The 21 Best Google AdSense Alternatives for Publishers
Written by Ben Morrisroe
11 Jan, 2021
If you’re a publisher starting to monetize your website, then Google AdSense is going to be one of your first choices. It’s a great start to understanding ad monetization and ad tech. It’s also the most popular pay-per-click (PPC) program on the web, used on over 10 million websites.
AdSense is accessible, easy to set up, and offers publishers a fair share of revenue generated from clicks. But, it’s not the only solution. At some point, publishers wanting to optimize their ad monetization strategies will start looking at other networks available in the market.
Let’s take a closer look at AdSense and explore some top alternatives to Adsense you can use to quickly begin monetizing your site.
What is Google AdSense?
AdSense was developed by Google as an internal product in 2003. It displays content-based advertisements on partner sites, allowing publishers to earn profit for every ad click made. Easy to set up and requiring minimal work, AdSense is one of the most popular ad networks online for bloggers and webmasters looking to monetize their websites.
AdSense matches ads to a site based on the publisher’s content and visitors. Advertisers then bid for placement of their ads just like they do on Google Ads. In fact, ads on AdSense come from Google Ads, the Google Display Network and other Google products.
Which type of website is best for AdSense?
AdSense is an easy and highly accessible way to generate revenue for even small-scale and niche publishers. This makes it a popular way to show text, image, video or interactive ads, which are targeted based on the site’s content and audience.
Any website that is getting regular traffic is well-suited for AdSense. Some of the websites most commonly used with AdSense include blogs, forums, and free online tools.
How does AdSense work?
AdSense is a free service, and the platform manages all steps of the process once ad placement tags are set up. This means that everyone can sign up and the entry barrier is very low.
Once you’ve created an account, Google will display targeted ads on your page that are either relevant to your website’s content or to users’ previous searches. Since AdSense works on a cost-per-click and revenue-sharing basis, your main task is to provide as many clicks to ads as possible.
Of course, optimizing a Google AdSense operation to maximize results can require a lot of effort by a specialized consultant or marketing resource. But getting started with AdSense is actually very easy, which accounts for its popularity and high adoption rate from publishers and advertisers.
How to get started with AdSense
To insert AdSense ads on your website you need to sign up on AdSense and submit your website details for verification. Any publisher who has a site that complies with the AdSense quality guidelines can apply for an account. Once your request is approved, you’re good to go. You just need to copy the ad tags provided by AdSense and insert them in your website code where you want to place ads.
Why use an AdSense alternative?
AdSense is ideal for small and medium-size publishers with minimal resources to dedicate to ad management and implementation and limited technical knowledge. However, there are a handful of disadvantages to Google’s platform that make it unsuitable for certain sites.
Here are some of the common and valid reasons to look for AdSense alternatives:
Rejected AdSense application
While AdSense is easy to manage and deploy, if your content is not appropriate or you simply haven’t published enough content yet, you may have to look elsewhere.
Banned AdSense account
Google AdSense has many rules, and a strict policy to prevent click fraud and protect advertisers. If you did something wrong inadvertently and have been banned, you’ll again need to find other options.
Diversifying ad networks
You may want to diversify your income sources and supplement your ad revenue with alternative ad networks to help raise your eCPMs.
Narrow range of ad types
While AdSense is a great advertising network, it can feel limited. Contextual text ads may not fit your site design or layout. Other ad networks will allow you to include other ad types in your content. The level of customization varies by service, but many let you adjust the color and sizing of a unit, allowing you to tailor the look of your ads to your website’s theme and original content.
A network’s minimum payout is the minimum amount of earnings you need before you can receive a payout. AdSense will only pay you when your account reaches above $100, which is higher compared to some alternatives.
With AdSense, publishers receive 68% of the revenue generated by ads on their website. This is a competitive rate, but if you have a top-notch website with high traffic, alternative networks offer an even greater share.
It makes sense for publishers to explore other options beyond AdSense, not as a replacement, but as a complement to optimize ad revenue.
Including a Google AdSense alternative to supplement your ad inventory can help put your ads’ performance in context and find new ways to optimize your eCPM and revenue.
21 best Google AdSense alternatives
1. Ad Exchange / AdX
(Image Source: Google: Ad Exchange Overview)
Google AdX is part of Google’s offering to publishers to monetize their sites, but it’s a significant upgrade from AdSense, which remains a separate product. Google’s Ad Exchange offers more options to publishers, such as improved control over bidding and the option to create private auctions.
With Google Ad Manager, you are poised to earn more. The platform is specifically set up to help you with transactions related to ads, propel you to make informed decisions and expand your business scope.
