In this guide you’ll discover the various features of advertising networks and how they can help you get traffic to your website.
Ad networks can be a good source of paid traffic even if you don’t have much experience with advertising. This guide will also give you practical tips to use ad networks the right way.
You don’t have to rely solely on Google or Facebook ads just like all your competitors.
Ad networks can be an alternative, cheaper (because it’s less competitive) source of paid traffic.
You’ll find an up to date list of 123 ad networks.
The table of contents can come in handy.Table of Contents
Ad Network Features
An advertising network (ad network) is a company that connects advertisers with publishers.
The person buying the ad is the advertiser, the website owner that displays that ad is the publisher.
As an advertiser you’ll be able to choose from a wide range of ad formats.
For example banners ads, video ads, popunder ads, native ads, push notifications and more.
Then you’ll be able to specify where you want to place your ads.
Some ad networks group their websites into categories and allow you to specify in which category (for example Travel or Fitness) you want your ads to show up.
Your ads will show up on all websites in the categories you select.
Some ad networks group their websites based on specific audience segments, based on behavior, interest, demographic, etc.
So for example you’ll be able to place an ad on all those websites who have a “sports enthusiasts” audience.
And yet other networks offer cheap ads on random websites , they don’t tell you much where they’ll put them (known as Run-of-Network option).
But you’ll still be able track the performance of those ads to understand what’s working and what’s not.
Ad networks offer sophisticated targeting options such as geographic location, demographic data, device (desktop or mobile), income and other elements.
Some ad networks allow retargeting features.
Ad Networks Save You Time
With the help of ad networks advertisers no longer need to contact websites one by one, asking to buy ads.
With an ad network you can place an ad on a lot of websites and reach a large audience fast and easy.
They making it easy to scale up the amount of ads you buy without contacting anyone.
Ad networks give you the opportunity to advertise on a whole new range of websites instead of the usual costly and competitive Facebook or Google Ads.
This video gives a great overview about the features of ad networks in just about 3 minutes.
Ad Networks VS Ad Exchanges
Ad networks are the perfect place for new advertisers. They’re popular with product owners as well as affiliate marketers.
Ad networks and ad exchanges are very similar.
Ad exchanges may provide a wider variety in terms of where you can buy ads from. Ad costs on ad exchanges may fluctuate but can be lower than ad networks.
The following video explains the difference between ad networks and ad exchanges.
In the list ad networks in this guide you’ll also find some ad exchanges.
Let’s take a closer look at the type of ads you’ll be able to place on ad networks.
Ad networks allow you to buy ads made up of text, images or videos. These visual ads are known as display ads.
Almost all display ads look like banners.
They usually appear at the top or side of a website, surrounding the content.
They come in lots of different shapes and sizes, for example tiny square banners or as big as the size of the user’s screen (known as full screen take over ads).
Let’s see some various forms of display ads…
These ads appear to users before accessing a webpage or app on a mobile device. It looks like a popup with a close icon.
Here’s a video illustrating of an interstitial ad on a mobile device:
Rich Media Ads
These display ads include interactive elements in the ad itself, for example a video, audio, animated graphics (GIFs), a playable game, an optin form and more.
They encourage viewers to interact and engage with the ad. When you place your mouse above rich media ads they can expand, float, play a video and more.
These are are made using HTML5 technology.
The disadvantage of rich media ads is that they require more time to make, since they’re more complex than just plain text or a static image.
However there are tools like BannerSnack that can help you create rich media ads much easier.
This video shows you some actual examples of rich media ads.
You can see more rich media ad examples at BannerSnack.
Native (or sponsored) ads are ads in disguise. They don’t really look like ads.
They match the look, feel and function of the medium (e.g. webpage) in which they appear.
They can be small ads using a combination of images and text.
Or they can be any kind of content for example articles, videos, Infographics, etc.
If it’s a small ad, it will be usually placed at the end of a blog post or page, or on the sidebar under the “Sponsored”, “Related” or “Recommended” section.
If it’s a piece of content it will look just like any other content on the website it’s on, so they’re difficult to spot. They’re usually categorized or tagged as “sponsored”.
Ads in search engines (e.g. ads in Google) as well as sponsored social media posts (e.g. In Facebook news feed) are also native ads.
Ryan Deiss gives some examples of native ads in this video:
The most popular place to buy video ads is Youtube or Facebook. And there are several types of video ads.
They can play before a video, or you can promote it on YouTube’s homepage, the search results page or recommendation section.
This is a relatively new type of ad.
They look like alert messages or notifications that appears in web browsers or mobile devices. You can send these ads to users who agree to receive them.
The following videos gives a great overview about push ads.
Popunder ads open in a new separate tab or window, unnoticed by user until they close their current tab or window.
They can be very effective, but just like anything else you have to test to see if they work well for your particular offers and niche.
Disadvantages of Display Ads
There are some downsides to display ads…
- Banner Blindness: This refers to the fact that many users ignore banners because they’re boring, irrelevant and intrusive. And they know they’re ads. However there are many remedies to this problem.
For example the use of rich media, video and native ads, more compelling ad design and better banner size and positioning.
- Ad Blockers: Once again people use these ad blocking software because they dislike intrusive ads.
However browsers don’t block ads, the user has to take an extra step by downloading the software e.g. AdBlock Plus.
Still, there are a lot of people that use ad blocking software, but there’s not much yet to do about this at the time being.
List of Ad Networks
Most ad networks allow more than one type of ad format.
