Exploring Myths about Monetization and Ad Networks

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By  •  11 min read

Today we’re going to talk about some of the myths and realities about website monetization and ad networks that I’ve heard in general from different bloggers and especially people who are new in this industry read and believe without any proper testing.

This might be an interesting article and an eye-opener for many of you considering the emails and comments I receive in a weekly basis, but instead of just answering back with an email I wanted to publish it and send it to my readers so thousands of people can learn the basics and it will also help me in case I want to provide a link whenever I receive similar questions.

The truth is, monetization can be hard and the more you know about your niche and how to monetize it, the better results you will see. There is no “best ad network” for every site as many people believe at the beginning and there are many monetization methods besides showing banner ads on your website.

Let’s get started with some of the myths I have heard in the years I’ve been a blogger/webmaster.

Myth 1 – People hate ads and they provide a bad user experience

This myth comes from websites that have tons of ads to the point where the visitors have problems getting to consume the actual content of the website and I understand why many people use ad blockers due to this.

There are good ads and there are annoying ads. But even worse, there are websites with a few ads that can be interesting and people click, and there are websites where you have tons of ads to the point where your browser freezes and you can’t even find the close icon to stop the nightmare.

myths monetization ad networks
How many ads are too many?

If you use only 1 or 2 types of ads (and networks) on your website your experience shouldn’t be bad and people won’t leave right away after seeing an ad. In fact, people are used to seeing ads everywhere; on a website, in the shopping mall, while driving to work, TV, etc.

Try to keep a good ad experience and use 1 or 2 ad networks max and more importantly, make the content so good the user doesn’t care about your ads.

At the end of the day, every website needs to make money and sustain the business unless it’s just a small hobby, and people understand that. Madness happens when the moment you enter a website you see 2 pop-ups, a GDPR notification, cookies notification and a video in the lower corner at the same time.

Don’t do that.

Use the best ads you can for your website niche (we’ll talk about this later) and try a mix between banner ads (Adsense or Media.net) and perhaps another ad format like native ads (MGID, Revcontent, etc.) or perhaps interstitial ads from PropellerAds.

Myth 2 – If I test a network and it doesn’t perform well today I’ll switch back

This is a very common mistake I’ve seen around.

A blogger with a website that has already got some decent traffic (congrats on achieving half of the work already!) and they read about an ad network.

Immediately he signs up, gets approved and selects an ad format to implement it on his website.

After 24 hours or less, the blogger checks his stats and he’s made $3 USD from his traffic, which could be great and have some potential, but he knows he made $5 per day with another ad network and so he switches back the day after that.

What’s the problem here?

Obviously, you want to make as much as possible from your traffic without hurting the user experience as much. But you need to understand that every ad network has an algorithm and it takes a few days and up to a few weeks to get to that sweet point.

Media net Guide 2020

I recommend testing new ad networks for at least 2 weeks before testing another network or switching back because this way you give the algorithm and your managers time to optimize their ads and give you the best results in terms of CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) or CPCs (cost per click).

When you sign up for your new website to an ad network, your website is added to the inventory of sites where advertisers can buy traffic from. Some of them will automatically test and optimize their ads for your traffic and this process can take several days.

Also, if your ad network assigns you a private manager for your account (Media.net does), he/she will have more time to help you with recommendations about the best ad sizes, ad locations, and other settings you won’t understand from a quick 24 hours test.

In the end, you might have an ad network that outperforms your current setup but you won’t know it because you made a split test without any significant data.

This time can be reduced if you have tons of traffic available. The more visits you have, the easier it will be for the network to monetize your traffic and optimize it. However, you still need to give it some time as a manager could help you with some recommendations or get you to run with premium advertisers that pay higher CPMs.

Don’t be impatient!

Myth 3 – Google Adsense is the best and only ad network

I understand where this myth comes from.

For starters, the best way to understand how to start a website or a blog is by using WordPress. Also, the best way to explain how to get traffic is from Google and finally, the easiest way to start monetizing it is with Google Adsense.

It makes sense as getting introduced in this world can be overwhelming and the easier it is for newcomers to understand, they are more likely to take action.

After all, everybody knows what Google is and a vast majority of the population has an Android device.

Just keep in mind the concept of the “best ad network” doesn’t exist really. There is no network that fits all kinds of businesses with the best results.

Thinking Google Adsense is the best ad network is like thinking the Toyota Corolla is the best car for every person.

Do you get my point?

If I ask you what’s the best car I could buy right now, I’m sure a few questions will pop in your mind before answering me.

Questions like:

  • What’s your budget?
  • How many people will use the car?
  • Are you looking for a brand new car or a used car?
  • Do you need to carry big/heavy things or is it just for moving around people?
  • Do you have pets or babies?

