The Best Alternatives to AdSense for Bloggers
So, you have a blog and are looking for ways to monetize it that go beyond slapping on your standard AdSense ads. Welcome to the club! At one time, AdSense was a good way to earn money in and of itself, but for most bloggers, those days are over.
I'll give you an example. I have developed several niche websites and blogs over the past 12 years. Initially, my oldest website which is in the metaphysical genre, routinely made 800 or more per month with AdSense alone. I got spoiled to that and never did a lot to expand my horizons.
A few years ago, AdSense revenue began declining rapidly. There are numerous speculations and debates as to why this happened. These are all too complicated to delve into here, but suffice it to say, that same website today, although still going strong, only brings in about 200 per month from AdSense. This is after updating it and making it completely responsive across all devices. It also has more traffic now than it did at my peak revenue period. Sigh.
My frustrations mounting; I decided to explore other ad revenue programs. Here are some of the one's I found and my thoughts on working with them. These are of course, my own experiences and your results may vary.
Top Pick Media.net
By far, my top pick as an alternative or even for use alongside AdSense is Media.net, the ad program by Bing/Yahoo. I love that these ads display as "related searches" and ad value to your visitor. they are highly targeted and specific to each pages content leading to a high CTR.
This program isn't necessarily any easier to get into than AdSense. However, if you do get a website accepted it will earn money. Their customer support is fantastic and you have an actual, real account manager and person to talk to if you have questions, need advice or want to appeal a decision etc. Try getting that with AdSense! yeah right.
I have had no issues getting paid on time each month and on many days have earned more from them than with AdSense. I have used their ads for almost a year and only wish I would have discovered them sooner.
- Easy to integrate
- A real live account manager
- Excellent customer service
- On time payments
- Only top-quality websites accepted
- They will accept low traffic sites so long as they are quality sites
- The ads appear as "related search" and add value to the content
- Ad styles, while being customizable, are pretty limited
- Earnings can be low unless you have good traffic
- You have to have every website and blog approved individually
- Your site will likely be rejected if it is not responsive across all platforms
Overall, I am very impressed. I've been able to customize their ads well enough to blend in effectively to my various websites leading to more click throughs. I've had engagement from their staff and they are super professional and friendly.
One thing to keep in mind if you run this with AdSense: When there are no relevant ads to show; they will show back up ads that may include AdSense ads. You have to be careful that you do not have too many AdSense ads displayed on your website or you risk a TOS ban by Google even if it is a third party displaying AdSense ads.
This is easily avoided by only blocking 2 slots each per page for each ad program. This way any potential overlap doesn't cause you to accidentally be in violation.
From now until October 2016, they are offering a 10% earnings bonus to all new sign-ups also. This is a great time to give them a try.
Advertising Programs Ranked
My Rating 1-5
Good for blogs that are product based
Good (depending on your content)
Very good, but with caveats, see my review.
This is another thing I wish I would have discovered much sooner! It doesn't work for every niche site, however when you find a good match, it's a powerful, time-saving tool. This works a bit differently than the others as it monetizes your links using a variety of affiliate programs all in one place.
Instead of going out and finding and signing up for multiple affiliate accounts, you can sign up for this, paste a bit of code in your site, activate and off you go. Definitely good for those who want something to "set and forget" code wise.
For example, let's say you have a blog about coffee and tea. In your posts; you mention a specific brand of coffee pot that you love and adore. VigLinks will insert a link into your post automatically that goes to a sales page for that product. If you make a sale, you get a commission. Easy.
VigLinks works with numerous affiliate programs including big players like Amazon. Insert a bit of code and let it take over. I love this program for so many reasons. It can take awhile to see results. This program works best for bloggers with good traffic and a loyal following. If you have developed a following though; the potential here is amazing.
- Extremely easy to set up
- They handle the legal disclosure part for you
- Customizable (you can choose fewer links or to optimize for max revenue)
- Earn from multiple sources
- You can exclude links (if you are already an Amazon affiliate, you can choose to not have those links redirected through VigLinks)
- Customer support is pretty decent
- Won't interfere with AdSense
- You don't have as much control as you do with other ad programs
- If your site doesn't recommend a lot of specific products it may not work well for you
So, if you have a great niche blog or website where you like to recommend products to your visitors you'll definitely want to give VigLinks a try.
This program is similar to viglinks in that you earn money when your visitors click on ads and then make a purchase. Ads are targeted to your users interests and links and ads are served based on this.
With this program you can have pop-up type ads served along the bottom of the screen. If you write a great review lets say on your favorite kitchen gadget. It will serve ads that are likely to get your visitor to go and buy that item.
One great feature is the user-initiated ad. If they hover over a certain item in your text, a little flyout ad will appear. It's less intrusive than standard ads and more interactive and dependent on the actions of your visitors.
If your site or blog is geared towards items, this kind of advertising converts very well. They also have friendly customer service available to help you.
- Versatile with many choices
- Great customer service
- Highly targeted so better conversions
- Works best for product centered blogs
- Can appear a bit "spammy" if not done right
This site is a lot like Outbrain or Taboola, only it works with smaller publishers. If you have ever visited Yahoo's main page or even your favorite news site. Chances are you've seen photos with links that are "click bait".
It works well for getting people to take action. I placed this on one of my niche sites to test it out as an experiment. I made money immediately - within the first few hours. Everyone wants to know "the one weird trick to eliminate wrinkles" or whatever...
I was really hooked and thought great! I'll make some good residual income with this from people who were not really going to stick around my site anyway. I felt a bit like a sellout, but hey, times are tight and those hosting fees aren't going to pay themselves...
After about a month however, I noticed my niche website was losing traffic. After a bit of investigation I learned that I had received a manual penalty from Google for redirecting to unrelated content. This manual penalty results in reduced rank in search results.
I was pretty sure it was due to the content.ad ads running on my sidebar, and sure enough, I was right. Once I removed them from my blog, I submitted an appeal and my manual penalty was removed.
SO, why are you recommending this? I hear you ask.
Well, if you have a site or blog that depends more on social media for traffic and are not as concerned with search engine results, this could be a good program for you.
If you have a blog geared towards beauty, trends, celebrities, etc. you likely wouldn't get a penalty as I did because their content is more related to those subjects.
I will likely use it again in the future on a different project. However, I depend on search engine traffic for the blog I tested it on.
- Very enticing article/content ads that people will click
- Earns money right away
- Easy to integrate on any website
- You can choose the rating of content that appears from G to R
- Does not interfere with the ability to use AdSense
- You might get a manual penalty from Google for links to unrelated content
- It can appear a bit spammy depending on what appears on your site
- Some of the images they use are gross. Seen those toenail fungus ads for example?
- Only works for related niches
So, overall not a horrible program, but you need to ensure you are using it with a niche where the content is related. Also, you may lose some revenue, but I would recommend to keep the images/content below the "R" rating to ensure your site stays within the TOS of other programs.
Have you used any of these AdSense alternatives?
© 2016 Christin Sander