them for a long time… even if I use both their layouts along with my own ad placement. Testing is over. I’m happy with their results especially since they rolled out many new features which I discuss at length here.
I believe you do need an AdSense account in good standing in order to work with Ezoic. If they accept your site into their system, I suggest embracing the opportunity. Just be patient during the first few weeks because the revenue won’t be great as the system starts its testing… but it doesn’t take long for revenue to climb.
Generally, Ezoic states its system can significantly increase a site’s ad revenue through extensive testing, sometimes up to 200%+. While I didn’t enjoy a 200% revenue increase, the revenue they can generate along with the split testing can help. Moreover, I like the fact that they are a very knowledgeable sounding board for ad placement ideas.
If you use display ads on your site, I suggest giving Ezoic a shot. However, don’t pull the plug on day 3. You need to commit to letting the initial extensive testing run its course.
Criteo is the newest ad network I’ve added to my B2C sites.
What I love about Criteo is you can set a RPM floor so that you’re guaranteed a certain RPM.
Currently I have 2 Criteo ads on my site. One is placed to display if it generates a higher revenue than one of my Media.net ads. The other is an ad on its own that will only display if it meets the RPM floor I set.
I set fairly high RPM floors for both units. It’s only been 2 days, but already the results are very impressive.
Specifically, I use GumGum image overlay ads. These are ads that display banners at the bottom of images.
My B2C niche sites are image-rich, so GumGum is a perfect ad network to add to the site.
You can choose how aggressive the ads display such as 10% of images, 20% of images and so on. I go with 12% to 15%. I don’t want every image to have an ad on them.
The one issue with GumGum is you need to have a minimum of 500,000 monthly page views in order to have an account. If you get this traffic volume and have images on your site, I recommend you give them a shot.
6. Amazon CPM
UPDATE: Amazon dropped me from their CPM program. I don’t think they like image-rich sites. That’s what they told me. It’s too bad because it was a good earner. If you can use them, I recommend that you do.
Amazon now offers an ad network that operates different than its affiliate program.
The Amazon CPM ads are ad units (up to 3 per web page) you place on your site. Revenue is generated on a strict CPM basis, which is great.
I believe you still need to be invited to the Amazon CPM ad network. To find out if you’re invited, log in to your Amazon Associates account and look for a large banner about the CPM ad network.
While you won’t get rich with Amazon CPM ads, they offer great incremental income (read my detailed Amazon CPM Ad Network review here).
Their biggest issue currently is the fill rate. Seldom do ads fill higher than 50% for me. Therefore, it’s important to include a backfill (either another ad network or some banner that offers site navigation… the key is to backfill with something otherwise you end up with a blank white space).
Here’s a screenshot of recent revenue from Amazon CPM ads:
UPDATE: I’m not using Sortable, but if you want to monetize exit intent, they’re a good option. I prefer an exit intent opt in form these days so I don’t have Spoutable ads.
Spoutable is a new ad network and it’s a very smart concept. Essentially, Spoutable uses exit intent technology. When a visitor indicates they are leaving the site by placing cursor on the browser address bar, the Spoutable ads pop up.
Spoutable ads are in the same format as native ads. Basically they promote other content much like Taboola and Outbrain ads. This is good because the ads are promoting other interesting content… not hard-selling something.
The engagement is quite high. I think the ads look great.
Currently, Spoutable is on an invite-only basis, but you can apply here.
Here are some recent earnings I’ve had with Spoutable. Revenue fluctuates somewhat, but that’s common with many ad networks.
Note: Currently I’m testing Spoutable by turning them on and off to see if they cannibalize other ad networks. I don’t think they are, but I always do this testing with new ad networks. Overall, the revenue is decent. If you get an invite to use them, I suggest you test them as well.
EngageBDR invited me to place some of their ads on my site. They offered a very high RPM so I gave it a shot.
The revenue these ads generated was awesome and it was based on a CPM basis. That said, I know their ads generated a lot of clicks… and if those clicks didn’t happen on my site, EngageBDR would have ended their relationship with me.
However, I’m no longer running EngageBDR ads on my site because their ads were slowing my site down. They were gif format. They tried to fix the issue, but it wasn’t fixed. I had readers complained about site performance, so I removed the ads. I didn’t like removing the ads because they made a lot of money, but I can’t sacrifice user experience for the sake of revenue to the degree these ads did.
I’m including EngageBDR in this list because I think you should give them a shot if you can get into their ad network. Perhaps you won’t have the same site issues I did. If you don’t, you can make a lot of money with them… in fact if your site performs well for them (i.e. you generate a lot of converting traffic for them), these ads could exceed Adsense revenue on an RPM basis.
I ran EngageBDR ads for a short time (March 12 to March 31) – here’s what they earned:
Taboola ads are native advertising ads. These ads link to popular and enticing content. You’ve likely seen them on other websites… they’re the ads that follow “From the Web” or some similar phrase.
Taboola is an ad network I don’t use much. It’s one I haven’t had a great deal of success with. However, I’m including Taboola because I have publisher colleagues who generate a great deal of revenue with them.
For some reason Taboola ads don’t work all that great in my niche. But they do perform well in many niches, so I suggest you give them a shot. These ads have a relatively high CTR and with a lot of traffic, can generate some great revenue.
