Top Ad Networks 2021

July 16, 2021

When digital publishers think about monetizing their websites and apps via advertising space, the ad networks that generally come to mind are Google AdSense and Facebook advertising. And while they are certainly the most popular, with over 3 million businesses advertise on Facebook, and 1.5 million companies are advertising through Google AdWords, that doesn’t mean publishers shouldn’t explore other networks on the market. 

In an ever-evolving digital eco-system, there are many other networks that publishers can look to help drive their advertising ROI. 
This article discusses the finer points of ad networks along with the top networks for Publishers to consider in 2021.

What Is An Ad Network and How Does It Work?

How Ad Networks connect advertisers to publishers in the ad tech industry Infographic

When it comes to serving ads in the digital space, an ad network is a conduit responsible for serving the right impressions to the right people at the right time. Advertising networks connect advertisers on the demand side with publishers on the supply side in order to run ad campaigns and maximize advertising revenue.

The role of an ad network will vary depending on the inventory exchange cycle. 

For example, an ad network will sometimes directly sell inventory, and at other times, buy unsold or remnant ad inventory from SSPs or ad exchanges and sell it on for a lower price. 

What Factors Should You Take Into Consideration When Choosing an Ad Network?

There are many excellent ad networks available to publishers looking to serve ads on their sites. However, there are several factors to consider when deciding which network or networks will work best for your current business model.

Here are some factors to think about.

Your Customers' Devices

Everybody knows that we now live in a world dominated by mobile devices. However, it is essential for publishers to consider how and when people are using their mobile devices to decide if, and when, they want to serve mobile ads or desktop ads. Consider that many people will be using desktops during working hours, while mobile devices are more likely to be used on the evenings and weekends- and are more likely to be used to make purchases. In fact, a recent study showed, only a third of consumers used both a mobile device and a desktop for the same purpose, and 80% of consumers use their mobile phones to research products and prices.

For mobile publishers and app publishers, a mobile ad network will be a more suitable choice than a platform specializing in serving ads on desktop sites. 

Consider your target audience and choose an ad network accordingly. 

Targeting Options

Today’s ad networks offer access to sophisticated targeting options, including geolocation, demographics, device, income, and many other elements. Some networks also offer retargeting features, enabling advertisers to put ads in front of customers who have visited their website in the past.

While some statistics showing conversion rates on retargeted traffic can be double that of standard advertising, other research has shown that consumers feel ‘stalked’ by retargeting. 

Publishers need to assess their target audience and niche market to determine which targeting options they want and which ad networks offer them.

The Networks' Publishing Niche

Large ad networks often have multiple advertisers and ad agencies on their books. If you can find out the niche market of the network and match it to your publishing niche, you will be far more likely to target your audience with relevant advertising.

Choosing the right ad network for your business takes careful consideration, not to mention time and money. Publishers should not be afraid to pivot and select a more appropriate ad network if the one they are using isn’t providing the required results. 

Advertising Business Models

Ad networks offer publishers the choice of several types of business models with which to monetize their websites and mobile apps.

There are five main types of types: CPM, CPC, CPI, CPA, and CPV.

Cost-Per-Mile (CPM)

Cost Per Mile advertising charges an advertiser every time their ad is seen 1,000 times (or per mile). CPM is widely considered one of the best models for publishers as they get paid for every ad impression. For publishers with stable and predictable ad traffic, this has the added advantage of allowing publishers to forecast their ad revenue.

For smaller publishers and mobile app marketers just starting to grow their traffic, the CPM model may not be the best choice. 

Cost-Per-Click (CPC)

The cost per click model charges advertisers every time a user clicks on their ad campaign. This model tends to suit advertisers as they only pay for instances when interested parties click on their ads. While this model may work for some publishers, there is always a risk that they may end up serving a large number of ads for free, reducing the ROI on their ad space. 

Cost-Per-Install (CPI)

The Cost-Per-Install model is unique to mobile ad networks and works by charging advertisers only when a click on their ad results in a mobile app download. In this way, it is somewhat similar to the CPC model. 

Cost-per-install price is one of the most important metrics for mobile app marketers to track as it directly represents the amount they have to pay to acquire customers.

