The Best Contextual Ad Networks for Publishers

The global contextual advertising market was valued at over $144 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach over $400 billion by 2027, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 17% during the forecast period. With a future that is stricter on privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA, there's a growing emphasis on user consent and data protection. This essentially creates a new pathway for contextual advertising- a way to deliver relevant ads without relying on personal data, making it more compliant with these regulations. Contextual advertising is based on the context of a publisher's website content. Contextual ad networks use machine learning algorithms and natural language processing to analyze the content of a publisher's website and then provide targeted advertisements. 

Contextual ad networks are different from traditional ad networks. Unlike traditional ad networks, these ad networks don't rely on demographic or behavioral data to target ads. Instead, they focus on a website's content and serve contextually relevant advertisements. Semantic targeting, real time search intents, contextual commerce are some of the ways contextual ads can be used to maximize ROI. Before we deep dive into the best contextual ad networks for publishers, let us take a look at the major benefits of running a contextual ad network. 

Benefits of Contextual Ad Networks for Publishers

There are several benefits of using contextual ad networks for publishers:

  • Relevant Ads: Contextual ad networks serve ads that are relevant to the content of a publisher's website. This can result in higher click-through rates and engagement from users.
  • Purely Additional Revenue: Contextual ad networks can provide an extra source of revenue for publishers. If placed strategically, they can be a source of incremental revenue since then they don’t interfere with programmatic demand. 
  • Non-intrusive Ads: The ads served by contextual ad networks are relevant to the website's content and thus, they can blend in seamlessly with the user experience. 
  • No Need for User Data: Contextual ad platforms do not require access to user data to serve relevant ads. This can be beneficial for publishers who have limited access to user data. It is also helpful for those who want to avoid the compliance issues associated with data privacy regulations.
  • Compliance: Contextual ad networks can help publishers comply with data privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA. By avoiding the use of user data, publishers can reduce their risk of non-compliance and avoid potential fines.

Contextual ad networks can be a valuable tool for publishers looking to monetize their content while providing a non-intrusive advertising experience for users. Moreover, the conversion rate for contextual ads is going to be higher and publishers can see increased CPM and CPC rates from contextual advertising. Note that contextual ads perform best on niche websites and may not be relevant on viral, news, and generic website categories. 

How to Choose the Best Contextual Ad Networks for Publishers?

Here are some key factors to consider when choosing the best contextual ad networks for publishers:

  • Relevance: The most crucial factor to consider when choosing a contextual ad network is its ability to serve relevant ads. Look for networks that use advanced machine learning algorithms and natural language processing to analyze your website's content and serve relevant ads.
  • Global Demand: Choose a contextual advertising network like Google AdSense which offers global demand or has source demand from multiple DSPs and exchanges. 
  • Quality of Ads: The quality of the ads served by a contextual ad network can significantly impact user engagement and revenue. Look for networks that work with high-quality advertisers and serve visually appealing ads.
  • User Experience: The user experience is critical when it comes to any form of advertising. Look for networks that serve non-intrusive ads that blend in seamlessly with the content of your website. Avoid networks that serve ads that are disruptive, annoying, or intrusive.
  • Revenue Share: Different contextual ad networks offer different revenue share percentages. Look for networks that provide competitive revenue share percentages and transparent payment terms. Avoid working with networks that take more than 50% revenue share.
  • Support and Resources: Look for networks that offer robust support and resources for publishers. This can include dedicated account managers, training materials, and analytics tools.
  • Ad Formats: Consider the different ad formats the contextual ad network offers. Look for networks that offer various ad formats, including display ads, native ads, and video ads.

Setupad is one of the best website monetization platforms to increase ad revenue for publishers. Enjoy superior client support and have access to top SSPs.

Google AdSense is a contextual advertising network that helps publishers monetize their websites with global fills. It offers one of the best CPC rates for niche blogs and websites. AdSense is the go-to advertising network for all entry-level publishers. 

Coinis is a prominent contextual ad network with advanced contextual analysis designed to pair online content with relevant ad promotions. Their tailored ad placements enhance click-through rates, making them an effective content monetization platform for publishers. Rather focusing on user behavior, their technology analyzes your website, identifying listed keywords and relevant pages to refine targeting methods efficiently.


One of the largest contextual advertising platforms, offers cutting-edge ad tech with server-to-server technology to publishers. It has one of the largest pools of advertisers in the world and its ads can help you maximize your monetization.

Skimlinks is a commerce content monetization platform. Their technology helps you automatically monetize product links in commerce-related content.



SitePlug offers commerce content that helps build strategic partnership between brands and publishers and create unique, personalised shopping experience. With SitePlug, publishers are able to discover new revenue streams and deliver highly contextual and non-disruptive ads.

Video Intelligence by Outbrain is a contextual video platform that connects publishers, content creators and brands via video storytelling. They create coherent video moments on your desk, on-the-go, or on your TV. The platform effectively eradicates the issues of media consumption like distractions, irrelevance and poor user experience by bringing context to videos with AI and automation, and placing their ads with relevant content. 

Contextual Ads CPM Rates

The CPM rates of contextual ads like any other ad formats vary based on a number of factors like audience tiers, CTRs, audience type and more. Usually, contextual ads served through Google AdSense and will see CPMs in the range of $0.50 to $3. Whereas, those from Taboola, Outbrain, Revcontent will be in the range of $0.20 to $1.5. The video ads, if served contextually, will also experience CPMs in the range of $2 to $20. The highest being for the tier 1 countries and the lowest for the tier 3 countries. 

The best contextual ad networks for publishers serve relevant, high-quality ads and provide a non-intrusive user experience. These also offer competitive revenue share percentages and robust support and resources. If you need help finding the right contextual ad network for your needs? Publisher Growth can help. We will analyze your content and traffic, then, we will suggest the right contextual ad network for you. Sign up for Publisher Growth here. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Contextual ad networks do not typically collect or use personal information about users, so they do not pose the same privacy concerns as other types of ad networks. Yet, publishers should still ensure that they comply with data privacy regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA.

Publishers earn revenue from contextual ad networks through a revenue share agreement. The network takes a percentage of the ad revenue generated by the ads displayed on the publisher's website. The publisher receives the rest.

Contextual ad networks typically offer a variety of ad formats, including display ads, native ads, and video ads.