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Last updated: June 12, 2022
In this Mediavine review, I will take you through the process of applying, getting approved, and setting up your website for ads. I will also shed some light on how my sites are performing, revenue and RPM-wise. And last but not least, I will share the pros and cons of being a Mediavine publisher.
Mediavine is a company that manages and optimizes ads on websites. Display advertising with Mediavine is very much hands-off. All you need to do, is install a WordPress plugin, configure some settings, and ads will display automatically.
I currently have two websites running Mediavine ads, which were switched over from AdSense a few years ago. Read on, and find out more about my experience and thoughts.
|FAQs about Mediavine|
|How many sessions per month does Mediavine require?||Mediavine requires that you have at least 50,000 sessions per month to apply.|
|Is WordPress required in order to run Mediavine ads?||Mediavine supports various CMS platforms, such as WordPress, Blogger, Squarespace, Wix, and more.|
|What is the Mediavine revenue share?||Mediavine offers a base revenue share of 75%. This can increase to 90%, based on loyalty years and amount of ad impressions served.|
Who Is Mediavine?
Okay, so who or what is Mediavine?
According to their Twitter bio, Mediavine is a full service ad management company and monetization partner, dedicated to helping influencers build sustainable businesses.
More specifically, Mediavine takes care of programmatic display advertising on people’s websites and blogs. They do this exclusively, which means that once you’ve signed up with Mediavine, you will need to remove all your current ads (usually Google AdSense ads) from your site.
Mediavine are publishers themselves also. They own and operate a few websites, such as The Hollywood Gossip and Food Fanatic, and some of their staff run their own blogs as well.
Google Certified Publishing Partner
Mediavine is also officially a Google Certified Publishing Partner. And that’s kind of a big thing because there aren’t many companies out there that can claim that certification status.
To become a Google Certified Publishing Partner, an advertising company will have to meet strict qualification standards to prove that they are specialists in Google’s ad products.
|Ad management since:||2013|
|Support email:||[email protected]|
Getting Started with Mediavine
For context purposes, let me share with you some details about the two sites I have switched to Mediavine.
The first website is a modest blog in the food niche. Traffic to this site is pretty average and my AdSense income for this blog was never very good.
The second website sits in the travel / outdoors niche and attracts more traffic than the first one. I was hesitant to make the switch because my results with AdSense for this second website were actually really good.
Okay, let’s go through the steps of setting up your website with Mediavine.
1. Mediavine Requirements
To be accepted with Mediavine, your blog needs to be in good standing with Google and will need to have had at least 50K sessions in the last 30 days. Sessions, not page views.
The main reason behind these requirements is that advertisers need to be assured that the traffic websites are sending to them via Mediavine is engaged, high-quality, and worth bidding on. Makes sense.
So if you can meet these requirements, go ahead and apply by submitting their online application form on the Mediavine website.
Don’t Have 50K Sessions Yet?
Ezoic is an excellent alternative if your website is not yet big enough to apply with Mediavine or AdThrive. It’s essentially a data-driven platform that can automatically show ads in locations that make you the most money.
Their traffic requirement is only 10K sessions per month, and I have personally used Ezoic with very decent results. With a bit of tweaking, you can get almost as much revenue per 1K sessions as you can with Mediavine and AdThrive.
You can sign up with Ezoic here.
The other thing you can do is try to optimize your AdSense earnings. Contrary to what many bloggers believe, Google AdSense can actually still be very lucrative.
But you need to manually place AdSense ads in your content, rather than having Google do this for you automatically.
Manually placing the best-performing display ads in your content every few paragraphs can get you a very good return on investment.
Once you’ve submitted your site, you will receive a confirmation email. In this email, Mediavine will ask you to run an analytics report so that they can do an initial verification of your traffic before moving on to the next step.
If the traffic report shows no issues, Mediavine will start the application process for their network partners on your behalf. You will also need to be approved as a partner within Mediavine’s Google AdExchange, which you have to activate yourself.
