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Make money from your web site - the best banner ad networks

There's more than just contextual advertising networks as a means of generating revenue from your web site. In some scenarios, contextual ads just don't work and you need to be able to take greater control over what appears in the ad space. Consider utilizing banner ad networks.

Banner advertising payout rates have definitely decreased since the heady days of the late 90's, but there is some good news for web masters looking for a flexible and reliable way of selling banner ad space. Banner ads have come a long way with many different options and variations on creatives. On a related topic, if you're more interested in implementing pop up/under ads as a means of generating income, learn more in our pop up and pop under revenue guide.

Best Banner-Popunder Network

Our recommendation for generating income

Valueclick Advertising network

Save yourself the hundreds of hours of trial and error & view our review of the best banner advertising network around

Teaming up the best banner advertising network rather than intensive marketing to individual clients can save a lot of time and provide you with a steady income. The size of that cash flow is a numbers game - the more relevant ads you display, the more you will probably make. The networks provide the clients and the ads, you simply implement some code in your banner space and the ad will appear. In your association with these companies, you will be known as an "affiliate" or "publisher".

We decided to research the best banner advertising network for publishers/affiliates who have a site of our size. We tried many different networks, but only one stood out - more on that later. Many promised a great deal, but returned nothing. Some networks allowed very unethical advertisers to peddle their wares. On investigating a number of networks, we also discovered a few of them did not pay in accordance with their terms and conditions - worse still, some did not pay at all.

The following is a list of desirable affiliate/publisher features that you should look for before agreeing to "rent" out your prime advertising space to an agency:


Does the network provide ads that are relevant to your subject area or that would appeal to the users of your web site? Irrelevant ads will not only fail if you are participating in a CPC campaign, but they may annoy your visitors.

CPC, CPM and CPA options

A good ad agency will give you a mixture of CPC and CPM ads. CPC ads pay when a visitor to your site clicks on a banner through to an advertisers web site . CPM advertising is based on $X.XX per thousand views (impressions). Another variation is CPA - a visitor clicks a banner, passes through to the advertiser's web site and either purchases (a sale) or expresses interest (a lead) in the companies products or services. CPA pays the highest but usually has a much lower conversion ratio.

Control over ads displayed

The better ad networks have comprehensive publisher/affiliate administrative interfaces where you can preview a banner and decide whether you want that particular campaign displayed on your site. This is particularly useful if you (or your visitors) object to certain kinds of advertising - such as those wonderful flashing ads that we have all grown to love ;0) - an interesting and amazing fact is that those flashing ads do draw high clickthrough rates - figure that one out! If your agency is really on the ball, there will also be visual flags in your administration area to indicate that the ad contains references to adult material, gambling or tobacco related products etc.

Default ad control

Most agencies have quotas on the number of ads appearing to particular users. After that quota is filled for the hour or day etc., "default" ads will be displayed. These banners do not earn you any money - but they do tend to display community oriented ads, so you can also be promoting positive social messages - but be sure to check this out before signing up. Quality agencies will also give you control over these default ads allowing you to display your own offers instead. This gives you further opportunities in making money from this prime advertising space. If the default banner rate is too high in proportion to paying banners, and those non-paying banners promote other businesses, then these networks are well worth avoiding.


The days of the $10.00 CPM ads are pretty much well over, unless you find advertisers yourself by direct marketing, but there are still great payment rate differences between networks. Shop around carefully. You should aim to receive on average US$1.00 - $4.00 CPM or at least US$.15 - $.20 CPC.

Referral Bonuses

Another way to benefit financially from your publisher/affiliate association is to be paid a percentage of any referrals of new affiliates or advertisers to the network from your web site. Again, the rates vary greatly between networks, but an ongoing rate of 5% is a level that can provide you with decent residual income in the years ahead. With advertising campaigns quite often running into thousands of dollars, it is possible to draw a good supplementary income from referring advertisers.

Payout Schedule

Look for a banner network that pays promptly. I came across a couple of agencies that paid up to 4 months after the end of month! A common pay schedule is anything from 15-30 days after the end of month.

Terms and Conditions

Before joining any banner ad network, ensure you read the terms and conditions carefully. The banner advertising industry is well known for its share of fraud - perpetrated by all parties. Some agencies combat this with Draconian rules, which gives publishers and affiliates very little flexibility - look for an agency that takes fraud seriously, but still gives you some room to move. It is also EXTREMELY important to read the terms and conditions carefully, otherwise you may be breaking the rules without even knowing it. This usually results in termination of your account and forfeit of any money that you have made.

Variety of mediums

Many major ad networks now also offer interstitial, in-vues, pop-up and pop-under campaigns and other advertising creatives as a means of creating income from your web site. For a more detailed look at the pop-up and pop-under industry, read our guide.

And the winner is..

So, back to the results - who did we find to be the best banner ad network? The Valueclick Advertising network. Learn more about why we chose them as the top banner agency.

Other revenue generation options

One of the most popular revenue generation methods that pay well and is very easy to implement is Google AdSense:

Another way to derive income from your web site is through affiliate programs that offer text links. Descriptive text links are not only kinder on bandwidth and load times, but tend to draw higher click through rates. Learn more of the benefits and pitfalls of the text link affiliate game and also some of the better networks around.

While you may not make a million dollars through banner ads, they can be a good way to recuperate web site maintenance costs and stick a few bucks in the bank. If you do make a million bucks as a result of our recommendations, donations will be gratefully accepted! ;0)

Affiliate marketing - resources

Working with merchants

Successful affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing survival strategies

Protecting your affiliate commissions

Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast 
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