SHE Media Ad Network Review: My Experience
SHE Media became exponentially popular in June 2020, when Mediavine doubled its minimum traffic requirements from 25k sessions to 50k. For many bloggers, Mediavine simply slipped too far out of reach.
I was one of those bloggers—at around 18k sessions in May 2020, I felt confident that I could reach 25k in a few months. I actually hit the old Mediavine requirement only two months after the change, in August 2020 (I have the absolute best luck haha).
Reaching Mediavine no longer seemed attainable in the near future, so I had to decide: should I wait, and potentially miss out on months of passive income? Or should I join a less-reputable ad network and get locked into a yearlong contract, but at least make some ad revenue?
I decided to join SHE Media, and I’ve been with them for almost two months now. In this post, I’ll go over what my experience has been like, what the requirements are, and whether or not I’d recommend SHE Media.
For context, my blog is mainly about running, travel, and sustainability. Keep in mind that each person’s experience may be extremely different, based on factors like ad frequency and niche.
What is SHE Media? What are the Requirements?
SHE Media is an ad network, which means that they basically serve as a coordinator between advertisers and publishers (bloggers). They work with advertisers to place ads on websites with optimal audiences, and they work with bloggers to maximize revenue and serve ads they’re happy to have on their sites. In return, SHE Media takes a cut of bloggers’ ad revenue, and I’m sure they charge advertisers as well.
Like other ad networks, SHE Media has eligibility requirements. They include:
- Brand safe and regularly updated site that’s at least 90 days old
- Ideally 20k or more pageviews per month
- Willingness to enter into an exclusive digital ad relationship
- 80%+ US-based traffic
- 70%+ female audience
- 60%+ ad viewability
- 5% or less invalid traffic (like spam/bots)
This is more or less directly quoted from SHE Media’s FAQs page.
All this said, SHE Media has been quite flexible with requirements, though they may have become stricter given the increased volume of applications. I know of a few bloggers who were accepted with under 5k monthly pageviews. I myself didn’t meet all the requirements—my audience is only around 50% US-based, and 60% female. If you don’t meet all the requirements, you can certainly give it a shot anyways, though keep in mind that you can only reapply 6 months later, if you’re rejected.
SHE Media states that it should only take them a week to review your application, but it’s been taking much longer in reality (probably due to the volume of applications). It took me around 3 weeks to hear back, and it’s taken others a few weeks as well.
SHE Media vs. Ezoic vs. Monumetric vs. Google AdSense
How does SHE Media differ from its competitors? Ezoic, Monumetric, and AdSense are popular alternatives for bloggers who haven’t yet reached Mediavine numbers. In general, SHE Media is much better than these other options. Here’s why:
Ezoic: said to slow down your site a TON, and RPMs (revenue per “mille,” or 1000 impressions) are generally not great. Some people, however, have had decent RPMs of around $10. The good thing is that they only require 10k pageviews.
Monumetric: there’s a $100 setup fee, and wait time for approval has taken months for some bloggers. They also only require 10k pageviews, but I haven’t heard much about RPMs.
AdSense: just no. People make peanuts on Adsense.
Keep in mind that I’ve never been with these other networks, so this is based on my observations from blogging Facebook groups, and conversations with other bloggers. I also certainly don’t think SHE Media is all rainbows and unicorns (I have quite a few gripes), but it’s generally better than the other options.
My Experience with SHE Media
So, what do I like, and what don’t I like about SHE Media? Here’s the rundown:
SHE Media RPMs
My RPMs have been all right with SHE Media—they’re certainly better than they would be with AdSense, but they’re nothing like the $20-30 I’ve seen in Mediavine income reports. With Mediavine, I’ve seen blogs with 25k sessions making $300-400 monthly through ads. I made $124 in October 2020 with 25.5k sessions, and had an RPM of $8.83 (this is not entirely accurate either, as the SHE Media dashboard reported 0 sessions from October 1-5, which is not possible, as I still made revenue those days. I’d say my actual RPM was probably around $7.50).
Keep in mind that only 14k of those sessions were “counted,” and that RPM is calculated using the 14k sessions, not 25.5k. This is because only 55-65% of the people visiting my blog saw my ads, as some people have ad blockers, and those in Canada and the EU can opt out of seeing ads.
My ad revenue is also likely impacted by my settings. I don’t have nearly as many ads as most bloggers—I chose to place my in-content ads every 700 words, so most posts only have 2-3 ads. I also don’t have video overlays, and have opted out of all “controversial” ads, like political, dating, alcohol, diet, tobacco, and others.
