There are a few topics that are somewhat forbidden online, at least in terms of advertising. Pornography is certainly one of them, as is the spinoff in adult dating niches. Most advertising networks won’t touch those with a ten foot pole, which is why there are specific ad networks just for them. I’m not here to talk about those, though.
Casinos and online gambling sites, online poker, online blackjack, and the like are all another niche. Collectively known as “gaming” despite the fact that the term has been co-opted by video games in the last decade, these “traditional games” are mostly denied their space in the online sphere.
The reason is a combination of a long history of shady deals, spammy sites, scams, and international regulations. Anyone who deals in the niche has to content with online and international gambling laws, for one thing. They have to deal with money from around the world, which is often tricky. They’re a notoriously shady niche where a lot of fraud and stolen credit cards are used.
Nowadays, a lot of the casino and gambling sites out there are actually legitimate. Any site that isn’t has been swiftly ruined in terms of reputation and player base, with all but the most absolutely gullible people staying clear. More importantly, the marketers, the players, and the search engines all have collaborated to purge most of them, though it was not an intentional collaboration.
The fact is, while many of the larger casino and gambling sites out there are fine, there’s still a reputation attached to the industry and a lot of strings to navigate as an ad network. Most ad networks don’t want to deal with either the reputation or the strings, so they simply deny the niche. Sometimes it’s for the sake of the network, which doesn’t want to be associated with gambling sites. Sometimes it’s for the sake of their users, who don’t want their ad slots to be taken up with online gaming.
The associated reason for that, of course, is the same reputation issues. Online casinos are “adult” products; gambling is illegal for people under the age of 18 or 21 in most locations, though it does tend to vary somewhat. It’s as complex as alcohol, and has many of the same restrictions. The fact is, most non-gambling-related sites simply don’t want ads for any adult products, be it alcohol, pharmaceuticals, dating, pornography, or gambling.
This means that anyone looking to advertise a site, either one that deals with gambling directly, or one that simply deals with gambling education and techniques, is going to face issues finding an advertising network that is both reputable and open to their niche. That’s why I scoured the web looking for such networks; to make a list for you, my friendly readers. Please, let me know if I point out any you haven’t heard of, or if I miss one you like. I’m all ears.
This first entry isn’t really an ad network, since most affiliate networks have the same restrictions as the PPC ad networks. However, since there’s a dearth of networks, many casinos and supplemental information producers tend to have affiliate or referral programs of their own. It’s more complex managing a dozen codes and referrals than it is to manage one network, of course, but it’s a sacrifice you have to make as a site owner in an exotic niche.
Essentially, you can look for casino chains, online poker rooms, and other sorts of service providers in your niche. Find their sites and see if they have links for advertisers, where you may be able to find out about any affiliate or referral programs they may have.
Exponential – This network is the owner and operator of Tribal Fusion, so you can assume anything I say about Exponential applies to TF as well.
Exponential is a rather exclusive network that, nevertheless, does appear to allow gaming and gambling content. The only banned content they list, in addition to the usual no hate speech, no defamation, no illegal products, no alcohol, etc restrictions, is no pornography. They do say “otherwise adult-oriented content” but, in the context of the paragraph, indicates it relates to sexual services rather than anything under the broad 18+ umbrella.
I say they are exclusive, and I mean it. They have their own standards for quality, and one of them is that you have to have over 500,000 monthly visitors. They require highly targeted, regularly updated content and a professional design. Essentially, they are very picky about the companies they work with.
Tribal Fusion is like their entry level version of their network. It’s a pared down version with the lower quality, lower value ads and sites, but it’s a lot easier to get into. It can also be looked at as something of a gateway to getting into Exponential; perform well on Tribal Fusion and you may have a foot in the door already.
Adversal – This is one of the easier to get into networks, requiring only 50,000 monthly pageviews. Their full list of requirements can be seen on their advertisers and publishers pages, but tends to include items like “no excessive advertising” and “no malicious content or scripts.”
The one downside to Adversal that I’ve read is that they don’t really pay all that well. As an advertiser, that means they’re pretty cheap, but they’re only going to serve your ads on sites that are low quality and willing to accept very low paying ads. For the publisher side, it means they’re a way to get some conversion rate metrics, but they aren’t going to earn you very much money.
Fox Fire Web – This is an interesting network to me, though I list it here more out of curiosity than out of real interest. If you’ve used them, put your experiences in the comments.
