For one of my blogs, I pondered the Mediavine vs. AdSense question for months. Which ad network would make me more money?
The thing is, I started my Mediavine application in April 2017 and was basically ready to be approved. But I didn't really understand what Mediavine was, and I liked the control that AdSense gave me.
When I Googled “Mediavine reviews,” I came across one negative review that made it sound like you were “locked in” to Mediavine once you started, and that you had to give them at least 3 months' commitment. That scared me—so I didn't complete my application!
Then, in August 2017, I FINALLY made the switch from AdSense to Mediavine and OH MY GOSH. Let me show you what happened below.
My AdSense Earnings
Earnings during my LAST full month with AdSense (July 2017): $148.56
Traffic that month: 39,175 pageviews
RPM that month: $3.79
My Mediavine Earnings
Earnings during my first full month with Mediavine (September 2017): $710.38
Traffic that month: 33,522 sessions
RPM that month*: $21.19
Earnings during my LAST full month with Mediavine: $2,685.75
Traffic that month: 97,346 sessions
RPM that month*: $27.59
*According to the Mediavine website, the formula for calculating RPM should be RPM = Revenue/Sessions X 1,000. For some reason, though, when I calculate it using that formula, there is a slight discrepancy between the number I get and the RPM number shown in the dashboard screenshots. I don't know why. Sorry!
AdSense Pros and Cons
- More control – In the AdSense dashboard, you can actually go through every ad that was ever served and say you don't want that specific ad served again. You can find this in “Blocking controls.” But…this is tedious because there are thousands upon thousands to sift through.
- No exclusivity – You can run other ads while you're serving AdSense ads. So, for example, if a brand reached out to you and wanted you to put a banner ad on your site promoting their product, you could, and you could keep the AdSense ads without penalty.
- Much easier to join. AdSense has NO minimum traffic to join. Theoretically, anyone can apply, but not everyone is necessarily approved.
- You're on your own. There isn't anyone who's going to help you optimize your ads to earn more money. So if you don't know what you're doing, you could be leaving money on the table.
- Much lower revenue potential. RPMs just aren't as high with AdSense, as you can see from my historical earnings above.
Mediavine Pros and Cons
- You'll make more money. The proof is in the screenshots. This alone made Mediavine worth the switch for me. Mediavine is much more sophisticated than Google AdSense, with individual human beings working on optimizing your site and getting you the best rates.
- You'll have a human to help you optimize ads. At least twice, I emailed Mediavine asking them how I could tweak my site to improve RPM, and they gave me excellent advice that worked.
- You'll have access to a private Facebook group. The group itself is pure gold. I've gotten so many answers regarding how to increase traffic, which web hosts are the best, and even advice on how to do taxes as a blogger.
- You can remove unwanted ads. Though it's not quite as simple as with AdSense, you CAN remove ads that you find offensive or that don't align with your values. To do this, you'll need to take a screenshot of the ad and email the Mediavine team. They will shut it off. Please note, however, that Mediavine can't guarantee that those ads will never show up on your site again, because sometimes that's out of their control. They will, however, shut them off where they have the power to do so.
- You must have 50,000 monthly sessions to apply. And even then, you might not get approved. This is NEW as of June 2020. Prior to June 2020, the minimum traffic threshold to apply for Mediavine was 25,000 monthly sessions.
- You have to commit to Mediavine for at least 3 months before you can quit. The reason for this is that the Mediavine team will put a lot of initial effort into setting up your site and working with ad partners. They need the full 90 days to really show you awesome results.
- You must grant Mediavine exclusivity. This means that while you're running Mediavine ads on your site, you cannot run other ads (such as AdSense).
Mediavine vs. AdSense: The Bottomline
For me, what matters most when looking for the right ad network for my blogs are:
- I want to be able to prevent specific content from being shown in ads on my site. I can't bear the thought that content that doesn't align with my values or could harm my readers might show up on my site. For example, I don't like displaying ads about weight loss or gambling.
- I want to make as much money as possible. Obviously, I'm displaying ads so that I can be compensated for the hard work I put into creating content for my sites.
Mediavine gave me a good balance of both goals.
As you can see, Mediavine made me more money than AdSense, even when you look at RPM alone.
Here's what I recommend based on my personal experience using both Mediavine and AdSense: If you have at least 50,000 monthly sessions and have the opportunity to join Mediavine, DO IT! You will make more money and be a better blogger for it.
But if you don't yet qualify for Mediavine, then AdSense is the way to go. It'll earn you some money and get your readers accustomed to display ads while you wait to be able to join Mediavine.
I can't say enough good things about Mediavine. I've attended their Mediavine conference and met many of them in person. They're experts at all things blogging and just generally kindhearted, honest human beings. It's pretty rare to find a company that combines all these wonderful traits!
This blog (Start a Blog for Profit) is NOT on Mediavine because it does not yet meet the minimum traffic threshold. The ads you see? They're from AdSense.
I sold the blog on which I had Mediavine ads, which is why you'll see “last full month with Mediavine” mentioned above.
Apply for Mediavine here (remember, you must have at least 50,000 monthly sessions)
What is the best alternative to AdSense?
If you don't yet have the 50,000 monthly sessions to qualify for Mediavine, but you want to make more money than you would with AdSense, I recommend joining Ezoic (which is what I currently use for ads on this site).
Ezoic's minimum traffic requirement is 10,000 monthly visits BUT they sometimes run a program called Just Start that REMOVES the minimum traffic requirement. They only run the program for a limited time to a limited number of participants, and I do not know when it will reopen.