Best Alternatives to Adsense (Updated for 2016)

Adsense is not the only fast food joint in town. It might be the only In & Out —  but there are some other place to eat at if you’re hungry enough to check them out.  And some of these might just turn out to have better quality food.

So let’s talk the best ad network alternatives to Adsense.

When it does come to ad networks, hands down, Adsense is the best.  If you are monetize via the Cost Per Click (CPC) module, then Adsense wins over the competition.

The ads are (usually) the most targeted and the click payouts tend to be the highest in the business. From past experience,  I regularly received Adsense clicks that were $20, $30, and even $40 dollars each.

It’s been a couple years since I last had Adsense, so I can’t attest if Adsense still pays out that sort of money for some niches. But it was the case a few years ago and perhaps it still is now.

Which leads me to my next point: Adsense is risky because they can ban your account (and all your sites on it) at the drop of a hat. Even if you are not doing anything shady, all it takes is some pissed off  outsourced-to-India Google Quality Consultant who makes nickles on the dollar and can take out his job dissatisfaction by banning your six figure adsense empire with the click of a button.

So, even if you are still using Adsense, it’s a very fucking good idea to test a number of alternative ad networks with your sites to compare HOW each of these does on your sites vs Adsense. Even if you lose a bit of money for a week or month, you’ll have some invaluable data about how much money you can reliable make should you lose your Adsense account.

It’s a good thing to know, yes?

Diversification is key in the business. Trust me, I know this too well, having lost a number of lucritive revenue streams, including Adsense. But it’s forced me to really hustle and come up with alternatives to Adsense which has make me a better marketer.

One of the BEST things that happened to me was having both my Adsense accounts banned. It forced me to really get down and dirty with affiliate programs and coming up with my own products. 

The Absolute Best Alternatives to Adsense: Your Own

If we are talking about the ‘best alternatives to adsense’ then any network that acts as a middle man is inferior to what you can do yourself. I’ll start the list first with the best alternatives before we look at the best ad network alternatives in the next section.

1. Selling Your Own Product (digital or manufactured)

I’ll talk a bit about this in the future, but creating your own product to directly meet the need of your searchers is by far the best way to make money and the most lucrative. It’s also a shit load of work which is why most people don’t bother. But if you do, this is where you can start to make crazy amounts of money.

The reason? Because you are not limited to your own traffic. For example, creating an Amazon FBA product and listing it on the Amazon market can draw in Amazon traffic that has nothing to do with how much traffic your website gets. If you create a digital product, you can leverage affiliates who promote your product to their own traffic sources.

By creating and selling your own product, you can ‘scale’ that product to a wider market, something you can’t do with other revenue sources.

2. Amazon Affiliates 

You have to have very targeted traffic (organic traffic too), the right niche, and the right type of website (say a product review website). If you get Amazon.com working right, you can make a lot of money. I used to make 4,000 – 5,000 month with Amazon.com — with most of these coming from only two websites.

Right now, I only make between 2,000 – 3,000 a month via Amazon affiliates,  I make over $8000 a month (and growing) with Amazon Affiliates. This is the real deal and you can generate huge amounts of money, especially if you find the right niches and you learn how to optimize for Amazon.

So yes, it’s possible to generate huge revenues with Amazon. I’ve read about guys who are making 20,000+ a month with Amazon Affiliates — a goal that I’m aiming to reach in a year or so myself, if things keep on the upswing.

The beauty with Amazon Affiliates is that you don’t need to worry about taking orders, handing the shipping, dealing with customer returns, managing inventory, and all that headache associated with dropshipping or eCommerce. You make less money on sales (anywhere from 2.5% to 8.5%, depending on your product category and how much you sell per month with Amazon) compared to dropshipping or eCommerce (which can give you 15 percent to 60 percent profits), but it’s completely hands free…

3. Directly Selling Ad space on Your Sites (Direct Advertising)

If you have the right type of niche, targeted traffic, and usually a decent amount of it (I estimate usually about 2000+ or so visitors a month), you may find it pretty lucrative to sell your own ad space.

I do this for one of my sites ad probably average between $1000-2000 a month just from selling my own ad space. You have to really have a lot of traffic though and the right niche with a real demand for direct ad space. The onus may also be on you to contact potential advertisers about advertising on your site.

You will also need to show stats for total impressions the ad spots get, the estimated CTR, and some potential idea about conversions. It’s a bit of work on your part, but if you can get all this information and you have the right type of site and a lot of traffic, you can make a full time income JUST on selling ads.