I have a few red flags about this site. One of them is the typos on their pages, like “yeild” instead of yield. One is that they claim to have an advanced AI running their system, that “thinks like a human.” Hey, guys? If you’ve invented a thinking AI, I think science would like to hear about it. The third is that they don’t even do text ads, just banner ads, which makes them quite limited for many sites. Still, if their claims are anywhere near the levels they advertise, it could be worth trying.
BidVertiser – This is a name you see come up on non-adult ad network lists, so they’re more legitimate than a lot of other options.
They’re pretty good for both publishers and advertisers. Advertisers specifically get a bonus because they can select sites directly they want to advertise on, rather than allowing a network algorithm to do the heavy lifting for them. While it can be tedious to have to do that manually, it gives you a lot more control. From the publisher perspective, the ability to reject ads and the conversion rates offered give you a pretty good and unique relationship with advertisers that chose you specifically.
AdSense – Yes, believe it or not, gambling sites can advertise using Google’s AdSense, but only if they’re in specific areas with specific restrictions.
For one thing, the gambling site has to be entirely legal. Anything against the law of the country in which the site is located is not allowed on AdSense. For another thing, it’s restricted to only a handful of countries. You can see them at the link above but they currently include Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. You’ll note that the U.S. is not included on this list. Additionally, any site looking to advertise using AdSense will go through a very rigorous process of approval, which is very strict about what does and does not pass muster.
Revenue Giants – This site is an affiliate network operating out of Costa Rica, and it’s 11 years old, which is somewhat impressive given how quickly some of these networks can come and go.
They operate offers with a range of different casinos and online gambling sites, but they seem to primarily focus on bingo with a side of slots. You’re going to find less on offer if you’re looking for poker, blackjack, or other card-based games.
AdsForGambling – This is one of the few ad networks out there that focuses entirely on gambling content.
Now, their definition of gambling extends to Forex, which might be a questionable definition to some people, but it does kind of make sense. It’s still using luck to play with money, after all. The reason it’s unique is specifically that; they don’t have non-gambling sites in their network at all. Most other ad networks on this list and otherwise will either have all non-adult niches plus gambling and a couple others, or will be focused on all adult content including gambling, porn, and other forms of adult products. I have seen some reports of them sending primarily fake traffic, though, so if you’re an advertiser, be cautious with your initial investment.
AdBoosters – This network has both affiliate and PPC ads on offer, in a wide range of niches including adult content.
They pretty much take anything, so long as it isn’t actively malicious. They do, interestingly, have a list of people showing how much they’re making on the site. They don’t say if it’s per week (excellent) per month (decent) or per quarter (meh), but who knows. One thing to note is that they are based in Europe and, as such, tend to cater to European sites more than American sites.
TouTrix – This network is firmly mediocre in pretty much every way except one, but that one is why it’s listed here; they deal heavily in Bitcoin.
The cryptocurrency has been the butt of many jokes and a lot of fraud, but it has ended up one of the favored payment methods for gambling sites, probably due to the relative lack of regulation on it compared to real money. As such, a network that allows you to deal in Bitcoin rather than real money is something of a perk.
Any of these – This link isn’t an ad network specifically.
Rather, it’s a small list of casino-focused affiliate networks and programs, with one twist; they’re available in non-English languages. They currently have a handful of sites listed for German, Italian, French, and Spanish sites, with more languages coming “soon,” whenever that may be. I have no idea how long that message has been there, to be honest.
The Wall of Shame
Number one on the wall of shame is AdultAdWorld. They’re one of many adult ad networks, but they’re notoriously terrible for users. For one thing, they promise the moon in terms of payments and conversions, but they deliver virtually nothing. For another thing, they’re absolutely awful about filtering the ads they serve to their publishers. Not only are they some of the most intrusive ads on the web, they’re known for delivering malware. Say far, far away.
The second (and third) entries are Affactive and Revenue Jet, both owned by the same folks. They’re no longer in operation, primarily because they both attracted a lot of people, refused to pay out anything to those people, pocketed the money and ran. This isn’t just me saying this, either, I haven’t had personal experience with either one. I’m saying it because the owners were arrested last year.
Last on the list for now is AdBrite. Not because they did anything wrong, however; the network was by all accounts one of the better available networks for online gambling sites. Unfortunately, back in 2013, they closed down. They sold some of their intellectual property and assets to SiteScout, but the exchange was shuttered and SiteScout is not a replacement. Sorry, folks, but this one’s done. Thankfully, so is the wall of shame, for now.
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