So which are the top ad networks with whom to partner in 2014? Today, we’re rolling out our top ten picks of the Best Ad Networks of 2014, based on our own monetization analytics and perceived user experience.
Related Read: Best AdSense Alternatives in 2014 Per Vertical
Note: We are in no way incentivized or compensated for these reviews.
Owned by Google, this is by far the largest advertising network. It has access to the world’s biggest pool of advertisers that pay the highest CPMs. It’s the premium version of AdSense, but this isn’t just a dinky little upgrade. Ad Exchange is a real-time marketplace that works perfectly with Google’s DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) ad serving platform.
DFP interconnects advertisers, publishers, and networks that provide more flexibility for publishers to set the rates at which they want their inventory sold. If it can’t be sold at the premium price you set, it will be auctioned off in the Exchange, and the highest paying ad will be served. Google Ad Exchange controls 80% of publisher revenue market share.
Adsense is the most widely used and accessible ad network for publishers of all sizes. AdSense is fairly quick and easy to set up, provided you comply with Google’s guidelines. Ads are targeted based on your site’s content and display either as text ads, image-rich ads, or both depending on your preference. Text ads can be customized to match the look and feel of your site. Without CPM floors, AdSense can serve at 100% fill to all geographic regions. AdSense offers 68% publisher revenue share for content and 51% publisher revenue share for search.
One of the biggest sharks in the advertising industry, Tribal Fusion CPMs are usually high ($0.60+) and fill rates are good. They only accept sites with at least 500,000 unique visitors per month, however, which means smaller publishers won’t stand a chance. Their interface allows you to filter advertisers and ad categories according to your preference, which is nice, but setting up your defaults is going to be a long and drawn-out process. Although the interface is not the most user-friendly in the world, TribalFusion offers the best quality advertisers and rates on a CPM basis. TribalFusion gives 55% publisher revenue share. Traffic requirement for publishers must be at 500,000 uniques/month level.
At OpenX, CPMs are top of the stack and can fill at 100% in all countries. OpenX is probably the next best performing ad network after Google Ad Exchange. Just make sure you monitor traffic and raise any discrepancy in your reports. Their tags should not be used as passbacks to avoid transparency issues. In short, PixFuture tags should be used at first impressions for visitors to avoid getting trapped in iFrames and therefore pass on all your good inventory. Open X also attracts more premium campaigns with higher CPMs.
Specific Media caters to United States-based impressions only and can fill at 100%. Make sure you target desktop only, as they won’t pay for mobile impressions. You can try to negotiate for a flat CPM rate during your screening, but every application will have to go through a representative, and they’ll explicitly tell you if they are interested in working with you or not.
Evolve Media/Crave offers a lot of potential, but this is one network that will take some TLC to maximize your benefit. The user interface does not allow you to make changes to the account yourself, so you’ll have to go through a representative every time there’s something you want to modify. Give it some time, though, and their CPMs have the potential to perform very well. These guys don’t fill at 100%, so make sure you have your passback tags set up and ready to go.
Media.net partners with Yahoo! Bing Network and can monetize all geographic regions at 100% fill. They only serve text ads so it’s best to choose the color that blends with your site, and you can also test variations to maximize CTRs. They offer standard and non-standard ad sizes, and the user interface allows publishers to create and customize their own placements. Give it some time and CPMs have the potential to perform very well.
8. Sonobi Media
Sonobi is an ad network aggregator that can fill all countries at 100%. Sonobi is worth setting up for any publisher because they have a wide range of advertisers that can cater to almost any vertical. They have recently launched a new version of the user interface which gives publishers more control over their account, inventory, and reports.
This reporting interface is awesome. They can serve ads in all geographics but not at 100% fill, so make sure to set up your passback tags. You can do this in the user interface itself. You have to turn on all campaigns to increase the fill rate and maximize performance, but this is definitely a network worth checking out.
This is an ad network that allows you to set an asking price for your inventory, which gives publishers the power to set a minimum CPM acceptable to them. You can also set a ‘Performance Price’, which tells PulsePoint how much a certain backup tag is paying you, and they will try to beat that price when they are unable to meet your asking price. They accept any website and do not require domain whitelist.