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Sure, Google and Facebook are prevailing players when it comes to paid advertising, but they aren’t the only game in town.
We’re breaking down 42 alternative ad networks to turn to when you’re looking to expand your reach on other advertising platforms. Also, we’ll spell out the top reasons why it’s important to test out different digital marketing outlets.
From an advertiser’s perspective, ad networks are important for several reasons.
For publishers, the benefit of working with an ad network as an intermediary is that ad space that previously went unsold is picked up. Zeros turn into dollar signs pretty easily. In addition to leftover ad space, some publishers sell premium ad space to ad network brokers.
Here are a few reasons to look at alternative digital ad networks when you’re fine-tuning your online marketing strategy.
Data is marketing gold. And while it isn’t the California Gold Rush of the 1800s, there is a race to get, keep and hallmark quality customers.
Using different networks means the possibility for different data, and more of it. From an advertiser’s perspective, such key insights are vital when you’re trying to reach potential customers, convince them to convert and retain them for the long term.
Get key data about the websites and audiences you’ve been targeting. Then use the data you gather from alternative ad networks to guide your advertising efforts on other marketing channels or for retargeting purposes.
While Facebook’s and Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns mean promotion on 2 of the best advertising platforms, there are other options to consider. Expand your reach and widen your audience base by testing other ad networks and platforms.
Alternative ad networks open you up to new users who you could target by domain, topics, time of day, browser types and more. Also, as most investors know, diversification is key to having a balanced portfolio. That’s the essence of alternative ad networks, which have a bevy of different partner publishers to feature your ads.
Google Advertising is a multibillion-dollar industry. No surprise there. Google estimates that businesses promoting their brand on the ad platform generate $8 for every $1 spent.
As you might expect, competition is fierce as marketers vie for ad space and their piece of an eightfold return on investment (ROI).
This leads to increased pricing, though, as competitors in the same space try to outbid each other for prime slots. The potential for less competition is a great reason to give alternative ad networks a try.
On Google Search Network, the average cost per click (CPC) ranges from $1.16 (the ecommerce industry) to $6.75 (the legal industry), with an overall average of $2.69 across all sectors.
Industries with some of the highest CPC price tags include these:
What’s more, the most expensive keywords for Google Ads range from roughly $27 to nearly $55, according to WordStream. Here are the top 5 highest-priced keywords:
And that isn’t taking into account Google’s Display Network, which could tack on an average of 63 cents across industries, with the highest CPC at $1.49 (dating and personals industry).
Additionally, Facebook’s average CPC ranges from 45 cents for the apparel industry to $3.77 for the finance industry, with a cross-industry average of $1.72.
Here are the next-highest Facebook advertising CPCs:
Now crunch the numbers and see how much you could save (and allocate to other marketing efforts) by testing a lesser-known advertising network with commendable reach.
In addition to Google and Facebook, you’ve probably already considered advertising on other popular ad platforms, such as YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter (if you haven’t already). But what else is out there?
Check out these digital advertising platforms that are making a name for themselves:
Use Adblade to reach more than 300 million users across hundreds of sites with content-style ads, including news bullet styles, display and mobile ads. Choose from CPC and cost per thousand (CPM) view pricing on this native advertising platform. Find users by targeting locations, devices or specific audiences based on behavioral data and demographics.
Pro: Self-service advertisers can start with as little as $50
Con: Can’t choose individual sites on which to advertise
Pro: More than 1 billion high-performing users
Con: Interface could be more user friendly
Adcash boasts 200 million unique users and 250,000 conversions per day with a network of more than 200 partners. The company’s serious about keeping things on the up and up, too, with $12.3 million in fraudulent traffic removed in 2019 alone. Benefit from real-time campaign reporting
Pro: Easy-to-use interface
Con: Advertiser sites must meet eligibility requirements
Choose native push notifications, banner ads, full-screen interstitial ads or full-screen new tab ads. AdMaven’s pricing is available on a CPC, CPM or cost per acquisition (CPA) basis. Geotarget users on an ad network that gets more than 200 billion daily impressions around the globe.
