There is little doubt that Google AdSense is the leading ad network for publishers, but there comes a point where publishers start to demand more from their ad monetization. Running multiple ad networks and exchanges in competition with one another is one of the best ways to increase your ad CPMs, but it is important to work with the best ad networks and not just to work with as many ad networks as possible.
Through this article we will share our first-hand experience of the best ad networks and top performing ad exchanges for publishers. There are no affiliate links, paid mentions or kick-backs in this post, just an honest look at who performs best for the publishers we work with.
Want to work with all the best ad networks, but don’t want the hassle? OKO fully managed monetization gives you access to the best partners through one tag. No hassle, expert support and a great suite of tools to make your ad monetisation work harder. Find out more here.
This article is aimed at those looking to make the ad network perform better by adding more demand from top ad networks that work well with Google AdSense or Ad Exchange. If you are looking for an alternative to AdSense read this article instead.
First place : Google Ad Exchange
Google’s dominance in the ad marketplace means that they are a cornerstone of most high-performance ad set-ups that rely on the Open Exchange. That doesn’t mean having to ‘settle’ for AdSense though. Google’s own AdSense alternative is the Google Ad Exchange (which is now part of Google Ad Manager).
Ad Exchange is designed to work in a multi-vendor set-up, so is the perfect foil for your other networks and exchanges. CPM bids, Private Marketplace, improved controls and unbeatable fill levels mean that you need a good reason not to include Google Ad Exchange in your stack.
The next three
After Google, there are three main players who we consistently see as the top performing ad networks and ad exchanges across the vast majority of publishers. With Google Ad Exchange serving, these are the three ad vendors that we recommended targeting next thanks to the combination of fill and high CPMs they offer.
OKO can help publishers access demand from all these vendors as part of our Website Monetization services.
Index Exchange is a global advertising marketplace whereby digital publishers can sell their ad inventory to programmatic advertisers in real-time. Each ad is screened individually for categorisation and to ensure that it is high quality.
Additional benefits for publishers include a huge supply of premium ad demand, advanced and transparent technology and the ability to create multiple audience segments.
Index Exchange is one of our top-performing partners and is best for large publishers that want maximum control over the ads that serve on their sites. Ad types available include display ads and video ads on desktop and mobile. We particularly love that Index Exchange offers integration both through Header Bidding and Open Bidding, allowing publishers the choice of how to introduce them into their stack.
AppNexus is arguably Google’s biggest competitor in programmatic advertising, meaning that their demand is key to getting strong bids across your supply. AppNexus is a premium marketplace whereby digital ad inventory can be bought and sold by publishers and advertisers. It is one of the largest ad exchanges and offers a plethora of tools to both publishers and advertisers.
Publishers that work with AppNexus gain access to an enormous pool of demand which means securing the best rates for your ad inventory. Its cutting-edge technology also enables publishers to maximize the yield of their ad inventory in real-time.
AppNexus is one of the top ad exchanges in the industry and is led by the pioneers of the web’s original ad exchanges. AppNexus is best suited to more established publishers with an extensive understanding of programmatic advertising technology. Ad formats available include display ads and video ads on desktop and mobile. AppNexus demand is only available through Header Bidding, however, their demand plays into other ad networks.
Rubicon Project (now known as Magnite)
Rubicon Project, which merged with Telaria in April 2020 and is now part of Magnite, is one of the largest omnichannel sell-side platforms in the world. The new merger provides a full-service supply-side platform (SSP) and considers itself as an independent alternative to the walled gardens.
Through Magnite, digital publishers are provided with the technology and expertise to monetize across all auction types and formats including display ads, video ads, audio ads on desktop and mobile and connected TV (CTV) ads. Magnite also offers a range of Header Bidding solutions, such as client-side, server-to-server or a hybrid as well as the ability to arrange PMP deals with advertisers.
Rubicon’s platform is robust and allows publishers to increase ad revenue to optimizing or automating certain aspects of their ad operations. However, it is complex and requires time and resources to be managed effectively.
Publishers that work with OKO will know of Rubicon as one of our strongest demand partners. Magnite offers demand for both Header Bidding and Open Bidding.
