Analysis of 2,919 AdThrive Websites (With Data & Insights)

Mushfiq
Mushfiq S Mushfiq has been buying, growing, and selling website assets since 2008. His first exit was in 2010. Since then, he has done 200+ website flips with multiple 6-figure exits. Learn more about Mushfiq.
Mushfiq
charles sipe - technical analyst
Charles Sipe Charles Sipe is a niche website investor and SEO specialist with a degree in Marketing from the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. Charles writes technical content that analyzes market trends in the website flipping and SEO industry. Connect with Charles on LinkedIn.
charles sipe - technical analyst

We analyzed a database of 2,919 websites that use AdThrive display ads for monetization. In this AdThrive review, we share the raw data, metrics, popular niches, expert insights, and overall impressions about the ad network.

AdThrive is one of the best premium display ad networks and they only approve high-quality sites that meet their criteria. Studying these sites can provide a gold mine of information that can help you build successful niche sites. 

To run this analysis, we collected data of the 2,919 websites through AHREFs, Google Search API, and manual labor from our team. We then performed the data crunching in Google Sheets. 

Here is what’s covered in this report:

  • Google Sheet with all raw data [Club Members Only]
  • Referring domain, domain rating, and keyword findings from 2,919 websites
  • Review of AdThrive
  • Notable out-of-the-box niches
  • Effective keyword formulas

Let’s get into it.


Summary of 3 Key Findings

AdThrive analysis infographic

Here is the bottom-line-up-front:

  1. Backlinks are key: 84% of sites in the sample had over 1,000 dofollow referring domains. Also, 2% had less than 100 referring domains
  2. Majority of niche sites ranked for 10K+ keywords: 86% of sites in the sample ranked for over 10,000+ keywords. 
  3. Traffic is volatile: 32% of sites currently have less than 10,000 monthly organic traffic according to AHREFs.

Here are some key findings for choosing a niche:

  • 215 sites (7.5%) had AHREFs DR between 0 and 19 and generated 100,000+ pageviews to meet AdThrive requirements
  • 2% (49) of sites had less than 100 referring domains

In general, compared to the Mediavine analysis that we did, AdThrive sites are higher authority, have been around much longer, and have a significant amount of backlinks.

With that said, there is a small selection of sites that are generating significant traffic. Let’s get into the analysis.


View Raw AdThrive Data

adthrive get access

If you would like access to a Google Sheet with a breakdown of all of the data, check it out below:


Data Insights from AdThrive Approved Websites

  • Number of Sites: 2,922
  • Average Traffic: 123,580
  • Median Traffic: 26,163
  • Average Referring Domains (dofollow): 11,326
  • Average Domain Rating: 47
  • Average Keywords: 104,358

Adthrive requires 100,000 pageviews to enter their network. The data backs that up with the average traffic (according to AHREFs which isn’t perfectly accurate) is 123,580 visits per month.

Additionally, the AHREFs domain rating is 47 whereas, with the Mediavine analysis, it was approximately 27.

In short, Adthrive sites are higher authority.

Backlinks: 84% of Sites Had 1,000+ Dofollow Referring Domains

Most sites in our sample had a high number of dofollow referring domains with a median of 4,975

84% of sites had over 1,000 dofollow referring domains and 49.8% of sites had over 5,000 dofollow referring domains.

Here is a chart showing the website distribution by dofollow referring domains:

referring domains

Here is the data organized into a tabular format:

# of Referring DomainsSitesPercentage of Sites (%)
0 – 99946816.0%
1000 – 199936312.4%
2000 – 29992779.5%
3000 – 39991906.5%
4000 – 49991685.7%
5000+1,45649.8%

The high quantity of sites in the sample with over 5,000 referring domains suggests that a high number of links helps these sites achieve high organic traffic. However, high traffic sites also tend to attract more links naturally. 

It was uncommon for a site to have few referring domains and to be approved by AdThrive. Less than 2% of the sites (49 sites) had less than 100 dofollow referring domains.

Takeaway: Although it is possible to generate a lot of traffic with few links, a high percentage of sites in our sample had a high quantity of links. 

Domain Rating: Median DR of 49

The median site in our sample had a strong AHREFs Domain Rating of 49. The mode for domain rating was 55 (91 sites had a DR of 55).

43.4% of sites in the sample had a Domain Rating of between 40 to 59 (1,268 sites). 

Here is a chart showing the website distribution by Domain Rating:

DR rating

Here is the data organized into a tabular format:

Domain RatingNumber of SitesPercentage
0 – 192157.4%
20 – 3972224.7%
40 – 591,26843.4%
60 – 7970524.1%
80 – 99120.4%

Takeaway: 215 sites (7.5%) had a DR between 0 and 19 but still was able to generate 100,000+ pageviews to join AdThrive. These are low competition niches.

