21 Advertising Networks For Publishers

“How do I make money online?”
The most important thing you can learn about advertising online is that it’s a much richer landscape than Adsense would have you believe. To drive that point home I’ve collected 21 advertising providers covering the gamut of publishing formats.

1. Kontera – In-Text Advertising

Kontera is a good network if you are just starting out as a publisher or if your content is text heavy. You can get into the network through Scribefire or sign up directly, and the code is simple to install. The downside is you will have a ton of double underlined ads at random locations in your text. For some readers it can be a nuisance. This is a great network while you are still at the “I want to pay the server bill” stage.

2. Text Link Ads – Text Link / In-Text Advertising

This network deals in paid text links which typically find their home in your sidebar. There is a lot of upside to Text Link Ads. You don’t need gaudy banners, they pay well and they are generally transparent to your audience. Unfortunately, they are on rather shaky ground Google and using TLA can get you penalized in the engines. For most small publishers this won’t be a significant issue, but if h2 positioning in the SERP is absolutely critical for your business, this should be a consideration.

3. Commission Junction – CPA / Affiliate Marketpace

Commission Junction deals in cost per action and affiliate programs. If you run a site that reviews products or otherwise encourages buying behavior, this network can be extremely lucrative. Typically the payouts per action are substantially higher than cost per impression or cost per click networks, unfortunately if your site does not convert viewers into buyers you won’t see a dime. There are tons of affiliate networks out there, commission junction is one of the largest and most well known.

4. Shopping Ads – CPA / Affiliate Marketplace

Think commission junction but with deals through eBay, Amazon and other retail channels. Again, before using this as your primary monetization channel consider your audience. If I am using your site as a pitstop to a purchase, affiliates are a great way to get cut – if, however, your site gives me no incentive to buy anything, don’t expect to see a huge payout from Shopping Ads.

5. Adsense – Contextual Ad Network

The most recognizable ad network on the web, Google’s contextual ads make up a huge percentage of online advertising. The reason is that they are one size fits all, no matter what your site Google probably has an ad for you. Not only that, their fill rate is superb and they are an easy network to get into. What’s the downside? It’s easy to outgrow them, you will eventually find that Google’s payout for many verticals isn’t as good as you could be making elsewhere. At that point, it might be time to start looking at other providers and using Google as a remnant to fill your unsold inventory.

6. Technorati Media – Rep Agency

This is one of the ad providers we use here at HTSAA. Technorati Media has a fantastic sales and support staff and CPMs I have only seen rivaled by Gorilla Nation and Federated Media. They payout at 50% and they currently sell skyscrapers, leaderboards and rectangles. The downside is that they are difficult to get into (they currently work with about 100 publishers) and because they are new, they have a limited number of campaigns available. If you have a few other providers for your unsold inventory, I can’t say better things about Technorati.

7. Tribal Fusion – Rep Agency

Like Technorati Media, Tribal Fusion is a rep agency so you will have a sales staff behind you trying to sell advertising into your vertical. The result is very competitive CPMs and a fill rate that comes from being behind an established network. Unfortunately, getting into Tribal Fusion isn’t easy. Bad economic times are also causing them to decrease the number of publishers they let in, which will be especially difficult for smaller publishers who might have been just large enough to get in under other conditions.

8. Federated Media – Rep Agency

While I have never worked with Federated Media personally, I will say that they are a premiere agency for top-tier bloggers. They have some of the highest CPMs in the industry and they have a sales staff that is constantly working to drive new, innovative campaigns to their publishers. You will need substantial traction to have a chance to be accepted by Federated Media, but once you get a few hundred thousand monthly impressions it’s worth sending in an application.

9. Gorilla Nation – Rep Agency

Gorilla Nation is another network I haven’t worked with directly, but it has the reputation as one of the best ad providers for medium to large publishers. Like all rep agencies your biggest problem will be fill, they can’t provide hard numbers (since they are different depending on the publisher) but expect to see a 30% fill rate.