Other top performing Ad Networks and Ad Exchanges
TripleLift is a supply-side platform that specialises in the buying and selling of native programmatic ads. TripleLift’s technology transforms display and video ads to mimic the look and feel of publishers’ websites and deliver an improved user experience through in-feed native.
TripleLift supports creative ad formats such as click-to-play, carousel and instant video play, which offer higher engagement and incremental revenue for publishers. Native ads are ideal for mobile display and are best suited to publishers who have concerns over the user experience.
TripleLift has consistently been one of OKO’s strongest performing demand partners for both Open Bidding and Header Bidding.
GumGum specialises in serving contextual ads that are relevant to the content that users have previously viewed. Ads are personalised through the use of patented computer vision technology and complex algorithms. Highly targeted ads are beneficial to both publishers and users as they are more engaging and relevant and are therefore less likely to negatively impact the user experience.
Ad formats available include video ads, in-image ads and in-screen ads. GumGum performs best for publishers with US traffic, video content and content images. However, in general, GumGum will perform well for most websites with tier one traffic as they offer a range of different solutions.
OKO publishers have seen strong success with GumGum as it brings strong demand, innovative formats and high CPMs.
OpenX is one of the largest and most popular programmatic advertising marketplaces and generates more than 60 billion bids per day. The exchange is used by more than 30,000 high-quality advertisers across a wide variety of industries and verticals. OpenX supports a huge variety of ad formats including traditional display, video and rich media ads as well as an impressive collection of mobile-specific formats.
OpenX has combined its own ad server, real-time bidding exchange and supply-side platform to create one integrated technology platform. This allows web and app publishers to retain complete control over which ads are shown on site. However, its complexity will require extensive knowledge and resources in order to manage and optimize effectively.
OpenX has consistently performed well for OKO publishers, providing a strong fill rate and high CPMs for both Open Bidding and Header Bidding.
EMX is a digital advertising exchange that connects publishers and advertisers and provides programmatic ad solutions with a special focus on Header Bidding. Its unique hybrid Header Bidding wrapper, BiddRº360, gives publishers full control over their Header Bidding strategy and allows for real-time optimization.
EMX offers fixed CPM pricing units which allows publishers with mixed geographical location traffic sources to monetize their content. EMX has consistently increased bid competition, CPMs and maximized revenue for OKO publishers as well as providing excellent support.
Amazon Publisher Services (APS) offers two cloud-based solutions to publishers: Transparent Ad Marketplace (TAM) and Unified Ad Marketplace (UAM). Both are Header Bidding solutions, but which one a publisher uses will depend on volume of traffic. UAM is best suited towards small and medium-sized publishers and provides a server-side mechanism for multiple bidders to submit bids on the same ad request.
TAM, on the other hand, is geared towards enterprise publishers who are presumed to have their own relationships in place with SSPs and simply want a centralised system for their Header Bidding.
The benefit of using APS is having Amazon bid on your ad inventory which pushes up CPM rates. Users also get access to Amazon Shopping Insights which enables publishers to monitor how users engage with Amazon and use it to your advantage.
Teads is the pioneer of outstream video ads and currently has the leading native video advertising marketplace. In particular, Teads specialises in creating brand new outstream video inventory and monetizing through programmatic buying.
Publishers can sell either directly or programmatically through PMP using Teads’ ad server and supply-side platform. Teads provide an array of innovative outstream video advertising solutions which can be inserted deep into media content. Example ad formats include inRead, inBoard and 360 video ads.
Teads is an excellent choice for publishers without their own video inventory who want to leverage video demand and the high CPMs it brings.
The best networks for you
The vendors above are our top ten ad networks and exchanges based on revenue performance across a wide range of publishers. Performance varies from publisher to publisher though and there are loads of great networks that can perform in different situations.
Ad networks specialising in particular verticals, different geographic regions, particular audiences and even particular device types can play an important part in pushing up CPM rates and fill rates to boost your earnings.
The best advice is to build a solid stack from our top ad networks and ad exchanges above, then test niche providers to see which can up your revenue. Alternatively partner with OKO and we’ll look after all of that (and more) for you.