Google AdSense vs Affiliate Marketing

There are several ways to make money from a website. The most popular ways are joining an affiliate program that will pay you a commission for each new lead or an advertising network that will pay you money for clicks received on their ads or the number of times the advertisement was watched/viewed by the website visitors.

Google AdSense is the world’s most popular CPM/CPC platform. This website monetization platform came into existence in 2003. It is currently one of the major sources of income for hundreds of thousands of publishers. What is an affiliate network? Affiliate networks/program are different from AdSense. They pay a commission to the user for every successful conversion. The first-ever program went live in the late 1990s. Today, you’ll find thousands of programs on the Internet.

Is Google AdSense better than affiliate networks? Which platform should you use to monetize your website? Let’s find it out!

Google AdSense vs affiliate programs

Approval time

Some affiliate programs will automatically approve your application, while some will approve the user’s application only after the company’s staff go through their website or check their details. For example, you can get started with Amazon Associates immediately after creating an Amazon associates account. ShareASale and Commission Junction are good examples of platforms on which an application is not approved or approved automatically. You can apply for as many affiliate programs as you want, but not all applications will be approved automatically. Some applications of the many you’ve applied will be reviewed by the company’s staff that owns the program. Getting an AdSense account approved is challenging. A website should adhere to these terms and conditions to get approved. When users submit their application, a Google support staff will manually review their site and will either approve or reject their application.


Google AdSense provides various types of ad formats. You just have to create an ad unit and manually put the code it displays on your site or with the help of plugins. If you don’t know which ad size to choose, there’s an option to enable Auto ads in GA. Auto Ads uses artificial intelligence to find the optimal ad positions on your website. Most programs give you access to ready-made banners that you can put on your site. Next to the banner, you’ll find an ad code. The network will also allow users to create a link to any page on the merchant’s site. You can put the link on a page you want to monetize with this link. For example, Amazon Associates allows users to create an Amazon affiliate link for any product listed on their eCommerce website.


AdSense has one of the best reporting modules among the websites we’ve used. It lets users filter data by many conditions. If you find the data in the reports insufficient, you can link your account with Google Analytics. Reporting pages that you’ll find in the affiliate program’s dashboard might not be the best out there. It only shows basic details i.e. page on your website where the visitor clicked the link, the number of clicks the link got, etc. If you’re using a content management system, you can use affiliate plugins to track the performance of URLs in a better way.


To make good money with AdSense, your website should have many visitors from countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, etc. Websites getting tons of visitors from developing or poor countries must have very high traffic to be able to make 100+ per month. If your site has a low visitor count, it will take months for your AdSense account to reach the payment threshold of 100 dollars. The earnings via affiliate networks depend on the number of sales you generate for the company regardless of the traffic your site gets and the sources of your website traffic.

To monetize a website with AdSense, a major chunk of traffic to your website must be from search engines such as Google or Bing. If the major traffic source of your site is social media sites, your account would be at risk of getting suspended or banned.

What happens if your AdSense account is banned?

If your account gets banned for whatever reason, you can appeal to the AdSense team by filling out the form. If your appeal is considered, your account will be restored or else the ban is permanent. You’ll have to find other ways of making money from your site. A contract with an affiliate program might be terminated only if you use PPC programs such as AdWords to drive traffic to the page you’ve monetized with the URL. When your affiliate program gets banned, there are gazillions of other similar programs you can join, but nothing is comparable to AdSense as it is the only ad network that pays well (moderate/high-traffic websites).

Payment Policy

When your earnings have reached the threshold limit of 100 dollars, Google AdSense will make a payment to your bank account on the 21st of the month. Unless you’re based in a country from which Google is sending you the payment, it can take 5 to 10 days for the payment to reach your bank account. Most of the networks support PayPal. Some support wire transfers but charge a massive fee if you choose the wire transfer payment method. The two website monetization platforms allow users to change the payment threshold.

Which is better?

An affiliate program is the best monetization method for sites that get few visitors. AdSense is a great monetization platform for sites with high traffic. Getting a lot of visitors to a website is challenging. Many times, it takes months for a website to reach daily organic traffic of 20 to 50 visitors.

No matter what platform you use to monetize your site, remember one thing. Never depend on a single source of income on the internet. AdSense has strict terms and conditions. If you depend on it only and your account gets banned or suspended because of invalid clicks or violation of its terms and conditions, or your site complies with the terms and conditions, and a Google algorithm update destroys your site traffic, life will be difficult for you.


Pramod is the founder of wptls. He has been using WordPress for more than nine years. He builds web applications, and writes about his experiences with various WP products on this site.

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