Publishers working with Google AdX have access to a larger inventory and can access buyers from Google Ads and other marketplaces using this exchange. It also provides much more control to publishers over their ad space and allows them to sell their ad inventory directly.
With AdX, a publisher can make native, video, and customized ads. Additionally, they can arrange every ad source in a platform, monitor progress, and get relevant analytics that can help them make more informed decisions.
Ad Exchange is more robust than Google AdSense, but it’s more complex too, which means it will require a bit of effort and investment to get the most of this ad network.
Minimum payout of AdX is $100.
2. Amazon Publisher Services
Amazon Publisher Services (APS), the company’s cloud-based supply-side advertising technology unit, can be used by publishers of all sizes with no fee for SSPs, and a nominal $0.01 CPM charged to bidders on Transparent Ad Marketplace.
According to the 2019 Advertiser Perceptions supply-side platform (SSP) report, APS has jumped to the second position of the most-used SSPs, closely behind Google AdX.
Programmatic buyers can choose direct or indirect contractual relationships with publishers. They also proclaim the benefits of their solution for improving UX and site speed due to less on-page code usage.
BuySellAds is a cloud market platform where publishers can put their site, and advertisers can preview the site’s stats. If the stats are impressive, they can purchase advertisement spots on the site. It’s up to the publisher to accept or reject ads. However, the advice is that publishers should accept ads that resonate with their content.
BuySellAds is a virtual middleman for the transaction. The service charge is 25% of every successful transaction. Note that a publisher’s website must have more than 100,000 impressions every month.
Minimum payout threshold for BuySellAds is $50 and can be done once every month.
Criteo provides a programmatic advertising platform full of yield management options, including real-time bidding and the ability to establish direct deals, two tools necessary for an ad ops team to efficiently manage a large ad inventory.
Criteo, while a valid AdSense alternative, is a demanding platform, connecting premium brands with a premium brand inventory. It has the ability to serve different ad types, like display ads, native ads and video ads. It can also go around ad-blockers.
Publift uses Criteo extensively and has had strong success with their demand. Due to the large amount of retargeting campaigns conducted through Criteo, they are particularly strong during November and December around Black Friday and Christmas.
Minimum payout for Criteo is $50 and it follows a monthly payment schedule.
If you’re a publisher looking to specifically target the financial sector, Dianomi might be ideal for your needs. They run over seven billion content ads per month, targeted at a business and financial audience. They boast an average reader income of $97,500 annually.
Dianomi places its focus on the financial sector. It’s a digital native content marketing platform that creates a connection between business/financial advertisers with a target audience who double as financial enthusiasts and are looking forward to valuable content.
Ads are run with videos, articles, buying guides, as well as product information or reviews. Every campaign is run on a cost-per-click (CPC) standard.
Dianomi’s quality is evident in the partnership signed with Apple News to display ads on iOS devices. Its lead management system ensures that a publisher gets automated leads surveys, analysis for a campaign run, and relevant reporting.
Dianomi works with over 350 publishers in the financial and business sector, including the likes of the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Bloomberg. So while their audience may be narrow, it’s perhaps best in class if this is your market. That narrowed audience can translate into a better ROI if the ads are on topic.
Formed through the merger between bRealTime and Clearstream in 2018, EMX (Engine Media Exchange) is a programmatic marketplace and ad network.
The difference to other AdSense alternatives is their focus is on header bidding solutions which give publishers real-time control over their bidding and yield optimization strategies.
EMX also provides access to direct, premium advertisers, and like other AdSense alternatives, they offer a full-service team that can help you not just with technical setup, but with audience monetization and performance analytics.
The fact that Exponential has a publisher requirement of 500,000 unique users every month might be discouraging. However, the pros outweigh the cons. The CPM ads run by Exponential are deemed some of the best in the advertising industry.
What’s more, 55% of the revenue belongs to publishers. The ad formats come in different forms as long as they’re engaging.
Exponential’s focus is on using creativity to attract the user’s attention. Insights gained from the audience tailor decisions made. The industries Exponential targets include telecommunication, technology, travel and leisure, retail, education, dating, entertainment, fashion, automotive, etc.
Minimum payout for Exponential is $50.
GumGum‘s main claim to fame is the use of its proprietary “computer vision technology.” GumGum software is capable of scanning both pictures and videos across the internet to help ensure the smooth integration of ads in places that are both highly visible and relevant.
GumGum claims their method produces seven times more engagement with a 37% higher brand lift than the industry averages. The network focuses its attention on in-image advertising, offering a platform that allows advertisers to market their products and services using pictures. All advertising content must be engaging and relevant to the target audience.
