As soon as a new year starts, the ad revenue drops significantly and no matter what ad networks you are using on your website, you are going to encounter the problem of low revenue every year.
This is why I was testing different ad networks to see which one gives better revenue. I have used Ezoic, Valueimpression, VideooTV, Ad Plus, and the generic Adsense network where I found Ezoic to be the most flexible Adsense extension that increases your Adsense earnings.
However, after collecting a bunch of other Ad networks, I made my decision to give Adsterra a try as the reviews looked promising.
Also, the reviews on the first page of Google when you search for “Adsterra Review” must be legit as those bloggers have a good reputation. Right?
Unfortunately, this experience has opened my eyes about bloggers who teach people how to earn money. No doubt, that I also love to get people signup through my links so that I can earn some commissions but when it comes to ethics, I am not going to compromise for a few bucks.
This post is going to be an eye-opener for all those who are currently using Adsterra or are planning to register on this shady platform.
Adsterra uses malvertising to help increase publishers' revenue and it has been found out working with advertisers that push malware installation. It is also found to be redirecting people to malvertising sites that have attracted many negative reviews. On top of that there are frequent reports of account banning by Adsterra to avoid paying the publishers
- Easy approval
- High Revenue
- Pushes malware
- redirects to malvertising sites
- deletes negative reviews
- frequent account banning
Adsterra: What Does It Offer?
Unlike some big ad networks like Ezoic, Adthrive, or Mediavine, Adsterra doesn’t have any particular requirements for approving your website. Even if you are getting 10 page views per day, you are eligible for approval.
Adsterra says that it has a total of 12000+ advertisers, a 100% fill rate, and a 10-minute approval. The “10-minute approval” was what made me think about Adsterra many times because even Adsense takes several days for approving your blog. The same goes for other networks.
There are 6 types of advertisements through which publishers can earn from their websites or apps. They are kinda different from the standard ad formats. These include Popunder, Social Bar, and In-Page Push ads along with Native Banners, Video, and Banner ads.
Popunder ads remain hidden behind the main browser window and this is already something that many serious bloggers wouldn’t like to implement on their sites. Similarly, there are Social Bar ads that promote fake stuff and Adsterra gives you a demo of how these ads will look.
We all know that these are some black hat tactics to earn money which would be fine for those who are earning through websites that provide pirated software, games, and movies. Of course, serious bloggers who are running niche or personal blogs don’t want to advertise unrelated stuff like that.
This is still far from what Adsterra does but we will talk about that later but let’s take a look at how they promote their program.
The Fake And False Reviews
I do not randomly apply for any ad network before researching properly. However, the amount of fake and false reviews present on the web was too much to convince me to sign up for this network.
Even some of the supposedly legit and popular bloggers gave a positive review of Adsterra. However, none of them actually shared their own experience, and neither did they show any proof of earnings or any kind of stats because they never used Adsterra themselves in reality.
Most of them just want their readers to signup for Adsterra so that they can get a 5% referral commission for the rest of their life. But this is nothing except deception.
I trusted their reviews and therefore decided to sign up. I also checked the reviews on Trustpilot and Foxyrating, but unfortunately, these days it’s much easier to buy fake reviews and Adsterra looks pro in this. I am not saying that all positive reviews are fake as site owners that promote pirated stuff wouldn’t bother malware getting installed on users’ devices.
However, bloggers who run affiliate, niche, recommendation, and personal websites wouldn’t want something like these as it is destructive to reputation and people generally refrain from coming to such sites.
Adsterra Actively Pushes Malware
I have read reports that Adsterra ads are injected with malware that gets installed on users’ devices. While Adsterra constantly refutes those claims, they themselves show what types of ads they are promoting.
Adsterra ads either recommend users to install malware or redirect them to malicious sites. If a user hasn’t activated an anti-virus on their system, opening a site infused with Adsterra ads can download malicious files and redirect them to other sites.
For instance, Adsterra itself shows how its Interstitial ads recommend people to download or install different apps. As you can see from the image below, the ad is telling users to download the VPN but there is no information on what VPN service it is.
This is because users will be redirected to unpopular and most likely malicious sites that have partnered with Adsterra. Similarly, there are many software and game install ads that Adsterra pushes to the front that lead to websites filled with malware.
