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I built my first website in 2014. Back then, I wasn’t making much money. In fact, costs often exceeded revenue when I first started blogging.

However, things changed the moment I threw display ads on my first blog. Money started pouring in, and it hasn’t stopped. In fact, I have made over $400,000 from display advertising alone since 2014. 

The first display ad platform I used was Google AdSense — mostly because I didn’t yet know there were alternatives available. But it didn’t take long before I discovered Media.net, a competitor which focuses on supplying highly contextual ads. 

I soon found that both can make pretty good passive income and determining which will be more profitable for you depends a lot on your blog’s niche and target audience.

Pro Tip: Before wasting your time going any further, you really should check out Ezoic. In the debate between Media.net and Adsense, the winner is Ezoic. It is the best option BY FAR. After I wrote this comparison I transferred every site I own to their display network

Take a look at Ezoic here and begin increasing revenue on your site with better display ads.

My Background With Websites and Ad Networks

For those who are new here that don’t know who I am, I have been in this online-business blogging area for about seven years now, and in the last five years or so I’ve made about half a million dollars with display ads. 

I tell you this to help you understand that I actually know what I’m talking about. I am one of the top public-facing figures who has had success with display advertising and many people know me for it, so I think I can help you.

The reason why I know a lot of things about display ads is because I have a website portfolio that I’ve built over time.

So, I’ve done things at scale.

While some people might say,  “I have this one website that’s done this,” I personally have a portfolio of sites and have tested a bunch of different tools, software, and services on many different sites in distinct niches and with unique target audiences.

At the end of the day, I’ve focused a lot of my time on testing these platforms because it’s my primary way of making money. Thus, that also means I know quite a bit about display ads, and I’m here to share that knowledge with you.

Now I know that this is an article about Google AdSense vs Media.net, but neither ad network compares to Ezoic. Personally, I now recommend Ezoic to all of my readers/followers because it works. After testing many different platforms, this has ended up being the best solution. You can see my full Ezoic review here.

A Look at Media.net — High-Quality Content on a Contextual Ad Network

Let’s talk about my experience with Media.net. For many, this is often cited as the second-best ad network behind Adsense. There are instances in which Media.net outperforms Adsense, though in my experience that’s not very often. However, Media.net has actual human representatives and support whenever there is an issue.

Pros of Media.Net Ads

Additionally compared to Adsense, Media net has a lot of features that give this ad network an added edge. With advanced ad optimization functionality, Media.net advertisements are contextually relevant.

When used on niche websites, click-through rates often increase and drive more traffic than other networks. Despite the fact that some networks offer more revenue per click, the increase in click rate on niche websites can increase revenue.

Sometimes Makes More Ad Revenue

One of the pros of Media.net is that it sometimes does better than AdSense. I actually talk about Adsense quite a bit, just because it’s the bigger platform.

However, in certain situations, Media.net can actually perform better than AdSense. I’ve seen that myself, so it does happen and it’s always worth a test.

An account rep helps you optimize

The nice thing about Media.net is that you get an account rep to help you optimize your website as soon as you sign up with them, which is really unique. I don’t know of many display ad networks that do that and I know that Google Adsense certainly doesn’t.

They assign you someone who is there to try to help you make the most money, which is really refreshing.

This can also be a huge deal because sometimes, you really need a rep. For instance, at one point I was dealing with an invalid click issue on my Adsense account and was having to beg Google for some support.

The result?

Nothing. They didn’t care and pointed me to a generic email address. Media.net could have helped there.

Contact Frequently About Testing New Ideas

Another pro about Media.net is that they contact me frequently about trying to test new things. Some of those tests I have done have gone pretty favorably and some tests I’ve turned down, but I applaud their proactive approach. It’s almost like the reader-supported version of advertising.

I don’t know how many people every account manager is assigned to and how that works, but I will say that I’ve seen some really positive things from that.

I just like that human interaction and knowing that someone is there trying to optimize my website.

Ads are HIGHLY contextual

The ads on Media.net are different than what I’ve seen with other ad networks, including Adsense.

That is, the ads are highly contextual. Or, they’re highly relevant to what the individual is reading. This can help increase the click-through rate significantly.

This example is from Good Housekeeping, and you can see that the ads are very contextual to the visitor, because they’re focused on “home makeover ideas”, “living room furniture”, “bedroom painting ideas”, “small kitchen makeovers”, “kitchen cleaning tips”, “luxury home decor”…etc. 

Media.net Good Housekeeping Display Ads on Mobile and Desktop Browsers

In addition, if you look at the ad for Good Housekeeping, that green in the advertisement matches the green of their logo, so it fits naturally into the post and increases the likelihood of someone clicking. 

