By Sean P Aune

11 Contextual Ad Alternatives to Google AdSense

By Sean P Aune

There is no doubt that Google AdSense is the 800-pound gorilla in the room when it comes to contextual ad solutions. The question is, however, what you do when you don’t meet the requirements to use it, get thrown out for some reason or just simply want to try something different? Luckily, there are some other options out there and we’ve gathered up eleven of them to give you some options when it comes to filling up your site’s ad inventory.

AdBrite: AdBrite offers numerous ad styles from the standard contextual ad units, but also offers rich media, inline, full pages and more.  The system has one of the lowest thresholds for payment. It defaults to $100 payment, but you can set as low as $5.  Payments are issued on a net-60 system, i.e. earnings made in March are paid in May.

AdToll: AdToll is a hybrid ad network that allows you to sell ad space on your site for a price you determine with you keeping 75% of the revenue.  If you do not sell a space, the unsold inventory will be filled with “Run of Network” ads which are a cost-per-click solution.  Payout minimums are $20 for PayPal and $40 for checks.

BidVertiser: BidVertiser works a bit differently than others in the list in that advertisers bid directly against one another for your ad inventory.  The ads look like the general context ads, so they will work with Flash-based sites and sites with very little content.  Minimum payout is $10 and can be done by check or PayPal.  One other definite plus for them is that they provide actual phone numbers for publishers to call and get assistance when needed.

Chitika: An interesting alternative to most ad solutions as it only shows to your search traffic.  Chitika displays ads related to the terms that brought a user to your site and presents them with ads based on that term as well as the option to search more on the term without leaving your page.  The ads do not show up to your regular visitors so you don’t have to worry about bombarding your regulars with too much advertising.  Payout minimums are $20.

Clicksor: Clicksor provides all of the usual contextual ad sizes you are used to (leaderboards, skyscrapers and so on) as well as providing inline ads, rich media, graphical banners and more.  Payment methods vary by style of advertisement, and there is a minimum payout of $50 by standard check or PayPal.  There is a minimum of 150,000 page views per month for this program. eTor

eClickZ: eClickZ focuses on search engine sites and some content sites, and they guarantee their advertisers a higher quality of traffic.  If your site qualifies, you will be able to talk with an account manager, use a toll free number to call them and take advantage of payout minimums of $50 that can be paid by PayPal.

Infolinks: Infolinks focuses on in-text advertising, but is welcoming to web sites of all sizes and traffic so that there is next to no threshold to joining.  Payment threshold is $100 and can be made by PayPal or check.

Kontera: Kontera focuses mainly on inline contextual advertising and offers plugins and one-click support for Blogger, Drupal, Joomla and WordPress.  The service has the standard $100 payment threshold, but does offer negotiable CPM rates based on the amount of traffic your site generates.  There is a requirement for 500,000 page views to participate in the system.

Microsoft pubCenter: Microsoft’s advertising solution is still considered a beta product, but it is fully functioning and you can control what ads appear on your site by sorting out keywords or URLs.  There is a minimum payout of $50.

WidgetBucks: WidgetBucks CPC, CPM are referral options for making money, all of them are displayed in a widget you can place anywhere on your site.  Minimum payout is $50 by either PayPal or check.

Yahoo Publisher Network: The Yahoo Publisher Network will give you all of the standard contextual ad sizes and will allow you to filter out competitor’s ads.  The payment system provides you with some extra payment options in that you can request payment via PayPal when you hit $50 in revenue and receive it the same day.  Same day payment on a $100 minimum for direct deposit or revenue transferred directly to your Yahoo! Search Marketing account.  Printed checks take 7 – 10 days to arrive after you request them.

  • Nice post with informative content.
    I feel GOOGLE IS THE BEST :)

  • I wonder if any of these will be included in the new Google-certified network of advertisers that is about to be launched? Looks like AdWords is going down the same route that Amazon did when they opened up their services to let other shops sell their goods for a cut of the sale.

  • F. Wenz

    Thanks for this infomative overview. In Germany we try to establish a local adfeed For info check out


    Contextual is not impelemented, but will come.

  • Bob42

    Pardon my naiveté but I have been looking to understand the business model of contextual ads. I have a client who is interested in this and I am trying to figure out the ins and outs. I have searched Google Adsense to learn how the process works without any luck. Specifically what are the costs? As I understand it if I put an Adsense ad on my page and someone clicks on it then that click generates revenue for me but who pays for that and how?

  • Thanks for the useful information..

  • @Bob42 The advertiser pays for the ad.

    As an advertiser you need to set up an AdWords account, not an AdSense account.

    A simplified explanation of how it works is that you choose which keywords you would like to trigger the appearance of the ad on the google search results and other peoples websites.

    You then set a total daily budget. This means you are in control of how much is spent.

    You’ll see how much you generally have to pay for a click and you then enter the amount you’re willing to pay. That amount determines how high up your ad appears e.g. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 10th, 2nd page! etc

    Google know roughly how many searches there are a day that will trigger the appearance of your ad, looks at your budget and figures out how often your ad would appear. It uses this info to spread the appearance of the ad throughout the day (you can set times and regions when and where the ad should not appear).

    Lets say there are 10,000 searches a day that would trigger your type of ad and 10% of people click on ads when they appear then that means there would be 1000 clicks per day.

    So if a click costs $1 and your budget is $50/day then Google decides that it will show your ad 5% of the time. Or in other words, your ad will appear on every 50th search. That means that you’re likely to appear 500 times and because 10% of people click through then you’ll get your 50 clicks.

    In reality it’s more complex than that and 10% is a high click through figure but it makes the maths simple for the example.

    Good luck

  • As a next post it would be great to know which of these networks can be displayed on the same page as a Google AdSense box! That way you can maximize profits by showing ads from multiple ad networks on the same site. Thanks!

    Wine Aerator

  • Kevin

    Does anyone know of an ad service that lets you feed keywords? I’m perfectly happy with Google AdSense, but I cannot send it keywords, Google knows best. I am finding that the automated relevance algorithms are terrible, and if I could send back a GET param with the javascript call to insert the ad, i think that would make a huge difference. Thanks for any tips.


  • Mujtaba

    informative list…
    btw buysellads is also pretty good

  • TrafficBug

    buysellads is not contextual, but since adtoll has been included (and its not contextual), I guess that and adengage can also be included.

    @kevin check the adsense section targeting and hints as mentioned in this thread

  • For now, it is difficult to beat Adsense. If you go to other network, chances are you may not earn a dime. Adsense is strong because of Adwords, which is the backbone of all earning potentials.
    Read: http://www.inform.websiteuniversity.org/Article/5-Ways-To-Increase-Your-Adsense-Earnings/139998

  • adsense alternatives

    In fact on your list just 3 networks offers contextual advertisement so those can be alternatvie sto adsense. Some are text-link based systems and others are ad networks only… :(

  • Google IS worth it!

  • Mean

    my blog is http://www.download.meanpoint.com.
    what will be best for me without adsense ?

  • Anonymous

    Best alternative 2 adsense

  • hansel
  • Suze & Ev Method

    Over a 5 year period, we have tried Infolinks, Adbright and Adsense on our cleaning business start up website. Google was by far the best performing. But the best way to monitize your website is to sell your own product. Their is no comparison. It’s pennies vs dollars.

  • really nice list give by you..
    It’s really good..

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