A Review of the Top Five Adsense Alternatives
Have you ever heard of Google Adsense? If you’re a blogger, chances are you’re quite familiar with it. Because it seems like Google’s Adsense advertising platform is the default mechanism that bloggers use to make money from their sites.
It’s an easy system to get into, but that’s also a huge part of the problem. It’s too easy. So today, we’re going to talk about some Adsense alternatives.
The barrier to entry in Adsense is so low that the ads are not customizable. And, frankly, bloggers have very little control over what they’re showing their audience. This can be an unpredictable way to website monetization. Worse, Google’s cost per click payout has shown signs of a decline.
That’s a major issue for bloggers who are looking to monetize their sites and earn extra income. Google Adsense provides a lot of flexibility. But unless you’re exceptionally experienced with ad serving psychology like ad placement for banner ads, you might be doing yourself a disservice.
Google won’t optimize the ad placement on your site. They require you to do that. They won’t test the best images, locations or types of ads on your site.
Again, that’s all on you. Which is a tad bit intimidating.
But it’s also why I’m so psyched to be sharing this sponsored post with you. So we can all learn more about how to better utilize advertising space on our website. Because there are definitely better options out there, over Google Adsense.
One of the biggest drawbacks of Adsense is most bloggers aren’t experienced marketers. And understanding how people make buying decisions, based on the placement of ads, is well beyond the scope of many bloggers. Most just want to write and earn some cash.
Here are some necessary components of online advertising campaigns:
- Fill rate impacts earnings (fill rate = # of ads answered vs. # of ad requests made).
- Website content influences how effective a banner ad will perform.
- How many ads are you comfortable displaying as a way to earn money?
- Do you prefer CPM ads, PPC ads or something different? More on this below!
And for a lot of bloggers, Adsense revenue is hit or miss.
I started with Google Adsense too, but as I soon discovered, I was leaving money on the table.
There are a variety of other ways to monetize blogs that pay better, offer more flexibility and more control over the ads that bloggers show their audience.
And that’s a huge component of building a positive reputation as a blogger.
If you’re blogging about saving money and personal finance, ads about new cars or expensive electronics run contrary to your entire message. The inability to control advertisements kills the credibility and authenticity of way too many bloggers.
But luckily, there are a ton of alternatives to Google Adsense that bloggers need to be aware of.
What Are Your Alternatives to Using Google Adsense?
Google Adsense isn’t the only game in town. Here are the Top 5 Adsense alternatives.
#1: Interactive Offers
One of the best providers of ads is a service called Interactive Offers. Strictly, Interactive Offers isn’t necessarily an Adsense alternative because they can be used together. The goal of Interactive Offers (and other ad networks like it) isn’t to just display a bunch of untargeted, meaningless advertisements to wide audiences – almost like casting a wide net in a sea of fish.
When you’re fishing for a particular type of fish (your target audience), it’s wise to target where those fish are. Connecting your ads to the right audience, in the right place and the right time is how bloggers get the biggest bang for their buck. Targeted traffic. This is what separates average ads from GOOD ones. Ads that pay dividends.
This is text advertising at its best, and its potential is huge.
And, here’s my favorite part: They fully support email-based advertisements.
Listen up, bloggers:
Your email list is probably the most underutilized source of revenue that you’ll ever experience as a blogger. Email lists are ripe for monetization, and you simply cannot do that with Google Adsense (and it’s against the terms of service of other monetization services such as Amazon.com). If you’ve gone to the trouble of building a huge email list, advertise to them.
Don’t waste a prime opportunity to generate revenue, especially with your email list.
Interactive Offers has highly competitive payouts, which means you earn more money per click than many other services out there. Their cost per click system means you’re generating revenue even if the person on the other end doesn’t buy a product or sign up. They click. You get paid.
In fact, the average CPC (cost per click) is $2 – one of the best in the business.
They also support SMS, Push and Display ads, offering a full service, one-stop-shop for virtually any kind of blog monetization. And, you can pick the individual ads that you want your readers to see. That’s a huge draw that most bloggers love to have.
We highly recommend checking out Interactive Offers if you’re looking to monetize your blog – the smart way. If you think they might be a good fit, signup and give it a try.
Mediavine is a display ad network that’s gaining traction among many bloggers. This is especially true for food and personal finance bloggers. They provide in-content and “sticky”-type sidebar advertisements to drive revenue through display ads. Unfortunately, they don’t cleanly support email-based ads like Interactive Offers does.
But they are one of the top display-ad providers in the business. Especially if your primary focus is on monetizing your blog’s front end pages.
At the time of this post, they require at least 25,000 sessions per month before you can apply for the program. (Note that sessions are different than pageviews).
All Mediavine customers get access to a simple dashboard to view income, payouts, RPMs and other metrics. And it’s relatively easy to use.
Additionally, bloggers can opt out of ads by topic (ie: alcohol, dating, fast food, etc). Mediavine does not support the ability to pick and choose specific ads to display. But at least you have the ability to opt out.
Mediavine’s customer support is on-point and highly engaged. Which is definitely a huge step up from Google Adsense.
