Affiliate Marketing vs AdSense

Are you looking to monetize your website? Have you been wondering which, between affiliate marketing and Google AdSense, will do the trick for you? If yes, then you need to read this article! My name is Francisco, and I am the owner of Planet Marketing, a Digital Marketing agency. My company specializes in Google Ads, Facebook Ads and Remarketing. I have been in business for over 10 years and and can fully answer the Affiliate Marketing vs AdSense debate. Not only do I run my own affiliate marketing program in-house, but I am also an affiliate for other brands. In this article, I am going to;

  1. Introduce you to Affiliate Marketing is.
  2. Talk about the advantages of Affiliate Marketing.
  3. Discuss the disadvantages of Affiliate Marketing.
  4. Show you what Google AdSense is.
  5. List the advantages of Google AdSense.
  6. Show you the AdSense disadvantages.
  7. Compare affiliate marketing and AdSense when it comes to website monetization.

A Brief Introduction to Affiliate Marketing

Let me repeat myself here; affiliate marketing is something that I am very familiar with. When I launched this blog, I had very little idea what I was going to do with it! It’s something that I am happy to admit today. I never thought a time would come when it would become a full blown, self-sustaining business.

Anyway, that’s probably how most bloggers get started. They hear that blogging is THE thing, and they want to join the bandwagon. Later, as their audiences grown, they begin to look for ways through which they can generate revenue from their businesses. That’s what happened to me! After buying my domain 20 years ago, I started thinking; “damn, what am I going to do with this thing? How am I going to make money out of it?”

Affiliate marketing, it turned out, was the answer. But what is affiliate marketing? Well, below is a very simple definition of affiliate marketing;

Affiliate marketing can be defined as a system where brands/merchants/vendors engage the services of affiliates/publishers to find customers for products and services for a commission.

Affiliate Marketing vs AdSense: Let’s give an example

Let me use the example of one of the products that I promote to help clarify the point. My website, is hosted by Kinsta. Now, that’s a great host, if I have ever come across one! Since I migrated to them from Dreamhost, I have witnessed a REAL increase in traffic to my website. Speed does that for you! If you want your website to start ranking well, you need to consider moving to a faster web host like Kinsta. If you are interested, simply sign up using the link given above.

I hope you guys have noticed what I am doing here. I am an affiliate of Kinsta and I am using this article to try and get people to sign up using my affiliate link. Should any of you do so, I will be rewarded with a commission. For web hosting, commissions are usually once off and they range from $150 upwards. It’s all going to depend on how much the web host charges its customers. This website is REALLY hosted by Kinsta, so I am being truthful in the above description. And they ARE good!

Recurring Commissions

Anyway, I am also an affiliate of a number of Website Rank Checking companies. The great thing about most of these companies is that affiliate commissions are recurring. So, instead of being paid once after making a sale, I get paid every month, as long as the customer continues to renew their subscription. Recurring income really is the way to go if you wish to make money out of being an affiliate. It’s a great way of gaining passive income. If you refer 1000 people, as an example, all of whom will be paying $100 per month for a service, and if your commission is 5%, you will be getting $5000 per month for the rest of your life. You can go to the beach and relax with the money continuing to roll in. Now, that’s the kind of money that we all dream about!

The 2 Sides of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing has two sides. When most people talk about affiliate marketing, they are mostly looking at the side of the affiliate. That’s not really surprising, considering that most of the content about affiliate marketing that’s out there is produced by publishers (affiliates). So, what are the advantages of affiliate marketing?

Advantages of Affiliate Marketing

I have already alluded to some of the advantages of affiliate marketing. Let me lay them out to you in point form;

  • For
    publishers, affiliate marketing is a good way of monetizing their sites and
  • Affiliate
    marketing can become a great source of passive income.
  • For
    brands, affiliate marketing is a good way of spreading the word while only
    paying when the desired outcome is reached. Affiliate marketing is performance
    based. If an affiliate does not produce results, then the brand has no
    obligation to pay him or her.