If I were to increase ad frequency and opt into those categories, I’d probably see a much higher RPM. I’m just unwilling to do that haha. SHE Media reps have said that typical RPMs are $20-30, but I’ve spoken with another blogger with SHE Media who has frequent ads, and an RPM of around $10. Another blogger with around 30k pageviews also said they were making only a few dollars per day. Yet another (a food/drinks blogger) said their RPM was around $5. It’s unclear what exactly you can expect.
EDIT (December 2020): Since October, I’ve had higher RPMs, but they’re likely due to Black Friday.
In November, I had an RPM of $13, but this was heavily skewed by the last few days of the month, where I had RPMs higher than $20. I will continue to update this post with any changes. In the meantime, take this month with a grain of salt. I am experiencing higher RPMs in December as well, but I also attribute this to the holiday season.
Edit (July 2021): After the holiday season, I averaged ~$13-16 for my RPMs through June, but shortly after I told SHE Media I wouldn’t be renewing my contract, I dropped down to $8 (not sure if this is related, but according to them, RPMS drop a lot in the summer). I will not be renewing with them because I’ve gotten really close to Mediavine, and I’m especially not inclined to renew if my RPM is going to stay at $8.
Edit (October 2021): I did eventually see RPMs go back up to $10-13, but I’ve since left SHE Media since my contract was up and I didn’t want to be stuck for another year.
Edit (February 2022): I was accepted to Mediavine in November! Here’s my Mediavine income report if you want to compare RPMs and experiences.
Site Speed with SHE Media
My site speed totally tanked when I initially installed ads—I went from around 70-90 PageSpeed scores on desktop and 50-60 mobile scores to 40-50 on desktop and 10-15 on mobile.
Luckily, my brother is a programming whiz, and he helped me lazyload the ads. Somehow, my PageSpeed scores are now better than what they were before I had ads. I’m getting 90-100 on desktop, and 60-70 on mobile.
SHE Media is also able to help with site speed issues, but I installed ads on a Friday, and there’s no support over the weekend (and I’m highly impatient). But basically, I wouldn’t worry too much about site speed issues from SHE Media.
I was concerned that getting ads would lead to a drastic increase in bounce rate (the percentage of people who leave your site after viewing only one page). Luckily, mine only increased about 2% from 85% to 87%. My bounce rate has always been high, as I have a bunch of SEO-optimized guides, and people usually just leave after finding the answer to their question.
In fact, you’re probably going to leave after just reading this, and that’s totally cool. But if you want to stick around and learn how I grew my niche-less blog or check out my travel, running, and sustainability content, I’d be super happy!
Pros and Cons of SHE Media
Here are some other things you should know about SHE Media.
- Setup was super easy; on self-hosted WordPress, all I had to do was install a plugin and indicate my ad settings in the SHE Media dashboard (ad size and ad types). For in-content ads, I had to wait for help from support, but it only took a couple days to get it set up.
- Speaking of support, they’re generally pretty helpful, polite, and easy to work with.
- There are opportunities for brand partnerships. I’ve never participated in these, or have even been alerted to them, but this is supposedly a possibility.
- They are generally flexible with minimum ad requirements (3 on desktop, 2 on mobile).
- SHE Media isn’t perfect, but it’s one of the better-performing networks for people who don’t yet qualify for Mediavine.
This list is going to seem long, but that’s because I want this to be as transparent as possible! Don’t take it to mean that I hate SHE Media or anything.
- One year contract—you have to commit to one year, and there are no trials (at one point, they were offering 90-day trials, but they’ve since stopped and are firm on this).
- Can’t control frequency of in-content ads—you have to ask support for help if you want to change this, so adjustments won’t be immediate.
- Slow customer service—it can take some time for support to get back to you, but I try to be understanding because of the increased volume in network members. I’ve sometimes had support get back to me in a day, and other times, it’s taken a couple weeks (because someone was out and my ticket didn’t get passed on).
- Intrusive ads—I had some REALLY ugly ads on mobile that expanded and took up the entire page. I was upset because I never consented to these. It took basically a month for these to get removed, and lots of back and forth with support. I was told several times that they’d been blocked, only for me to still see them. I believe that they’re now gone, but let me know if not! If you don’t want these ads, you should specify before installing in-content ads.
- Reporting is glitchy—the reporting dashboard is glitchy and doesn’t always capture the correct number of sessions. This can artificially inflate RPMs, as it looks like you made more money with fewer sessions.
Should You Join SHE Media?
