Finding Alternatives to Google Adsense
December 18th, 2018. The time was 18:00 PST when my Google Adsense account was shut down due to invalid traffic..
Earlier that day, my blog had an unnaturally large increase in traffic. I went from my average request rates of 100/hour to 2000/hour in the span of just 3 minutes. The traffic was completely inorganic (0:00 spent on the website), 99.99% bounce rate, and none of my articles had increased user view counts, according to Google Analytics. Google Adsense flagged my website for fraudulent activity and within a few hours time, suspended my Adsense account completely.
Despite contacting Google several times and providing service logs from my Cloudfront distribution (I use AWS for hosting my website) proving the fraudulent traffic, they continued to respond with the same copy paste:
After thoroughly reviewing your account data and taking your feedback into consideration, our specialists have confirmed that we're unable to reinstate your AdSense account.
I was left with no monetization model (I had not yet implemented affiliate marketing) and a mysterious source of invalid traffic that could strike my website again at any moment. The first thing I did was take precautionary steps like setting up service alarms and request throttles to flag/stunt future inorganic traffic spikes. After a ton of digging, I eventually identified a surprising culprit for the cause of this invalid traffic, which I reveal and explain in a separate article.
Despite the shocking setback of losing an advertising partner, I knew I had to find another solution to sustain my blogs profitable business model. I had heard of alternatives to Google Adsense only in passing, and typically wrote them off as being lower quality than the browser giant. When I began exploring the available options however, I was pleasantly surprised.
Infolinks was the first advertising network I tried, and it works in a very similar way to Google Adsense. It gives users JS code to implement anywhere on their website, just like Adsense units. If you run a website through Wordpress or another hosting platform, Infolinks has easy integrations and solid documentation to walk you through the process. Once you get the ad units loaded on your site, all preferences are configured from within the Infolink console and pushed to the ad units automatically, which makes updates easy to implement. Infolink offers various ad unit types:
- In-text: Infolink picks various words throughout the webpage and adds hyperlinks to them, which can be customized in color, style (dotted or underlined) as well as how many should appear per page.
- In-fold: Ads will appear in the fold of whichever pages have the Infolink JS code. These ad units are not terribly intrusive and can be customized to appear on the left, middle, right or all three sides of the webpage.
- In-tag: Ads will appear anywhere the webpage uses the tag class, which makes for a surprisingly non-intrusive user experience.
- In-frame: Ad units will slide in from the left and right sides of users screens. In my opinion this ad unit is more intrusive than the rest, so I do not use these. If used in addition to In-fold ad units, much of the users screen could be covered.
- In-article: Ad units will open in a section of the webpage that Infolinks deems most likely to receive clicks, which tends to be anywhere above the fold. You can also use an HTML identifier to specify where the ad should appear every time.
Compared to other advertising networks I’ve tried, Infolinks offers the easiest solution to pushing updates in real time. On top of that, the ad unit loading speed is impressively faster than Google Adsense, which means a better experience for your website traffic. Website speed is a big deal, as 53% of users will abandon a webpage if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. If you want to give Infolinks a try, you can sign up at this link.
Being the contextual ads program for both Yahoo and Bing, Media.net has earned its stripes in the online advertising community. Although people dislike Yahoo and (moreso) Bing, their international usage does indicate that people are actively engaging on the web browsers, and where people go, advertisers do too. Many of the other advertising networks I found have minimal ad options, which is likely the result of low browser support. Because of it's affiliation with Yahoo and Bing, Media.net seems like a good choice for the long term.
Media.net also has a great support team. As soon as my account was up and running, I received an email from a member of their Publishing Partners team, who helped me finish my account set up and optimize my ad appearance. It does appear that their native ad units do not scale properly, but my representative was able to make an adjustment on his end that fixed the issue. When in doubt, ask!
In combination with Infolinks, Media.net offers a different ad experience that makes my website appear more organic and less spammy. There’s no penalty for having both ad services being used in the background, as long as your UI remains friendly and uncluttered. Like most advertising platforms, Infolinks and Media.net require application approval, which typically means telling the network how many organic visits your website get per month, the websites category (blog, entertainment, etc), etc. In my case, my website got approved in 1-2 business days. Applications will also require you to submit your mailing address and SSN/Tax IDs. They are required by law to gather this information from you, because they pay you!
The third and (in my opinion) best advertising network I found is Awin.com, and their ads are the ones currently present on this article! Much like Infolinks and Media.net, Awin gives you simple code to inject into your website directly, wherever you want ads to appear. What's great about Awin is that you get to choose exactly which ads are being presented on your site- so there's no risk of random ads showing up to your visitors. Awin does require membership to join, followed by additional applications for each partner whos ads you with to display on your site. These barriers of entry mitigate low quality advertisers/publishers, making it a higher valued affiliate network. You can learn more/sign up on Awin.com.
While the hunt for the best advertising platform continues, Infolinks, Media.net, and Awin.com have my business for now. If you enjoyed this Mod, you might also enjoy learning about these 5 alternatives to Google search!
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