Keyword Data: 86% Ranked for at Least 10,000 Keywords

The median site in our sample ranked for 47,427 keywords which is a relatively high number. A common denominator of sites in our sample is that they typically rank for tens of thousands of keywords. 86% of sites in the sample ranked for at least 10,000 keywords according to AHREFs.

To rank for tens of thousands of keywords a site typically needs hundreds of pages and good topical authority. Most of the sites in the sample have hundreds or even thousands of pages. 

Ranking for many keywords also helps lower risk because you are not overly dependent on a few keywords for your traffic.  

Here’s a chart showing the distribution of websites based on the number of keywords: 

number of keywords

Here is a breakdown in a table format:

Number of KeywordsNumber of SitesPercentage
0 – 9,99940113.7%
10,000 – 49,9991,11238.1%
50,000 – 99,99968123.3%
100,000 +72824.9%

Traffic Data Insights

The median traffic for AdThrive sites was 27,602 according to AHREFs data. 

Despite AdThrive’s high traffic requirements, the monthly organic traffic (AHREFs) ranged widely from under 10,000 to over 1 million.

Here is a chart showing the distribution of websites by monthly organic traffic:

number of traffic


Here is the same data in a tabular format:

Monthly Traffic (AHREFs)Number of SitesPercentage
0 – 9,99993432.0%
10,000 – 49,9991,00734.5%
50,000 – 99,99940613.9%
Over 100,00057519.7%

Also, 123 sites have over 500,000 monthly organic traffic and 63 sites have over 1,000,000 monthly organic traffic. 32% of sites in the sample had less than 10,000 monthly traffic according to AHREFs. 

How can nearly a third of sites have less than 10,000 in monthly organic traffic if AdThrive requires 100,000 monthly pageviews? There are multiple reasons. 

  • There was a significant decrease in traffic from a Google update or penalty and AdThrive doesn’t appear to kick these sites off their ad network.
  • If you already have a site using AdThrive, you can get other sites accepted with at least 30,000 monthly pageviews. 
  • AHREFs traffic numbers are estimates based on estimated click through rate and it doesn’t have data on low volume long tail keywords (e.g., “0 search volume keywords”).
  • Some niches receive a lot of referral traffic from social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram.

Many of the sites we reviewed in AHREFs had a significant decrease in traffic as indicated by the AHREFs historical data.

Here’s one example of a decrease in organic traffic:

258742373 186782816990122 2737147970429415245 n

Takeaway: Sites that have had significant declines in organic traffic may have lost interest in running their site and may be open to selling. These sites may present great opportunities to grow traffic since they have earned hundreds or thousands of referring domains over several years.

Estimated Earnings and Website Valuations

It can be a valuable exercise to estimate earnings from display ads based on the monthly traffic. This allows you to identify sites that are performing very well. 

We estimated monthly earnings based on a conservative $10 RPM (Revenue Per 1,000 Impressions). This is likely higher with AdThrive and with more advertising-friendly niches like personal finance.

We estimated valuation based on a 35x multiple (currently the average multiple is over 38x based on the data from DealFeed).

  • Average Monthly Earnings ($10 RPM): $1,236
  • Median Monthly Earnings ($10 RPM): $262
  • Average Valuation (35x): $43,282
  • Median Valuation (35x): $9,157

It is more useful to look at the estimated earnings and valuation of individual sites which are included in the Google Sheet that accompanies this article. 

As a comparison, Mediavine sites received an average valuation of $15,659 whereas AdThrive received $43,253.


5 Interesting Niches from our Sample of Sites

While most of the sites were about popular niches like food, travel, and pets, we found some interesting niches you may not have considered before.

1. Highway Rest Areas

A site focusing on information about highway rest areas receives over 140,000 monthly traffic with about 644 pages (217 monthly visitors per page).

2. Places Within X Hours of a City 

A site with just 74 dofollow referring domains receives over 120,000 monthly traffic. They have achieved this by auto-generating over 250,000 pages that list places within X hours from a given city.

3. Name Ideas

A site with a DR of 19 and just 78 pages is pulling in nearly 250,000 monthly traffic according to AHREFs (Similar Web estimates 3 times more traffic). The articles are long lists of name ideas for different things like teams, pets, and babies.

4. Livestreams

A site with about 600 pages of embedded livestreams receives over 130,000 monthly traffic according to AHREFs. The pages feature livestreams of popular tourist locations like beaches and also animal habitats (e.g. an eagle’s nest). The text content on the pages are thin which indicates that long form content is not always required to be approved by AdThrive. 