Disadvantages of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing does have its disadvantages;

  • For
    affiliates, the field is so crowded that it can be rather difficult to make
    even a single sale.
  • Affiliates
    have no control over the products that they are selling. The nature of the
    product and its pricing is determined by the producer.
  • It
    sometimes happens that affiliates sign up with a not so honest merchant. When
    that happens, the affiliate is never sure whether or not they will get paid for referring people.

What is Google AdSense

Talk of website monetization would not be complete without mentioning Google AdSense. In fact, there are people out there who will state that AdSense IS the deal when it comes to making money out of one’s website or YouTube Channel. But what is Google AdSense and how does it work?

About Google AdSense

AdSense is a program by Google under which publishers who have signed up get ads shown on their website. The ads are from various brands across the globe. They are shown on websites that are owned by publishers who have signed up for Google AdSense. This network of publishers is referred to as the Google Display Network.

Types of Ads Offered by Google

Google offers two types of ads for those that wish to advertise through the platform;

Text Ads

Examples of text ads

Text ads appear in Google search results. They get displayed when someone makes a relevant query. Let’s assume, as an example, that someone in the United States searches for “best web host.” Along with the organic search results, they are also most likely to get ads at the top of the SERPs. These ads can be from a wide range of web hosting companies that have advertised on Google via Google Ads. As their name suggests, text ads are text only.

Ads on the Display Network

Display Network ads on a website

The display network is where AdSense is housed. Now, along with showing ads on search results, Google is also in partnership with millions of publishers around the world to have ads displayed on their websites. The great thing about ads that shown through the Display Network is that they can take a wide range of formats, from text to video, image and rich media. Most internet users will have come across banner ads from Google. Admittedly these can be rather annoying, but they are a great way through which publishers can monetize their sites.

An Auction System

If you are wondering how Google determines which ad is going to be shown on which website, the answer is; Google uses an auction system to allocate ads to publishers. This applies for both Search and Display Network ads. Part of the process of creating display ads includes setting the price that you wish to pay when that ad is shown. You then compete with other advertisers to have your ads displayed on available slots. 

How much does Google charge for Ads

Google has three models when it comes to charging brands for the display of ads on the sites that are owned by its network of publishers.

  1. Cost per Click (CPC): This is the first model that is used by Google for advertisers who wish
    to market their products and services using its network. Under the CPC model, advertisers
    only get to pay when someone clicks on their ad. The average CPC in the
    United States stands at $2.32.
  2. Cost per Mille (CPM): This is also referred to as cost per thousand impressions.Under this model, advertisers get to
    pay per thousand views. It doesn’t matter that no clicks may have been
    registered on the ad. What matters are the impressions.
  3. Cost-per-acquisition: With cost-per-acquisition, you only
    get to pay when your ad leads to a conversion on your site.

How does AdSense pay publishers?

Just to clarify matters for those that may still be in doubt; Google AdSense is for publishers; ie website owners, bloggers, YouTubers, Social Media influencers and others. Google Ads, on the other hand, is for brands/merchants/businesses that wish to advertise on the Google platform. But how does AdSense pay publishers?

Well, people who have Google Display Ads shown on their websites are paid both for clicks and for impressions. Clicks, however, will get you a lot more money than impressions.

Is Google AdSense worth if for bloggers?

You may have noticed that I do not have display ads from Google on That’s because I believe they are not really worth it, considering the kind of traffic that I get. In truth, monetizing your website using Google AdSense is REALLY difficult. It will only be worthwhile if you have loads and loads of traffic. How much traffic, well, according to my calculations, you need to have about 10 000 visitors a day to begin reaping the rewards of the Google AdSense program. Now, how many bloggers get those numbers? Very few! I don’t get those kind of numbers and I have been around for over a decade. If you own a news site, maybe those figures will be attainable.

