Update 2018: Since being banned a few years ago, there have been a large number of alternatives to Adsense pop up, some of which pay MORE. Looks like they're not the only game in town! Read my review of Niche Tycoon for updates on my site. The product is no longer available, but there are plenty of updates at the bottom about how my site, mainly monetized with display ads, is doing.
Keep reading to the bottom of this page for alternatives to Adesnse that I learned about after reading that guide and have successfully implemented on my site.
If you were banned from Adsense, try Media.Net. Depending on your niche and traffic source, earnings can be comparable to Adsense. There are more networks out there, but this is one of the biggest alternatives.
If you are just scared of being banned because of draconian rules, try Ezoic. They make it much easier to deal with Google ads, test for optimum earnings, and you'll even get plugged into multiple ad networks so companies can compete for space on your website!
My friend, who's an online marketer, was banned from Adsense back in 2011. When it happened, he was completely insulted, distraught, and confused as to how he got banned from Google's Adsense program. He was just getting his feet under himself in the affiliate marketing world. He had a couple websites up, and had his first two regular payouts with Adsense, totaling to something above $100. He wasn't making much compared to his affiliate marketing efforts, but it was enough for him to finally equate more traffic with more ad revenue.
Then he got the email.
After reviewing our records, we've determined that your Adsense account poses a risk of generating invalid activity. Because we have a responsibility to protect our AdWords advertisers from inflated costs due to invalid activity, we've found it necessary to disable your Adsense account. Your outstanding balance and Google's share of the revenue will both be fully refunded back to the affected advertisers….
He sent a letter of appeal as they suggested. Within a few days they sent this to him: (I'll include the whole message, just because he was even more shocked to see how straightforward they were in telling him that he had no chance of ever getting back into the program, and he should stop asking.
Thank you for your appeal. We appreciate the additional information you've provided, as well as your continued interest in the Adsense program. However, after thoroughly re-reviewing your account data and taking your feedback into consideration, our specialists have confirmed that we're unable to reinstate your Adsense account.
Please know that, once we've reached a decision on your appeal, further appeals may not be considered, and you might not receive any further communication from us. Note that Adsense publishers whose accounts are disabled for violations of our Terms and Conditions are not eligible for further participation in Adsense. For this reason, you may not open new accounts.
Also, accounts disabled for invalid click activity will receive no further payment nor any reissue of previous payment. Your outstanding balance and Google's share of the revenue will both be fully refunded back to the affected advertisers. Thank you for your understanding in this matter.
We understand that you may want more information about your account activity. However, because we have a need to protect our proprietary detection systems, we're unable to provide our publishers with any details about their account activity.
Again; Irate, bewildered, and unsure of how he would recover from this step down in his marketing campaigns, he consulted with his buddies. The general consensus was that it wasn't a big deal, and that he would probably be better off without Adsense ads anyway.
Looking back, I think I know why he was banned from Adsense. At first, I thought it was because he had a Chinese IP and sometimes used a VPN to get an American IP to do hi online work. Later, I realized that he was running too many websites with low quality content in similar niches. It was original content that he wrote, but it was spun a lot of the time, so violated their content policies.
He probably also had ad placement violations, which includes placing ads under dropdown menus or close to links which may cause unintentional clicks. I guess a lot of his traffic was coming from China too, so it was sending poor quality traffic to advertisers, who are paying per click.
Why Adsense Is Terrible
Several months later, it finally started to make sense, and now, he counts getting banned from Adsense as a blessing. Here are some things we realized.
- We rarely click on Adsense ads
- We hate ads, especially ones that distract me when viewing a website
- We weren't making much money anyway
- We can make more with less traffic using affiliate marketing
- If we desperately want ads on our site there are alternatives
He immediately took Adsense from his web properties in protest!
One thing to consider is that when placing Adsense on your website, it's very likely linking to your competitors website. If you get good ranking in Google and a visitor comes to your site, then clicks an ad, you receive a few pennies. When the visitor clicks an ad, they are leaving your website to go to someone else's!
Why would I create a website to send traffic to my competitors sites? Why not rank my own pages do my own promotions, and make $1 per visitor instead of $0.01 per visitor. This is totally possible. I personally have one website which makes $2,000 per month from 50-100 visitors per day. Using those same metrics, I'd only make about $0.11 per day from display ads. From that point I swore I would “never” put any ads on my site that I wasn't going to directly benefit from.
What if You Aren't An Affiliate Marketer?
Later on down the road, I realized that a lot of people use the Adsense strategy to monetize their blogs because they get lots of traffic and activity, but are not actively promoting anything. Sometimes an article about the “top 10 haircuts for men in 2016” is kind of hard to promote anything. There are many ways to make money from more generalized articles though. I've learned a lot since this article was originally written 6 years ago, and many new options have opened up.
