I know that some of our readers are curious about why we left Mediavine to switch to AdThrive. Since Elaine and I made the switch for different reasons, we are writing one of our rare individual posts to share our different experiences and reasoning.
Leaving Mediavine was not something either of us took lightly. In fact, it was a hard decision to make. We understand the stress involved in one of the biggest business decisions a food blogger or recipe site business owner can make, even when they think the change will benefit them.
We hope that offering a look into our thought processes when we made our decisions can support you in making yours, if the opportunity is in front of you but you are on the fence about it.
In my case, there wasn’t any one particular reason that made me decide to leave Mediavine for AdThrive. It was several things taken together over time.
Session and Pageview Requirements
The first and foremast reason was finally having the pageviews to leave. It did not take as long to get from 25,000 session to 100,000 pageviews as I had anticipated. In fact, once I made the decision to become a full-time food blogger and dedicate more time to the craft, growth happened fairly quickly.
Looking back, doubling pageviews from 25,000 to 50,000 then to 100,000 did not seem difficult. Interestingly enough, once I hit 100,000 pageviews, it has become more difficult to double my pageviews to 200,000.
Honestly, being a full-time blogger becomes more challenging when protecting income becomes as important as increasing pageviews. There are far more moving parts!
Once you begin wearing more hats and working harder, it is only natural to start wondering if you can make more income for your efforts.
Poor service and support
I had asked Mediavine support for help on more than one occasion to understand what was going on with my RPMs. It was always met with a canned response or the directive to “see our help pages.”
Seriously? How many times do you have you look at their help documentation for answers that do not address your specific question?
I am a blogger. I can read. And with my educational background, I can comprehend even the most obscure, often poorly written, documentation. I was a little offended, to be completely honest. And what about customer service, building trust, and helping someone understand?
On Mediavine, there is a color-coded dashboard to help you monitor the health of your site. The color teal indicates achieving the goal you are reaching for. But after my experience, I now wonder if the goal I’m meant to achieve that Mediavine calls a healthy site is actually a site whose space is optimized for placing the maximum number of ads.
I always ran in the teal. I made all of the recommended changes Mediavine suggested to all of its publishers. I checked those teal stats every day and if something was off I corrected it before the day was over. I was diligent and conscientious.
And yet my RPMs remained lower than my peers and lower than they should have been.
After I sent support a few of these emails in less than a year’s time, I was frustrated and felt defeated. The day I made up my mind to qualify for AdThrive, I wondered how many other bloggers had been treated this way. More importantly, did they also feel as disempowered as I did?
I understand and appreciate Mediavine has to generate revenue, too. But I want my ad network to be my partner, my collaborator. Let’s generate income together. I don’t want to be exploited to further a partner’s interests at the expense of my own. That’s not what I signed up for.
I had other challenging experiences with Mediavine as well. Once, I had given a backlink to one of Mediavine’s publisher articles in a post on my blog, Pear Tree Kitchen, and while I appreciated the mention on one of Mediavine’s Facebook posts, they didn’t get the name of my blog correct. This was their Public Relations person, no less.
I realized at that point that this was an ongoing pattern. I was just one of a plethora of smaller bloggers who were never going to matter to Mediavine.
Intimidation and reprisal: Business principles?
At that time, there were only two Facebook Blogging Groups I read every day. One was the Mediavine group, the other was Food Blogger’s Central.
It is understandable that one could not speak out on the Mediavine Facebook page. But, what made no sense to me was that on FBC, if anyone attempted to question or understand the way things were at Mediavine, they were given the cold shoulder and occasionally dressed down.
Something struck me as odd about all of that. And abusive. Like enforcing a code of silence regarding challenges.
I have a background in marketing and sales. There is no successful company that does not have complaints or critics.
In the Mediavine Facebook group, questions about moving to AdThrive are often met with hostility. Again, this made no sense.
Increased Income with Less Ads
I keep track of my RPMs daily, and it is a habit I suggest you adopt as well. One, it will come in handy for comparing data if you do change ad agencies and two, it lets you see your past income data and watch for trends. As you’ll see below, a comparison between my site’s daily RPMs with these two ad networks reveals another significant difference.
I should mention that Mediavine pays out additional percentages based on your time with them. They give you a 1% ‘loyalty’ bonus for each year you are with them. This bonus caps at 5%. AdThrive does not do this.
Below are two tables of data from the time just before and just after I switched from Mediavine to AdThrive. If you take a calculator to the numbers, you can see that my increase in income was far greater than the 1% bonus I would have made had I stayed at Mediavine for a few more months.
FINAL WEEK ON MEDIAVINE
Columns – day, date, pageviews, income, RPMs, sessions, RPS.
FIRST TWO WEEKS ON ADTHRIVE
I provide this portion of my daily income reports so you can see that my RPMs with AdThrive were higher on my first Monday with them than they had been with Mediavine for Memorial Day. That’s a significant and telling difference.
