Three Lessons From Our Ad Network Experiment

In an effort to provide the MonetizePros community with concrete and actionable advice, we’ve begun running a number of experiments on our own site. Initially, we’re focusing on different ad networks in an effort to come up with the partners and implementations that maximize revenue.

For this experiment, we tried out three ad networks with which we had relatively little experience:

  1. Clicksor
  2. Chitika
  3. Media.net

Beyond Google AdSense, these are some of the most widely used ad networks. We’ve learned quite a bit in a short amount of time, and can hopefully share some insights that will help this community make more money from their existing traffic.

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Lesson #1: Clicksor Was a Disaster

As Jimmy mentioned in our forum, the Clicksor part of the experiment didn’t last for long. The interface to generate ad code is extremely clunky ad difficult to use. This network started directing to spam sites, showing pop-up ads, and generally wreaking havoc. Our experience wasn’t unique; it seems like several others have encountered similar issues.

Bottom line: Don’t use Clicksor.

Lesson #2: Chitika Looks Good, Performs Poorly

Chitika, another popular ad network, has been a mixed bag. It’s very easy (and fast) to get up and running. And the ads have been of a pretty high quality; they’re from big brands such as AT&T and Hilton. But the CPMs are terrible; we were making just pennies per thousand ad impressions. The earnings from Chitika were only about 10% of what a similar volume of traffic was generating via Media.net.

The poor performance is probably because of the lack of relevance. While ads for big brands look good, they’re not of much interest to our audience. People interested in better monetizing their Web traffic aren’t necessarily looking to book a hotel or for a new wireless carrier.

Bottom line: There are definitely some positives of Chitika, but the earning potential is pretty limited.

Lesson #3: Media.net Is a Decent AdSense Substitute / Supplement

While there were a couple disappointments in this set of experiments, Media.net has been a pleasant surprise. Getting set up was quick and painless, and relevant ads started showing almost immediately.

We were a bit surprised by the relative performances of the ad units. The 728×90 leaderboard, which we had been running at the top of forum pages, actually didn’t work very well. But the 300×250 rectangles that we had been running on individual blog articles performed very well, with RPMs in excess of $3.

In future experiments, we’ll probably try moving the leaderboard down the page (i.e., integrate it a bit more closely with the content) in an effort to boost visibility. Though leaderboards are still extremely common, they don’t seem to be very effective when placed at the extreme top edge of a page. We may also try inserting medium rectangle units within forum posts.

Bottom line: Media.net is definitely one of the top two ad networks out there, along with AdSense. Ad it’s very possible that it has even AdSense beat in several regards. (We’ll attempt to give a better answer there with some upcoming experiments.)

Comments

  1. Thank you for the excellent, concise analysis. I’ve started reading monetize pros only recently, and am amazed at how much information each post packs. I am in the process of trying out ad networks myself, and this came in very handy.

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