Google Adsense alternatives (for those of you with larger forums)

I never tried any of that and sell just directly to the vendors within my forum's niche.

Am I the only one doing this without a third party, like Google?
I have about 100 direct advertisers, and manage/serve their ad buys within Google Ad Manager. Each account purchases a fixed number of yearly ad impressions, and those impressions are equally balanced through the term of their campaign.

More ad impressions are available beyond those reserved by the 100 direct my current setup, those remaining impressions are filled by AdX, AdSense, or by Amazon/APS. In the past, I have had as many as 7-8 different ad networks, each frequency capped/targeted, all getting an opportunity to "bid" on serving those ad impressions. Additionally, should those ad networks fail to serve an ad, the impression would either passback to GAM and restart the bid cycle, or fallback to a remnant tag that was guaranteed to serve. replaced that setup a few years ago, and while it was a struggle to learn and implement, it also greatly improved page loading speed AND revenues.

Some light reading:
@woody thank you so much for the links. A couple weeks ago I got started with Google Ad Manager and probably due to the lack of information, I got lost after spending a couple days trying to understand how to link it with Adsense and eventually let others bid for ad spaces.

From what I understand I need to make creatives for each Ad, meaning I should upload the image/video or whatsoever by myself for each Ad, and I truly hope I'm wrong on this as it's be totally crazy if it really works this way.

My goal would be having adsense compete with other advertisers like Amazon or other Adx Partners but so far I didn't quite understand how to get started with this 'automated process'.

How much did it take for you to learn how all this works?
How much did it take for you to learn how all this works?
I answered that question in post 19. "I easily killed 5-6 hours daily on this stuff for years. If you aren't...start."

My forum has been around since 2002. I have 10kish posts. I have about 75 members with more posts than me. I checked out one of the OP's forums and he is the top poster with 60k posts. The next closest member has 20k. Simply, that means HE is the content creator, not the forum members. I bet I have less than 10 posts in the past 6 months that were "content" related....everything else is related to forum management.

You have to decide where you want to focus your participation or forum monetization. Monetizing a forum is a job, treat it as such.
Could someone please help me clarify this? I'm struggling to find out a reason but so far the only difference is the software used.

  • On the main site (not xenforo - gaming niche) I get around $150/day (on average) with around 20,000 Page Views
  • On the forum site (xenforo - same niche) I only get around $25/day (on average) with around 55,000 Page Views

Doing the math, I losing over 300 dollars every day, or the main site is weirdly doing exceptionally well while it shouldn't. What would be the key factors you think could influence so badly the Xenforo Forum compared to the main site (a blog with the same niche)?

I tend to exclude performances as they both load quite fast, being on a Dedicated Server with 128GB of RAM and hosting both on fast SSD disks, and I'd exclude Geo as well as they're mostly identical, so I'm really having a hard time understanding this bizarre scenario and any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks.
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Main site: Blog (ie: Wordpress)?? Blogs generally do 4-5x better rpms than forums for revenue.
Thanks for your fast reply. Yes, it's a custom version of Joomla. I wonder why there's such a big difference in earnings considering the niche is identical.

If I was an advertiser, I'd better invest in forums where there's a lot of interaction rather than a blog where people just read an article and leave, anyhow in my specific case it looks like the blog is performing 10-15x better than the forum, so I guess there's definitely something wrong. I wish there was someone in a similar solution so I could compare my RPMs with their ones.
Blogs are focused long-form content. Forums are question and answer, short content, with a ton of fluff in the middle. A bunch of multpage threads with "me too" and "that's cool" interspersed with a quality post halfway down page two and again in the middle of page 4 is terrible for advertisers. Heck, many of the replies in this thread are two or three sentences....terrible for advertising/seo.

Blogs require the publisher to create content and focus the message. There is a ton more value in that versus the user created q/a....and a ton more effort too.

I researched one of the forums of the OP of this thread. He has 3x the posts of his next closest member. That means HE is the content creator, not his users, and for revenue purposes, would be far better running a blog for his content, not a forum. The top poster in my forum has 38k posts. I have just over 10k (in 20 years). That puts me just inside the top 60.
As you seem very experienced in this, let me ask you: what do you think about those who stick the first post over and over on all the pages of that thread in their forums instead?

My point of view is that would cause "duplicate-content" in SEO Terms, but based on your previous post, it could also indirectly increase the revenue then?

I'm not talking about my specific case but in general, as the forum I'm running is set-up to encourage interaction, so users don't tend to write posts like "me too" or "that's cool" but, exactly like the post we're actually writing in, users tend to write longer and informative posts, all related to the main subject.

I've always seen things in the users' perspective and worked on giving them an always better user-experience, but I guess a website also needs a good strategy about monetization.

If you're wondering about me, I'm in the top 3 with 17k messages in 7 years, but that's only because I really like and enjoy personally taking part in the forum's activity, and I like to put everyone at the same level, admin included, so when there's someone asking for help, I'm there, too :)

Getting back on the topic, there's something I'd like to point out. I'm not going against Xenforo, as I really like it and I'd never go back, but before using Xenforo, I was using another platform (phpBB), but I recall Adsense doing a lot better on there 🤔 Maybe I just customized Xenforo too much, causing all this mess by myself.
AdSense as a whole has slowly tanked over the years. The "set it forget it" process it encourages means they can pay the absolute minimums.

I had a Google rep back 15 years ago, and my closing comment during our meeting was "My goal with Google is for them to make as little as possible" rep was quiet for a minute....then, responded "that's likely the smartest response I've ever had to that question."

Why is it smart? I was using passbacks and frequency caps and price caps and much more back the end of the day EVERY other network paid more than Google...they got the remnants. Learning HOW to put Google at the bottom, and how to make others outbid them took years and years of testing and learning.

Being profitable with a forum requires TIME on the ads, NOT on the content. Hours and hours, 7 days a week, learning and running stats and reading and more.

I personally don't like the "stuck first post" from a user perspective, and have never done it. A good thread is a story, and many of my threads read as such. I just looked at one of my favorite threads....started in 2012. 2000 replies, 763,000 views. The thread was locked in 2015 when the owner sold the project, and the new owner started their own thread. Nearly every post in that thread is informative....good questions from the members, good replies and images from the OP.

Xenforo added the "likes" and all that...and that has been VERY helpful with preventing the "that's cool" replies...since a thumbs up will suffice. It obviously still happens, but I saw an immediate drop in posts when that feature was added...and an improved content-to-noise ratio :)
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