4. Affiliate Marketing

If you find the right affiliate offer, you can make way more than Adsense or the lesser alternatives. Rather than get paid a couple cents or dollars per click, you can easily make 20,30,40 or more dollars per sale. There are quite a few affiliate networks like Peerfly, Neverblue, Clickbank, Commission Junction.

5. Lead Generation

If you can generate leads and you find a buyer, you can make a killing in some niches. You basically act as the middle man here, getting people to sign up for something, filing out information while also finding a buyer for that information. I have a few sites that generate a few leads, but it’s not something I’ve focused on in a years. I used to pull in about 2,000 to 3,000 a month thanks to one specific lead offer I promoted across my sites, but that offer dried up. Lead Generation works great in some niches, especially in the financial niche.

The Next Best Adsense Alternatives: Ad Networks

1. Media.net

These guys are good and a viable alternative to Adsense with a very hands off, less stringent policy. My hands down best recommendation for the best alternative to Adsense, besides Affiliate sales or creating your own product.

You can read my huge review of Media.net here for my exact breakdown of what it is and how to use it.

Media.net is a bit strict on what websites they allow in their network (when you sign up and are approved, you have to submit your websites you want to place Media.net ads on for approval). I’ve had a number of websites rejected by their approval process — some real quality websites that I would have no problem putting Adsense on. It seems they look both at the quality of your website and if the niche is a good fit for their ads. You can have a great websites but the wrong niche and they will reject you.

Still, if you earn money with Adsense, I highly suggest you join Media.net right away, submit your website/s for approval and TEST media.net out. You won’t earn as MUCH as Adsense for most niches, but you will earn something, and it’s not paltry compared to what the other networks pay out.

In my experience, you can bank on Media.net giving you about 30-60 percent of what Adsense makes. In some niches, it may even do better due to less stringent requirements for advertisers (basically, the ads can be a bit spammy in some niches, which leads to higher CTR rates).

Here’s an example of a Media.net ad:

media.net-yahoo-ads-Adsense-Alternatives-List

Media.net looks a lot like Adsense as well and they have all the standard Adsense sizes:

  • 336×280 (bigger standard size)
  • 300×250 (standard size)
  • 250×250 (square)
  • 600×250 (double ad bar)
  • 728×90 (horizontal banner size)
  • 160×600 (vertical banner size)

A Mini Case Study of How Well Media.net does

Now how much money can you make?

Well, let me present you with a mini case study below.

If you look around online to see what other people say about what’s the best and worst Ad networks, you’ll find a lot of people worshiping one of the ad networks. If you do a little bit of digging, you will find they are also promoting that network with an affiliate link. So be wary and skeptical. If someone is recommending a network, first and foremost, have the really made any money with it? From what I’ve found, you often get guys making no money with a network telling you just how good it is and how much YOU (not them mind you) can make from it.

And on the other side of the coin, there’s also a lot of people who  don’t know what the fuck they are doing, they have virtually no traffic, or a horrible niche, get banned from Adsense (or never approved in the first place) and try out these adsense alternatives but after months can’t even make a $20, $50, or $100 ad payout. They will of course then write a big blog or forum post about how that network is shit and you can’t make money from it. Case in point with Media.net. I did some research to see what other people were saying about it and most of what I read from other people was negative — notably how they couldn’t make any money with it.

Funny, because I am and have been for almost two years.

But talk is cheap so here is some proof, you can make some money with Media.net. Maybe not as much as Adsense (again, in my experience Adsense generally does 40-60 percent better due to some really high click payouts, though some niches are similar).

Here’s a week of my  daily earnings from a week in July 2015 (at original time of writing this post).

media.net_more_example

And here is a look at ONE day’s earnings:

adververtising_example_media.net

EDIT May 2016: And here’s an updated look at my earnings a year later, May 2016

earnings_may_2016

 

As you can see, you can do ok with Media.net. As of May 2016, I usually average close to $170-$200+ USD a day with 10 or so sites. I’m pretty sure I can get this up to 230 to 300 USD this year if a few sites come through.

You should read my post about How to Dramatically Boost Media.net Earnings for a huge guide on how to earn real money (ad placement locations, tricks, tips, etc).

I have at least 5 or so other medium to high trafficked sites I could put on Media.net, but they are getting a bit picky about what websites they will accept, based on the niches. I have had a couple quality authority sites rejected by them while they’ve also accepted some pretty shitty low quality sites, so I honestly don’t quite get their approval process.

