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How to Use Display Ads for Money (FREE Passive Income)

Don't Work Another Day is reader-supported. We may receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own.
  By Forrest McCall | Last Updated:  April 17, 2022

If you’ve ever searched how to make money online, display advertising is often one of the top methods people recommend.

But what is it? And how can you make money with display ads?

In this post, I’ll explore how to use display ads to make money, how to get started with ad networks, how much money you can make, and much more. Let’s get started!

Make Money with Display Ads

What is Display Advertising?

Display advertising is a type of online advertising that comes in many forms, such as banner ads, rich media ads, video ads, or other interactive ads found on websites and other platforms.

Display ads are designed to capture someone’s attention and persuade them to take action, such as clicking through to a website or landing page.

For publishers and website owners, making money with display ads is a way to monetize your traffic and generate revenue from your content.

For advertisers, display advertising provides an opportunity to reach people based on interests, demographics, and even past behavior.

Using display ads is a great way to make money advertising


How to Make Money with Display Advertising

To make money from display ads, follow these steps.

Build an Audience

Before you can use display advertising to make money online, you’ll need to have an audience to promote them to.

This means starting a blog or website is the first step. These pieces of digital real estate can be excellent sources of passive income to help you reach your financial goals.

The cost to start a blog is low, making it a great way to get started with making money online.

To start, you'll need to secure a domain name and purchase hosting. I recommend buying your domain from Namecheap and purchasing hosting from SiteGround. These are the best platforms that are affordable and scalable to help you grow.

SiteGround is my favorite hosting platform to easily start a blog. They have top-notch customer service and prices starting as low as $7 per month. Sign-up below!
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Disclosure: This link is an affiliate link, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Next, you'll want to install WordPress (or another CMS) to help you manage the content on your blog. WordPress is completely free and my favorite platform. Many hosts (like SiteGround) will offer a one-click WordPress setup making it extremely simple.

Finally, you can select a theme for your site to design the look and feel of your site. There are many free themes, but if you want more customization you can purchase one online.

Now, you can start creating and publishing content for the world to read!

Unfortunately, your work isn't done after launching your site, you'll still need to build and audience and grow your traffic if you want to monetize your efforts with display ads.

To grow your traffic, you'll need to focus on marketing and promoting your blog content. This can be done through a variety of methods including social media marketing, SEO, email marketing, and more.

Register for an Ad Network

Once your site is live and you have some traffic, you can apply for an ad network (I'll explore the best options below).

Different advertising networks have different requirements, so it's important to understand each.

For example, the Mediavine requirements require you to have 50,000 monthly sessions to be accepted into their advertising network.

The process of applying for an advertising network is quite simple. Just insert the information about your site and wait for approval.

Implement Code

Once your site has been approved, you'll be given a snippet of ad code to insert into your site. This code is what will power the display ads on your site.

The exact location of where to insert the ad code will differ depending on what platform you're using, but it's typically inserted into the header.php file of a WordPress site.

Some advertising networks can complete this step for you, but others might require you to do it.

Start Earning!

That's it! Once the code has been inserted, your ads will start running and you'll start earning money based on the traffic your site receives.

As your traffic grows, so will your earnings!

Check out my 2021 earnings across my portfolio of websites. The large majority is through display ads!

2021 Website Income

Best Ad Networks for Display Ads

Not all ad networks are created equal. Some will pay more than others and offer additional services to help you grow your site. Below are some of the best ad networks for publishers who want to make money with display advertising.



Adthrive is one of the largest advertising networks available for large publishers. They only work with sites that receive over 100,000 monthly pageviews.

Adthrive is known for providing high-quality ads and optimizing ad placements to help you earn the most money possible.

They show the highest paying ads so you can optimize your ad revenue and get the most band for your buck. They also pay on a NET 45 basis, which is acceptable in the industry.

Adthrive offers the largest potential earnings of any ad network – so if you have the traffic, this is your best option.

Mediavine Requirements


Mediavine is another great ad network that many serious bloggers and website owners use to show ads to visitors.

You'll need 50,000 monthly sessions to join Mediavine, but once you're in you can start earning some serious money.

I've personally worked with Mediavine in the past and they are one of the best in the business.

They provide high-quality ads, great customer service, and are always looking for ways to help you grow your site. Additionally, they offer the strongest reporting and cleanest dashboards making it easy to see how your site is performing at all times.

Similar to Adthrive, Mediavine shows some of the highest paying ads to grow your ad earnings.

The one downside is that Mediavine pays on a NET 65 basis. This means you won't get paid until 65 days after you earn.


Ezoic is a great option for smaller publishers who don't yet meet the traffic requirements of Adthrive or Mediavine.

Ezoic previously required sites to have 10,000 monthly sessions but they have since changed that to no minimums.

They offer several different ad types to help you earn money and fulfill ad space on your site.

There are a couple of downsides to Ezoic, however.