Good ad design

In addition, they also have some really good ad designs. The example above shows a good ad design and below you can see some of the other designs they offer.

The ad below is for Parents.com., and as you can see, they’ve got all of these different little ad units that talk about positive parenting guides, family vacation ideas.

They’re all super contextual, look nice, and fit right into the website design.

That said, it still doesn’t compare to Ezoic in my own experience.

Parents.com Display Ads on Mobile and Desktop Browsers Using Media.net

The thing to understand about Media.net is that even if it doesn’t pay as much as Google AdSense, the click-through rate to these ads is usually higher because they’re contextual and fit the design of the sites.

That’s the thing that many people don’t understand—Media.net can actually be a big win because of those increased CTR’s.

More transparency account acceptance and issues

The last pro of Media.net is the fact that I feel like you get more transparency from them. If you get shut down to join their network, they will tell you why that is.

I know a lot of people who have been on Google AdSense probably wish that they could talk to an account manager; I know I do at certain times.

While Media.net has a ton of pros, they also have cons.

CONS

No page-level reporting

The biggest con is that they have no page-level reporting. This is quite an annoyance when you’re trying to optimize your design for clicks.

In Media.net, you’re not able to go in and see which pages are bringing in the most money from your ad clicks. That’s a big problem because if you want to know what your top 10 revenue-generating pages are to optimize them, you don’t have the ability to do so.

I’ve gone through four account reps

Since I’ve been there, I’ve gone through four different account reps. Although they do give you an account rep and they can be good, they can also be bad. People have different experiences with that.

But the churn on the account reps, from what I’ve noticed, has been pretty high. There hasn’t been an account rep that’s been with me for more than a year and a half. It’s almost like they come in and they go out. 

Usually, these are individuals who are in other countries, which isn’t ideal. It’s been a little difficult to establish a relationship because I’ve seen that there’s been a lot of churn and every time someone new comes in, I expect them to leave within a year or so.

Doesn’t usually pay as much, BUT can be more

In my experience with my portfolio of websites, Media.net usually doesn’t pay as much as Google Adsense per click.

But, as I said, because the ads are so contextual and fit so seamlessly into the theme of the website, it’s very possible that you can actually make more with Media.net if you try it out. 

A Complicated Relationship with Google AdSense

Pro Tip: Remember Google Ads is a service offering advertising directly on the Google search engine while Adsense ads are on-page display ads. They are not the same service. One is for the search engine; the other is for your website.

Now, let’s talk a little bit about Google AdSense. It’s the largest of all the advertising platforms out there and some consider it one of the best ad networks due to its size.

However, while using Google AdSense has proven profitable in the past, I’ve had a lot of difficulties with the AdSense network in recent years. Between January 2019 and July 2020, the number of clicks Google considered “invalid” increased from 0.34% to over 63.04% despite no changes or activity on my end that should have caused this change.

Lost Income Due to Invalid Traffic Reported by Google AdSense (January 2019 to June 2020)

Invalid links are considered a form of “internet abuse” and are caused when someone clicks on their own ads (e.g. display ads on their website’s web pages), uses malicious software to create fake clicks, or accidentally double clicks on a display ad.

I was certainly not clicking on my own links or building malware to increase my passive income. And I highly doubt that double clicks can account for over 63% of my clicks in one month.

It was because of this experience that I decided to look for at other advertising platforms Media.net and Ezoic, my favorite display ad network. The below screenshot will help you understand why, and I attribute most of the earning to their optimizations.

To learn more about this tragic (and scary) story, you can read more about my story here.

Pros of Google AdSense Ads

While I’ve had my own difficulties with AdSense in the past, there are positives to the platform. Notably, the size of the network allows you to make more on average per click than competitors like Media.net.

Largest Display Ad Network

One of the benefits of Google AdSense is its size. Like many Google-based products, AdSense is one of the oldest and most trusted display ad networks with hundreds of millions of companies using the network for their display ads.

More Per Click On Average (Higher Possible Ad Revenue)

Because of the size of the AdSense ad network, the average payout per click is typically higher using AdSense compared to Media.net. However, there are instances where Media.net’s focus on contextual ads may incentivize more clicks producing higher revenue even if the pay-per-click is less.

Many Ad Types

Another positive about the Adsense network is that it supports a large and diverse range of high-quality ads in a diverse range of formats including:

  • Video Ads
  • Contextual Ads (Called “Matched Content”)
  • Native Ads
  • Link Units
  • Text Advertisements
  • Interactive Media Advertisements

Advertisements can be diversified for different sections of your website. This makes ad optimization an intuitive and simple part of web development.

