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Last updated: August 15, 2021
I currently have two websites running Mediavine ads, switched over from AdSense.
You may or may not have heard of Mediavine before, but in a nutshell, they manage and optimize ads on websites. Display advertising with Mediavine is very much hands-off. All you need to do, is install a little WordPress plugin, configure some settings, and ads will display automatically.
This Mediavine review takes 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.
|FAQ’s 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 specificially, 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 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 is able to 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 on-boarding 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 maintain their standard ad placements for at least 90 days after on-boarding. 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.
Site Speed and User Experience
The reason Mediavine was created is that they were looking for a better way to serve ads on their own high-traffic websites. Ads were slowing down their sites, negatively impacting their organic traffic and revenue.
There had to be a better way.
By nature, ads are slow. That’s just how it is. The Mediavine Ad Technology resolves that problem by implementing two important things:
- 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:
This means that ads will only be loaded when a user scrolls down the page they are visiting. As a result, ads are only loaded when they are visible to the reader.
In addition to this, Mediavine follows the Coalition for Better Ads standards. This means you won’t see any overly intrusive ads or bad ad placements that affect user experience.
Here’s a video with Mediavine’s Eric Hochberger doing a presentation about this topic:
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.
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 on-boarded, 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.
RPM by Device
Mediavine recently added a new feature in the dashboard that tells you the RPM by device type. And I must say the results are quite surprising.
As you can see, in my case the RPM on desktop far exceeds the RPM on other devices. This kind of makes sense though, especially when you have a lot of long-form content. Most readers won’t scroll all the way to the bottom of articles, which means a lot of ads won’t be loaded.
So if your RPM on mobile is lower than on desktop, there’s really no need to panic.
How is Mediavine Able to Achieve More Revenue?
Mediavine uses lazy-loading technology to display ads which increases overall viewability. And that leads to more revenue.
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. These adhesion units, as they are called, tend to perform really well.
Also worth mentioning is that video ads typically have the highest CPMs, which means ads displayed in your videos can really bump up your RPMs.
What’s great is that Mediavine gives you, the publisher, a lot of tips on how to improve RPM. Things like publishing long-form content, more images and shorter paragraphs can all contribute to more ads, a higher RPM and increased ad revenue.
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 it to my local AUD bank, with minimal fees and excellent exchange rates. The process works great, and is super easy.
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 myths, which is not unusual in blogger Facebook communities. It’s best to just ignore some of the discussions and comments, and to not get sucked into pointless discussions that go nowhere.
Trying to Wear Too Many Hats
One thing I’d like to point out is that, whilst it’s great that Mediavine is trying to be proactive in providing publishers with help and tips around everything involving blogging, at times their SEO advice in particular is one-sided, outdated, misleading, or otherwise just plain wrong.
The thing is, many bloggers take everything Mediavine says as gospel, which is dangerous. If Mediavine announces 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 will 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 do like 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 if anything, these 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 in particular would actually be the perfect use case for how NOT to do SEO.
Sadly though, whenever they get challenged, they tend to refer to their “millions of monthly organic page views” to try and end the discussion. But if you would spend 10 minutes analyzing their sites, you would know that these millions of page views have absolutely nothing to do with outstanding SEO practices at all.
In summary, 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 or blogging, which they absolutely aren’t.
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.
The Technical Side of Things
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, 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 software 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 pointing out 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.
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 short codes 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, I totally understand now 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 their ads. MV places a little line underneath their ads with a link to the Mediavine website.
This certainly promotes transparency, but I can imagine that some bloggers prefer not to have that MV branding on their sites (including me).
And whilst I can’t prove it at all, I wouldn’t be surprised if this branding would actually 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.
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 so far.
- Good Customer Service:
Mediavine provides good customer service and support. It’s obvious that this is embedded in their company policy. If you have any questions or concerns, you can shoot them an email, and they will respond in a timely manner.
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 to 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. This is of course very important from a user experience perspective.
- RPM and Revenue
Both the RPM and revenue are good, definitely better than with AdSense. I have yet to meet someone who is able to achieve a better RPM with AdSense than they can with Mediavine.
- 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:
Mediavine gives you full control over where ads are shown by using specific content hints. Using the default Mediavine script wrapper, it can happen that ads show up in places where you don’t want them to show up. Or sometimes they can interfere with the layout/structure of an article. In these cases it’s a good idea to use these content hints so you can control where ads appear.
- Ad Branding:
Mediavine ads include Mediavine branding which I personally find quite distracting. And whilst I certainly can’t prove it, I wouldn’t be surprised if that branding actually has a negative impact on RPM.
- Facebook Group:
The private Mediavine Facebook group is a bit scattered. As I mentioned above, the group has become a bit of a victim of its own success, and has become a huge source of misinformation and myths.
- Wearing Too Many Hats:
Mediavine at times provides SEO and blogging advice that is one-sided, outdated, misleading, or simply wrong. Many publishers take all their advice as gospel, and that comes with responsibility. Mediavine are rock stars when it comes to display advertising, but they are not SEO or blogging experts.
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Hopefully this Mediavine review has given you some useful insights. The people behind Mediavine are bloggers themselves and have become experts in the huge industry that display advertising is.
The requirements to join as a Mediavine publisher are also very reasonable compared to some other ad management agencies.
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.
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)|