To host display ads, most publishers rely on programmatic advertising, in which ad inventory is auctioned off in the space of time it takes for a page to load. Though many people informally refer to all programmatic advertising solutions as ad networks, there are important differences between the different solutions that affect how much control publishers have over the ads that appear on their site, how the ad space is set up, the ad tech that’s available to them, and, therefore, how much revenue they can earn.
In this post, we provide factors to consider when choosing the right ad monetization solution for display advertising, starting with which type of ad network to choose:
- Type of Ad Monetization Platform
- Ad Strategy
- Ad Tech
- Payment Structure
We cover 10+ ad monetization solutions for publishers by type, starting with an in-depth review of Snigel.
Note: Throughout the majority of this post, we focus on the benefits and disadvantages of the top display ad networks from the publisher’s perspective. If you’re an advertiser, you can skip to the bottom of the list where we cover top display ad networks for advertisers, including some factors to consider.
Snigel’s AdEngine includes a lightweight AI-powered ad stack that can host interactive ad formats while fostering site health and the user experience. In addition, our dedicated ad operations experts will help you at every stage of the monetization process, from making an ad strategy to implementing ad tech. To learn more about how we help our clients increase their ad revenue by 57% on average, get in touch today.
Factors to Consider for Publishers
When choosing a monetization solution, there are the five main factors to consider.
Factor #1: Platform Type
When it comes to digital advertising, the first and most important consideration is what type of platform to choose.
- Advertising network: A service which bundles ad inventory space from multiple publishers to sell to advertisers.
- Ad exchange: A platform that hosts direct auctions between publishers and advertisers (often used interchangeably with SSP).
- Header bidding partner: A service that offers simultaneous access to multiple ad networks and ad exchanges via a programmatic ad auction and proprietary ad tech for optimizing your ad setup.
Because ad networks work as an intermediary between advertisers and publishers, they typically give publishers less control over what ads appear where. Whereas, ad exchanges provide more control because the publishers are working directly with the advertisers. Ad exchanges also tend to attract higher quality advertisers and a larger number of advertisers, which gives publishers access to better ads for their audience.
Meanwhile, header bidding partners effectively put multiple ad exchanges and ad networks into competition with each other, driving up bids (and therefore, revenue). They also typically provide additional ad tech that makes it possible to optimize your ad layouts and setup with automation for maximum revenue. Because of this, most publishers can greatly increase their revenue by working with a reputable header bidding company (like Snigel).
Factor #2: Ad Strategy Support
The second consideration is ad strategy support. Ad strategy refers to everything from the number, format, and size of ads on your site to choosing the best SSPs to connect to based on your brand and what’s most appealing to your target audience. Developing and maintaining a robust ad strategy is often outside the expertise and capabilities of most publishers, which is why it’s important to know how much support is available from your ad monetization partner.
Some are self-service (providing only tools and information), some offer a ticketing system (in which whoever happens to be available answers your question whether or not they’re the most qualified), and some provide account managers or teams of experts who will stick with you as your website develops, learning about your specific needs, and customizing their approach accordingly. Again, since most publishers don’t have the necessary expertise (or time) to design and implement an ad strategy that truly maximizes revenue, it’s better to choose a solution that provides you with more personalized support.
It’s also important to note whether equal levels of support are available to all clients, as some platforms reserve ad strategy support for their highest performers and most expensive packages.
Factor #3: Ad Tech
Ad technology is the method by which ads are monetized on your site. Therefore, the available tech limits what you can do with your ads. For example, server-side header bidding (S2S) technology moves the auction to an external server, which speeds up how long it takes the ad to load and affects which SSPs you can connect to. Without this, the slower load speeds may impact website quality and you may not have access to the advertisers who are willing to pay the most for your ad inventory.
Similarly, different platforms have different available ad formats (e.g. video ads or mobile app ads). So if you want a specific type of ad, make sure it’s available via that platform. Some ad formats to look for include:
- Interactive ads
- Video ads
- Display and banner ads
- Mobile ads
- Adaptive ads
Finally, no two publisher sites are the same, so ad tech often needs to be customized to suit your needs. Without the ability to adapt the ad tech to your needs, you’ll inevitably leave money on the table.
Some ad tech will only let you choose between various preset options, while others let you build custom setups. Even if the ad tech supports high levels of customization, some solutions make publishers implement these customizations on their own. This requires advanced technical skill which most publishers don’t have. That’s why most publishers who are serious about maximizing revenue not only choose highly customizable ad tech but also find a partner who takes care of the ad tech for them.
Factor #4: Eligibility
Most monetization platforms require original content and legitimate traffic, but some have additional stipulations like a minimum threshold of website traffic or a non-compete clause (i.e. you can’t use their platform alongside other platforms). Make sure to carefully review the terms of service before you sign up for a platform.