Once all the approvals are sorted, you will receive an official email from Mediavine stating that your application has been approved! Next, they will ask you to sign the contract online, and once all the paperwork has been completed, it’s time to start the onboarding process.
3. Preparing Your Website for Launch
Mediavine will now have a closer look at your website to see if there are any potential issues. Your site needs to be mobile responsive and needs to have a sidebar that is wide enough to display ads with a width of 300 pixels.
If Mediavine finds issues, you can either make style or code changes in your site yourself to resolve these issues, or you can have Mediavine do it for you.
You will then need to install the script wrapper (that magically generates all the ads on your site) which you can easily do via the lightweight Mediavine WordPress plugin.
Joining Mediavine means you cannot have other ads on your site. Therefore, the very last step in the preparation process is removing ads that you currently have on your site.
For most websites, these will be ads provided by Google AdSense. Simply delete all instances of ad scripts and you’re good to go. Amazon’s native ads are still allowed.
All done? Let Mediavine know immediately and they will activate ads on your site.
One important thing to point out here is that Mediavine wants you to keep their standard ad placements for at least 90 days after onboarding. This allows advertisers to learn more about your site and how the different ad types are performing.
Also, from this point on, you will receive a series of emails from Mediavine, explaining more about their network and how you can optimize your website for the best possible financial outcome.
The Mediavine Dashboard
Your personal Mediavine dashboard allows you to configure ad settings on your blog, analyze RPM numbers, check your income and so much more.
A big feature in the Mediavine dashboard is the site health check. This is a reflection of how well your site is optimized for ads, presented in different colors with red being not-so-good and teal being awesome. “Go for teal” is a thing within the Mediavine community.
An interesting report in the dashboard is the earnings and RPM per URL. This report allows you to see what type of content works best from an ad revenue perspective, so you can adjust your content strategy accordingly.
One of the most important features in the dashboard is the ad settings. Here you can configure what types of ads you want to allow on your site, and on which devices you would like to have them appear.
You can also set the in-content ad frequency as a percentage on desktop as well as on mobile. This is very useful as it allows you to tone things down a bit if you feel that there are too many ads appearing on your blog.
RPM, Revenue and Payments
So, how are my two sites performing with Mediavine? Let me share a few interesting numbers with you.
RPM and Revenue
What the heck is RPM? It stands for Revenue per Mille. In other words, the money you make per 1,000 visitors, sessions, or page views.
Session RPM = Income / Sessions * 1000
The session RPM for my food blog has been hovering between $20 and $30. From what I gather in the Facebook group, this appears to be a pretty average RPM, a bit on the low side perhaps.
For my travel site, the session RPM hovers between $10 and $20, with the occasional days over $20.
Ultimately, the income very much depends on the niche your website is in. I’m guessing that if your site is in a very broad niche, it will be more challenging to achieve an above-average RPM. On the other hand, if your niche is very specific, the ads will be much more targeted and RPM will go up.
What’s also important is where the majority of your traffic is coming from. If your audience is mainly US-based, your RPM will generally be higher. This is an issue with my travel site, which gets most of its traffic from Australia.
I won’t share exact revenue numbers for the websites that I have onboarded, but it is higher than I was earning with Google AdSense.
But to give you an idea, if you have a site that attracts 50,000 sessions each month, your monthly ad revenue would be $1,000 based on a 20$ RPM. Similarly, if you can achieve a $30 RPM, your revenue would be $1,500.
How is Mediavine Able to Achieve More Revenue?
First of all, with Mediavine you will get more ads than with, let’s say, AdSense. And more ads, usually, means more revenue.
But Mediavine also uses asynchronous and lazy-loading technology to display ads which improve page speed and increase overall viewability, and that leads to more revenue for you as a publisher.
- Asynchronous loading:
Ads are loaded separately from the content of the actual web page a visitor is reading. As a result, the process of loading ads doesn’t impact site speed.
- Lazy loading:
Ads are only loaded when a user scrolls down the page. In other words, ads are only loaded when they are visible to the reader.
