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Last updated: August 5, 2023
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 also run their own blogs.
Google Certified Publishing Partner
Mediavine is also officially a Google Certified Publishing Partner. And that’s important because there aren’t many companies out there that can claim that certification status.
To become a Google Certified Publishing Partner, an advertising company must 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 and outdoors niche and attracts more traffic than the first one. I was hesitant to switch because my results with AdSense for this second website were actually pretty 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 must 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 send 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?
There are some alternatives to consider when your site does not yet qualify for Mediavine or Raptive. The most popular alternatives are Monumetric and Ezoic, and they both have much lower traffic requirements.
However, I prefer to simply use AdSense. Depending on the niche and how you implement the ads, AdSense can absolutely be a lucrative alternative, contrary to what many bloggers believe.
But rather than turning on AutoAds and having Google automatically display ads on your site, it’s better to manually place AdSense ads in your content yourself.
Manually placing the best-performing display ads in your content every few paragraphs can give you an excellent return on investment. The only drawback is that this can be a bit of a time-consuming effort.
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 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 to resolve them, or you can have Mediavine technicians 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 last step in the preparation process is removing the ads you currently have on your site.
For many websites, these will be ads provided by Google AdSense. Simply delete all instances of ad scripts, and you’re good to go.
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 reflects 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 lets you 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 and 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, perhaps a bit on the low side.
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 most of your traffic comes 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 the 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 leads to more revenue.
But Mediavine also uses asynchronous and lazy-loading technology to display ads which improves page speed and increases 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 Mediavine publishers can earn more money is because of specific high-performing ad units, such as sticky ads in the sidebar and at the bottom of each page, and the video ad unit.
Lastly, Mediavine has private advertising agreements with companies in place that can lead to more competitive bidding for ad placements on websites.
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, meaning 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 has 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 I recommend opening 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 from no ads to Mediavine, your website will usually see a significant 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 picked 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
There’s a LOT 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, being a Mediavine publisher, it’s very tempting to focus on revenue and ignore 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, not only from a reader’s perspective but also 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, inside 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.
As mentioned, 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 manage Mediavine ads using ad shortcodes, 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.
Mediavine vs Raptive
If you’re familiar with Mediavine, then most likely you’re also familiar with Raptive, formerly known as 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 minimum revenue share of 75% to their publishers.
Mediavine and Raptive are essentially each other’s biggest competitors. I see that as a good thing because competition keeps businesses on the edge and focused, which typically results in an improved product offering.
While the two businesses are very similar, there are also a few differences.
1. Eligibility Requirements
Raptive has stricter eligibility requirements. To join Raptive, you will need to have at least 100K monthly page views, whereas Mediavine only requires your site to have 50K monthly sessions.
I quite like that higher threshold, as it will ultimately improve the overall quality of the sites associated with Raptive. I would imagine that this also has a positive impact on the overall quality of ads being displayed on blogs.
2. Additional Sites
Adding additional sites to your preferred ad network is easier with Raptive than with Mediavine. Raptive has a lower traffic requirement than Mediavine, and for many publishers, that is a reason to choose Raptive.
It’s best to contact the ad networks directly to ask what these traffic requirements are precisely, as they tend to fluctuate. But right now, Raptive has a more favorable approach for additional websites.
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”, it lets you navigate to the Mediavine website, or you have the option to report that particular ad.
While this may promote transparency, I imagine that some bloggers prefer not to have that MV branding on their sites, and that includes me.
I find it distracting, and while I can’t prove it at all, I wouldn’t be surprised if that excessive branding can negatively impact 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.
Raptive 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 Raptive, 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 is that it’s become a victim of its success. So many random things are being asked and posted by publishers, 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. At times, this leads to fruitful discussions.
That is great, but if you’re expecting to easily find Mediavine-specific and/or advertising-related information there, 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.
Trying to Wear Too Many Hats
Mediavine is always trying to be proactive in providing publishers with help and tips around everything involving blogging. That in itself is fine, 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 says 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 in display advertising, but they are not SEO or blogging experts. But they do try to profile themselves as such, which often comes with a 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. If anything, their sites could perform much better with an improved and modernized SEO strategy. One would only need 10 minutes to analyze their sites and determine 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 accompanied by false or loose assumptions.
In short, I would much rather see them focus on what they’re really good at, which is display advertising, instead of spending too much time handing out SEO and blogging advice.
Mediavine Pros and Cons
To summarize this Mediavine review, let me go through the pros and cons of being a Mediavine publisher. I’ll emphasize 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, email them, 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
RPM and ad 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, 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 content hints.
- User Experience:
When maximizing ad density, using all of Mediavine’s ad features, and using their grow/me features, the user experience suffers. User experience is important, from a reader’s 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 sometimes provides SEO and blogging advice that is one-sided, outdated, misleading, or simply wrong. Mediavine is a fantastic ad manager, but they are not SEO or blogging experts.
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Hopefully this Mediavine review has given you some valuable insights. Display advertising is a huge industry, and Mediavine is one of the bigger players in that field, together with Raptive 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, which will ultimately increase 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)|