A similar report was published back in 2019 by Techtarget that Adsterra was found working with the Master134 malvertising campaign. Although Adsterra says that it has zero tolerance for malicious activity, it is still active in the same even after 3 years of such clear exposure.
If you think Adsterra may have done this only one or two times, then let me inform you that it was 2016 when Malwarebytes exposed Adsterra for malicious activities that continued to date and there is still no change in their policies.
My Experience With Adsterra
The setup was initially a breeze because I was able to integrate Adsterra ads quickly. I gave the Native ads the first try and on the second day, I earned $6 from just a single native ad.
I was so excited because it’s almost impossible to earn $6 from a single ad with 1000 visits per day. I thought Adsterra is the one that I was looking for. So, I kept it for two more days and I earned $4-$6 per day. Then I decided to add one more ad on the sidebar.
I added a total of 3-4 ads on the 4th day to increase my earnings and they were all performing well. Who wouldn’t like to earn $6-$8 per day with just 3-4 ads at a time when most ad networks would give you only $2-$3 but with all your pages filled with different types of ads.
Adsterra ads looked clean but I never understood why I am earning a lot from this network and why most professional bloggers don’t use it all.
It was the 4th day when I came to notice that something wrong is going on. If you are using your regular browser, your site won’t show any signs of malware because of the stored cookie but once you open another browser or incognito mode, things change quickly.
Whenever I opened my website, my anti-virus blocked some redirects. Every time I would open the website from incognito, the anti-virus would stop 3-4 redirect requests. This made me worry and I knew this was something related to Adsterra ads.
The threats I got were the following:-
“We’ve safely aborted connection on speakspurink.com because it was infected with URL:Malvertising.”
As you can see from the image above, I was being redirected to Speakspurink.com which is a known malvertising website that forces unwanted browser extension installation, surveys, adult sites, and fake software updates as we previously saw in an example of Interstitial ads that was recommending installing a VPN from an unknown company.
Speakspurink can also infect your computer and only sites with lower reputation use such ads.
After talking to the customer support of Adsterra, they only gave excuses as they do everywhere. They denied working with such malvertising websites and asked me what anti-virus I was using so that they can contact them to whitelist their (malware)ads.
I removed every banner ad except the Native one just to experiment if there is any ad that would be safe for my readers. But that didn’t do anything. I got the same warnings from my anti-virus again and again, and I decided to remove the ads completely.
When I posted my review on Trustpilot, they even flagged my review as not based on genuine experience. But if you check Reviews on Trustpilot, the ones that are positive have a few things in common.
They highly speak of Adsterra being “Legit”, “Authentic”, “Reliable”, and other such terms. Of course, not every positive review is fake but when you check the negative reviews, they have two things in common: Malvertising and Stealing money from people by not paying.
More Reports That Prove Adsterra Is Fraud
I am not the only one who calls Adsterra a malware ad network. There are plenty of reports out there but not available on the first page of Google because those reviews are not posted on websites just to get the signups.
Adsterra is not only popular for malvertising but it is also pretty known when it comes to not paying payments. These are a couple of reviews from Blackhatworld.com and there are more but you can easily see that most people have similar issues.
The funny thing is that you will see similar reviews in the comments of those who are promoting Adsterra. Yes, I mean the well-known bloggers(I won’t post the links) who have posted a positive review of Adsterra but don’t have the guts to use this ad network themselves because they know Adsterra would destroy their reputation and websites.
Conclusion- Should You Use Adsterra?
If you don’t care about your readers, then please go ahead. Many websites got destroyed quickly when penalized by Google. Those who are getting paid traffic on their websites may not face the same risk as those who established their blog reputation in years.
Publishers that own websites related to online movie streaming, URL shorteners, converter, downloads, mp3, adult content, and sports streaming websites may find Adsterra a good option to earn decently but I highly discourage using it on legit blogs and particularly affiliate sites.
Even if you use Adsterra on websites that are solely made for making money and not for readers, it’s not guaranteed that you will get every payment. It’s true that Adsterra pays publishers but it’s also known that if you have generated a good amount of revenue, they might just invalidate your traffic without giving you any legitimate reasons.
I personally, will never recommend using Adsterra to genuine bloggers who grind day and night for months and years just to get their site penalized for a few more bucks. If you have similar experiences with Adsterra, then feel free to share your experience in the comments below.