The right ad network is a great option to monetize your site, but ad networks are only one facet of the programmatic advertising ecosystem. Technically speaking, ad networks bundle publishers’ ad space to sell to advertisers; however, the term is often used casually to refer to any website monetization solution.
In order to dispel the confusion this can cause, we’ll begin by defining what an ad network is (versus an ad exchange or header bidding). Then, we’ll go over key considerations when choosing an advertising platform for your site, whether it be an ad network, an ad exchange or header bidding platform, including:
- Ad tech: The types of ads available and how they’re implemented on your site.
- Ad strategy support: How much help you get with monitoring, testing, and optimizing ad performance.
- Eligibility requirements: What criteria your site needs to meet before you can use the service and whether the service requires exclusivity.
- Monetization: How revenue is generated (e.g. click throughs vs. ad impressions), how much of it you get, and how often you get it.
Finally, we’ll cover 10 popular ad networks, ad exchanges, and header bidding partners, including our header bidding solution at Snigel.
With Snigel, publishers can expect dedicated ad strategy support from an ad operations expert, leaving you free to focus on your content. Our AI-powered lightweight ad tech and competitive revenue sharing model empowers our clients with an average revenue increase of 30% or more. To learn more, keep reading or get in touch today.
Ad Networks and Programmatic Advertising
Programmatic advertising is the umbrella term for buying and selling ad space inventory via online auctions that resolve in the amount of time it takes a page to load. These auctions are typically hosted by ad exchanges. However, these ad exchanges may also be incorrectly referred to as ad networks, which instead bundle ad inventory to sell to advertisers.
Here are the precise definitions of the two:
- Ad Exchange: Enables direct transactions between advertisers and publishers. Both parties typically use a specialized platform to access the exchange.
- Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) are used by publishers to manage and sell ad inventory on their sites.
- Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) are used by advertisers to manage their ads and purchase inventory from publishers. Advertisers may use a Data Management Platform (DMP) in conjunction with their DSP to track consumer information such as demographics to refine the target audience for their ad campaigns.
- Ad Network: A service which aggregates available ad space from publishers and offers it to advertisers. The main tradeoff for publishers is less control over what ads are hosted on their sites.
In addition to the terms being conflated in casual use, the line between ad exchanges and ad networks can be blurred due to their interactions with each other: ad exchanges sometimes buy inventory from ad networks and vice versa.
What’s Header Bidding?
Both ad exchanges and ad networks give you access to a finite pool of advertisers. In contrast, header bidding solutions allow you to access multiple ad exchanges and ad networks in real-time, driving up competition (and therefore bids) for your ad space. In addition, header bidding partners can access premium ad networks via invite-only auctions that most publishers wouldn’t otherwise qualify for. This increases the proportion of high-quality ads on your site.
Finally, unlike most ad networks and ad exchanges, header bidding partners are focused solely on meeting their publishers’ needs rather than balancing the interests of publishers and advertisers. In other words, they don’t have to worry about minimizing advertisers’ cost per click (CPC), cost per mille (CPM), cost per impression (CPI), or cost-per-action (CPA) at the expense of your revenue.
Considerations for Choosing Publisher Advertising Networks
In our experience, when it comes to choosing an online advertising solution, these are the most important factors for publishers to consider:
- Ad Tech, broadly speaking, refers to how ads will be implemented on publisher websites. This includes both ad formats (e.g. native ads, interactive ads, video ads) and revenue-boosting measures (like ad refreshing). In addition to what tech is offered, it’s important to consider the impact these tools will have on your overall site health.
- Ad Strategy refers to the many decisions you need to make to optimize ad revenue from your site, such as how many ads you will run, where on the site you’ll put ads (i.e. ad placement), which ad formats will go where, floor prices, other CPM related decisions, and more. These macro and micro decisions, combined, form your ad strategy. From our experience optimizing many different sites, these strategy decisions dramatically affect your site’s total ad revenue — so it’s important to get your ad strategy correct. The problem is that most publishers don’t have the time or experience to properly optimize all of these factors.
The best solution is to have an experienced ad expert help build and optimize a site’s ad strategy — in other words, support and guide the publisher through these decisions. Different ad networks, exchanges, and header bidding solutions offer varying levels of support with ad strategy. Self-serve platforms don’t offer any support at all, leaving users to figure out how to choose and implement the available ad tech. Others may offer support tiered by pageviews or have a ticket-based system rather than a dedicated account manager. Regardless, this is an important factor to consider when choosing an ad network or platform.
