Ad Network Guide for Publishers & Bloggers - 2019

When I started blogging, one of the questions I asked was, “How do I get ads on my site?” If you did too then you’ll enjoy this list of ad networks for bloggers and influencers.

When I started blogging, one of the first questions I had was, “How do I get ads on my site?”

And while it makes me sound slightly money hungry at first, it was really all about practicality. Blogging takes a ton of work! I quickly realized it would make my job easier if there was some sort of compensation for all those hours I would put into each post. Feel the same way?

Recommended Ad Networks for New and Established Bloggers

Based on my own experiences and that of my students from Blogging to Win and the Blogging Business Club, here are some of the best ad networks for both the blogger that’s just starting out and the blogger who already receives a ton of pageviews. You can find more information about all of these networks further down in this post.

  • AdThrive

  • Google AdSense

  • Gourmet Ads

  • Media.net

  • Mediavine

  • Monumetric (formerly known as The Blogger Network)

  • Shemedia

  • Sovrn

My Personal Favorite Ad Networks

  • Best Ad Networks for Newer Bloggers: Google AdSense, Sovrn

  • Best Ad Network for Bloggers with Established Pageviews: AdThrive

Now let’s dig deeper into this list, and talk about what you should be looking for when deciding which ad network to go with.

Note: These ad networks are simply sorted in alphabetical order. Look for my special notes indicating the networks I’ve worked with personally and what my experience was with them.

And just a quick note: this blog post couldn’t possibly list every single solitary ad network that exists on the internet because (1) it would take you hours to go through it and (2) not all ad networks are worth mentioning. There’s a lot of spammy ad networks out there that also display adult ads (like Propeller Ads) and I didn’t include them in this post.

However, the bonus to all of my research has been finding that there are a ton of great options as well!

AdThrive (my favorite and current ad network)

AdThrive is by far the best advertising platform I’ve ever worked with, even though there’s usually a long waiting list to go through. Not only do they have a lot of heart but they also have a fierce edge against their competitors in both performance and customer service.

My very first month with them I had an RPM around $2.00 (scroll down this post to the Ad Network Terms You Should Know section for more information), which is very low, but they had JUST installed ads on my site and they promised things would improve. The following month my RPM jumped up to $5.03. I started to get really excited at this point but it was just the beginning!

AdThrive continued to improve my RPM again and again, making last year’s average a whopping $12.09! They undoubtedly played a huge part in helping me get to that full-time blogging income level, even though my recent income report shows that ad income is now only a small percentage of my earnings.

Eligibility Requirements to Apply:

  • A properly installed Google Analytics report showing 100,000 pageviews/month

  • Most of your traffic must be based here in the United States

  • Must not be blacklisted with Google

  • Content must be unique and original

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Google AdSense (the first ad network I ever worked with)

Google AdSense is probably spoken about as the most popular ad network. However, my personal experience and that of my students and peers has been that its earnings can sometimes be lacking.

While not exactly known as user-friendly, most people still find this to be the first ad network they work with (myself included).

However, I left Google AdSense after simply having too many issues. Sometimes the ads would show, sometimes they wouldn’t. But when I look back, I do have to wonder if my inexperience with the blogging world in general was the true cause of 90% of the issues I had.

My students claim that while still a little frustrating, the system has improved over the years. Some of them even seem a bit surprised to hear my horror stories. I look at this as great news!

It’s been many moons since I used Google AdSense so if my students are saying things have improved, I definitely recommend giving them a try.

Eligibility Requirements to Apply:

  • Must be at least 18 years old

  • Website must have been active for at least 6 months

  • Must comply with all of their AdSense program policies

  • No minimum pageviews requirement

Gourmet Ads

A popular choice among established food bloggers, Gourmet Ads is intended for (yep, you guessed it) food marketing and branding campaigns.

At the time I’m publishing this post, they only work with about 2,000 food and cooking bloggers. I don’t know about you but this makes me think they are very particular about who is accepted into their program. Just think of the tens of thousands of food bloggers that exist in nearly any food sub-topic!

