How to choose the best ad networks for small publishers

Written by: Bjorn Eriksson
December 15, 2023

In today’s digital landscape, the ability to make money from a website has become a pivotal goal for small publishers. This journey often leads to the exploration of various ad networks, each offering unique pathways on how to make money from your website effectively. However, the challenge lies in identifying the right network that aligns with your audience, content, and monetization goals. This guide is dedicated to unraveling this complexity, providing small publishers with insightful strategies and essential metrics to consider. Our aim is to empower you with knowledge and tools, ensuring you make an informed decision in your quest to optimize website revenue.


Table of Contents

    1. Understanding Your Audience
    2. Evaluating Ad Network Types
    3. Revenue Models
    4. Payout Terms and Thresholds
    5. Ad Formats and Compatibility
    6. Analytics and Reporting
    7. Customer Support and Community


When embarking on the journey to monetize your website, selecting the right ad network is a decision that can significantly impact your success. To navigate this crucial choice, there are seven key metrics that play a pivotal role which will be explained in details:

1. Understanding Your Audience


Understanding the audience is crucial even before choosing the best ad network. Making money from website can only be possible if the ads shown there are engaging enough for the people who are confronting them. In order to raise this engagement and ad revenue you should take these key aspects to consider:

      • Demographics and Interests: Analyze the age range, geographic locations, gender, and interests of your audience. Use analytics tools to understand who your visitors are and what they care about. This information helps in selecting ad networks that cater to specific demographics or interest groups.
      • User Experience: Assess how different types of ads impact the overall user experience on your site. Ads should enhance, not detract from, the user experience. Consider ad placement, format, and frequency to ensure they don’t overshadow your content or annoy visitors.

2. Evaluating Ad Network Types


This segment involves understanding the diverse types of ad networks, such as contextual and behavioral, and their suitability for your website’s content and audience profile. Each type of ad network has distinct features that can affect both the relevance of the ads and the engagement levels of your audience.

      • Contextual Ads: These ads are matched with the content of your site, based on keywords and topics. They are highly relevant and tend to perform well on content-rich websites. Contextual advertising is less intrusive and can add value to your audience’s reading experience.
      • Behavioral Ads: These ads are targeted based on a user’s past browsing behavior and preferences. They require careful implementation, considering privacy concerns, but can be highly effective due to their personalized nature. They work well on websites with diverse content where visitor interests vary widely.

3. Revenue Models


Understanding different revenue models is critical to maximize earnings from your website. Models like Cost Per Click (CPC) and Cost Per Impression (CPM) have distinct implications for how you earn revenue, depending on your website’s traffic and user engagement.

      • Cost Per Click (CPC): This model is suitable for websites where users are likely to interact with the ads. It requires engaging content that aligns well with the ads, encouraging clicks. The key is to have content that seamlessly integrates with the ads without being too pushy or salesy.
      • Cost Per Impression (CPM): Best for websites with high traffic volumes, CPM pays you per thousand ad impressions. This model is beneficial if your site has a large audience but might not have high engagement with the ads. It’s crucial to balance ad visibility with content quality to maintain audience interest.

4. Payout Terms and Thresholds


This aspect covers the payment and financial terms associated with ad networks, including the minimum payout requirements and the frequency of payments. These terms are crucial for financial planning, especially for small publishers who may rely on these earnings as a significant part of their income.

      • Minimum Payout: Examine the minimum earnings you must accrue before you can withdraw funds. This factor is particularly important for smaller websites that might not generate large amounts of ad revenue quickly. Choose an ad network with a lower minimum payout if you anticipate smaller earnings.
      • Payment Frequency: Understand the timeline of payments – whether it’s monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly. Also, consider the payment methods available, such as direct deposit, PayPal, or check. Ensure that the payment method and frequency align with your cash flow needs.

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5. Ad Formats and Compatibility


This section deals with the variety of ad formats offered by networks and the importance of ensuring these formats are compatible with your website’s design, functionality, and user experience. The right ad format can enhance engagement without disrupting the user experience.

      • Ad Formats: Explore different ad formats like banners, video ads, native ads, interstitials, and more. The goal is to find ad formats that blend well with your site’s layout and content, enhancing rather than interrupting the user experience. Consider experimenting with various formats to see what works best with your audience.
      • Compatibility: Check if the ad formats are compatible with your website’s design and functionality. Ads should not slow down your website or cause technical issues. Test different ad formats for loading times and user experience to ensure they don’t negatively impact site performance.

6. Analytics and Reporting


Analytics and reporting capabilities of ad networks are crucial for tracking ad performance, user engagement, and revenue generation. These tools allow you to make data-driven decisions to optimize your ad strategy and increase earnings.

      • Real-Time Analytics: Look for ad networks that offer comprehensive, real-time analytics. This allows you to monitor how different ads perform on your site in terms of clicks, impressions, and user engagement. Real-time data helps in quickly identifying and rectifying issues or underperforming ads.
      • Customizable Reports: The ability to customize reports is vital to focus on metrics that matter most to your site. Detailed reports can provide insights into user behavior, ad performance, and revenue trends. This information is invaluable for making informed adjustments to your ad strategy and content.

7. Customer Support and Community


The level of customer support provided by an ad network and the feedback from its user community are important factors in your decision-making process. Good support can be crucial for troubleshooting, while community feedback offers insights into the network’s reliability and effectiveness.

      • Support Quality: Evaluate the responsiveness and expertise of the ad network’s customer support team. Good support is particularly important when you encounter technical issues or need advice on optimizing ad placements. Consider networks known for their helpful and efficient support.
      • Community Feedback: Research the experiences of other publishers with the ad network. Online forums, reviews, and discussions can provide real-world insights into the network’s performance, reliability, and user satisfaction. Pay attention to common issues or praises from the community, as these can be indicative of what you can expect.


Choosing the right ad network as a small publisher involves several key considerations. It’s about understanding your audience, evaluating different types of ad networks, considering various revenue models, and being mindful of payout terms and ad compatibility. Additionally, the importance of analytics and reporting, along with the need for reliable customer support and community insights, cannot be overstated. By carefully assessing these factors, you can make an informed decision that balances profitability with a positive user experience, ultimately leading to a more successful strategy to make money from your website.

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