5. Useful Free Tools

A useful free tool can attract a lot of traffic, links, and even repeat visitors. An example is a ukulele site that has a ukulele tuning tool on one page that receives over 84,000 monthly organic traffic.

Another free word unscrambling tool (for playing Scrabble or Words With Friends) had grown to over 3 million monthly organic traffic in less than four years. Another site has 21 pages of spinning wheels that provide a random answer (e.g. “yes” or “no”) and receives over 500,000 monthly organic traffic.

Takeaway: While a majority of sites in our sample provide long-form unique content, there are several examples of auto-generated “thin” pages or free tools with little unique content that have been accepted to AdThrive.

Check out the raw data and you are sure to find many more interesting niches. 


A Detailed AdThrive Review

AdThrive claims to pay publishers the highest RPMs compared to other ad management companies and guarantees a 20% RPM increase if you switch from another network.  

AdThrive’s Requirements For Approval

AdThrive is selective on the sites they approve to join the network. Their requirements include:

  • A minimum of 100,000 monthly pageviews shown by Google Analytics.
  • A majority of traffic from visitors from the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • The site uses HTTPS.
  • Unique content that is a good fit for their advertisers.

AdThrive allows members to add additional sites with at least 30,000 monthly pageviews if they meet other criteria. 

AdThrive Exclusive Facebook Group

adthrive community

Publishers who use AdThrive on their site have the opportunity to join the exclusive Facebook group and network with others using AdThrive ads on their sites. There are over 2,600 members active in the group.

Group members post questions and share their experiences running their websites. AdThrive staff are also active in the group and answer questions about the AdThrive platform. 

Occasionally, members offer to sell their site which can be a good opportunity to buy a profitable site without having to pay the 10%-20% commission fees charged by website brokers.

Sticky Outstream Video Player

AdThrive provides a sticky video player that sticks to the bottom right of the screen and doesn’t require you to provide your own video content. They claim that turning on this video player can increase RPM by 10%-15%.

Additional Video Players

The Related Player and Playlist Player allow you to upload your own videos to be played on pages of your site. AdThrive runs ads before and during your videos that earn revenue for the publisher.

Can AdThrive serve ads on pages with Infinite Scroll?

AdThrive does support infinite scroll and will serve additional display ads as new posts are loading. Jon Dykstra, whose site earned over $80,000 from AdThrive in September 2021, uses infinite scroll and recommends it. 

Can AdThrive be transferred when a site is sold?

Yes, an AdThrive account can be transferred to the buyer of a website as long as the buyer is approved by AdThrive’s advertising partners. In the event that the domain is not approved by Google, AdThrive will work with the buyer to try to get the site approved.

Mediavine does not allow accounts to be transferred to a buyer. They require the buyer to apply for a new Mediavine account. If the site’s traffic is below the minimum requirement of 50,000 monthly sessions, the site will probably not be approved.

Popular Niches for AdThrive Websites

AdThrive focuses primary on lifestyle content publishers and the most common niches we found in the sample were:

  • Food/Cooking
  • Pets
  • Personal Finance
  • Crafts
  • Parenting
  • Automotive
  • Travel
  • Outdoor

However, they accept sites in many niches outside of these popular topics. According to their website “we also have a wide variety of publishers in just about every niche”.

Keyword Formulas You Can Use

From reviewing the AHREF top pages of the sites in our sample, we found the following keyword formulas that may be useful in other niches.

  • 11 X Ideas (e.g., “11 small fish tank ideas”) 
  • Homemade X
  • Best X Under [Price]
  • 7 Best X Brands
  • Best X For Kids Under [Age]
  • X Calculator 
  • How Long to Bake X (e.g., how long to bake chicken)
  • X Prices (e.g. dry cleaning prices)
  • How Much Does X Cost?
  • 5 Problems with X


Final Takeaways

Reviewing high traffic niche sites that have been approved by AdThrive can provide lots of valuable ideas on how to improve your own sites or find attractive niches to consider for a new site. 

You can also learn which niches and types of content are getting accepted by AdThrive so you can have a better chance of getting your own site accepted when it reaches 100,000 monthly pageviews.

Check out the Google Sheet with 2,922 example sites and you will surely come up with multiple ideas to implement on your portfolio as well as inspiration from the success achieved by these niche publishers.

Just try not to start too many new sites!



Mushfiq

Analyzed by Mushfiq S

Mushfiq has been buying, growing, and selling website assets since 2008. His first exit was in 2010. Since then, he has done 200+ website flips with multiple 6-figure exits. Learn more about Mushfiq.


charles sipe - technical analyst

Analyzed by Charles Sipe

Charles Sipe is a niche website investor and SEO specialist with a degree in Marketing from the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. Charles writes technical content that analyzes market trends in the website flipping and SEO industry. Connect with Charles on LinkedIn.


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