Cost-Per-Action (CPA)

The cost-per-action or CPA model is a more sophisticated version of CPI. 

Advertisers are charged for specific actions users take inside an app, be it an in-app sale, subscribing, or submitting a form. 

The CPA model offers publishers more opportunities to monetize their inventory while also giving advertisers more options to grow their business.

Cost-Per-View (CPV)

The cost-per-view advertising model is one of the mobile advertising business models most applicable to mobile websites running video campaigns. This model is based on advertisers being charged each time their video mobile ad is viewed. 

With exponential growth occurring  in the video advertising sphere, this model is becoming increasingly popular with both advertisers and publishers. 

The Best Ad Networks for Publishers: 2021

Here are the best ad network alternatives to Google Adsense and Facebook in 2021.


AdCash homepage

AdCash is a global ad network that connects advertisers and publishers. They are currently running over 1000 campaigns worldwide.

They offer a range of different ad formats, including pop-unders, native ads, push notifications, banners, and interstitial ads. 

Their platform also offers advertising technology that fights against digital ad fraud and is designed to bypass ad-blockers.

AdCash is also known for its high level of technical support from experienced and multilingual account managers.

  • Model: CPM, CPC, CPA Target
  • Minimum traffic: N/A


App Lovin homepage

Founded in 2012, AppLovin is one of the top mobile ad networks for both mobile advertisers and publishers looking to monetize their mobile apps. 

It is designed for media apps of all sizes, from indie publishers to established developers, to help them connect with their ideal consumers.

  • Model: CPA, CPV
  • Minimum traffic: N/A


Epom Homepage

Connecting advertisers and publishers operating across 15 verticals in over 40 countries, Epom Market is a cross-platform ad network that serves over 13 billion ad impressions a month. 

Epom supports a range of ad formats, including standard banner ads, in-text ads, video ads, and mobile-specific ad units, using category-targeting for higher eCPM rates.

Epom Ad Marketplace offers a 30-day trial through which customers can receive up to 1 billion free impressions.

  • Model: CPM, CPC, CPA, Auction
  • Minimum traffic: 500,000 monthly impressions

Click Adu

ClickAdu Homepage

Click Adu is a digital advertising network for web and mobile channels, serving a range of innovative ad formats, including video pre-roll, skim, and pop-under ads. They offer both fully managed and self-service campaigns with advanced targeting options, including geo, site, and device type, to maximize ad revenue.

  • Model: CPM
  • Minimum traffic: None

Ad Maven

Ad Maven Ad Network Homepage

While it is regarded as the best pop-under network for advertisers, Ad Maven actually supports multiple ad formats, including mainstream display ads banner, lightbox, interstitial ads, and slider ads. 

Serving hundreds of millions of ads in around 200 countries, they offer advertisers the opportunity to leverage geolocation-based targeting in their online advertising campaigns. 

  • Model: CPA, CPI, CPL, CPC, CPM
  • Minimum traffic: None

Hilltop Ads

Hilltop Ads Ad Server Homepage

Recommended for publishers with medium to high-traffic websites, HillTop Ads are popular for their anti-ad blocker technology, which saves publishers and advertisers revenue that is often lost due to the use of such software. 

They offer a modern, simple-to-use interface that allows publishers to monetize several websites through one account. 

  • Model: CPA, CPM, CPC
  • Minimum traffic: None


PopAds Homepage

PopAds are a pop-under ad network that advertises itself as the highest and fastest paying ad network in the pop-under arena. 

Their ad servers are also considered to be faster and more secure than their competitors.

They offer real-time consumer data to their clients, which can be leveraged to assist in ad layout optimization for more significant user acquisition. 

  • Model: CPV, CPM
  • Minimum traffic: None

Propel Media

Propel Media Homepage

Propel Media is widely regarded as the best advertising platform for CPV/PPV, known for reaching a high-intent audience via contextual text-links and display ads.

Propel media offers an easy to use interface with superior optimization abilities and visual analytics. 

Propel are known for their cooperative after-sales support to assist new customers in serving relevant ads to their users. 

  • Model: CPV, /PPV
  • Minimum traffic: None


Homepage of Top Mobile Advertising Network Vungle

Vungle is one of the top mobile advertising networks for app developers and publishers looking to monetize their applications with mobile app ads.