And similar questions apply when testing a new network with your traffic:

  • What verticals and sources are you getting traffic from?
  • Where are your readers from?
  • What type of website flow do you have? is it a blog, a forum, community site?

See?

Limiting yourself to Google Adsense is good when you’re learning to avoid information overload but once you start getting real traffic you need to find what program works better for your readers.

Perhaps you’re recommending awesome products on your website and the best program for you is the Amazon Associates program.

Or maybe you’re writing about finances, taxes, accountability, etc. and Media.net will outperform Adsense and other networks.

Or maybe you’re just working on a website where you can’t apply to Adsense because it doesn’t cover any of the verticals or rules they require to apply. Think of websites in the streaming industry, adult content, dating, health, etc.

You don’t see Adsense ads in many of those niches yet they are making money. In fact, some of the biggest websites in the world work in those industries, and they can’t use Adsense.

That’s why I have this post about the best Adsense alternatives to cover you.

There’s a whole world of ads and networks out there to explore.

Myth 4 – What CPM/CPC is your network paying so I can test it?

This isn’t exactly a myth but I wanted to mention it because it’s a common question we see in every blog and forum about monetization.

People go and ask you openly to share stats about your CPCs, CPMs, or RPMs (revenue per thousand visits) in general. They want to compare it to their stats and see if it’s worth testing a network.

The fundaments of this approach are wrong because you can almost never compare the results of another website to the results you’re going to get with your website.

Most ad networks work based on performance because it just makes sense for everybody. If advertisers see good performance in their ad campaigns they will spend more money and there will be more competition.

If the results are bad, they’re not going to bleed money forever, in which case they will reduce bids or stop spending money, which decreases the results and RPMs.

The performance of an ad networks changes wildly from country to device, to operating system, to vertical, to ad format, etc.

  • A website with USA traffic in the insurance niche coming from MacBook/iPhone owners could have an RPM of $40 USD.
  • While another website could have traffic from Italy in the dating niche and produce an RPM of $10 USD.
  • Another site could have Mexican traffic in the book’s niche and produce and RPM of $2 only.

So unless you know exactly the niche and type of traffic a website is getting, you can never assume you will have similar results to another website.

It’s just impossible. Every website is unique and different.

If you still want to ask a similar question at least try to be specific and ask things like main countries and verticals to get a better idea, but don’t expect to have the same results, especially if you’re just starting to test the network.

Your results could be better or worse as nothing is guaranteed.

Myth 5 – This network closed my account and is a scam

Have you ever searched for a network on Google just to find very little info about it and some posts about how a network supposedly scammed someone on an old forum post?

Doing research is more difficult as not all networks are as well known and popular as Google, Amazon, or even Facebook.

However, whenever you see posts like that you need to take them with a grain of salt.

Many times I’ve seen the comments are made by people who actually tried to scam the network by sending fake traffic (bots or fake clicks) and they obviously didn’t get paid for fraud.

Once that happens, they go out to every blog post and forum and leave a bad review about the network saying it was a scam.

A scammer being scammed… the irony!

Sometimes it’s also a mistake as networks try to get more information about a publisher and they ask to submit their personal info, like a copy of the passport or an ID and for some reason, some people really hate doing this (especially if they’re scammers) and they don’t submit the documents and the payments are held.

Ad networks should have somebody doing research and giving public feedback in forums and online communities to mitigate this, but many of them don’t even know about this so they just leave the comments without answers and it looks bad for sure.

That’s their mistake, and I’m not saying every time you see a post about a network is a scam it’s probably a fake post. However, take everything with a grain of salt and do your research.

There are of course networks that might be fake or fraudulent. If you can’t really find any information about a network on Google you might want to skip it.

However, if you find both good and bad feedback about a company always remember there are 2 sides of a coin, and many times publishers try to do whatever they can to get paid, even if they send fraud traffic.

Have you ever seen people clicking their own Adsense ads or sending Chinese bot traffic to Adsense and then getting their accounts shut down? They take all the rage out in forums because Google doesn’t give second chances, yet I’m pretty sure Google is not a scammy company.

Final thoughts and conclusions

I really hope this post helps you understand more about how the industry works. The key here is being patient and understand how traffic and monetization work to maximize your earnings.

If you’re stuck in the initial stage of your blog, which is traffic generation, don’t sweat it and focus on that. There’s no point in showing ads and applying to ad networks when you have 5 visits per day.

There’s a proper time for everything 🙂

Servando started Stream SEO in 2012. He is a full-time affiliate marketing expert and blogger. Servando has been able to generate more than 7 figures with various digital marketing strategies. Read more here.