Another reason why RPM and revenue are quite high for Mediavine publishers is because of the sticky ads in the sidebar and at the bottom of each page, and also the video player ad units.
All of these adhesion units tend to perform really well.
Mediavine pays on or before the 5th of each month. Payments are on a NET 65 basis which means you get paid 65 days after the end of a given month. For example, revenue earned in January will hit your PayPal account in April.
As a publisher, you will receive 75% of the total monthly revenue, and Mediavine will keep 25%. There is a loyalty bonus scheme, which means you’ll receive a bigger share of the revenue the longer you stay on as a Mediavine publisher.
You can also receive a bonus based on how many ad impressions your site produces. For example, if your site produces 5 million ad impressions over the previous 30 days, the revenue share increases to 80%.
Depending on how long you’ve been with Mediavine, and how well your site is performing, a Mediavine publisher has the potential to reach a 90% revenue share.
If you’re a non-US blogger like me and you don’t want to lose money on your local bank’s or PayPal’s fees and exchange rates, then you might want to open a Wise account.
If you’re not familiar with Wise (formerly TransferWise), they are basically very similar to PayPal except that they don’t charge those crazy fees.
In my payment settings in the Mediavine dashboard, I request for my revenue to be deposited in my US bank account associated with my Wise account. This carries no fees.
Once I have received the funds in my Wise USD account, I transfer them to my local AUD bank, with minimal fees and excellent exchange rates. The process works great and is super easy.
When switching from AdSense to Mediavine, or switching from no ads to Mediavine, your website will see a big increase in ad density.
And one of the reasons why publishers earn more with Mediavine than with AdSense is because they will typically have many more ads on their website.
In addition, Mediavine offers ad features that AdSense and other ad managers don’t. Features such as video players, “InView” (ad placed in a larger block and stays in view longer when scrolling), “SkyLight” (window effect in front of larger ad), and blogging features such as grow/me which places additional widgets.
All of these features typically improve the overall RPM and revenue, but they can also sacrifice user experience.
Here is a screenshot of a randomly chosen Mediavine publisher’s website:
This is what we’re seeing:
- In-content ad unit
- In-content ad unit (within an “InView” block)
- Adhesion ad unit
- Video player ad unit
- Sticky sidebar ad unit
- Grow/me widget
- Grow/me carousel
A lot is going on, and all of these ad units keep refreshing as the user scrolls. Having 4-5 ad units constantly in view is pretty standard for a Mediavine website, but for many readers that may be considered a poor user experience.
As a Mediavine publisher, you have the option to tone down the ad density. There is also no obligation at all to use their fancy ad features, and there is also no obligation to use the grow/me widget.
However, as a Mediavine publisher, it’s very easy to focus on revenue and forget about user experience. And while the above features aren’t mandated, Mediavine does push for them heavily. And as a result, many Mediavine publishers do activate all or most of these features.
User experience is extremely important, from a reader perspective as well as from an SEO perspective. Therefore, it’s best to find the right balance between ad revenue and user experience, a balance that works best for you and your website’s readers. Think long-term.
It’s important to point out that from an ad density perspective, Mediavine follows the Coalition for Better Ads guidelines and will always stay within the boundaries of acceptable industry standards. In other words, you won’t be breaking any ad rules by maximizing ad density and using their ad features.
Mediavine vs AdSense
So what exactly are the differences between Mediavine and AdSense?
Google AdSense is essentially an ad network, whereas Mediavine is an ad manager. Mediavine works with several ad networks and partners to serve ads on their publisher websites. One of these partners is Google AdExchange, a premium version of Google AdSense.
Mediavine lets all of these networks and partners compete with one another for advertising space on publisher websites. The better the website, the more advertisers are willing to bid on advertising space.
With AdSense, you can either run a sitewide script and let Google manage ad placements. Or you can place ads manually by inserting a piece of code in your content where you want an ad to appear. This can be in the sidebar, in your blog posts, in the header, or pretty much anywhere you like.
