I know a AdSense Plugin already exist (nodebb-plugin-google-adsense). But it is not compatible with 0.7.x and the developer does not update it. So if someone could make a new one or update the existing one - that would be nice.
Just in case anyone else runs into a similar problem, I was looking at the wrong api urls to get what I needed.
I needed to be getting JSON from the topic data, rather than category or post. Most everything is working now.
@Gaurav-Grv-Robinson It looks like NodeBB uses the nodemailer package under the covers, but the UI may only present SMTP transport options.
Your best bet is to use an SMTP server that's configured to listen/login/relay email on your behalf, this is a little different than a mail spooling system that in the end may relay, or otherwise send directly. If you have an inbound mail server that also has smtp for outbound, use that.
I tend to just use SendGrid (hosted SaaS mail delivery) for my outbound emails, because delivery rates come out much better. There are other services, and depending on where you are hosting, they may offer one.