But some of them allow one or a few different ad formats, so I’ve grouped these together in the sections below.
For example in the Native Ads section you’ll find ad networks that mainly allow native ads. But remember they might allow other formats too.
So if you’re looking for ad networks that allow specific ad formats like native ads or mobile ads go first in the relevant category.
Keep in mind some of these sites are much more easy to understand, navigate and use than others.
They usually have a clearly visible Join, Signup or Build a Campaign button and you can create an account within a few minutes. They also clearly state what you get and all the details.
But some other sites may take a long time to approve your account.
Or they may require you buy a minimum amount of traffic (which could go as high as 100K or more per month), or spend a certain amount of money (which could go as high as $10K a month).
If the site looks complicating, try another one.
If you’re just starting out you may want to pick popular ad networks like Google Display Network.
You can research the particular ad network that interests you, with a simple Google search like “name review”, e.g. Adblade review.
There could be more ad networks and ad exchanges, those are the most popular ones.
General Ad Networks
The following ad networks allow a wide variety of ad format such as banner ads, video ads, native ads, rich media ads or others.
Some of these are ad exchanges.
Native Ad Networks
The following ad networks mainly allow native ads, (also known as sponsored content), but remember they could allow other ad formats too.
Popunder Ad Networks
These ad networks allow mainly popunder ads, although some of them may allow other ad formats like banner or video ads.
Push Ad Networks
These ad networks allow mainly push notification ads.
Video Ad Networks
Remember some networks under the ‘General Ad Networks’ allow video ads too. And some of these allow video ads on mobile devices only.
Mobile Ad Networks
These ad networks mainly allow ads placed on web pages and apps viewed on a mobile device.
You can still use a lot of different ad formats, for example popunders, push notifications, banners, interstitial (full-screen ad), native and video.
Remember ad networks listed under other categories can also allow you to place ads on mobile devices.
Podcast Ad Networks
Podcast advertising is a relatively new advertising method. The ad formats you use are read by the host of the podcast.
A live ad is read while they’re recording the show. A pre-produce ad is inserted after the episode is complete. The typical podcast has three types of ad placements.
Pre-roll ads occur at the beginning of an episode, mid-roll ads happen in the middle, and post-roll ads occur after the episode is complete.
You can write the script for the ad, or let the host comment and review your website, product, etc., freely.
You may have to find the advertising or contact us page for advertising details.
Domain Redirect Ad Networks
For these ad networks you won’t have to create any ads. Domain redirect traffic works be redirecting users to your own website.
This redirection happens when the user types an unused/parked domain URL (for example by misspelling) in the address bar of their browser.
The owner of that unused/parked domain is the publisher. He or she placed their unused domain in the network.
With this type of traffic users will get immediately redirected to your website once they visit that unused domain name.
Note: Parking your domain means it’s not attached to any website, most domain registrars have a feature you can toggle to park a domain.
Tonic Ads also allows email ads, popup, exit and display ads.
Zeropark also allows push and popup ads.
SelfAdvertiser also allows push and popup ads.
The Goal Of Advertising
Advertising is about creating messages (text ads, banners, video ads, etc.) to persuade your audience to take some action. That action typically includes visiting a website.
In the Information business your goal is to put those website visitors on your list as fast as possible so you don’t lose them.
That’s why we typically send the traffic to an optin page because optin pages are designed specifically for one purpose, to put visitors onto your list!
Once on your list you have a way of communicating with your audience whenever you want, and send them back to any website you want.
You can keep building a relationship and market to them over and over again.
You should always starts small and then scale up what works.
Therefore pick just one ad network and use their tracking (and preferable A/B split testing too) tools to know what works and what doesn’t.
Paid Traffic Strategy
When using paid traffic we typically use a sales funnel. This is a series of pages that will allow you to convert traffic into subscribers and recuperate some (and preferable all of your ad spend).
We send the traffic from the ads to the first page of the sales funnel.
This is the optin page designed specifically to put the visitor on your email list.
Once they optin, they’ll see an offer that they can buy. Sales from this offer recuperate your ad spend (the money you spend on advertising).
Therefore if your sales funnel makes as much money as you’re spending on ads (break even funnel) you’ll be building your list for free.
For example you spend $100 on ads, get 50 new subscribers and earn $100 from your sales funnel. That’s a break even funnel.
Success with paid traffic is greatly determined by your ability to design great ads.
Improving your copywriting skill is very important when designing text-based ads.
Paid traffic can be expensive. You’ll need to spend a considerable amount of time learning how to create ads and using the specific ad network you choose.
It usually takes time and considerable amount of testing (which will cost money) until you create a winning campaign.
The good thing is that once you create a winning campaign you can keep running it for practically as long as you like.
However ad networks provide many tools to help you target your ads to the right ads as well as track and test your ads.
Learn about and take advantage of all the various features an ad network offers.
It’s very important to focus on just one ad network and keep testing it for at least a couple months.
Give it your very best effort and only if you truly lose hope “give up”. You can then consider testing a new ad network or a completely new traffic generation method.
That’s the same process I’ve been through already with Facebook Ads, Google Ads and more traffic methods.
Eventually you’ll find a traffic source that works really well for you and your specific niche and business.
To help you choose an ad network you can do some research to figure out what your most successful competitors are using.
You can also use Ad spy tools like AdPlexity but they usually cost a lot of money.
Finally remember there are more ways to drive traffic to your website. Ad networks are just one of at least 12 other paid traffic methods.
If you’ve got any questions or comments regarding ad networks or exchanges, leave them below.