Factor #5: Payment Structure
Finally, payment structure refers to how revenue is calculated, what proportion the publisher keeps, how often they receive payouts, and the available payment methods. This is also the place where publishers may encounter hidden fees for service, which is exacerbated by a general lack of transparency within the industry.
In addition, make sure to check whether there’s a lock-in contract that will keep you from walking away if the provider has exploitative pay practices.
All of that being said, the most important thing to keep in mind is how much a platform can earn for you overall. If one platform has a revenue share 10% higher than another platform that can only bring in half the revenue, the first one is still the better option.
For more information, refer to our guide on the highest CPM ad networks.
Top Display Ad Networks for Publishers (by Type)
Header Bidding Solutions
Snigel offers a header bidding solution that gives you access to the top SSPs and premium ad networks; with all of them competing for your ad inventory, bids go up and so does your revenue. We also partner all our clients with a dedicated ad operations expert, who will implement an ad strategy for you; meanwhile, our ad technicians will implement our lightweight, customizable ad stack on your site.
As mentioned above, developing a robust ad strategy involves a lot of factors, including how many ads to run on your site, what formats of ads will garner the most engagement, which ad verticals are most compatible with your brand, and much more. While this is a daunting task for most publishers, it’s exactly what our ad operations experts are trained to do.
Your dedicated expert will work with you at every stage of the process to optimize your header bidding setup. During the initial consultation, they’ll learn about your site — and your priorities — to develop a comprehensive plan that maximizes revenue while preserving site health and the user experience.
They’ll then implement the plan on your site, including advising how to leverage the ad tech we discuss below. They’ll monitor ad performance, including via A/B testing, to ensure you’re achieving the expected outcome. And as your site grows, they’ll help adapt your ad strategy to meet your changing needs.
Our header bidding solution AdEngine allows you to easily and efficiently monetize your site without compromising your site health. But the thing that really sets us apart from other solutions is customizability. We can tailor our ad tech to your needs, verticals, and site layouts. In addition, our ad technology experts will do all the implementation for you, so you don’t need any technical savvy to benefit from our ad stack.
Other highlights of our ad stack include:
- Server-side header bidding (S2S). This ensures fast loading speeds by keeping the processing load on external servers rather than your website.
- AI-driven dynamic floor pricing. Our algorithm prevents bid shading (a method advertisers use to cut costs at the expense of publishers) and increases fill rates, which increases clients’ revenue on average by 5+%.
- Bidder Optimization. Our AI finds the best match for your inventory, increasing revenue by 7+% on average.
- High-quality ad formats. In addition to display and banner ads, we support interactive ad units (which increase revenue by 3+% on average) and video ads via AdStream (which increase revenue by 23% on average).
- Super adhesive ads. When the highest-paying ad is larger than the available space, we can still display it by allowing it to scroll when the user does. This increases revenue by 20+% on average.
- Adaptive ads. Our tech can display multiple small ads in a larger ad space if the combined bid is higher, which increases revenue by 10–30% on average.
- Smart Refresh. When users take actions like switching between tabs, Smart Refresh cycles to a new set of ads, boosting revenue by 6+% on average.
- Adblock recovery. AdEngine automatically detects adblock software and serves ads that are compatible with its setting, increasing revenue by 10+% on average.
- AdConsent. Our AdConsent platform lets you manage privacy settings to ensure compliance with legislation like the GDPR and CCPA. This increases revenue by 1–2% on average.
Eligibility and Monetization
Publishers are eligible for our services if their current monetization efforts generate $50/day, though we’re open to smaller, high-quality sites with growth potential. We operate off a revenue share model in which publishers keep ~80% and are paid on a NET 30 basis.
Ezoic’s eligibility requirements are lenient to start (their standard plan has no pageview requirements) but increase if you want to access their premium services (e.g., dedicated account support).
Their ad tech is somewhat limited and doesn’t include features such as super adhesive ads or interactive ads. However, they do offer header bidding, A/B testing of ad layouts, direct deals, and more. Publishers can manage their ad stack with Ezoic via a self-serve platform.
Ezoic’s standard plan doesn’t include a lock-in clause, however, the premium plans are signed on a yearly basis (with penalties for leaving early). Plus, some of the premium plans require a monthly fee in addition to a portion of revenue earned. Revenue shares vary by plan.
3. Media.net (Hybrid)
Media.net is a hybrid solution that combines an ad network with header bidding. Their most notable eligibility requirement is a non-compete clause. They offer a robust assortment of ad formats, including display ads, native ads, video ads, and what they call “sizeless ads”, but their biggest selling point is cookie-free contextual ads (for more alternatives to third party cookies, see our guide).
They also have a reporting dashboard and ad specialists to assist with ad monitoring and adjustments. That being said, most publishers use Media.net as an SSP rather than as a comprehensive ad monetization solution.
Finally, they pay on a NET 30 basis, with revenue calculated based on click throughs.