This PPC ad network targets millennials, who are typically tech-savvy and prone to using ad-blocking software. However, nonintrusive ads that are permission enabled is how this alternative ad network targets this demographic. AdRecover boasts a higher click-through rate than seen with regular campaigns.
Pro: You’re the only marketer promoting ads to your target audience
Con: Customer support could be improved
Marketers can use this advertising platform for email marketing, dynamic ads, retargeting and product recommendations driven by artificial intelligence. Plans range from a free starter program to $9 to $19 a month, with advanced tracking available for an additional monthly fee of $450 and additional email marketing available as well.
AdRoll is a solid option for ecommerce stores given the platform connects with online businesses on Shopify, WooCommerce, PrestaShop, Magento and BigCommerce.
Pro: Easy-to-use dashboard
Con: Deleted campaigns remain on the feed view
Adsterra’s interactive homepage had me at hello with a capital A reminiscent of a 3D pin-art toy with more fluidity. Very cool!
But how will the alternative ad network impress users on your behalf? Here are a few stats: 25 billion impressions per month, nearly 250 geotargets covered, more than 50,000 successful campaigns.
Run display banners, responsive native banners, pre-roll videos, pop-unders, push notifications, interstitial ads and more for desktop and mobile. Choose from a variety of pricing models, including CPM, CPA, CPC, cost per lead (CPL) or cost per order (CPO).
Pro: 24/7 customer support with a personal account manager
Con: Some advertisements might be viewed as aggressive
Bid on website clicks and impressions that are viewed. Adversal is self-serve and functions as a video, display and native advertising platform. Publishers must have their own domain name and at least 50,000 page views each month to qualify.
Pro: Intuitive interface
Con: Reporting may have a lag time
If you’re looking for a mobile advertising platform, consider Airnow Monetization (formerly Airpush), which has access to more than 450 million mobile users worldwide and harnesses 6 billion impressions each month. What’s more, there are 300,000 active mobile apps that benefit from nearly precise geotargeting. The company states a track record of improving advertising results by as much as 300%.
Pro: Multiple templates in a variety of ad formats
Con: With Airnow serving big-name clients, such as Walmart, Coca-Cola, Nissan and KFC, this might not be the best advertising platform for small businesses
If you’re an ecommerce business looking to increase sales, consider Amazon.com’s advertising platform, including Amazon DSP (demand-side platform), available to advertisers whether they sell on Amazon or not. Through the DSP, advertisers can schedule the purchase of ad space on Amazon and partner sites.
What’s more, in addition to custom advertising or a dedicated Amazon storefront for your brand, the following ad types are available:
Use Amazon conversion analytics to see how your campaign’s performing and which methods are working, including non-Amazon strategies.
Pro: Options for ecommerce businesses of all sizes are available, including self-service
Con: Amazon DSP’s managed-service option requires a minimum spend of $35,000
On Bidvertiser, you’ll find ad formats for desktop and mobile devices. Choose from native ads, push notifications, direct navigation and pop-unders and market to prescreened, segmented traffic sources. Plus, target users by location, time of day, device, operating system, browser, channel, carrier and more. Bid in real time on ad spots, including the websites where you’d like your ad displayed.
Pro: Budgets start at $100 and the platform is easy to use
Con: Automatic optimizations could be improved
BuySellAds’ slogan is “Advertising for busy tech marketers.” If that sounds like you, consider this digital ad marketplace, which has been around for more than a decade. Choose from sponsored content, banner ads, podcasts, display ads, email placement, event ads and custom placement.
The site’s curated network of more than 1,200 partner publishers caters to niche audiences that include developers, cryptocurrency followers and tech experts as well as business professionals. Some well-known publishers include Bitcoin.com, Blockchain.com, Roku, Firefox and National Public Media.
