Google AdSense is one of the best known and most popular web advertising programs and because it’s contextual advertising - serving ads based on the content it’s surrounded by – it tends to work well for most websites.
But there are times when no matter how much you’ve tried optimizing AdSense and experimented with the various ad formats, styles and placements it just doesn’t work as well as you need it to.
While there are a number of alternatives to AdSense, a lot of web publishers find they’re either impossible to join because they require very substantial pages views (like Doubleclick) or they simply don’t work very well.
So here are some of the best AdSense alternatives. Our definition of “best” is that these programs are well-established and found by many site owners find work as well – or better – than AdSense.
Important Tip – Don’t Skip This
If you’re experimenting with different ad networks and are planning to mix AdSense units with ads from other networks on the same page it’s a really good idea to check the terms of service for both ad networks. You need to make sure you don’t get into hot water with either company and jeopardize your account with either.
The basic rule is that provided the two ad units couldn’t be confused with one another you should be fine. But remember to take a minute to check for yourself. On with the list…
I’m going to start with the two networks that seem to be mostly commonly used as a replacement for AdSense – Intellilinks and Clicksor.
Once you’ve got that running, everything else is automatic but you also have full control over which links are displayed on your site.
Intellilinks has two types of ads. Standard links look somewhat like a small vertical AdSense link unit while contextual links are used to automatically form paid links within the content of your site.
See Intellilinks for more info and samples.
The ads you’ll get from Clicksor are available in a number of formats including inline text iinks, text and image banners, pop-unders and interstitial ads. You can choose to use all or only some of these ad formats.
Provided you have a decent looking site that meets the content guidelines acceptance is fast. I’ve also found the support people to be great.
There’s a choice of payment options – Paypal, check or wire transfer – with payments being issued every 15 days, provided you’ve hit the minimum threshold of $50.
Revenue share for publishers is up to 85% of ad income. See Clicksor for more.
Chitika prides itself on delivering high CTRs and eCPMs. It’s worth trying on any site but bear in mind that Chitika tends work best on sites that are product related – especially if those products are technology, gadget or other electronic or electrical items.
Chitika shows ads based on what the user was searching for just prior to arriving on your site. This means the ads they show are usually tightly targeted to your audience, making an ad click more likely. As well as the relevance factor, two other plus points in their favor are compatibility with AdSense (you can mix AdSense and Chitika ad units on the same page) and that the ads aren’t shown to users that haven’t come from a search engine.
That means you can serve highly targeted ads to search-led visitors but display regular AdSense units to everyone else without having to show both ad units at the same time. Chitika has an option to set AdSense as a backup ad, so you only need to include one ad code to do this.
In addition to a good choice of ad sizes, Chitika also has mobile ads.
While there are some filters available to publishers using AdSense, the fact is you don’t have a lot of say in which advertisers and ads appear on your site. If that’s important to you take a look at adBrite which gives publishers more control over the products and services that are advertised.
You’re also able to do two things publishers often want to do but can’t with Google – set your own rates and display a “click here to advertise” option, making it a good way to offer inhouse ads. You can set the lowest rate you’re prepared to display ads for and set a backup ad network for times when that level can’t be met by adBrite advertisers.
This all sounds good but I’ve yet to find a publisher happy with their adBrite earnings. That’s also been my experience – great system but low payouts. Better to use it for serving your own ads.
This is another ad network that works best on websites that are product-orientated. A slightly clunky interface allows you to create an ad code that displays shopping links based on static or dynamic keywords you define.
Earnings can be good but it’s worth giving Shopzilla a few days to pickup on the product links that work best for your audience, rather than just make a judgment based on the earnings of the first day or two. Given the nature of the ad style and destination links, Shopzilla is often a good fit for shopping based sites.
Bidvertiser offers a great pay-per-click ad program with an interesting twist. As well as a standard payout on each click, Bidvertiser now offers a Conversion Bonus to those publishers who send their advertisers high quality traffic that converts well to real leads or revenue. These bonuses are added automatically to monthly publisher payments.
To qualify you need to send good quality traffic and place the Bidvertiser ad block above the fold and use one of the most popular ad sizes of 728×90, 160×600, 300×250, 120×600, 468×60, or 336×280.
Bonus tip: With the exception of 468×60 these are the most lucrative ad sizes with most ad networks, including Google AdSense. Find out more about Bidvertiser here.
The company also offers a free Revenue Generating Toolbar option too.
For something completely different, try AdBull. In one of the most innovative advertising platforms I’ve seen, AdBull briefly places a small text ad near the mouse cursor when the site has finished loading. After a couple of seconds, the ad discreetly moves to the lower left corner of the screen – out of the way but still visible and clickable to users who are interested.
Ads open in a new window and the whole flow of the system isn’t nearly as disruptive as it may sound in this description. AdBull is claiming great click through rates for publishers who use their ad network. You can find out more about AdBull and view a demo here.
You might also think about affiliate advertising.
A network I recommend – because they have creative, well converting banners making them a good replacement for AdSense ads – is the cost per action network Peerfly. You’ll earn every time a referred visitor fills in a lead generation form, no purchase needed.