I’m going to do a few more experiments with Media.net — if I can get them to allow 3-4 more of my sites on, I probably could increase earnings by 50 to 100 more a day. But this depends if I can get them to approve my sites (2 or 3 which were rejected).

All in all, I’ve made over $90,000 dollars over the past couple years with Media.net, and this year, I’m on track for making nearly $60,000 alone from Media.net.

Suffice to say, Media.net is THE best alternative to Adsense. You can make nearly as much, as much, or MORE than you do with Adsense, depending on your niche.

Media.net Vs Adsense Earnings

I do know with one of the sites I had before, I was doing about $60-90 bucks a day with one site with less than HALF the traffic I have now, 2 years later. Based on my calculation, that site would probably be earning $250 to $350 with adsense, if I had Adsense on.

Because of this, I’m going to try and get my adsense accounts back. I’ve got an appeal (again) all written up, so we’ll see what happens. If I do get it back, I can directly give a comparison of Adsense vs. Media.net

If you guys are interested in Media.net, click on my Media.net affiliate link to sign up (or here’s the non affiliate link).

2. BuySellAds

These are the second best alternative to Media.net. The right publishers can’t make a pretty penny from direct ad sales. This is not a CPC network like Media.net and Adsense, but rather a third party that ‘sells’ your adspace to interested parties. You list how much each ad spot you are selling will go for and BuySellAds sells it for you.

If you haven’t gone out and gotten direct ads yourself (this is often the best way, but it takes some hustling on your part, the right niche, and you really have to be able to provide stats and ctr rates for advertisers – more on that later).

The problem with BuySellAds is that it’s fucking hard to get in. They only accept publishers with higher traffic levels — they won’t likely accept you UNLESS you have more than 500,000 pageviews a month and you have to have the right niche. I know people who have met the pageview requirement but had the wrong niche still get rejected. I’ve also heard of people who have got in with as little as 30,000 page views a month, but had a great looking site and the right audience/niche.

Apply for this one, but if you are a small time internet marketer or niche marketer type, you probably won’t get in. If you have some medium sized sites though, you have a decent chance.

3. Adversal

This one servers out your advertising space, tying together relevant image ads to be show in in your ad spots, and pays you by impression.  We call this CPM, and for a CPM network, the rates are pretty good. Adversal is usually known for their popups, but they do server traditional ad formats too. Your payout per impression is calculated based on where your traffic is from (US pays the most), how much traffic you have, the type of traffic, and the niche. For some people, the rates per impression will be pretty good and others not so much.

You need at least 50,000 page views a month — not too hard to achieve, but this cuts out smaller niche sites that get trickle traffic.

It’s a good way to get some extra cash based on your impressions, if you have some banner areas you want to monetize and decent traffic. Hands down, you are better off with BuySellAds to directly sell your ad space, but if you have the right nice and a lot of impressions, this network is a good option.

Edit, so I put this on my site directly to test it out compared to Media.net and it’s so far has returned a pathetic amount. I think in something like one week, one of my sites made .50c. Now, I can do a direct comparison with Media.net by putting this on my best performing site and seeing what it does, but I’m almost positive if Media.net pulls in $100 USD from a site, Adversal will likely generate 1-10 dollars on that.
As such, I don’t really view this as any actual legit alternative to Adsense or Media.net. Now perhaps if you have a site that gets millions of impressions, you can see something. But for some of my very focused, very high performing sites, Adversal has done pathetic so far.

4. Bidvertiser

Like Adsense and Media.net Bidvertiser is a CPC network — you are paid per click.So if you are looking for something similar to Adsense in style and form, this is one solution. One unique feature Bidvertiser offers over the competition is if those clicks turn into valid leads, you are paid a bonus as well.

So if you have very targeted niche traffic in a niche that converts well for something, Bidvertiser can make you some good money with the lead bonus. Because they pay for leads, it’s also a good method of testing your niche to see if offers do convert. Set up Bidvertiser on your site and see if you start getting lead bonuses. If you regularly do, then look at what ads are converting and move to an affiliate offer alternative OR come up with your own product.

The bottom line is you can use this network as market research without having to do some of the dirty work.

5. RevenueHits

This is a CPA network (you are paid for how well your traffic converts). In the right niches, you can do ok with this one with quality traffic. However, their main way of serving up ads are popups, which are just plain annoying.