Typically these ads are placed in sidebars and below content. You should also definitely test some in-content placement as well.
FYI, Taboola isn’t the only native ad network. There are many of them. Too many to list. Outbrain is another popular native ad network, but you need millions of monthly page views in order to place Outbrain’s ads on your site. Taboola doesn’t have such a high threshold.
10. Vibrant Media
I used Vibrant Media’s in-text ads for several months. I earned $7 to $10 per day. It wasn’t much. I don’t use them any more; however, I’m including them in this list because I think they’re worth trying.
The reason they didn’t do well for me is because my B2C sites are image-rich. The text is much less important. Since Vibrant Media’s in-text offering is focused on in-text links, I’m not surprised they didn’t do well for me.
If your site is rich with text-based information and you get 500,000 monthly page views, I suggest testing Vibrant Media.
RevContent is in my view the most progressive native ad network. They have some amazing ad options, especially for mobile.
I tested them quite a bit. I love them, but unfortunately they weren’t a great fit for my niche.
That said, I think every site that uses ads to monetize should try RevContent because if it is a good fit, they can make you a ton of money. I’ve seen revenue from colleagues and it’s very, very high. The revenue CPC can be excellent in certain niches.
I’m currently using PowerInbox to monetize my email newsletters. If you can’t seem to generate much or any revenue with your email newsletter but have a good number of subscribers, give PowerInbox ads a shot.
PowerInbox provides native ads that you can insert into your email newsletter. They’re fairly engaging and their algorithm adjusts over time so that it serves ads your readership responds to.
The ad units are horizontal and vertical units (called stripes). You can place one, two or more stripes in your newsletter.
I’m getting $7 to $14 RPM from these units which I’m happy about.
I’ve known about Skimlinks for years. I tried them out earlier this year, but unfortunately pulled the plug too early. Recently I reinstated Skimlinks and am happy I did so.
Skimlinks is a monetization platform that turns all links to merchants in their network into affiliate links. For example, if you place a link to Amazon.com, Skimlinks will turn that into an affiliate link.
3 Main reasons I use Skimlinks:
You might be thinking, why would I choose to pay a middle person a part of commissions when I can insert affiliate links directly on my site and earn more. It’s a good question. There are 3 main reasons I use Skimlinks:
- Convenience and Efficiency: I have writers produce most of my content. They place links to various merchants. By using Skimlinks, I don’t have to go back into that content and place my affiliate links. Moreover, I don’t have to apply to dozens or hundreds of merchants because Skimlinks has relationships with something like 20,000 plus merchants.
- Higher commission rates: Skimlinks has negotiated higher commission rates with some merchants so even though Skimlinks skims some money off the top, the net commissions to me can be higher.
- Reporting: While Skimlinks reporting could be improved, the reporting is super convenient and I can see which web pages on my site generates the most affiliate commissions across all merchants very quickly.
The main reason I use Skimlinks is with so many writers on my sites creating links to merchants, it saves me a ton of time because I don’t have to go back and insert affiliate links.
Am I making more money with Skimlinks?
No, but I’m not making less. My affiliate commissions have always fluctuated, but overall my affiliate revenue remains about the same. Therefore, I love the convenience of using Skimlinks.
Also, I do not set Skimlinks to override existing affiliate links. I only have Skimlinks turn non-affiliate links into affiliate links.
My Current Fleet of Ad Networks
I don’t currently use every ad network above. However, I have used every one of them. As set out before, each network listed here offers something unique.
My current (as of October 20, 2016) fleet of ad networks is:
- Ezoic (AMP only)
- Criteo (with Media.net backfill)
- GumGum (on and off)
Comments About Using Multiple Ad Networks
One of Ezoic’s recent updates is that they now permit you to run ad networks in addition to Ezoic. When I first used Ezoic I could not use additional networks that participated on Ad Exchange (such as Media.net). That was a huge problem for me because Media.net has always been such a great revenue source.
However, in 2015 Ezoic completely revamped their platform and now permit me to use Media.net and other ad networks in addition to Ezoic.
It’s a balancing act when adding more ads to any web page. You want to avoid cannibalization of your higher earning ads.
This why it’s good to test new ad networks one-by-one to determine how additional ad networks impact overall revenue.
The reason the above mix of ads works well as an Adsense alternative or in addition to Adsense ads is they offer unique features and operate differently. For example, GumGum enables you to monetize images.
Media.net ads perform very well in content and below content because the ads look like navigation options. Amazon CPM ads work great because you can place them anywhere and earn on a strict CPM basis.
More is not necessary more. Less is not necessary more. It takes testing. Every site is unique. What works well for me may not work well for you. Nevertheless, the above list is a set of proven ad networks that you can test.
Even if you discover only one additional ad network that works well for you, the 6 minutes it took to read this list was time well spent.
As far as I know, all of the above ad networks are fine to use with Adsense on a web page. Please note that I am not a Google Adsense employee and so I don’t know for sure… however, I’ve no issue incorporating the above ads on my site with Adsense. I just ensure the ads aren’t placed next to Adsense and I ensure the ads do not appear in a similar style to Adsense ads.
=> Click here to learn where I actually place my best earning ad units (free report).