  • Your earnings won't compete with Mediavine or Adthrive
  • Ads can be formatted oddly and take up too much space on your site
  • Site speed can be an issue because of how many ad units

Overall, Ezoic is worth it if you are a smaller publisher just looking to make extra money from your business. It pays much more than Google Adsense and can be a nice supplement to your income.

As a bonus, Ezoic pays on a NET 30 basis, meaning you'll get paid just 30 days after you earn.



Monumetric is a newer ad network on the scene, but they are already making waves in the industry. They started offering ad monetization in 2012 and have since become one of the top ad networks for small to medium-sized sites.

To join Monumetric, your site will need to receive at least 10,000 monthly pageviews.

While Monumetric doesn't have the same reach as some of the other ad networks on this list, they make up for it in other ways.

There's one key downside to this ad network, however. They charge a $99 setup fee for smaller publishers.

While this might not seem like a lot, it can be a deterrent for some people who are just starting out.

The fee is waived for publishers who generate over 80,000 sessions per month, however.

Google Adsense Ad Management


Adsense is the network most people will start out on. They have no minimum traffic requirements, making it ideal for new bloggers and publishers.

Adsense pays the lowest amount and doesn't offer all of the ad types that other networks offer. This means you'll earn less money when compared to other networks.

They are also the only ad network on this list that doesn't require approval to join. You can sign up and get automatically approved within minutes.

Additionally, Adsense doesn't offer any form of customer service. This can be frustrating if you're having trouble with your ads or need help troubleshooting an issue.

While Adsense is a great option for small publishers, you'll likely want to move to a different network once your traffic grows.

My take: avoid Google Adsense altogether and move straight to Ezoic!

Private Ads

Did you know you can sell your own ad placements on your site?

By offering ad spaces to individual advertisers, sometimes you can make more money than you could with a traditional ad network.

However, this can be more difficult and time consuming to manage, therefore many publishers will opt not to utilize this type of advertising.

How do Ad Networks Work?

There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes before an ad is displayed on your website.

Before an ad is shown, it goes through a real time auction. This is where ad networks and publishers compete for the ad space on your site.

The highest paying advertiser will then have their ad shown on your site. They can use data to help them understand if the visitor is in their target audience helping them optimize their advertising budgets.

This all happens in a split second and is done automatically by the ad network.

As a user scrolls through your site, more and more auctions will occur for each ad unit you have available.

Each ad type will have its own auction, meaning you could have a different advertiser for each ad unit on your site.

This is how ad networks are able to show targeted ads to your audience and why you'll sometimes see ads that are relevant to your interests.

Cautions with Display Ads

As a publisher, you might be tempted to click your own ads, however, this can get you banned from the advertising network. Don't freak out if you made a few accidental clicks, though. Unless you have a history of clicks, the networks usually won't take any action.

Display ads can also drastically affect your websites speed and performance.

This is because each time a new auction occurs, your website has to load the ad. This can slow down your site, especially if you have a lot of ad units on each page.

To help with this, you can use a caching plugin, which will save a version of your site and serve that to visitors instead of loading the page each time.

How Much Money Can You Make with Display Ads?

Looking to calculate your potential ad revenue?

Luckily, there are a few easy ways you can estimate how much money you can make with ads on your site.

To do this, you'll need to have two main numbers: the number of site visitors and the RPM (or revenue per thousand pageviews) for your site.

You should be able to find the number of site visitors relatively easily through Google Analytics.

However, trying to estimate the RPM for your site can be more difficult. This number can depend on many factors including the type of blog or website you run, the number of ads you display, the ad network you use, the length of the content, and many other factors.

Many website owners and publishers can estimate an RPM of around $20. This means that for every one thousand pageviews, your site would earn an estimated $20 from displaying ads.

To estimate the revenue for your website, you can play with the numbers to get a good idea of your potential earnings.

For example, for a site with 50,000 monthly site visitors, and an RPM of $25, your site could make $1,250 in ad revenue.

A site that gets 25,000 visitors, with an RPM of $35, could make $875 of ad revenue.

Because the two factors are your traffic and RPMs, you can manipulate these to get a stronger sense of your earnings.

For example, if you want to make more money from your ads, you can add words to some of your popular posts. Remember, more ads equals more money.

How to Promote Products with Display Ads

If you want to work with publishers to grow your business, you can use display advertising to promote your products on their websites.

To do so, you’ll first need to register with an advertising platform like Google Ads.

You’ll need to create an ad that resonates with your audience and let Google do the heavy lifting in terms of where to publish your ad.

Final Thoughts on Making Money with Display Ads

If you have a blog or website and want to make money with display ads, it's easier than you might think.

This is a great passive income stream to help you make more money from your efforts without much work required.

To get started, you'll need to create a website, grow it's traffic, sign up for an ad network, and implement their code. Then, your ads should start appearing and your earnings will start to roll in.

Forrest is a personal finance, entrepreneurship, and investing expert dedicated to helping others obtain life long wealth. He has a Bachelor's degree in business and has been featured in many popular publications including Forbes, Business Insider, Bankrate, CNET Money, and many others. To learn more about Forrest, visit the About Us Page for more info.
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