Alternatives To Adsense
- Amazon CPM: This is my favorite. I get better results with Amazon than I ever have with Adsense. Maybe it's just my niche.
- Media.net: Pays surprisingly well, and has much more relaxed policies than Google
- Content.ad: These are very annoying ads, but they do pay. That's why so many people have them on their website
- Chitika: Gets a lot of mentions as an Adsense alternative, but I haven't worked with them.
- Ezoic: This is actually an ad optimization platform, and they run Google ads, but it's not directly through Adsense. They're kind like a middle man.
- Spoutable: Kind of annoying exit popup style ads, but can be effective
- MediaVine: My current favorite. Great revenue from this!
- GumGum: In image ads. Useful for image heavy websites like cooking or travel sites
- Criteo: Haven't used this one yet
- AdThrive: Haven't used this one yet
- Monumetric: Haven't used this one yet
As you can see, there's no shortage of alternatives available now. A few of those listed are actually ad-optimization platforms that I haven't fully investigated. In 2016 I started working with Ezoic, Media.net, and AmazonCPM on one of my other websites. Any of these three are very easy to get started with. I wouldn't recommend using Ezoic or Media.net unless you have a least a few hundred visitors per day. It's just not worth optimizing your traffic at that point.
With 500 visits per day I was only earning about $5-$10 per day with ads at the most, although I was getting very low CPM. But the list is there for you to check out and see what you qualify for or what type of ad is most useful to your website/niche/audience.
I haven't sold ads using BuySellAds, but I have bought some, and it was pretty awesome. I think you'll have to get some pretty good traffic to attract advertisers, but this could potentially bring you some big chunks of profit. I was paying $50 per month for 1 sidebar ad on a website. I'm sure there's a range of prices and ad sizes to consider, but the fact is that it was a flat fee, regardless of traffic and clicks. The downside is that they can pull the ads at any time.
The Best Idea For New Website Owners
Honestly, if you're starting out, putting ads on your site is going to suck. You going to want to overdo it and place as many ads as possible (trust me, I did this), and it's going to ruin the user experience of your website. I guess many folks nowadays find it tolerable, but it still sucks. On top of that, you won't be making much money from low traffic stats. Here's my suggestion.
1) Start out with no ads. Build a site based on content. Once you started getting a few hundred visitors per day, then THINK about adding one single ad, in an out of the way place.
2) Join an affiliate program. Most of them are free to join, and you can tailor ads on your site based on your own preferences, not some autobot cookie monster. You already write for your blog, which is at least half the battle with affiliate marketing. The rest is just about learning a bit about SEO (not as hard as it sounds), and maybe learn something about online marketing to optimize your profits and develop a business strategy.
3) Create a beautiful image advertising one useful product or service of your choice. Place the image in your sidebar, or use a plugin like AdInserter to insert the image within your content pages. Even Genesis child themes allow you to insert images/content at the end of your blog posts.
This will make your site “ad lite”, allow you to put advertising on your site much like contextual ads, AND you will get large commissions if you choose the right affiliate program.
When traffic starts to increase, you can switch over to contextual ads. I used to be really against these types of ads, but considering that some folks are making $40,000 per month in advertising revenue, and I, myself, am earning over $40k per year in ad revenue alone, I can't knock it any more.
Ads are ugly, so I'm not happy about it. But it's a great fallback plan for content that doesn't convert well, and perfect for folks that just don't understand (or want to learn) about building a funnel, a list, or even doing product reviews. If you really do want to monetize your My Little Pony Fan Fiction website, this is a great way to do it.
So I've been experimenting with display ads ever since I bought Jon Dykstra's Niche Tycoon. The guy makes a ton of money with Adsense and other similar services, so I decided to give it another shot. While I haven't made a huge amount of money in it myself, I have learned a few important things from this guide. Namely, I've learned a lot about alternative methods of driving traffic to my site and monetizing it.
I still prefer affiliate marketing because it's what works for me right now, but I can't deny that some people are making bank with display ads. If you don't want to start affiliate marketing, you gotta read that guide. It was updated in early Nov 2016 and Jon is great about adding updates each year based on what he's doing with his own sites and how he's making money.
Many folks have ask questions in the comments regarding my friend that got banned. Eventually, he was able to start an LLC company and get an EIN to reapply for an Adsense account. Though he does have Adsense, he hasn't seriously tried to get ads back on his site. Now he's focusing solely on affiliate marketing and leaving his websites ad-free for now.
Update 2018 (pt. 1)
Also, you probably have noticed that I have ads on my website (I blocked them on this page). I do monetize some of my traffic with display ads, but not all. I keep ads out of affiliate landing pages, and high traffic pages with clear monetization options. For high traffic pages that are less optimized for affiliate links, I'll toss on some display ads.