Potential earnings from Google AdSense

The above screenshot shows an estimate of potential earnings from Google AdSense. If you are in North America and you get 50 000 monthly visitors on your Travel blog, you can expect to earn $9 210 through AdSense by the end of the year. That’s $767 per month. Is this worth your while? Definitely. However, you are going to need to get these numbers. 50k per month is, I have to say, quite achievable. That’s about 1666 visitors every day.

How much will you earn per thousand visitors?

Most people wish to know how many visitors they are going to have to get to start earning a living through Google AdSense. To be frank, the figures are a bit different, depending on a wide range of factors. Location, as an example, has a bearing on the amounts that publishers earn. If someone clicks on an ad while in Zimbabwe, a publisher is not going to get the same amount as when someone who is in the United States clicks on that same ad. So, how much will you earn from Google AdSense per 1000 visitors?

Research indicates that you need about 200 visitors to get $1 from Google AdSense. So, if you are getting 1000 visitors per day, you will only be earning $5. But if you increase your traffic to 10000 per day, your revenue will rise to $50 per day. And to really start earning a living via Google AdSense, you need to have at least 20000 visitors to your site per day. Now, that’s no easy task!

AdSense Advantages

The following are some of the advantages of Google AdSense

  • For
    publishers, it’s an easy way of generating extra revenue from your site (if you
    have the traffic). Indeed, if you have the traffic, AdSense can be a great
    source of passive income.
  • For
    advertisers, Google AdSense offers a great way of targeting the right kind of
    person. That’s because ads are not displayed at random. Instead, they only get
    displayed alongside relevant content.
  • Google
    AdSense is simple to setup on a website. Once you have an account, you can set
    up Google AdSense on as many sites as you wish.

AdSense disadvantages

Google AdSense does have a number of glaring disadvantages;

  • The
    only way to make it work is if you attract huge volumes of traffic to your
    website. In fact, the average blogger probably will make only a few dollars a
    month from Google AdSense. I have already mentioned that you need about 10000
    visitors a day to begin making meaningful amounts. Now, if you have that kind
    of traffic, there are better ways of monetizing your site than through AdSense.
  • Google
    tends to be arbitrary about the running of Google AdSense. If, as an example, they
    suspect that you have clicked on your ads, you will be banned for life. And
    there can be no negotiating!
  • Displaying
    ads on your site can be annoying to your visitors. Some people are likely to
    hit the unsubscribe button because of it.

Affiliate Marketing vs AdSense

I am going to speak for myself first; My website, Planet Marketing, does not use Google AdSense. Instead, I decided a long time ago that it would be better to go for affiliate marketing! I know, your preference is going to be different, no matter what I say here. Some people find affiliate marketing rather tiresome. The process of writing content that’s fits into the program that you have signed up for can be rather draining. Whereas, with Google AdSense, you can just be yourself and ads will be displayed from interested advertisers.

The major reason why I believe affiliate marketing beats AdSense has to do with the issue that I have already discussed above; traffic. If you do not have the right numbers, then you will probably become very frustrated trying to make money through AdSense. If you get around 150 visitors to your site, as an example, you will only be able to get about $15 per month. Now, is that even worth the trouble? I don’t think so! It’s not worth having all that clutter on my site for $15.

With affiliate marketing, on the other hand, you can monetize even this amount of traffic. Let’s say you have a niche website. You are not going to need huge amounts of traffic to get going. In fact, a 100 people will be more than enough.

Why not use both?

In my view, there doesn’t actually need to be an Affiliate Marketing vs AdSense debate. The good news is that you can use both Google AdSense and affiliate marketing on your blog, and nobody is going to assassinate you because of it. In fact, this is what most bloggers do. If you are not worried about annoying your readers, then, by all means get AdSense. And, while you are at it, find out some affiliate marketing opportunities in your niche. Add affiliate marketing links to your site, and kill one bird with two stones (or is it the other way round)? Anyway, most people will take even a few dollars wherever we can find them. In that case, using both Google AdSense and affiliate marketing on your site is a good way of ensuring that you stay afloat. Some people are worried that having affiliate links will get them banned from AdSense. That is not true! You can use affiliate links alongside Google AdSense!

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