Learn more: Monetizing Your Site with Media.net vs Snigel
4. Google Adsense
Ad network Google AdSense requires publishers to have a Google account, but there are no minimum traffic thresholds. They offer ads for mobile and desktop, including H5 game ads, and their software automatically optimizes ad placements and sizes. Profits are calculated based on valid click throughs.
You can use Google AdSense alongside Snigel. Our team will help you determine whether AdSense or header bidding with Snigel will earn you more revenue for a given ad spot. Get in touch for a free assessment.
The ad formats supported by AdMaven include push notifications, new tab pop-ups, interstitials, banners, and in-app mobile ads.
Their minimum payout varies by payment method; the highest one is $800 for wire transfers. Other methods like PayPal, Bitcoin, Paxum, and WebMoney have built-in fees.
Regardless of payment method, AdMaven sends money on a NET 30 basis as long as the minimum is met.
Epom Market serves publishers via its ad network; advertisers can also take advantage of its demand-side platform (DSP). In addition to the standard eligibility requirements, it has a non-compete clause and makes back-up and security measures the responsibility of their clients. They offer a variety of ad formats for desktop, including banners, native ads, in-feed ads, catfish ads, postitial ads, and video ads. In-app ads are also available. They claim to offer a personal team of ad experts to advise on ad strategy.
Notably, they aren’t transparent about their payment structure, and their terms of service include hidden fees and require clients to give 30-days notice to back out.
Infolinks is an ad monetization solution compatible with Google AdSense and Publisher Management Partners that has what they describe as “modest” page view requirements. They offer keyword-based contextual ads, interstitial intermission ads, mobile ads that stay in view while users scroll, and ads that display at the edges of wide screens. They also have a feature called InArticle that they claim serves top brand ads in response to user engagement.
Their 65% revenue share model is based on clicks and views, paying out via PayPal, Bank Wire, eCheck and ACH (for U.S. bank accounts only) on a NET 45 basis as long as the minimum payout is met.
8. Vibrant Media
Vibrant Media has a minimum traffic requirement of 500,000 page views per month, and also requires exclusivity. Their contextual in-article and in-image ads are enabled by curated machine learning. They also offer tools to enhance publishers’ control of what ads are featured on their sites.
They pay 50% of ad revenue on a NET 45 basis as long as the £100 payout minimum is met.
Ad exchange Taboola has a non-compete clause for online advertising. Services include video ads, sponsored content, audience exchanges, and tools to personalize user experiences. Though they don’t say what proportion of earnings publishers keep, they pay on a NET 45 basis via Payoneer.
Publishers access Xandr’s ad exchange via the Monetize SSP, which is supplemented by ad analytics and yield optimization platforms. They offer premium ads, including display ads, native ads, and CTV ads via a partnership with Netflix.
Xandr pays publishers on a NET 60 or 90 basis.
Xandr is one of the top SSPs that Snigel partners with.
In addition to a non-compete clause, self-service ad exchange AdBlade has a 500,000 page view per month eligibility requirement. All clients can access standard and premium ad units, brand safety controls, and reporting of analytics; publishers who receive at least $1000/month may be assigned an account representative.
They pay out on a NET 30 basis with a $100 minimum where revenue is calculated based on clicks.
Top Ad Networks for Advertisers
If you’re an advertiser, here are some factors to consider when searching for an advertising platform:
- Reach of the monetization solution. You’ll get the best result from a platform that reaches your target demographic and is well-connected enough to help you grow your audience.
- Ad tech. Make sure the platform can support the ads you want to run. In addition, check for tools that will help you optimize metrics like cost per mille (CPM), effective cost per mille (eCPM), cost per click (CPC), and cost per action (CPA) in the context of real-time bidding (RTB).
- Targeting options. While data management platforms (DMPs) can help you with targeting, a platform with built-in targeting and audience segmentation capabilities are invaluable to ad campaigns.
- Payment structure. This includes how much you pay, how often you pay, and payment methods.
Note: Many of the ad networks and ad exchanges mentioned above also serve advertisers. And, Index Exchange listed below also serves publishers.
1. Yahoo! Advertising
The Yahoo! Advertising DSP offers first-party data and identity graphing that doesn’t depend on cookies. It also uses machine learning to optimize performance. They offer access to premium inventory and can support advanced TV ads, digital out-of-home ads, audio ads, native ads, video ads, and mobile ads.
2. Index Exchange
Index Exchange has many different services for advertisers including an intelligence engine which automatically connects you to auctions with relevant traffic, a supply quality team who vets inventory to ensure it’s high-quality, tools for making audience-based purchases at scale, and more.
Index Exchange supports display, video, CTV, mobile and native ad inventory.
3. Google Ads
Google’s advertiser-focused platform supports search ads, app ads, video ads, and display ads, and has an AI-assisted ad creation feature. Other tools include automated budget-optimizing and a keyword planner. Publishers have the opportunity to work with ads experts and can choose to make manual or automatic payments, with available methods varying by country.
To learn more about how we help our clients increase their ad revenue by 57% on average, get in touch today.