We have seen how to display adverts using the features built into some themes and also how to display adverts in the sidebar using text widgets. Now let’s look at WordPress ad plugins.
No single method of displaying adverts covers all situations and you will almost certainly need to use two or more techniques.
What is lacking with theme ads facilities and widgets, are advanced advertising features. For example, you might want to show random ads, so that if a visitor visits a page twice or more, they will not see the same advert. They will get a different one.
You might want an ad to slide in, pop up, appear in a sideways scrolling widget and so on.
The most effective adverts are those that appear in the body of an article, such as a third or half way down. They are right where the reader’s eyes are gazing and they are difficult not to see.
It is very easy to get carried away with all these advertising options and plaster the site with them. You have probably seen sites that do this and they are very annoying.
Overdo the ads and you might turn people away and discourage visitors, or drive them to install ad blockers.
Consider the readers and don’t annoy them!
AdRotate is available in free and Pro versions. All the best features are reserved for the paid version, but there is enough in the freebie to make it worthwhile installing.
For ads you create yourself, you can track the number of clicks, views, and CTR. It is an ad manager, a bit like a simple version of AdSense. You cannot, and don’t need to, track third party ads, but this feature is useful if you promote your own products and services.
Adverts can be viewed in a table and start and end dates for ads can be set using scheduling.
With AdRotate you must manually insert a code into a page to display an ad. This is a major drawback and automatic ad placement, used by the other plugins, is much better.
Ads Pro is only available as a paid plugin and it costs $37. However, it is much more powerful than free plugins and it has an amazing range of features. It claims to be able to bypass ad blockers, so your ads will always be displayed.
Ads can be scheduled to begin and end on whatever dates and times you specify. This is useful when you sell advertising space on your site directly. You could sell a particular ad spot for one, two or more months for example.
Another useful feature is geo-location and an ad can be shown only in specific parts of the world. For example, you could show one ad to US visitors and another to European visitors. It can even limit ads to specific zip codes, which is brilliant for highly targeted local ads.
Ads can be shown or hidden for specific devices, such as desktop computer, tablet or phone. It enables you to perform A/B testing to see which of two ads work the best.
It enables you to show random ads, ads in a slider, pop-up ads, corner peel ads, ads when the mouse hovers over something, video ads, floating ads, background ads, ads on layer, and more.
WP Pro Advertising System
WP Pro Advertising System has a similar feature set to Ads Pro, but it is cheaper and more popular. The number of ways that adverts can be displayed is excellent and there is no end to the ways you can annoy your visitors!
You can make them fly in from any of the four corners of the page, ads can be in the sidebar or the background. There are ads on layers top and bottom, corner peel ads, left, right or centred ads within the post, ad grids and custom ads.
An interesting feature of this plugin is an online banner ad creator and you can create responsive animated HTML5 ads with little technical knowledge required.
Ads can be displayed when the user scrolls to a particular point, trigger ads when the user is inactive for a certain length of time, track clicks and impressions, make them responsive and target specific devices.
There isn’t a free version, but it is a great paid plugin and it is reasonably priced.
Ad Inserter is available in free and Pro versions. There are few limitations in the free one and one is a limit of 16 ads, whereas the Pro version has 64. It really isn’t much of a limitation because most people will not have more than 16 ads active at any one time.
It does not do fancy effects like sliding in from the corners, triggering when the visitor is idle, overlays and backgrounds. It just inserts code.
Ad Inserter has a wide range of options for showing and hiding ads and you can show them at the top or bottom, after a certain number of paragraphs, if the user is logged in or out, only on specific pages, a third or half way down, and so on.
Blacklists and whitelists enable you to control when ads appear according to the URL, tags, post IDs and so on. Extra features in the Pro version enable geo-location – showing different ads to different parts of the world.
Ad Inserter is one of the best free ad plugins and has an almost perfect score of 4.9 on the WordPress website. A no frills plugin that does the job.
AdSense Plugin WP QUADS
WP QUADS is based on an earlier ad plugin that is no longer updated. It has an almost perfect score of 4.9 on the WordPress plugins site, there is a free version that is pretty good, and a Pro upgrade.
The AdSense option makes it easy to insert AdSense ads and you just need to enter the ad ID and your publisher ID, both of which are listed on the AdSense site.
You don’t need to copy and paste code. However, there is an option to enter any code you want if you create your own ads or use another ad network.
Ads can be positioned at the start, middle or end of articles, after a certain number of paragraphs, before the header, before the content and so on. You can choose specific ads or random ones.
WP QUADS does not have fancy fly-ins from the sides or corners of the page and other special effects. But it covers all the basics for free.
WP-Insert is a free open source ad plugin that covers the basics with no special effects. It can insert ads above or below the content, in the middle, on the left or right with content wrapping around.
There are useful options to hide ads for logged in users or mobile devices, and options to control whether ads appear in certain page types, such as the home page, archives, single posts, categories and so on.
Another useful feature is the option to insert Google Analytics and other code into the header. It could save you having another plugin to do that.
WP-Insert is limited to 5 in-post ad slots, but it is OK for a free ad plugin and is worth considering.
Which plugin should you use?
I currently use Ad Inserter, mainly because I have used it for years, it does what I need, and you get most features for free. It is by far the best freebie. However, if you are looking for an alternative free plugin, WP QUADS is worth considering.
Switching from one ad plugin to another is not difficult, so if you are just starting out, try one of the freebies. If you want a ton of features, go for WP Pro Advertising System, which is brilliant.