Pro: A good mix of advertising types available
Con: Some publisher sites have much higher rates of conversion than others
Engine Media Exchange is a programmatic marketplace for cross-screen and cross-device advertising, including display, video and connected television. It’s associated with 238,000 publisher domains and sees billions of ad requests per month. The company advertises its proprietary targeting and analytics and a fraud-free guarantee.
Pro: Provides open market solutions with real-time bidding, private marketplaces and custom marketplaces
Con: Lack of user reviews
Choose from native, in-page, push and pop-under ads on Evadav’s ad network, which serves about 1 billion impressions daily. There are more than 29,000 publishers on the network, and CPM and CPC pricing models are available, with bid recommendations available. To boot, the interface is user friendly.
Pro: Dedicated account managers and 24/7 customer service
Con: Sources with minimal clicks aren’t shown on reports
Index Exchange labels its global advertising marketplace as one for media companies to sell ad impressions in real time. To ensure quality, every site is screened and the company publicizes its commitment to transparency. Its mission is to “democratize digital advertising.”
Pro: No buy-side businesses to compete with demand partners and no hidden buy-side fees
Con: The platform is more publisher-centric
Choose from video, desktop or mobile ads with real-time intent triggers on this digital advertising platform. Relevant ads based on a user’s search are served on partner sites. Options include native ads, above-the-fold ads, display banners and customized ads. Infolinks works with more than 350,000 publishers around the globe and offers advertisers exclusive placement on the websites of 25,000 direct publishing partners.
Pro: Self-service marketplace, with managed accounts available for budgets of more than $10,000
Con: In-text ad links could be seen as spammy by some users
If you’re looking for a mobile advertising platform, consider InMobi. Target specific audience segments, and run ads relevant to user profiles that the network develops based on specific apps used.
Pro: Real-time reporting dashboard is clear and easy to navigate
Con: Antifraud controls could be better
This top ad network focuses on mobile advertising and offers a fully managed service. Advertisers using Leadbolt can choose between native, video and mobile playable ads with targeted ad placement. Gain access to app developers, end users and studios, and target audiences based on location, demographics and context.
Pro: Leadbolt claims campaign performances exceed industry benchmarks
Con: Could benefit from more types of ads
Bid on contextual, display, in-read native and outstream video ads for desktop or mobile at Media.net, which brokers ad purchases on more than 500,000 websites, including Forbes and Reuters. From a publisher’s perspective, it’s a popular alternative to Google AdSense and provides access to the Yahoo Bing search network.
Pro: Publishers must meet design and content quality standards to be considered
Con: Users might need to double-click some ads
This marketing platform is a solid Google ads alternative. The Microsoft Search Network, which includes Bing, Yahoo and AOL as well as partner sites, has access to users who search more than 7 billion times each month. There’s no minimum fee to get started, and you can set a budget or adjust your ad spend on a daily basis.
Pro: Easy to import Google Ads campaign
Con: Although 1 of the top ad networks, it has a smaller reach than Google. Consider using in complement with Google Ads
Midroll’s ad network connects advertisers to more than 250 podcasting shows. Find a podcast category that aligns with your brand or a show with a similar target audience. Once you start advertising, check your ad’s progress any time of day or night. Look up campaign-specific forecasted and actual downloads, and check release dates and budget details.
Pro: Advertise alongside notable companies such as HBO, Toyota, FedEx and Allstate
Con: Prices can be high, especially on popular shows
MNI Targeted Media is a programmatic media purchasing company offering native, connected TV, streaming audio, display, mobile and video advertising options. Target local, social, email and search engine audiences. Additionally, advertising inventory is available in niche spaces, including political and cannabis advertising.