Finally, in addition to the tech and strategy, you may also want to factor in:
- Eligibility for ad networks, ad exchanges, and header bidding partners — which typically depends on original, high-quality content and legitimate traffic. Additional considerations include how much traffic your site gets and whether small sites get the same access to tools and ad management support as larger publishers.
- Monetization of your site. This will be influenced by a number of factors, but things to look out for include: how revenue is calculated, what percentage of revenue you keep, whether the service operates solely via commission or also charges fees, whether there’s a lock-in contract, and how often you get your share of the revenue.
10 Header Bidding Partners, Ad Networks, and Ad Exchanges
The following is a list of 10 publisher monetization solutions sorted by category, beginning with our header bidding solution at Snigel.
Header Bidding Partners
As a header bidding solution, Snigel gives you access to all the top ad networks and exchanges including Google AdX, Xandr, and Amazon TAM. This drives up competition, and therefore bids, allowing you to make more money than from monetization services that restrict you to a single pool of advertisers. But what really makes us stand out from other header bidding solutions is our ad strategy support.
Ad Strategy Support
As we alluded to above, your ad strategy directly impacts how much you make. For example, if the ad density on your site is so high that it overwhelms users, they will leave the site quickly and you’ll get less time on site, less pageviews, and less return users.
Since most publishers don’t have the knowledge and experience necessary to develop a robust ad strategy, Snigel created a system where each of our clients receives a dedicated ad operations expert. This isn’t a ticketing service or simple tech support where a new support rep answers a question whenever you send them an email. We provide a dedicated expert who proactively helps you build your ad strategy and optimize it. They monitor your site’s monetization and user experience metrics and prompt you when they find ways to improve the setup. They’ll also continue to work with you as your site grows, learning the ins and outs of your content, codebase, and users.
Specifically, they’ll start off by consulting with you to develop a unique ad strategy for your site, including factors such as:
- The optimum number of ads to display on your site
- Where to place ads on your site
- The best ad formats for the types of content you publish
- How long ads run before being refreshed
- Which verticals will increase your brand safety
- And more!
Once you have your ad strategy in place, your expert implements all the ad tech on your site, continuously monitoring site health and making fixes as needed. Instead of needing to learn how to implement our high-tech solutions, you’ll be free to focus on publishing content that will bring in plenty of traffic. Finally, in addition to monitoring and testing your ad layouts, our ad experts also adapt your ad strategy to changing circumstances, whether that’s new ad tech becoming available or an increased number of visitors to your site.
In our experience, having this dedicated expert build and optimize your ad strategy for you makes a world of difference and we think it’s one of the key reasons why publishers on average see a 57% increase in ad revenue when switching to Snigel.
Complementing ad strategy is our lightweight, AI-powered ad stack, AdEngine, which allows you and your ad expert to have at your disposal a wide variety of ad formats, including interactive ads and video ads via AdStream that you can use to optimize your ad setup.
It also has revenue-boosting technology like Smart Refresh and AdBlock Revenue Recovery to maximize the earning potential and fill rate of your ad space inventory, all without compromising site health. Some highlights include:
- Interactive ads like quizzes, polls, and user rewards to increase engagement. Interactive ads can increase revenue by 3+%.
- Video ads via AdStream. AdStream can increase revenue by 23%.
- Auto In-Content Ads uses AI to automatically optimize ad placement.
- Adaptive ads automatically fill ad space with whatever combination of ads generates the most revenue for that slot. Adaptive ads can increase revenue by 10–30%.
- Super adhesive ads repurpose large ads into small spaces, scrolling along with the user. Super adhesive ads can increase revenue by 20%.
- Dynamic floor pricing is an algorithmic solution to bid shading, a practice in which advertisers artificially drive down the amount they pay for ad inventory. Dynamic floor pricing can increase revenue by 5+%.
- 3rd party cookie alternatives for contextual ads.
- AdBlock Revenue Recovery serves users ads compatible with their ad block settings. AdBlock Revenue Recovery can increase revenue by 10+%.
- Smart Refresh cycles in new ads based on user actions like switching between tabs or scrolling. Smart Refresh can increase revenue by 6+%.
- AdConsent, a platform for complying with privacy laws like the GDPR and CCPA. This both empowers site visitors and makes your site attractive to advertisers. AdConsent can increase revenue by 1–2%.
Eligibility and Monetization
In addition to the usual stipulations about original content and legitimate traffic, our requirement for partnership is $50/day, which typically equates to about 1,000,000 page views per month (a considerably lower minimum traffic requirement than most other monetization solutions). In addition, we’re willing to consider small publishers with high growth potential.