You can opt to select regular banners, but you likely won’t make as much money.

Edit: Iv’e tested this out on one of my sites in a niche that, has historically, preformed very well on Adsense — even with only 100-200 visitors a day (it used to generate 20-60 USD a day with Adsense). I tried RevenueHits and boy this ad network is just pure spam. The ads that appeared are the types that appear on those sleazy torrent download sites where you are tricked into clicking on the DOWNLOAD button. Even more, it seems to inject some sort of spam links when you click on your menu even.
The ad performance was pretty poor. I think I did about $2 in about a week on a site that was getting roughly 500 impressions a day. With adsense, this would have been anywhere from 5 dollars to 80 dollars a day for this site. $2 for 7 days versus $30-$300 for that same period with Adsense (even Media.net would have yielded many many many times more), is pathetic. I’d rather have NO ads on my site then use this ad nework.

I’d say it’s worth testing out to see what it does on your own site. It did NOT work for the site I tried. For me personally, Media.net is hands down a better solution or BuySellAds.

6. Other Possibilities

There are some other options, but I haven’t tested these specifically so I can’t say other than what I’ve heard:

  • Tribal Fusion: you need at least 500,000 page views a month. This one is GOOD if you have lots of traffic, i.e. viral style articles)l
  • Propeller Ads: A pop up ad network
  • Yllix Media: low quality ads and low payouts

The Not Recommended List

At the bottom of this list, we have those ad networks that I really don’t recommend. I call this the ‘shit’ list. I don’t know who makes money with these programs, but I don’t recommend them.

If you are so desperate you need the pennies these networks will earn for you, either get out of IM completely or have a good think about promoting affiliate offers or create your own product.

Because you’ll probably starve otherwise.

Chitika

In one word…don’t.

I’m putting this one as near the LAST on the list.

If you guys do want to use it, here’s my affiliate link I created years ago. But really, I don’t recommend you use Chitika.

It’s easy to use — just like adsense — but that’s about the only thing going for it.

As you can probably guess, I have never had any real success with Chitika. Sites that would have done 10, 20, or 30 dollars a day with Adsense generated .10-.20c a day, if that. The ad payouts are shit, and the quality of ads are even shittier.

I’d love to hear from someone who is milking it with Chitika, I’ve certainly never heard of anyone that is, but I’m open to being proven wrong. Now to be fair, I haven’t put on any of my bigger sites that get thousands of impressions a day. But I did use one site with targeted traffic — a site that did well with adsense, even with only 500 or so people a day.

This is the result:

chitika_test

Now, in my five years or so of doing this stuff, I’ve only made like $70 bucks with Chitika. Maybe beacause it’s always been relegated to last place on my list of monetization — for years I used only adsense and Chitika was reserved for the shittiest sites. But my test last year with a decent sites showed me Chitika is only a fraction of what Adsense can do.

chitkawealth

Infolinks

I haven’t used these guys for a few years. I found the clicks were pretty shit and the payouts about the same. Most people who click on these ads (you get text link ads randomly on words in your content) think they are going to a website by clicking on the ad, only to find they’ve been shanghaied somewhere else.

As you can imagine, advertisers are not going to pay very much for this traffic since it will convert like shit. And as a result, you will make shit too.

Stay away from this one if you can — you really are scrapping the bottom of the barrel if you use Infolinks. There are better alternatives.

Kontera

I used this years ago and barely made anything. It operates the same way as Infolinks — your website keywords basically become text link ads. How much you earn depend on your niche and the keywords selected to be ads. The benefit of Kontera and Infolinks, of course, is they have very little rules as to what sort of sites can use them and the ads are, let’s face it, mostly the stuff Adwords would never touch.

It’s worth a try, but expect to make a fraction of a fraction of what Adsense pays.

The Final  Word

I hope you guys found this post useful. I may post some more about how to make money OUTSIDE of Adsense (Affiliate Marketing, Amazon Affiliates, Direct Ads, Media.net, Product Creation, Lead Generation), areas that I had get down and dirty with in the two years since I lost my Adsense accounts.

If most or a significant part of your income comes from Adense, you really need to rethink your online strategies and replace as much of it as you can with other revenue streams. In my opinion, it’s not a matter of IF you lose your Adsense account, but WHEN.

And if you are forced to come up with alternative way to make money outside of Adsense, you’ll find you learn a LOT about Internet Marketing and Making Money Online that you didn’t know before. It’s a real eye opener and a great set of skills to have.

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