With Mediavine, it’s very much hands-off. The only thing you need to do is install a script wrapper, and Mediavine’s system will make ads appear on your blog.
They do so on a lazy-loading basis, which means ads will only load when they are viewable. More ads start appearing as a reader scrolls through an article.
It’s worth emphasizing that the Mediavine dashboard allows you to configure ad density. So, if you feel that there are too many ads appearing on your website, you can tone this down a bit, or vice versa.
2. Content Hints
You can also choose to manage Mediavine ads by using ad short codes, otherwise known as content hints. Using these content hints gives you full control over where ads are appearing throughout your content:
As you can see, it’s even possible to use different content hints for desktop and mobile. Pretty cool.
Typically, pages on mobile can have more ads loaded than on desktop due to the smaller size of the screen. So by using these shortcodes you can maximize the RPM on mobile.
Mediavine vs AdThrive
If you’re familiar with Mediavine, then most likely you’re also familiar with AdThrive. They are both ad management companies and offer pretty much the same service.
They are both Google Certified Publishing Partners and both offer a revenue share of 75% to their publishers.
Mediavine and AdThrive are essentially each other’s biggest competitors. I see that as a good thing because competition keeps businesses on the edge and focused, which will always result in an improved product offering.
Whilst the two businesses are very similar, there are also a few differences.
1. Eligibility Requirements
AdThrive has tougher eligibility requirements. To join AdThrive you will need to have at least 100K monthly page views, whereas Mediavine only requires your site to have 50K monthly sessions.
Personally, I quite like that higher threshold, as it will ultimately improve the overall quality of the sites that are associated with AdThrive. I would imagine that this also has a positive impact on the overall quality of ads being displayed on blogs.
2. Traffic Demographics
AdThrive also requires that the majority of your traffic is US-based. Having been with Mediavine for a few years now, I totally understand why AdThrive has that requirement.
The simple fact is that US traffic generates much higher RPMs than other countries do, including Canada, the UK, and Australia.
Another difference between the two is that Mediavine includes branding with its ads. Mediavine places a little “M” next to their ads.
When you click on the “M”, you can either go to the Mediavine website, or you have the option to report that particular ad.
This certainly promotes transparency, but I can imagine that some bloggers prefer not to have that MV branding on their sites (including me).
I find it very distracting, and whilst I certainly can’t prove it at all, I wouldn’t be surprised if that excessive branding can have a tiny negative impact on RPM.
4. Lazy Loading and Deferred Ad Loading
Mediavine has always valued page speed, and as such, they use lazy loading of ads, and they also offer the option to defer ad loading.
Deferred ad loading essentially means that ads don’t load on the first page load, which improves page speed and user experience.
AdThrive was a bit behind on this, but they have been catching up and they now offer Smart Loading and deferred ad loading. Their Smart Loading feature is essentially a mix of asynchronous and lazy loading.
If you’re keen to join AdThrive, it’s best to ask them about this directly because they will be much better able to explain than I can.
Mediavine Facebook Group
If you’re a Mediavine publisher, you’re allowed into their very lively Facebook group. Only if you want to, of course. The group currently has a few thousand members and is very active.
The problem with this Facebook group though is that it’s become a bit of a victim of its own success. A lot of random things are being posted, often unrelated to Mediavine or advertising.
Some people go to this group as soon as they have an issue with their blog, or if they have a random SEO or Pinterest question. And in most of these cases, this leads to fruitful discussions.
That is great, but if you’re expecting to easily find Mediavine-specific and/or advertising-related information here, then you may be disappointed.
The info certainly is there, it just tends to get buried under all these other, often unrelated posts and updates.
Another issue is that the group is a huge source of misinformation and blogging myths, which is not unusual in blogger Facebook communities. It’s best to just ignore some of the discussions and comments and not get sucked into endless discussions.
Trying to Wear Too Many Hats
Mediavine are always trying to be proactive in providing publishers with help and tips around everything involving blogging. That in itself is great, but at times their (SEO and blogging) advice is one-sided, outdated, misleading, or just plain wrong. And when it isn’t so off the mark, it is usually just very basic and trivial.