But food blogger giants such as Pinch of Yum sing their praises so they must be worth the effort to try to get in.  

Eligibility Requirements to Apply:

  • Must be in the food, cooking, coupons, craft (including food), or recipe niche

  • Audiences must be most from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand

  • Must be consistently creating rich and engaging content

  • Must have at least 10,000 pageviews/month

  • Must be able to give Gourmet Ads at least one ad above the fold, though they prefer two

  • Must have a maximum of six ads per page, though they prefer three

  • Must not have stacked ads

  • Applicants that are able to hard code ad tags to their site is given preference in the application process

  • Must have a Privacy Policy

  • Must have a top-level domain, such as thisisyourblog.com, instead of thisisyourblog.wordpress.com or thisisyourblog.blogger.com

Media.net

This ad network has been a popular choice among many of my fellow bloggers. The only reason I’ve never joined Media.net is because they operate contextual ads, which I just don’t think look very good.

On the plus side though, contextual ads also mean that they display ads based on the content in your blog post. Most advertisers will show ads based on the readers’ preferences (what they’ve viewed recently, what they like, etc.) but Media.net simply looks at the content of that particular post and creates ads based on that instead.

I’ve also heard from my peer bloggers that Media.net makes significantly more than Google AdSense. Given the fact that one of their Eligibility Requirements (below) states that you must have a “reasonable volume of visitors already using the website,” instead of an actual number of pageviews each month, leads me to agree it could potentially be a good alternative to Google AdSense.

Eligibility Requirements to Apply:

  • Content must be original and not violate any copyright laws

  • Must have a significant amount of content

  • Most of your traffic must be based in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada

  • Primary language of content must be English

  • Must have a reasonable number of pageviews and visitors each month

  • Must not already contain excessive advertising

Mediavine

The tidbit about this ad network that instantly stands out to me is that they claim they’re not an ad network. Yes, they do the exact same thing as every other network listed in this post but Mediavine is actually run by publishers (i.e. bloggers and website owners) themselves.

I like the idea of an ad network also knowing the intimate ins and outs of what it feels like to be a blogger that’s hoping to make money without losing the integrity of their website. Some ad networks focus on making as much money as possible that they run the risk of causing their sites to look spammy because of the ad overload.

Eligibility Requirements to Apply:

  • Must product original content

  • A properly installed Google Analytics report showing 25,000 sessions/month

  • Must be in good standing with Google AdSense

  • Must give them exclusive access to both your mobile and desktop ad inventory

  • Site design must be able to accommodate their ad placements

Monumetric (I worked with them back when they were known as The Blogger Network)

My experience working with what used to be known as The Blogger Network was not a great one. I was accepted into their ad network after working with Sovrn and while my earnings had increased, the customer service was lacking.

Bad customer service isn’t a problem unless you have problems, right? My main issues were that sometimes there would be glitches or a non-family-friendly ad would appear on my site. I would reach out to them and (most of the time) wouldn’t hear back for days and days. It was very frustrating!

Eventually, I realized I was eligible to apply for AdThrive and left The Blogger Network as soon as I could. After talking with a lot of my fellow bloggers, I heard that many of them had experienced similar issues.

I share my experience not to discourage you but to point out that my issues came from working with them when they were still known as The Blogger Network.

Since then, they’ve rebranded and now go by Monumetric. Because of this (and if I wasn’t so incredibly happy with AdThrive) I’d be willing to give them a second chance.

When a business goes through a rebranding, I always take it as a sign that they are now under new management or their current management got sick of the way things were running and had bigger, better plans for the company.

Would I ever use The Blogger Network again? No. Would I be willing to try out the new Monumetric brand? Yep!

They have many different programs for bloggers based on how many pageviews you receive each month. The following requirements are for the program with the lowest pageviews.

Eligibility Requirements to Apply:

  • Must be a Wordpress or Blogger site

  • Must receive 10,000-80,000 pageviews/month

  • Sidebar must be at least 300px wide

  • Must be willing to implement a minimum of 6 ad slots on both desktop and mobile versions of your site

  • Must be approved by their major ad providers

  • Must pay a one-time $99 implementation and BYBA access fee (I’ll be honest, I don’t like that they require this at all!)