We offer a competitive revenue share model where publishers keep 80% of ad revenue, we pay out on a NET 30 basis, and you’re free to leave whenever you want (no lock-in contracts).
Our ad strategy support and AI-powered ad stack means our clients experience an average revenue increase of 30–100%. If you’d like to be partnered with a dedicated ad operations expert who will implement our cutting-edge monetization solutions for you, get in touch today!
Media.net gives publishers access to search demand served by the Yahoo! Bing network. The programmatic side of their platform gives you access to server-side header bidding. With one tag, you can run contextual ads, display ads, and native ads. Media.net supports desktop and mobile app ad monetization.
Media.net provides a 24/7 support team to help you integrate with third party partners and fix issues with your ad stack. Finally, they provide a reporting dashboard where you can view metrics surrounding revenue, CPM rates, real-time bidding and more.
3. Raptive (Formerly AdThrive)
To use Raptive, you need to have Google Analytics set up on your site and at least 100,000 PV/month; the majority of your traffic must come from the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, or New Zealand. They offer four levels of service based on how much money your site makes, and only the highest earners get access to tools like customized 1-on-1 consumer research, personalized SEO content strategy plans, or financial planning sessions.
They pay on a NET 45 basis in which publishers receive 75% of ad revenue.
AdMaven is an ad network that doesn’t have any eligibility requirements posted on its site. Their available ad formats include push notifications, new tab pop-ups, interstitial ads, banner ads, and in-app mobile ads.
They pay on a NET 30 basis, but the minimum payout varies by payment method (there’s an $800 minimum for wire transfers) and some of them have built-in fees (including PayPal, Bitcoin, Paxum, and WebMoney).
5. Google AdSense
Google AdSense (not to be confused with Google Ads) is an ad network that draws on Google’s resources. Aside from making legal, family-friendly content that draws legitimate traffic, publishers will need a Google account, phone number, address, and compatible site to sign up.
They offer ads optimized for mobile, automated ads, ad size optimization, H5 game ads, and a directory of accredited providers. They previously calculated revenue based on clicks but are switching to impressions; however, they estimate publishers will continue to receive about 68% of revenue.
Snigel can help publishers determine whether they’ll make more money with AdSense or header bidding, and publishers are free to use both AdSense and Snigel. Get in touch to learn more.
6. Epom Market
Epom Market is both an ad network and a DSP. It requires its clients to have legal, non-offensive content; to implement back-up and security measures; and to agree to exclusively use EPOM Market for site monetization. Their ad tech includes in-app ads, desktop ads (banner ads, native ads, in-feed ads, catfish ads, and postitial ads), and video ads.
Their website says they offer a personal team of ad experts to advise on ad strategy. However, they aren’t transparent about their pay structure, and their terms of service include hidden fees and a 30-day lock-in contract.
7. Vibrant Media
Vibrant Media is an exclusive service that requires publishers to have 500,000 PV/month. They offer in-article and in-image contextual ads powered by curated machine learning, and they offer publishers tools to increase control of what ads are featured on their sites.
Publishers receive 50% of ad revenue no later than 15 days after the end of the month, but there’s a £100 payout minimum.
Xandr is an ad exchange which publishers access via their Monetize SSP, but it also includes Ad Server for yield optimization, along with ad analytics. Available ad types include display ads, native ads, and CTV via a partnership with Netflix.
In addition, they give access to premium ads globally and locally. However, they don’t have payment information available to prospective clients.
Snigel gives publishers access to top SSPs, including Xandr.
Applicants to Taboola, in addition to being legal adults who own their own websites, must only publish their own content and must agree to an exclusive partnership. Taboola offers audience exchanges, video ads, personalization of the user experience, and sponsored content.
They pay on a NET 45 basis via Payoneer and seem to operate via revenue share.
To use AdBlade’s self-service platform, publishers must receive at least 500,000 PV/month and be willing to work with them exclusively. However, publishers who receive at least $1000/month may receive an account representative. Their ad tech includes both standard and premium ad units, brand safety controls, and reporting of analytics.
Revenue is based on clicks; they pay on a NET 30 basis with a $100 minimum payout.
Snigel’s ad strategy support and AI-powered ad stack means our clients experience an average revenue increase of 30–100%. If you’d like to be partnered with a dedicated ad operations expert who will implement our cutting-edge monetization solutions for you, get in touch.