GumGum provides an avenue for publishers to tell their stories to customers and convert leads to sales. There are over 600 million unique visitors to the GumGum website, making it an ad network of choice.
Publift has had strong success with GumGum in implementing their mobile sticky units for publishers which get very high CPMs due to their rich media ‘wow factor’ and overall quality.
Minimum payout for GumGum is $50.
9. Index Exchange
Index Exchange is a global independent ad network and marketplace. They work with premium digital media companies, and, like other AdSense alternatives, they offer real-time bidding capabilities and transparency in the buying process. They work with different ad types, including display ads across desktop and mobile, and video ads.
Publishers can set up their own private marketplaces with Index Exchange, allowing them more control over who can buy ads on their site. Publishers have access to yield optimization features to maximize revenue from their ads. They also offer a complete suite of real-time analytics.
Publishers on Index Exchange are screened, categorized and authenticated before they can sell their ads on the ad exchange. It’s an alternative to AdSense that puts a higher premium on their publisher vetting process, which guarantees ad quality for both advertisers and publishers.
Index Exchange has one of the toughest approval processes from what we have seen at Publift, but brings strong demand and is consistently one of our top five demand partners.
Inskin is a truly innovative ad exchange offering advanced assistance with layout and design. Using an HTML5 framework, their tools can customize ads for both mobile and desktop, enrich ads with custom borders and also handle multimedia ads.
This advanced design helps ensure keeping an ad’s CTA visible and guaranteeing a pleasing aesthetic regardless of screen size. In short, they cut down on the work of readying ads on your end.
Publift has found Inskin particularly effective on desktop where CPMs can be upwards of $20 when it does fill.
Kargo is arguably a niche ad company whose time has come. They specialize exclusively in enhancing mobile-specific advertising to deliver better business outcomes for marketers and premium publishers.
Kargo employs the services of 70 top-notch publishers in the United States and uses them to reach smartphone users. The platform uses identity enhancement, sentiment targeting, and dynamic allocation to create ad experiences that drive competitive yield and grow eCPMs, while serving publishers’ audiences and respecting their brands.
Kargo has MOAT as its accountability partner to ensure nothing goes wrong.
Media.net is one of the top five largest ad tech companies worldwide. Its strongest differentiator is providing access to the Yahoo! Bing ad network, making it one of the most attractive and popular AdSense alternatives.
The marketplace gives advertisers access to high-profile, content-driven publishers and offers several ad types including text ads, contextual ads, display, search and mobile ads.
Media.net was the first to develop a server-side header bidding platform, which maximizes yield and transparency while maintaining user experience.
Minimum payout for Media.net is $100.
OpenX is one of the biggest and more complete ad exchanges among Google AdSense alternatives. Its programmatic ad marketplace offers over 34,000 advertisers access to the ad inventory of 1200+ publishers, generating 1.8 trillion bids per month.
The platform’s complexity requires having an ads ops expert on your team, but their support includes yield analysts and technical advisors. OpenX has already begun the shift away from third party cookies by planning to create deal IDs based on data from its relationships with publishers and OpenAudience, which is then transacted in private marketplaces through a buyer’s DSP of choice.
Minimum payout for OpenX is $100.
Another premium Google AdSense alternative, Pubmatic was launched in 2006 and currently serves 100 billion ad impressions per day and 15 trillion advertisers bids per month.
Pubmatic is open to independent app developers and publishers who like to be in full control of their advertising business. The platform enables advertisers to drive ROI by reaching and engaging their target audiences in brand-safe, premium environments.
Pubmatic can also be used to create private marketplaces, allowing publishers to manage access to their ad space while simultaneously giving advertisers transparency over how their ads are performing.
16. Rubicon Project
Thanks to their merger with Telaria in April 2020, Rubicon Project has become a global player in the digital advertising market, operating in TV, display ads, video, audio and mobile (currently merged as Magnite).
With its innovative Seller Cloud platform, Rubicon creates an independent advertising marketplace avenue for sellers all over the world to connect with trusted buyers. The platform is fully automated and provides numerous benefits for both parties to enjoy.
The cloud platform records trillions of transactions every month. Its automated platform lets top publishers transact businesses with some of the biggest brands in the world.
Rubicon is a full supply-side platform (SSP) with its own header bidder, who also does server side header bidding. This allows publishers to use more than one ad network inside Rubicon. The ability to optimize your ad operations inside Rubicon can help you improve your earnings, but it’s also a significantly more complex AdSense alternative, which means it will require time and resources to be properly managed.
Rubicon has consistently been one of Publift’s top-performing demand partners.
Sonobi is an advertising network provider. Through their own solutions and third-party agreements, Sonobi has created a large and diverse inventory of ads, allowing them to offer all the standard ad formats to publishers.