SHE Media has really been a mixed bag for me. I’m glad to be making some passive income, but it’s definitely not that exciting to only make a few bucks a day when others are making $10-20 with the same traffic. Again, this could be my unwillingness to plaster my site in ads, but based on conversations with other bloggers, SHE Media is not as profitable as Mediavine.
That said, it is better than its non-Mediavine alternatives. I just wish that I had more control over my ads, such as being able to block the intrusive ones myself, or adjusting ad frequency. The only things I can really do on my end are disabling ads on specific posts, and opting in or out of specific ad categories and placement.
If you have under 20k pageviews, I don’t think implementing ads is worth it. In fact, I think it’s a common beginning blogger mistake to implement ads too early on. With around 30k pageviews, I only made $124, as only 55-65% of readers even see my ads. Most days, I only make $3-4. If you have fewer pageviews, you won’t be making much money at all, and it’ll come at the expense of reader experience (let’s face it: ads are ugly).
I personally sometimes wish I’d waited to reach Mediavine’s new requirements, but there’s no telling when that will happen, or how. It’s also hard to say no to passive income, even if it is a smaller amount. Ads are the one way to monetize pageviews; otherwise, you may earn nothing at all for many site visitors, unless a few select ones buy something through an affiliate link.
Ads, Consumerism, and Sustainability
As a blogger in the sustainability field, I’ve also felt morally conflicted about ads. I certainly don’t want to encourage consumerism, and I also can’t control whether unsustainable products are advertised on my site (like BP gas or fast fashion). I don’t love this at all.
But to realistically continue my blogging work, I do need to be paid for all the hours I spend researching, writing, and creating. Sponsorships and affiliate links aren’t great either, as they also involve consumerism and advertising. This is just the catch-22 of sustainable blogging, and it’s a delicate balance to maintain.
In the future, I may consider selling ad sidebar space to specific sustainable companies. I’ve seen some bloggers who aren’t with ad networks, but instead have static sidebar ads that they negotiate with companies they support—that would be a cool way to get ad revenue and know exactly who I’m promoting. It’s just more work and more contracts, and not as passive as simply letting an ad network figure it out for you. Many sidebar ads also are all the way at the bottom of the screen on mobile. It’s not a perfect solution (and it’s still an ad that promotes consumerism), but it is an interesting alternative.
All in all, my experience with SHE Media is just fine, and it’s a decent option if you’re hoping to monetize with ads. Just be aware of the limitations, such as slow support and intrusive ads you can’t remove yourself. If you have under 20k pageviews, I’m not sure it’s worth it. If you’re nearing Mediavine numbers, I’d consider waiting to join a more developed network.
Let me know if you have any questions, and sending good vibes for your blogging journey!
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Hey Lily! Thanks for writing this. I was ready to jump into their ad network but your reasons have caused me to think a bit more about it. I also appreciate your transparency about ads and sustainability/consumerism…Totally get the conflicted feelings!
Hi Kelly! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment – I’m glad the post could be helpful!
Helpful indeed! I’m gonna skip probably… but any pointer to “lazy loading ads” article?
Glad it was helpful! My brother added the ad scripts to WP Rocket! I’m not sure how it would be done otherwise.
Thank you for writing this! So helpful. I’ve been having so many issues with freaking Adsense and looking for alternatives. Like you, I reached 25k sessions right after Mediavine changed their requirements. I hope mine go up soon. Haha!
Hi Merilee! I’m so glad this has been helpful. I hope you find something that works well for you 🙂
Thanks for the post! I am in the same boat as you — reached the 25k requirement right before Mediavine doubled it. After reading your post, I think I’m going to continue to wait on ads! Thanks!
Hi Jen! Glad this could be helpful. Hopefully we’ll both hit that 50k sessions soon!
Thanks for this review, Lily! I was just thinking about applying to Monumetric, but I ultimately don’t want ads to deter away from my content. Waiting to reach Mediavine is probably what I’m going to do!
Hi Bri! I totally understand that – fingers crossed that we both hit Mediavine this year!
This article was so so helpful and a joy to read! Thank you for all the information you laid out! I am considering She Media, but I’m definitely going to take a good long look before making a decision.
Hi Mimi! I’m really glad you found the post helpful. Best of luck!
Thank you so much for this! I was just ready to jump in and use them but now I am seriously reconsidering. Thank you for being so thorough.
Hi Jeanine! I’m happy that you found the post helpful. I wrote this since I wish there had been reviews when I joined!
Thanks for all the information! I’m also really curious about the lazy load and how to add that!? Any advice on that?
