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Working with an Ad Network

Working with an ad network can a great way to earn money as a blogger. In fact, for many professional food bloggers this is where most if not all of there income is generated.

What are ad networks?

Ad networks are the intermediary between you and companies that would like to place ads on your site. The ad networks deal with the companies and with your permission place codes that will put ads on your site which you are then paid for.

How do ads work?

Marketers tell the ad network how much they are willing to pay and then any time an ad goes up their information goes into a bidding war. Who ever is willing to pay the most gets the space on your site.

How do they choose which ads go up?

The type ad that goes up will, whenever possible, be based on the readers cookies. This information tells ad networks what your reader is interested in. Then the ad network pushes out an ad the reader will hopefully be most interested in.

Can you control which ads go on your site?

With most ad networks you can’t. Whatever goes up goes up. With Mediavine you can choose to opt out of ads that you don’t feel are appropriate for your audience.

For example, my food blog only has kosher recipes on it. Then one day a friend of mine who is catholic called me to tell me that they got an ad for pork on my site.

They thought this was very funny in an ironic way. I on the other hand went directly to my Mediavine Dashboard and oped out of ads for meat products.

How much money do you make?

That depends on your ad network. Adsense pays pushers (the blogger) a very little for the ads. When I worked with Gourmet Ads I made more than I could have with Adsense but still a very low amount.

The two top paying ad networks are Mediavine and Ad Thrive. With these companies you can make much more.

In fact, I do not believe it is worth while to put ads on your site if you are not working with one of these two ad networks.

Can I make a living from ads?

Absolutely. Many professional bloggers do. In fact, my first site was a food blog and I became a full time professional blogger just from the ads within a year of joining to Mediavine.

How does the revenue work?

With most ad networks work on RPMs which means revenue per mille. Mille is Latin for thousand.

When you work with RPMs it means that your income is based the estimated earnings that accrue for every 1000 ad impressions of the ad.

What is an average RPM?

That depends on the ad network you work with. Adsense could pay pennies. With Gourmet Ads it may be a few dollars.

With top ad networks like Mediavine and Ad Thrive it is usually between $20 – $30. This however depends a lot on how engaging you make your content along with if you follow their recommendations.

It also depends on what kind of ads you have. Desk top ads pay more than mobile ads because there is more access to cookies. Video ads pay a lot more than other ads because they are more likely to get attention.

Why do some ad networks pay less than others?

There are a number of factors for this.

The most common ones are that many ad networks allow advertisers to pay very little. Mediavine and Ad Thrive do not allow this and create a minimum threshold.

Another reason is that many ad networks don’t have great systems in place. This could mean that many of your ads don’t get seen. It could also make your site load slower which will increase your bounce rate.

The is also the fact that ad networks take a cut of your income. The larger the cuts they take the less you make. With Ad Thrive and Mediavine you make 75% of the revenue.

Mediavine does something else that is exceptional. For every year you are with them you get an extra percent as a loyalty bonus until you reach 80%.

They also increase your revenue if your site gets high traffic. So, if you have 5,000,000 ad impressions within 30 days your revenue share jumps to 80%.

What are Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4?

Marketing and financial reporting are done on a quarterly basis. Q1 is the first quarter (January through March) of the year and usually pays the lowest. Q2 (April through June) and Q4 (October through December) pay the most. Though this does depend somewhat on your niche.

Q4 is when you make the big bucks. People are shopping like crazy so markets are willing to really invest in getting their ads viewed. This goes right through Christmas and then drops off.

Q1 is painful because you go from the holiday high into saving mode.

Q2 is usually the end of markets annual budget. This means they are glad to dump money on marketing before their new budget takes effect.

Q3 is kind of like no mans land. There is nothing really happening here so there is no reason to invest much money into ads.

Is ad revenue over all steady?

Yes and no. You normally won’t see huge drops but your RPMs tend to fluctuate day by day. Also, the beginning of the month will have lower RPMs and the end of month tends to have higher RPMs. The same applies for beginning and end of quarters.

Are there shady ad networks?

For sure! There are many ethically questionable ad networks out there that just see publishers people they can take advantage of to make themselves money.

Many ad networks will borrow from the money you’ve earned without your permission. If they lose that money… you may be paid for it.

Many ad networks put a minimum on how much money you make before they are willing to transfer your money to you. Since they pay you so little, this could take months to accrue and if you leave them before hitting that amount they keep the money they owe you – this happened to me with Gourmet Ads.

They also may put information on your site without permission. Gourmet Ads when into my Privacy Policy and added their own block of information. It was just dropped in and looked out of place. I only found it when I switched to Mediavine.

What is a Google Certified Publisher Partners?

This means that their ad optimization, policies, financials, business practices and ad layouts are Google-approved and thoroughly vetted. It also means they work closely with Google to make sure your ads are up to date with Google’s current and future policies.

Which Ad Networks are Google Certified Publisher Partners?

Google has a list of Google Certified Publisher Partners.

Mediavine in addition to being a Google Certified Publisher Partner but was also awarded by Google The Customer Satisfaction Award for their “commitment to understanding the customer” and the Highest Health Score Award — for a perfect health score of 100.