Their supply-side platform allows publishers to establish deals directly with demand partners, which allows publishers to avoid 3rd-party fees. Their reporting tools are comprehensive, allowing publishers to accurately track revenue, fill rate, CPM rates and other KPIs.
As with other AdSense alternatives, Sonobi offers real-time bidding solutions to publishers, and the ability to control access to their inventory by blocking buyers or a certain type of ad that doesn’t match their content and audience.
This AdSense alternative brands itself as the ad network for the independent web, focusing on transparency. Sovrn’s bidding options are flexible, offering waterfall bidding for small content creators, which makes it easier for them to switch from AdSense. Then, they have the option to switch to server-to-server bidding and header bidding.
Sovrn offers a full-service solution in which you can completely externalize your ads operations, developing customized strategies to optimize monetization through all kinds of ad types.
Another key feature is the ability to open up new revenue streams by monetizing your own audience data while respecting privacy and security.
Minimum payout for Sovrn is $25.
If you wish to truly branch out, Taboola is an interesting choice. They specialize in native advertising and are famed for amplifying brand awareness across different platforms by incorporating native placements on popular sites.
Native advertising is a specialized form of advertising where the ad space content is largely indistinguishable from other articles on the site. If you’ve surfed through different web pages, you must have come across the ‘Sponsored link/video’ label.
What makes Taboola unique is the fact that you can optimize paid acquisition through page RPM and improve revenue ROI per visit. Its audience exchange also helps drive qualified traffic to you and partner sites.
As a publisher, if you’re trying to pass specific information across to your target audience, Taboola is the option for you. Taboola can also be run in combination with other ad strategies like display advertising, meaning it’s often an addition to your existing strategy with new revenue rather than a replacement.
Just like Pubmatic, Taboola has a publisher requirement of 500,000 monthly minimum traffic. However, it doesn’t diminish the awesomeness of this ad network.
Minimum payout for Taboola is $50.
20. Verizon Media
Previously known as AOL One, Verizon Media was rebranded after the acquisition of AOL by Verizon in 2015.
Their supply-side platform (SSP) manages 900 billion transactions per month. They specialize in video ad formats, but they support native ads, mobile display ads and contextual ads too.
Verizon Media ad network offers all types of transaction models to publishers, from header bidding to direct deals, allowing them to connect to several ad exchanges and top advertisers.
When you think of digital video advertising, Vidoomy is one platform you should think of. Publishers can make additional revenue by publishing video advertisements on their blogs or websites. It’s quite easy because most of these videos are from top brands and companies all over the world.
For a publisher to be eligible, his/her site must have minimum traffic of at least 3 million page views monthly. Also, the site must have 500 high-quality, plagiarism-free articles. The advertisement formats include inText, slider, inStream, and interstitial.
Bidding methods for Vidoomy’s contents include cost-per-view and cost-per-mile. Vidoomy has a data management platform (DMP) that collects data from website impressions and feedback. The information gathered is used to filter performances and churn out video ads based on user’s opinions.
Previously known as AppNexus before it was bought by AT&T in 2018, Xandr is a complex monetization solution that includes inventory management, their own ad server, and data-driven yield management for better decisioning processes and forecasting.
The platform provides publishers with the means to manage demand and includes header bidding technology and the ability to conduct direct deals with advertisers.
Limitations of Google AdSense Alternatives
Most of the big networks such as Rubicon, Pubmatic, and Index will refuse to work with publishers below a certain size. So, you may have to show upwards of at least a couple million page views to be considered.
You’ll normally want to use any of these AdSense alternatives as supplementary as they will typically only bid on up to 30% of your inventory. So, you shouldn’t use any of these big networks as your main AdSense alternative.
You can explore other networks that don’t have rigid requirements. You can, however, get access to these demand partners through monetization partners which can add you within their accounts, allowing smaller publishers full access to the demand normally reserved for the largest publishers in the market.
You’ll at least need GAM to have any of these workings as they will need to either waterfall or have header bidding to get them working. Otherwise, you’ll have to go to a partner who can get them approved as a group and set things up for you.
It’s never a bad idea to diversify your revenue stream. Working with several partners will allow you to maximize the revenue on your content and monetize all your page views with ads that are relevant to your audience.
Finding the best alternative to AdSense depends on a number of factors, including your audience size and composition and the maturity of your ad ops team.
But once you start looking beyond what AdSense can offer, you’ll see the enhanced capabilities available to optimize your advertising revenue and manage yields. With tools to maximize CPM rates and advanced bidding strategies, there’s still a lot you can do to drive growth on your ad revenue.
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