SHE Media

The only way I was able to find this ad network and all of its requirements was by going down a deep rabbit hole of internet research. That never sets a good impression. Was I typing the wrong keywords or are they just hard to find?? But I’ve seen so many bloggers talk about the SHE Media network that it was at least worth including in this post.

The great thing about SheMedia is that they offer services with mobile ads, video ads, native ads, and sponsored social posts. If you don’t have a blog, no problem. You can still apply and hope for some sponsored posts on social media.

If you DO have a blog (which I’m sure you do since you’re reading this post), even better. You can use their ads and hopefully get some sponsored posts for your social media accounts.

Take a peek at these extensive, particular requirements though…

Eligibility Requirements to Apply:

  • Your content must follow their guidelines

  • Must be at least 90 days old

  • Must considered brand safe

  • Must be regularly updated

  • Must allow commenting

  • Must receive at least 20,000 pageviews/month

  • Must be willing to enter into a digital ad relationship that assigns comScore to SheKnows/Penske Media Corporation

  • Traffic must be at least 80% from the United States

  • Traffic must be at least 70% female

  • Must have at least 60% viewability

  • Must have an Invalid Traffic rate (IVT) of 5% or less

Sovrn (this is another ad network I’ve used)

This was the second ad network I used. I left Google AdSense for Sovrn and it was a great decision for my business. Their interface was more user-friendly (albeit still a little confusing) and my earnings increased almost instantly.

I was approved very quickly back when I used it, but recently my students have reported that it’s not as easy anymore. Even more frustrating, Sovrn has a bad reputation of not explaining why a blogger’s application was denied. If they provided more information, publishers might have a better idea of what kind of blogs they’re looking for.

Eligibility Requirements to Apply:

  • Website must not contain any of the restricted content as listed by the Integral Ad Science guidelines. You can see a list of this restricted type of content here.

  • No minimum pageviews requirement

Ad Network Terms You Should Know

Before we wrap up this post, let's talk about some of the terms you might see while working with an ad network. When you’re trying to decide where to send your application, it’s so important to understand what kind of ads a company offer.

The keywords down below will give you a better understanding of the different types of ads and types of calculated rates you’ll see within ad networks.

What is PPC or CPC?

The terms Cost Per Click (CPC) and Pay Per Click (PPC) are completely interchangeable. Advertisers that operate with PPC or CPC ads will pay you a certain amount each time someone clicks on the ads that appear on your site.

I’d hesitate in recommending any publisher that offers these ads simply because I have a hard time seeing people actually clicking on ads.

Remember the good ole days when clicking on ads was potentially very dangerous for your computer? Who are we kidding…it can still be dangerous.

Because of this, I feel like my chances of getting any of the readers on my site to click an ad is very low and typically stick with advertisers that only do CPM ads.

What are CPM ads?

CPM means the Cost Per One Thousand Impressions. Advertisers (to clarify, these are the companies that’ll pay you to show their ad on your site) that operate CPM ads will use this rate to determine how much they are going to have to page per ad, per 1,000 impressions on a page.

This could mean that they pay double or triple the amount if you have an ad in the header, sidebar, and footer and they all receive the same number of impressions!

The CPM rate is really used for the advertiser so they know how much they are paying. But I highly recommend going with a network that uses CPM ads in general.

What is RPM?

RPM means Revenue Per Mille, and mille means thousand in Latin, so essentially we’re saying revenue per one thousand impressions on a page.

Like CPM, this rate is driven by how many ads receive a thousand impressions on each page. For example, my RPM will be different for a page that has four ads compared to my RPM for a page that has one ad.

Unlike CPM, this rate isn’t focused on what the advertiser is paying. Instead, it focuses on how much your estimated earnings might be.

It can be calculated like this:

RPM Rate = (Estimated Earnings / Number of Pageviews) * 1,000

Regardless of who you go with, make sure you use ads with caution. You never want to place so many ads on your website that your content disappears in the background. Shine attention on your content,  services, and products first. Always.