Much like Mediavine, AdThrive does a thorough examination of your site. Before they ask you to sign a contract they will give you an estimate of the RPM increase that your site could see, along with the estimation of ad reduction you can expect, even with these higher RPMs. You’re already experiencing the level of service you will enjoy once you sign and onboard.
At the end of this post, you will see the scare tactic email I received from Mediavine the day ads from AdThrive went live on my site.
Number of Publishers VS Number of Employees
AdThrive has around 5,500 publishers in their network, Mediavine has around 10,800. These numbers aren’t exact, but they do reflect that AdThrive has roughly half the publishers that Mediavine has.
AdThrive has 100 employees whose sole jobs are to work with and for their publishers. Mediavine has fewer employees than that for twice the publishers and many of those employees work on things like Create, Grow by Mediavine, Trellis, and any other digital endeavors Mediavine may be involved in.
Yes, I am aware that many of these digital assets are free to Mediavine Publishers. But, I like to make my own choices regarding plugins and WordPress editors.
AdThrive sticks to what it knows best: ad management. However, it does offer a few perks for all publishers, such as HashTag Jeff and a couple of times a year they offer email courses with Matt Molen, all for free. You see, they don’t try to re-invent the wheel, they give us access to experts in the field instead.
AdThrive Application Process
In all fairness, because I had already been with an ad management company for a while, excitement and nervousness were not dominating my thought process when weighing my decision to switch. If you are already running ads, you know that feeling I speak to.
I had an idea of the appropriate questions to ask, and I can assure you I ran AdThrive through the paces.
At no point did I receive a canned response or a copied and pasted answer. Every concern and need I had was addressed. They treated me like I was important despite the fact I had only recently reached 100,000 pageviews. And they still do.
Once I gave my 30-day notice, Mediavine sent me an em offering to optimize my ads. Offers to optimize my ads this late in the game were definitely too late. I had asked for help on several occasions, as mentioned above, with no engagement.
I tried to maintain a professional relationship with Mediavine all the way to the bitter end. It’s never good to burn bridges, you never know when you might need to backtrack and use someone’s services again.
May 28, 2019 my ads started with AdThrive. That day I received an email from Mediavine offering some helpful advice. It was not helpful and if I were risk-averse, it would have been fear-inducing.
After reading that ‘scary’ email, I had to wonder how well it “worked.” How many of the people who switch to AdThrive believe what they read and leave the company in the first week without reaching out to AdThrive to explain what Mediavine was getting at?
If it happens to you, please give AdThrive a chance to respond.
Mediavine wanted to let me know that I had a 36% INCREASE in the number of ads on my site.
Here’s what the email said:
“I also noticed something that might just be happening because they are still working through set up details for you, but I thought I’d mention it. There’s an in-content ad in the first screenview on desktop which is an ad policy violation.
So ads have increased with your new provider by 36%.”
Can you see how that might be a bit distressing? Rather than running back to Mediavine with my tail between my legs, I sent an email to AdThrive. I didn’t even have a contact person yet, I simply reached out to the last person I communicated with, my ad installation person.
AdThrive responded to my concerns almost immediately.
“We have a very close relationship with Google, so rest assured that our settings for your ads always fall within Google policies and best practices. That being said, we like to go beyond even the standards that Google has in place and shoot for the best possible user experience on your site.”
“I’m not sure how they were calculating a 36% increase, but it may be looking at the average number of ads per page with your Mediavine ad layout, compared to the maximum number of ads that will ever appear with your new AdThrive optimized setup.“
Once I was securely situated with AdThrive, I responded to Mediavine’s request to hear about the issues I had during my time with them. Their response was exactly the same response Elaine got; crickets, silence, and not even thanks for taking the time.
But I was relieved when that drama was finally behind me and I was free to focus on my food site.
At this point, I don’t see myself returning to Mediavine. Besides that Pear Tree Kitchen is doing so well and my publisher experience is so much better on AdThrive, even for a second site, such as Food Blogger Help, it would not make sense.
For current publishers who bring a second site online with them, AdThrive’s pageview requirement (35,000) is still lower than Mediavine’s new and increased requirement for new publishers to qualify: 50,000 sessions, which is roughly 65,000 page views.
Plenty of bloggers today are having positive experiences with Mediavine, and I don’t begrudge them their success. I’m grateful I was able to join my first ad network as soon as I did. I learned a ton and, of course, I also earned revenue for my food blog. This put me in a solid position for future growth.
But as my blog and my knowledge grew, that business relationship could not stand the test of time. Mediavine made it clear in many ways that I was not a priority for them. In addition, the culture they foster among their publishers was not a fit for me.
It took courage to leave, but I’m glad I did. I’m really happy I found a home that suits me and my business in AdThrive.
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