Hi Dom and Jo! I acutally don’t know what exactly my brother did, but it’s apparently pretty simple using WP Rocket. Your ad network can probably help as well 🙂
SHE Media support put Lazy Load on for me… i just emailed them & they put it on.
Thanks for this in-depth post about She Media.
I use them too and I think I prefer them to Adsense in terms of earnings and payment threshold.
My problem with them is the one year contract.
I wish I knew that before I joined.
I was so desperate for a better-paying alternative that I had no idea I’d be stuck for a year.
I was about to apply to Monumetric but now I can’t cos I would not have my blog crowded with ads. So I’ll just have to wait till October, hopefully, my blog would qualify for Mediavine by then.
Thanks again for explaining the whole RPM thing, I had no idea how they work but you made it easy to understand.
By the way, your blog is lovely.
Thanks so much for the info! I just got accepted to SHE Media.
But I was applying so that I could learn more about their sponsored post options that you briefly talked about. I didn’t realize I was also applying for their ad network! Lol! I have around 5K page views and was accepted.
So now I am doing research because I don’t currently have ads. And I didn’t really want them because I’m worried it’ll take away from the experience on my site. But it’s hard to turn down passive income.
Thanks so much for all the in-depth info. I think the thing I’m most concerned about is how it may affect my sight speed. I’m going to have to research the lazy load.
Planning to read some of your other posts that you linked to in here too lol. Thanks for all the info!
Congrats on getting accepted! There are definitely a lot of factors to weigh. Maybe see if you can limit ad frequency as much as possible, if site experience is a concern? Thanks for sharing your experience and leaving a nice comment!
I really appreciate your honesty! I just learned about SHE Media and am also one of those people not willing to sacrifice my site for the sake of ads, until I can make decent money off of it. Thanks for your transparency!
No problem! I’m glad the post could help!
i am in the process of leaving SHE as i write this… and i found your article because my RPMs dropped significantly when i gave them notice of leaving & i was curious about it. i don’t think there’s a way to prove they did this on purpose, but it’s strange we’ve both had this happen (and during Q4, no less).
on another note, as someone who was with SHE for a while (currently headed to Mediavine!), i will say i agree 100% with everything you wrote in this post. it’s a very accurate account of what it’s like to be with SHE — which is basically that they are good, but far from great.
So interesting! I thought maybe it could be just low summer RPMs, but for you to experience that too is very suspicious, especially now. Congrats on Mediavine!! I think I saw you post recently in the Wandering Women group and I made sure to click through 🙂 So exciting to hit that target!
Thanks for sharing your experience, it is definitely helpful.
And I have signed up with She Media, seems like it is better than Ezoic, but I am also closer to 50k sessions, just curious to know when you switch from She Media to Mediavine does the RPM increase as well?
Hi Saswata! I’m glad it was helpful. I was recently accepted to Mediavine and my RPMs have been in the 20ish range, but keep in mind that this is the most lucrative time of year, and that I also increased ad frequency with them (I now have around 8 ads per post compared to ~3 back with SHE Media). I know some folks who have $20-30 RPMs with SHE Media, and I think it might’ve been possible if I’d been willing to have higher ad frequncy with them.
Thanks to your post I’m going to wait on SheMedia for now. I was accepted with only 1k page views and it’s definitely not worth putting ads up yet.
Great article Lily! I just recently got on mediavine but was looking to see if shemedia used sessions or pageviews for RPM to compare (was on shemedia for a year as well) when I found your article. My RPM was around $10-$11 with shemedia and only ever got up to $17 but I also opted out of the controversial ads and didn’t use their video player. They did lazy load the ads for me which helped site speed. I found that once you have a contact at shemedia, if you email them directly you get a faster response. Otherwise their customer service is slow. I was able to get one sponsorship with them that was the best paying sponsorship I’ve had thus far. They send emails every so often for campaign opportunities. Overall, I think they’re a good stepping stone before qualifying for Mediavine. I don’t regret it and was able to make a little money each month to cover the cost of blogging. Hope this helps anyone else considering them!
You should collaborate with your brother to write a blog post about how to lazy load ads. That I would like to read
He added the SHE Media scripts to WP Rocket. I don’t know the specifics other than that. Site optimization isn’t really my niche, so I don’t plan to do an article, but you can always ad SHE Media to do it for you!
Hi Lily- I found your post via a google search. Thank you for putting this information together it is very helpful. Also, I am happy to have stumbled upon your site and will definitely be back to read more.