10. Forbes Business Network – Rep Agency

Forbes Business Network is specialty ad network for business and finance blogs run by the salespeople at Forbes. I have had a love hate relationship with FBN. They are a great provider of premium advertising, seeing $5 CPMs in some cases. Unfortunately, depending on the month the number of campaigns and their fill rate can be extremely low (under 10%). Forbes is a great addition to the chain, but it is unlikely to be your only ad provider.

11. Performacing Ads – 125 x 125 Marketplace

Performancing is in the business of selling 125 x 125 ads now. For anyone who has spent time in content production, you would know that the 125 x 125 is a hugely popular format for bloggers. Performancing has been a mixed bag, their interface is great and implementation of the code is easy but you still spend a great deal of time waiting for your ad space to be sold. It’s good but not a perfect solution.

12. Voxant – In-Video

Voxant is a provider of video content syndicated from dozens of major news companies including BBC, AP and Reuters. They also have a revenue sharing program that pays publishers for showing their videos. This is a win-win. Not only do you get access to high quality video content, but you also get paid whenever anyone watches it. The only downside is the backend. It’s difficult to track anything and hard to tell whether every view is a paid impression (they use several ad providers and sometimes none at all). All in all it is a great service that has only been getting better over time.

13. Videoegg – Social Network / Widget Advertising

Videoegg has a large inventory of ads for wdigets, social networks and other rich media platforms. It’s a great network for anyone with a traditionally difficult to monetize platform.

14. Social Spark – Advertorial

Social Spark allows advertisers to buy bloggers time and space and get them to write about products and services – that’s right, it’s an advertorial exchange. This is another buyer beware scenario, not because Google will frown on you (the IZEA team worked hard to unruffle those feathers) but because the advertorial model is still young in Blogging circles and there is a lot of backlash associated with using it. Transparency seems to be the biggest takeaway when using a service like this, Social Spark forces it but even without the nudge in the right direction be sure to realize you are playing with your reader’s trust. That being said, I think everyone would do well to realize that advertorial has been in media since the invention of the newstand, it might be time for us to get over ourselves just a little.

15. Review Me – Advertorial

ReviewMe is another Advertorial marketplace with a few less checks and balances as Social Spark. The same rules apply.

16. interClick – Ad Network

While I would have liked a higher fill rate, what I like about interClick is your ability to see just about everything about the campaigns that you are running. They offer skyscrapers, leaderboards and rectangles as well as popup ads (if you’re into that sort of thing). This network should definitely be used

17. Casale Media – Ad Network

Casale Media is a notoriously difficult network to get into, but everything I’ve heard suggest that they run into fewer dilution problems than similar networks.

18. Pheedo – RSS Advertising

When you absolutely, positively must have advertising in every portion of your digital life Pheedo is here to help you place ads in your RSS feeds. Everyone loves getting feed subscribers but they hate the fact that their most valuable readers almost never see their shiny new brand advertisement. I don’t put ads in my feed but I’ve heard that Pheedo is a good (if not particularly lucrative) solution.

19. Magpie – Twitter Advertising

See Ophelia’s excellent post on the matter, coming tomorrow.

20. Pubmatic – Ad Optimizer

Pubmatic isn’t really an ad provider, but it will help you make money. Pubmatic acts as an advertising optimizer, you put in pre-existing tags and it serves the ones that will provide you with the highest CPMs. Typically, they are seeing lifts in revenue from between 10-30%. In practice this is heavily dependent on the networks you are running and how you are choosing to run them.

21. Rubicon Project – Ad Optimizer

Finally let’s look at the Rubicon Project, another ad optimizer that also acts as an ad provider. Using deals with many major networks, Rubicon will not only serve you ads from your stable of providers but will also pick other providers which might provide you with higher CPMs. From what I’ve seen Rubicon is a great tool, but it’s not for everyone. Reporting can be slow and inaccurate, and depending on the number of networks you are trying to setup it can be difficult to get started. Rubicon also needs several hundred impressions to properly optimize your inventory.