However, it is worth noting that Media.net offers many of the same formats and ad optimization features of Adsense including video, native, text, and interactive media advertisements. Additionally, each ad unit is typically more contextual on Media. net.

Cons of Google AdSense Ads

I’m not going to pretend that I’m in love with Google AdSense. Personally, I still use it on some of my websites because it makes money. But I’m making more with Ezoic on most of my websites, and after my invalid click penalty, it’s hard to use the platform without being a little paranoid about whether Google is going to hit me with another ridiculous penalty.

A few other negatives of Google AdSense include:

No Account Representatives

The biggest con with Adsense is that you don’t have an account rep, which is kind of frustrating at times.

Even though I’ve made $15,000-$20,000 per month with them, they couldn’t care less. I know they do provide account reps to very few sites, but these are likely sites that make $100,000k per month or more.

Some people don’t get approval for AdSense

Some people don’t get the approval that they’re looking for when they apply to join Google AdSense, and most of the time they don’t even know why they couldn’t get approval.

I made an entire video about this, which you can click here to watch. It talks about things I’ve noticed that can increase your chances of approval. 

Some have gotten account canceled with little notice

Imagine waking up one morning, logging into your Google Adsense account, and POOF. Your account no longer exists. Sadly, this happens to people and most of the time people have no idea why.

With Media.net, at least you have an account manager to talk to so you can figure out what’s going on. With Google, you don’t, which is a pretty scary thing. 

Which Network Pays More?

I know what the whole basis of this post is which network pays more and how you can make more money with a blog.

As much as I’d like to give a straight answer here, there is no correct answer

I know that’s not what you’re looking for, but it’s the truth. While Media.net is often more profitable on very niche-focused websites, other websites that are more general may generate more revenue with AdSense.

My advice to you is if you are considering a display ad platform, you have to test it out to know if it will actually make money for a particular website based on its substantial content.

My reasoning is simple. The revenue you make will depend on:

  • Your niche
  • Your Ad Placement
  • Your Ad Design
  • Advertiser interest

Certain niches are going to pay a lot more per click than other niches.

A Look At a Few Examples

For example, if you have a news website, that is notoriously one of the lowest cost-per-clicks that you can get. 

There’s just not that much money in news sites because it’s pretty general, and there aren’t a lot of businesses that are really focused on advertising there.

On the other hand, if you created a parenting blog, think about all the advertisers.

(Source)

In the niche of parenting, there are advertisers for baby products, toys, and services that can help people with their kids. 

There are a lot more advertisers looking to get exposure to that audience, so your cost-per-click is going to be higher in a parenting niche versus one that’s in the general news area. 

In other words, you’ll make a little extra cash if you have a very niche-focused site. However, the amount you make may also depend on ad placement.

When you are advertising on your website, you need to design the advertising in such a way that people are incentivized to click without being distracted from the substantial content you’ve created.

In order to place those display ads, there are a lot of different tools that you can use. I prefer a free plugin called Ad Inserter.

It’s nice because the plugin allows you to put ad units across your entire blog very simply.

For instance, after the third paragraph of every blog post, you can integrate the ad code.

It’s really easy to do and with a little practice, you’ll figure it out.

Whichever network you choose, getting paid is easy. Media.net allows you to withdraw using a wire transfer or Pioneer while Google allows withdrawals via wire transfers, ETFs, checks, and Rapida.

Media.net vs Adsense: Which Offers the Best Display Ads?

Finding the right platform for display advertisements doesn’t have to be difficult. Both Google AdSense and Media.net offer display ads that really do pay off.

Determining which service is best for your site’s needs depends a lot on a lot of different factors including the particular niche of your site or blog, the target audience you’re trying to reach, the level of optimization functionality you desire, and many others.

Thus, there is no definitive answer that I can give you except to say that both have positive selling points, including:

  • Google Adsense: The oldest and largest display advertising platform that has proven profitable for millions of website owners.
  • Media.net: For very-niche services with a need for contextual advertisements, this service far surpasses AdSense. Additionally, you get actual customer support and are less likely to lose money due to so-called “invalid clicks.”

At the end of the day, however, I’m always going to recommend Ezoic before I recommend these other two. It really is the best display ad platform on the market. If you need to see it, here’s a comparison of Ezoic vs Adsense so you understand the difference.

Which display ad platform is your favorite? Have you tried Ezoic yet? Let me know in the comments below!

  • Thanks for the article. I am in the processes of getting verified for Media.net. I have used Adsense in the past and have recently had an ad sabotage which has resulted in an ad serve limit. This was nothing to do with me and I am getting punished. Google has no contact which is appalling and support is terrible. They really need to buck up their ideas.

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