Vungle is known to attract High LTV users with rich media and video ad campaigns created by their in-house display advertising team. 

They offer ad placements that allow publishers to be flexible with formatting, along with data algorithms that will enable advertisers to A/B-test ads in real-time for more efficient targeting and increased ad revenue.

  • Model: CPC
  • Minimum traffic: None

Traffic Force

Traffic Force Ad Network Homepage

Traffic Force is a supply-side advertising platform that connects publishers with over 100 demand-side partners. This ad network sells targeted web and mobile web traffic on an impression basis.

Traffic force offers a range of ad formats for publishers to implement, including display banners, pop-unders, IM floaters, and in-stream video ads, and utilize header bidding open RBT technology to deal with traffic.

They also offer a high level of online security by utilizing advanced software to scan all ads that go live on their network. This ensures there is no malicious advertising. They also offer SSL secure ads.

  • Model: CPM
  • Minimum traffic: None


AdBlade Homepage

Targeted to premium publishers and media agencies, Adblade counts  FoxNews, Hearst Corporation, Yahoo!, and ABC among 1,000 publishers that make up their ad network.

AdBlade supports standard IAB ad units, as well as headlineNewsBullets® units, which they claim, have 3-5X the engagement rate of banner ads.

  • Model: CPM, CPC, Real-time bidding
  • Minimum traffic: 500,000 monthly impressions


Top Mobile Ad Network InMobi

InMobi is one of the fastest-growing mobile ad networks, as demonstrated by their inclusion in the 2018 and 2019 CNBC Disruptor 50 lists and as one of Fast Company’s 2018 World’s Most Innovative Companies.

They assist publishers in cross-selling, re-targeting & re-activating users with HD video content and rich media ads

Publishers can also maximize their yield with dynamic pricing and campaign optimization options.

  • Model: CPA, CPC, CPI, CPM
  • Minimum Traffic: N/A


Undertone Homepage

Undertone partners with top brands and publishers across several verticals, and pride themselves on their quality video marketing creative and flexible integrations.

They specialize in serving high-quality mobile ads, in-app ads, and web ads on a range of devices.

By implementing inventory in non-traditional ways, Undertone ensures zero cannibalization of existing ad products, along with 100%-1500% higher CPMs than standard display ads.

  • Model: CPM, CPC, CPA, CPV
  • Minimum traffic: 500,000 monthly impressions


EMX Homepage

Formerly called bRealTime, EMX caters to both publishers and advertisers by offering fixed CPM ad units. EMX specializes in monetizing websites across all geographies, particularly those located outside tier 1 locations (ie UK, US, and Canada).

  • Model: CPM
  • Minimum traffic: 30,000 unique users per month


Centro HomePage

Formally trading as Site Scout, Centro was the first self-serve media buying network available and remains the largest to this day.

Today, they offer a range of advertising services for publishers, including programmatic advertising, native advertising, mobile ads for mobile games and apps along with retargeting options.


Adsterra Homepage

Adsterra is one of the most respected networks available to publishers in 2021. Publishers can monetize any traffic with Adsterra, from desktop/mobile website traffic to social/mobile app traffic via almost every available ad format, including pop-unders, in-page push notifications, native ads, banner ads, and VAST ads.

  • Models: CPC, CPM, CPI, CPA, CPL
  • Minimum traffic: None

Revenue Hits

Revenue Hits Homepage

Revenue Hits allows publishers to monetize websites, mobile sites, add-ons, widgets, toolbar, and more. Their use of contextual and geo-targeted ad-serving technology makes it a great choice for publishers working in the EU who need to be careful of GDPR Compliance.

  • Model: CPM, CPC, CPA, CPV, Auction
  • Minimum traffic: None

When it comes to choosing an ad network, there are many things for publishers to consider. By looking at your target audience, their device usage, and your publishing niche, as well as which business model is best suited to you, you can begin to narrow down which networks are most appropriate. 

At Publift we are a Google certified publishing partner specializing in ad optimization, consolidated reporting, brand safety, training, and much more through our award-winning Fuse platform.

Contact our friendly team today to learn more.

Related Article: Guide to the Best CPM Ad Network for Publishers

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