The thing is, many bloggers take everything Mediavine say as gospel, which is tricky. If Mediavine would announce in their Facebook group that “your Google Search traffic will grow exponentially if you do 10 pushups every morning at 6AM for two consecutive weeks”, some bloggers would actually do that. Of course, I’m being sarcastic here, but you get the point. Scary stuff.
Mediavine are rock stars when it comes to display advertising, but they are not SEO or blogging experts at all. But they want to profile themselves as such, and that comes with a consistent lack of humility and a surplus of stubbornness and disguised arrogance.
Yes, they own a few sites that get decent traffic, but that’s not because of good SEO practices at all. If anything, their sites could be performing so much better with an improved and modernized SEO strategy. One would only need 10 minutes analyzing their sites to work out why they are underperforming. One site specifically would be the perfect case study to explain how NOT to do SEO.
Also note that most of what they’re saying and writing about SEO is not based on actual tests or case studies. Rather, it’s mostly based on basic desktop research with lots of false and loose assumptions. Some of their advice can actually be potentially harmful.
In short, I would much rather see them focus on what they’re really good at, which is display advertising, instead of trying to act like experts in SEO and blogging, which they are not.
Mediavine Pros and Cons
To summarize this Mediavine review, let me go through the pros and cons of being a Mediavine publisher. Please note though that these pros and cons are based on my personal experience.
- Customer Service:
Mediavine provides good customer service and support. This is embedded in their company policy. If you have any questions or concerns, you can shoot them an email, and they will typically respond promptly.
Mediavine uses advanced technologies such as ad lazy-loading to achieve the best possible user experience and ad revenue. They also provide quality tools such as the Mediavine Video Player and Create to not only improve ad performance but also help increase the overall quality of blogs.
- Ad Quality:
The ads that I’ve seen on my sites and other Mediavine sites appear to be relevant and of good quality.
- RPM and Revenue
Both the RPM and revenue are good, and generally better than with AdSense. Most bloggers will achieve a better RPM with Mediavine than with AdSense.
- Flexible Ad Settings:
You can fine-tune ad settings such that they are a better fit for your website. You can change the percentage of ads shown, you can exclude certain types of ads, and much more.
- Content Hints:
Using the default Mediavine script wrapper, ads may show up in places where you don’t want them to show up. Mediavine gives you full control over where ads are shown by using specific content hints.
- User Experience:
When turning up the ad density, using all of Mediavine’s ad features, and also using their grow/me features, the user experience suffers. User experience is important, from a reader perspective as well as from an SEO perspective, so it’s best to find a healthy balance between revenue and user experience.
- Ad Branding:
Mediavine ads include Mediavine branding which I personally find quite distracting, especially when there are 4-5 ads in view.
- Facebook Group:
The private Mediavine Facebook group is a bit scattered. The group has become a bit of a victim of its own success and is a huge source of misinformation and blogging myths.
- Wearing Too Many Hats:
Mediavine at times provides SEO and blogging advice that is one-sided, outdated, misleading, or simply wrong. Mediavine are a fantastic ad manager, but they are not SEO or blogging experts.
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Hopefully this Mediavine review has given you some useful insights. Display advertising is a huge industry and Mediavine is one of the bigger players in that field, together with AdThrive and Ezoic.
Overall, my two websites have been performing reasonably well with Mediavine and I am happy with the extra income stream. This also motivates me to keep publishing more content as this will ultimately increase the ad income, even though display advertising is not my focus.
So, if you own a blog that consistently generates a good amount of traffic, I recommend you consider Mediavine as your ad manager.
|Summary:||Mediavine is a full service ad manager that aims to get the best possible ad revenue for your blog by displaying quality ads powered by the latest tech in programmatic display advertising. The requirements to join Mediavine as a publisher are reasonable, and they provide you with a dashboard where you can configure custom ad settings and track your overall ad performance.|
|Rating:||4.0 (out of 5)|