And if you’ve been banned from using Google Adsense for any reason, you’re still okay to use Mediavine as an alternative. That’s provided you meet the company’s other requirements.
#3: Amazon Affiliate
Among the different affiliate networks, Amazon is probably the most well-used. A lot of bloggers are a part of the Amazon.com affiliate program.
Through this program, Amazon pays referring blogs a fixed percentage of each sale generating from a blogger’s website. A customer clicks on your affiliate link, buys something on Amazon, and then you get credit for it. If you have lots of traffic, Amazon affiliate marketing can generate a lot of revenue.
But you need to have web traffic first. Otherwise, marketing affiliate products won’t work.
Additionally, you need to be a clever enough affiliate marketer to get people to actually click on your links. Some bloggers do this well. But it often requires experience, plus trial and error, before bloggers begin pulling in serious money from Amazon.
On one of my blogs, I might pull in $30 to $40 a month. That’s hardly anything to write home about! But most months I’m generating $20 to $25.
Affiliate marketing is labor intensive and takes a lot of time to get right. It’s not something bloggers set up in a weekend and can then retire a month later.
It’s fairly easy to advertise with the Amazon platform, but you cannot advertise affiliate links within an email.
In fact, it is strictly against their policies, which means you’re once again under-utilizing one of the biggest potential money-makers you have at your disposal: Your email list.
“Ad management done right”, according to their website, Monumetric (formerly known as “The Blogger Network”) is another ad management service that monetizes blogs through the use of display ads.
They break up their services by the number of pageviews on the blog:
Monumetric is a better alternative to Google Adsense for several reasons:
- Up to six advertisements per page (Google Adsense limits bloggers to only three)
But, there are several disadvantages of Monumetric too.
- You are charged $99 if you have less than 80,000 pageviews a month
And, if you’ve been banned from using Google Adsense, you’re still okay to use Monumetric as an alternative, if you meet the company’s other requirements.
#5: Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing, in general, is an avenue that many bloggers use to monetize their web sites with specific niche products or services (inside and outside of Amazon).
In short, affiliate marketing is where bloggers receive a commission for advertising specific products or services.
Generally, this is tracked through a “referral link”, or “affiliate link”. The link contains a code that uniquely identifies the blogger and, if the user clicks the link and performs some sort of an action (like signing up for service), the blogger gets a commission.
Examples of products bloggers market with affiliate links:
- Credit cards
- Learning courses
- Free online services
- Bonus upsells
- Coupons, spreadsheets, and calculators
Really, the possibilities are endless. Believe it or not, affiliate marketing happens all over the place. And through services like Teachable and Send Owl, setting up affiliate programs for products and services that you’ve designed is simple and effective for almost everybody.
But, affiliate marketing isn’t easy. It takes a lot of a bit of trial and error to get it right. Bloggers can’t slap up a product and expect people to flock toward it through their affiliate link. Also, it’s important for affiliate relationships to be disclosed on your website as well.
In addition, many affiliate programs require a sign-up — not just a click-through.
Meaning, it’s not enough for a reader to click on an affiliate link for you to receive credit. In most cases, they’ll actually need to buy something before you get any money.
It’s called a CPA, or Cost Per Action, rather than CPC (Cost Per Click or Pay Per Click).
Successful bloggers make affiliate marketing work, but it doesn’t always come easy.
How to Decide on Your Best Adsense Alternatives
While Google Adsense might be the easiest ad platform out there to get started with, it’s very rarely the highest paying.
The flexibility that comes from picking and choosing your ad placement also means it’s ripe for failure, unless you’re a skilled marketer.
Plus, you’re missing out on leveraging your email list. Services like Interactive Offers and Skimlinks help to fill that void with text-based advertising. Viglink has emerged as another interesting option.
Is it right for you and your blog?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when deciding on an advertisement platform for your blog:
- How much money am I looking to make? Am I looking to get filthy rich or just make a few extra bucks here and there?
- How big of an email list do I have? Can I make money off of that?
- How many pageviews / sessions does my blog have? Do I even qualify for services like Mediavine or Monumetric?
- Can I pick and choose individual ads? Do I even need to?
- What types of ads are supported? For example, can I display text-based, image-based as well as video-ads? And are they all mobile-friendly?
Pay close attention to how you’re paid.
In a cost per click (CPC) model, bloggers are paid each and every time a reader clicks on an ad.
In a cost per mile (CPM) model, bloggers are paid a fixed amount of money for every 1,000 ad impressions (displays). This is also known as cost per thousand.
Additionally, in a cost per view (CPV) model, the blogger is paid every time the ad is displayed and viewed by a reader.
And in a cost per action (CPA) model, the blogger is paid only after the reader performs an action, such as buying a product, installing a plug-in, or signing up for an email list.
While there are so many options to consider, this should give you a quick view into the various alternatives to Adsense. After all, you’re putting in the effort to provide quality content. You should at least allow yourself the benefit of the best possible ways to earn advertising revenue. Weight the pros and cons. Evaluate your expected traffic and audience. Then make the smartest decision for your situation.
This post was written in partnership with Interactive Offers and The Money Mix Influencer Network.