As a publisher, you probably think a lot about optimizing and improving both your advertising operations and the revenue that you generate from ads. It might keep you up at night Pouring over CPM data and trying to do side-by-side comparisons of different advertising options.
There’s also a pretty good chance that you use Google AdSense to fill a bunch of your inventory. And why wouldn’t you? Millions of sites use AdSense to serve ads, and it’s a pretty damn good platform.
But that doesn’t mean you don’t wonder about other options that are out there. Putting all your eggs in the AdSense basket is the path of least resistance. But what if there’s something better?
In this article, we’ll look at what makes Google AdSense so great. We’ll then take a look at the strengths of some of the major alternative ad networks and platforms, so you can decide the right mix for you.
What’s so great about Google AdSense?
There are a lot of reasons why Google AdSense is the largest ad platform on the web.
First, it’s dead simple. Setup can be done in just a few minutes, and a site with any amount of traffic can be up and “earning actual ad revenue” the same day. With new publishers starting websites every day, it has become the de facto starting point for burgeoning media empires.
Aside from the simplicity, AdSense also offers great service and results. Publishers are guaranteed a near 100% fill rate on all of their placements with AdSense because there are a ton of advertisers—both large and small—using the platform. And with fairly sophisticated filtering and quality control mechanisms, Google is pretty good at targeting ads to your audience based on-site content and visitor browsing history.
Although AdSense doesn’t necessarily offer the absolute highest CPM, they pay pretty fair rates. Many sites generate all of the revenue they need just through AdSense.
Sure, AdSense is great. But what about all of those other platforms out there?
There are dozens—probably hundreds—of competing ad networks and platforms out there. We won’t ignore them just because AdSense works pretty well.
Best Google AdSense alternatives
Let’s dig into some of the most popular Google AdSense Alternatives.
Google AdExchange, also known as AdX, can be considered AdSense’s big brother. It’s not as simple as AdSense, but it offers more robust features and promises to help publishers like you optimize revenue more effectively. It’s basically like AdSense with the training wheels taken off.
AdX provides a lot more options that allow you to increase the revenue of your inventory, such as better control over bidding or creating private auctions for advertisers.
Following its acquisition of AppNexus in 2018, Xandr formed as a division of AT&T. They host one of the world’s largest collections of digital, film, and TV properties. They provide options for advertisers and publishers looking to reach specific audiences with a particular specialization in TV advertising.
In May 2019, Xandr launched Community, a video marketplace that connects advertisers, publishers, and consumer media brands. This provides publishers with a marketplace that connects advertisers with audiences to achieve better yield on inventory.
Rubicon Project is also a major industry leader and provides a full-service SSP (supply side platform) among other pieces of ad tech. They’ve recently scooped up several programmatic direct platforms and, like AppNexus, offer their own header bidder. They’ve rolled this all up into a solution for publishers called SellerCloud.
Publishers can use one or several platforms within Rubicon and can increase revenue by optimizing or automating several aspects of their ad operations. Like its competition, Xandr and AdX, Rubicon’s platform is more robust than AdSense, but can take a lot more time to learn and manage.
As a result of its purchase by Verizon in 2015, Verizon Media (formerly known as AOL) is both one of the largest publishers and one of the largest ad tech companies. They have consolidated their many ad technologies under the AOL One banner—a direct competitor to AppNexus’ Publisher Suite.
AOL doesn’t offer in-banner video (IBV), but they specialize in other video units (pre-roll, post-roll, and mid-roll). They use non-standard tools for fraud detection and site approvals. This can be challenging, but AOL tends to pay medium-high CPMs, and rarely has quality concerns, which is appealing for many publishers.
Rebranded from Casale Media, Index Exchange is very selective about the advertisers they work with. Therefore, they verify each buyer, and each campaign is reviewed carefully for quality control and categorization.
Index Exchange offers SmartTag, which allows publishers to create segments by tagging inventory based on price, volume, and audience type. They also allow publishers with multiple sites to set up and manage your own ad exchanges and private marketplace deals.
Amazon Publisher Services
Amazon Publisher Services, created by Amazon, provides publishers with a transparent and unified ad marketplace. It also includes shopping insights to help you build, monetize, and grow your business. Publishers can improve earnings with their simple server-to-server header bidding integration and use Amazon’s shopping data on your audience.
PubMatic, founded in 2006, is a digital advertising company that seeks to empower app developers and publishers to control and maximize their digital advertising. Headquartered in California, PubMatic has grown to operate 13 offices and 9 data centers around the world.
In January 2020, PubMatic launched an Identity Hub integrating over 10 partners IDs. This ID-agnostic identity management solution is meant to make it easier for publishers to monetize programmatically. In addition, this ensures buyers recognize and bid on your audiences as more restrictions on third-party cookies are enforced.
OpenX is a popular programmatic advertising technology company with its integrated technology platform and high quality ad inventory. It’s one of the largest independent exchanges globally with 1.5 trillion bid transactions per day working with over 1,500 publishers and 34,000 advertisers.
In May 2019, OpenAudience launched by OpenX to allow publishers to gain better insights about their audience.
TripleLift, named one of Business Insider’s Hottest Ad Tech Companies, is a leading programmatic native advertising platform with the goal of making native advertising simple, scalable, and effective. Their technology allows brands to amplify their content through beautiful ads that match the unique look and feel of websites. They enable publishers like yourself to monetize in-feed inventory without being disruptive to the user.
Native advertising is a popular choice among publishers who are concerned about user experience. TripleLift builds their technology to empower rather than interrupt.
Teads, founded in 2011, is the pioneer of outstream video advertising and the leading native video advertising marketplace. Publishers can work with Teads to create new video inventory and monetize it through programmatic buying.
Teads works with over 65% of the global comScore 300 editorial publishers such as BBC, CNN, The Economist, and Bloomberg.
Not sure which is right for you?
The sheer number of ad platforms and networks is exhausting to consider. Without the numbers (which vary widely due to the number of variables), how do you know which one will perform the best for you?
Are you supposed to sign up, configure, and test each individual network and platform one by one to see what works best for your site and your audience that month? You could, but you don’t have to.
That’s exactly why we built Sortable—so you wouldn’t have to spend hundreds of hours just trying to maximize your revenue.
We work with all the major ad partners (including the ones listed above) and our ad optimization technology determines who will make you the most money. If you don’t spend your days dreaming of mediating and evaluating multiple demand partners, managing creative quality across networks, and other such fussy work, we’d love to talk about how we can make your life easier. Interested in learning more about what Sortable can do for you? Fill out this request a demo form. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.