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Alternatives to Google AdSense

A popular question among small web publishers is what is the best ad network, and it most often comes up when a website is blocked by Google and starts looking for alternatives. Yeah, AdSense still reigns in small to medium publishers, no doubt about it, so I'm not gonna talk about it here. If you're looking for alternatives to it, this is my personal experience with several ad networks in a period of over ten years. It's a first hand experience, not a compilation of opinions or an advertorial. And to keep things in perspective, all listed networks have been tested on the same website that has roughly 20 million pageviews per month.

Amazon Associates
Extremely low CTR and conversion rate. Revenue was non existent, even after two weeks of the initial placement and despite the fact that the fill rate was excellent.

appTV
They were offering very good CPM for unpopular banners (e.g. 468x60) but their stats were really off. They pretended they had no idea about the source of the discrepancy but they didn't make any effort to resolve the issue, obviously because they had no intention to. In terms of payments, they always needed a little push, and their PayPal transfers were loaded with fees.

Avazu
Network was violating from the very first day our written agreement to not display any pop-ups. They offered no apology or excuse. It was obvious that everything was intentional from the very beginning.

Bidvertiser
Extremely automated platform, very reliable in terms of payments, and no PayPal fees. After some time, though, it started displaying pop-ups in mobile and there was no option to disable it. Moreover, the javascript code was automatically transforming html content to infolinks without any publisher consent.

ButtonBrokers
It pays by CPM for the placement of a very small button. Rate is low but the space it takes up is minimal. Be aware that the code occasionally contains sound ads in the background that the user can't stop (sandboxed iframe can be a solution). Reliable in payments, without PayPal fees, but they often need a friendly reminder.

Chitika
Considering that the network was recommended by Yahoo when they closed their own service, one would expect a great performance, but the earnings were meager. Their excuse was that they didn't support content in foreign languages.

DSNR
Although the network is based in Israel its performance was pretty robust and consistent but the earnings were definitely not at par with Google. Also, they couldn't send a wire payment without the involvement of a correspondent bank that was charging considerable fees.

Marimedia
Another network based in Israel. The performance was pretty bad and on top of that they also had issues with the quality of the ads. Just a couple of weeks into the campaign and their tags started giving pop-ups and automatic redirections.

Matomy
Successor of XTEND after its merger with other networks. Too many pop-ups in mobile despite our written agreement for no pop-ups. Security issues in Chrome browser (notifications for malware) were causing visitor complaints.

Revenue Hits
The network was very reliable in terms of popups, fill rate, stats and payments but the CPC rate was very disappointing. Payments with PayPal were free of fees but bank wires were coming with a considerable surcharge.

Qadabra
The network was part of Marimedia's platform (not quite sure what that means). The performance was pretty bad with very low fill rates and there were issues with the quality of the banners too (pop-ups and sound in mobile). PayPal payments were reliable and free of charge but wire transfers were only available, with a fee, through Payoneer.

XTEND
The network was very similar in most respects with their competitor DSNR. Quite reliable but low earnings. Wire international payments were always causing contentions too.

Ybrant Digital
The network was not reliable. There was a big discrepancy in the stats that they couldn't fix and they were trying to negotiate a rate based on the premise that stats will remain distorted, which says a lot about their business tactics. They also needed a great push whenever a payment was due.

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