Pay per click industry has come a long way since it was pioneered by Google Adsense more than ten years ago. Although AdSense was not the first PPC network, they were certainly the one that had most impact and set a foundation for others to follow. In all these years many companies tried to enter this field with more or less success, but none seemed to be able to really get a bigger chunk of the market. I did a short research on this subject in order to see if anything had changed recently. Please note that in this article I will just present companies that have the same pricing model as AdSense. If you’re looking for websites that compare better with AdSense in term of performance, please check my article on alternatives.
Similar to AdSense, Chitika is a contextual based ad network specialized in serving text ads. Beside text and image banners, they also serve mobile, Linx (in-text based ads), Hover (footer banner that stays on top of content) and Highlight formats. Highlight format shows an ad when a user highlights a piece of text on your pages. Sounds interesting, but I’m not sure does it work. One thing that I like about Chitika is that they are always very busy adding new formats, removing old formats and constantly experimenting. Their click price can be quite good and like most of contextual networks, their ads seem to work best on text rich pages.
7search is an old school PPC ad network and a search engine specialized in context based text ads. When I say old school, I mean they didn’t change much since the inception 15 years ago. Yes, they have been around longer than AdSense and any other mentioned in this article. Last year they were even voted to be the best second-tier network. 7Search seems to be very popular among advertisers who promote affiliate offers, of who many report good results. As a publisher, I didn’t have too much success with them, as click price in my niche is not very high with them. The reason for this could be that not many affiliate marketeers target this specific niche.
I wrote about Kontera more in detail here. In short, they are a US based company specialized in in-text ads. Their system will analyze the page and convert some keywords into links. Once the user rolls his mouse over the link it will generate a popup with more details on the offer advertised. Kontera is one of the pioneers in this form of advertising, which gained popularity due to fact that it doesn’t require any ad space and is relatively unobtrusive. There are good and bad comments about them. Most bad comments are regarding low click price and their 30 day policy. This policy requires of publishers to give Kontera 30 days’ notice before removing ad code or they might disable your account. Most companies have similar rules, but they appear to enforce this. My experience with them is positive. Even though their click price is not the highest around, you can still make decent income.
Just like Kontera, they are also specialized in in-text advertisements. I haven’t tried them yet, but many publishers report higher earnings and greater flexibility compared to Kontera. Beside standard in-text, they also offer insearch, intag and inframe ads. InSearch is a footer overlay ad format that serves ads based on user searches. Idea behind this is good, but I’m not sure if it still works as Google encrypted their search queries. InTag creates a list of related keywords and when users hovers the mouse it shows more details on offer advertised. InFrame shows display ads on unused margins on larger screens.
I won’t go too much into detail about Bidvertiser since I covered them in detail here. In short, they serve context based text and graphical banner advertisements. Advertisers can bid for ad space on your website or in general categories. In addition to pay per click ads, they serve third party performance based ads to improve the fill rate. I have been using them for a while now and I can say that the performance with them is not so bad. They are a good second-tier or maybe even first-tier network, with good support and on-time payments.
Relatively new and powerful network backed by Yahoo! and Bing. Some authors claim they are the only viable AdSense alternative and that it can outperform it in some cases. The way Media.net works is similar to AdSense, with contextual text ads being their main focus. They are currently by invitation only have very high traffic and quality requirements. I tried them for several weeks, but in my case their performance was not as good as I expected.
PocketCents is a contextual advertising network specialized in serving locally targeted advertisements. Unfortunately most of their advertisers are US based, so if you have large number of non-US visitors, this may not be the best choice for you. They offer standard text and image ads, hybrid and video formats. Publishers are paid minimum 15 cents per click, which is quite acceptable. I can’t really comment on the earnings, since I haven’t tried them yet. Reports seem to be mixed, but more positive than negative.
Similar to Infolinks and Kontera, Clicksor is a network specialized in in-text PPC ads. Beside these, they also offer more traditional text and graphical banners, popunders and interstitial ads, which are mostly served on per view (CPM) basis. Similar to other in-text programs, their ads perform best on text-rich pages. Publishers report 3-5 cents earnings per click and around $2-$3 for popunders and interstitials. I assume this greatly depends on user demographics and traffic quality.
Ad Dynamo is a company based in South Africa, specialized in text ads. Interesting thing about this network is that there is no approval process! Just sign up, paste the code on your website and start earning. You must admit this is rather unusual behavior for a PPC network. Their ad management panel is very easy to use, and ads are running on a proprietary platform. My experience with them was not very good. I used their code for several days and there were not ads at all. I assume there were ads for other demographics as I received some clicks, but these clicks didn’t bring any earnings.
Affinity is another contextual in-text ad network. Beside standard in-text ads, they also offer in-page, in-margin and in-footer advertisements. In-page is just a fancy name for standard contextual banners. In-margin is a standard tower ad that sticks to a left or right margin and stays on top of content. In-footer is as footer bar that can hold standard banners, videos, page takeovers or even signup forms for lead generation. What I dislike is that you need to apply for all of these formats individually as only in-text ads are enabled by default. That wouldn’t be such an issue if you didn’t have to wait for one month in order to get approved. I’ve read mixed reports on Affinity performance, but since I haven’t tried them (still waiting for approval), I can’t really comment on that.
As I mentioned in the introduction, most of these networks are just using the same pricing model as Adsense, but the ad types they serve and operating model are very different. Examples of this are in-text ads which are being served by more than half of networks listed. Please feel free to expand this list with your preferred pay per click networks or share your experiences with the one discussed in this article. Thanks for reading!