Pro: MNI offers geotargeted magazine ads in association with 14 networks
Con: There is a lot of information on the site that could be better organized
Monumetric has 195 million unique monthly visitors, with a female-to-male ratio of 70 to 30, respectively. Choose from a variety of ad categories, types and sizes, including in-screen, skyscraper, pre-roll video, post-roll video, leaderboard or half page, for desktop or mobile.
Pro: Strict publisher vetting process to maintain network quality
Con: Dashboard insights could be better and reporting data could be available more quickly
An exclusive mobile advertising platform, MoPub offers advertisers the chance to engage in programmatic buying, using real-time bidding to purchase ad inventory, including remarketing ads. Reach audiences in the mobile apps they’re using.
Pro: MoPub’s powered by Twitter and has a reach of more than 55,000 mobile apps
Con: Users have reported that speed can be an issue
Nativo’s native advertising platform reaches more than 220 million monthly unique users in the U.S. alone. Ad formats include native articles, videos and displays. Access offerings through open-exchange purchasing, managed services or a self-serve interface.
Pro: Touted as 1 of the best advertising platforms for native advertising on several online forums
Con: Campaign setup can take some time
At Native Ads’ network, reach new audiences with CPC ad rates starting at .003 cents. Take advantage of automated purchasing through the company’s demand side platform (DSP) either through a self-service or managed account. Leverage display, pop-up, pop-under and push ads as well as mobile, video and social media ads. Retargeted ads are available, too.
Pro: Premium direct ad inventory available
Con: Specific publisher and where the content is placed can have an impact on quality
Consider Opt-Intelligence if you’re looking to get more signups for your offer, and build your email marketing base. Target audiences on Facebook and partner sites based on location and specific demographics, and market your lead generation form there. Only pay for leads that come your way.
Pro: Experienced company, which was founded in 2003
Con: Has a B- rating with the Better Business Bureau
Outbrain has been lauded as one of the best native advertising platforms, according to Entrepreneur.com. Use the self-service platform or leverage automatic ad purchases, with more than 35 programmatic partners in their marketplace. Pricing is on a CPC basis.
Pro: Trusted by The Washington Post, BBC, MSN and other notables, with monthly available impressions of more than 180 billion
Con: Outbrain charges a credit card-processing fee of 2.9%-4% and can be restrictive in terms of ad content
Use Perfect Audience for mobile and web display retargeting, including Facebook, Twitter, Shopify retargeting. Reach audiences across multiple networks. Pricing is on a CPM basis, with no minimum spend.
Pro: Take advantage of a 2-week free trial, and get a $100 credit
Con: When compared to Google, results and cost might not be any better
Since 2006, PubMatic has been working to offer innovative digital advertising solutions. Today, advertisers benefit from programmatic purchasing products. The platform offers real-time audience forecasting and has stated a commitment to brand safety preservation.
Pro: 134 billion daily ad impressions
Con: Could be challenging to connect with customer service, and the company has a C rating with the Better Business Bureau
PropellerAds is a mobile, display and retargeting ad network. Advertisers can use the self-serve platform with an ad creator and real-time reporting. Auto-optimization of ad campaigns is also available. Choose from push notifications, pop-under or on-click ads, native interstitials and in-page push.
Pro: Monthly audience reach of more than 1 billion
Con: Late clicks and corresponding charges might come through after a campaign has ended
Control your marketing budget and campaign with Revcontent, a self-service ad network platform. Supplement your campaigns on other ad networks and target users regardless of what stage of the sales funnel they’re in. Formats available include native sponsored content, video ads, email and Google Accelerated Mobile Pages.
Pro: Examples of premium publishers include MSN, Newsweek and Forbes
Con: Minimum daily budget required
RevenueHits is an alternative ad network for publishers. Choose from pop-unders, display-based ads, contextual ads, geotargeted ads, widgets, buttons and more on this alternative ad network. Dialog boxes, footers, floating banners, shadow boxes and sliders are also available.
Pro: Intuitive platform makes it easy to get started
Con: Video ads aren’t available and reporting isn’t in real-time
Since 2007, the Rubicon Project has been a marketplace to connect ad buyers and publishers. Some of the highlights include private marketplace deals from premium sellers, more than 10 varieties of video on mobile and low publisher fees. Sellers on the platform include The Wall Street Journal, Publishers Clearing House, Conde Nast and eBay, among others.
Pro: Strict brand safety and traffic quality controls
Con: The user interface and reporting can have a bit of a delay
If you’re seeking to target a female audience, regardless of age or stage in life, consider advertising via SHE Media. The alternative ad network’s key ad products include targeted display ads, brand advocates, event sponsorships and branded content.
Pro: Reach more than 50 million women a month
Con: Some ads can be intrusive, taking up the whole page in some instances
If you’re in the commerce industry, consider turning to Skimlinks. It works by automatically setting affiliate links on the sites of partner publishers, of which they have 60,000 globally. Advertisers are privy to detailed publisher-specific information, including impressions, CTR, conversion rate, and average order value.
Skimlink indicated that their best top 100 merchants experienced an 11.75% increase in total order value.
Pro: Multiple merchant plans available to increase exposure if needed
Con: The script publishers need can slow down loading times
SmartyAds offers a full-stack ad platform, supply-side platform and DSP as well as fully customizable white-label advertising platforms. It partners with ad networks such as InMobi, Pubmatic, AdColony, to name a few. Deliver targeted messaging on mobile, desktop and in apps in the form of banners, videos, native content, rich media, connected TV and push ads.
Pro: Omnichannel reach and hyper-local targeting with timely promotions
Con: Could benefit from more API integrations
Svorn partners directly with more than 40,000 websites. Sites are evaluated based on 25 key factors to ensure high quality. Whether you want video, mobile or display advertising, you’ll be able to run it on this alternative ad network.
Pro: Low fraud and high viewability rates
Con: Ads slow page loading times
Spotify’s Ad Studio is a self-service platform, where advertisers can create audio and video ads. In addition to audio and video ads, consider podcast or display advertising. Around the world, Spotify has more than 185 million ad-supported listeners.
Pro: Users spend 2.5 each day on the Spotify platform
Con: Geotargeting could be improved to be precisely target by location
Taboola is another top ad network alternative, with more than 1 billion users. The platform partners with notable publishers around the world, including USA Today, NBC, Business Insider, Bloomberg and MSN.
Pro: Good traffic builder
Con: Customer service and approval team have received unfavorable reviews
Find native advertising and programmatic advertising at TripleLift. Buy video content as well as branded content and display ads that are incorporated into a publisher’s feed. Harnessing its Computer Vision technology, TripleLift ensures the important components of your ad don’t get cut off.
Pro: Dynamic templating ensures that the creative elements of an ad are adjusted as needed to blend in smoothly on each site
Con: Dashboard and metrics could be improved
What was once known as ONE by AOL is now Verizon Media, with an audience of about 900 million. The platform boasts omnichannel experiences with a variety of ad types available, including mobile interstitials, native ads, video ads, push-downs and more.
Pro: Network of trusted sites and apps, including Apple News, MSN, Yahoo and Samsung
Con: User interface could be improved
Vibrant Media focuses on contextual marketing and reaching more than 450 million monthly unique users around the world. Benefit from a global programmatic exchange where you can select video, in-article and display ads shown to relevant users.
Pro: Ads are high quality and monitoring and brand-safety assurances are in place
Con: At times, ads might be overused, which could have a negative impact on audiences
As you can see, there are a lot of alternative ad networks out there. When you’re weighing your options, here are some questions to ask yourself:
There may be a bit of a trial-and-error period, so don’t be afraid to test different options and platforms to see what different ad networks offer and what works best for elevating your brand.
And if you find yourself overwhelmed, reach out to us. At Kantaloupe, we work hard to make sure your ad spend delivers a return on investment.