When most people talk about monetizing their websites, they generally mean enrolling with an ad network and installing their code. The ad network handles everything, from fill rate and rotation to tracking and payments. It’s all very hands-off, but it has a few drawbacks. The two biggest drawbacks are the lack of control over your advertising, and the lower payments due to the network taking their cut.
If you manage your ads manually, you can have a lot more control over individual ads, though you will have to set aside a lot of time to work with advertisers directly. However, you make up for this with a higher profit level, because the people buying ads on your site aren’t working through a middleman. You’re free to pitch yourself as you see fit to the brands you want, and brands can come to you with their offers. You can set whatever level of cost you want, whatever payment model you want, and you can push it beyond the levels you can get through an ad network.
It’s a lot of work to manage your own ads, though. You need to have special tools in place, special skill sets available, and your site needs to be set up to handle ads smoothly. This list, then, is a compilation of possible tools you can use, plugins you can add to your site, to help you manage your ads.
Most of the plugins on this list have at lease some functionality for managing ads manually. You don’t have to just paste in some code and then rely on a third party dashboard. They don’t all allow direct buying and selling ads on your site without a third party, but that’s a relatively rare desire for most bloggers anyways. I’ll make note of it when it’s a key feature for the plugin in question.
There’s not a lot to this plugin. It’s very simple and made for beginners running more or less default WordPress blogs, without a lot of fancy code or template editing that could skew where ads would appear.
It’s intuitive to use and only has a few forms to fill out whenever you want to add a new ad to your site. It supports the basic ad formats and works seamlessly with Google’s AdSense and the other usual major ad platforms. However, it’s not really designed for selling and managing multiple ads on your own. Rather, it’s for people wanting to integrate an ad network’s code into their site without the design expertise necessary to do so.
The free version of this plugin is a more self-serve ad manager than the above, and while it works with ads from AdSense, Chitika, DoubleClick and other providers, it also has the power to create and add your own ads. This is useful for adding your own content into rotation as a promotion, or for selling ad space.
There is a premium version of the plugin as well. Primarily, it adds geotargeting and scheduling to the mix. A license for a single website costs 29 Euros, which includes all of their expanded features for a single site. To get more than one license, you can buy bulk licenses for a discount.
In common parlance, an injection in digital terms is generally a bad thing. It’s terminology used to reference viruses and hacks. This plugin is not those things. Rather, it injects ads into your content dynamically, based on context and content. You can set options for ad density, spacing, split testing, rotation, and other such advertising staples.
Other than the name, my one gripe with this plugin is that it hasn’t been updated in over a year. This is usually right around when I start looking for alternatives, since a WordPress update or an exploit can make the plugin either nonfunctional or dangerous to use, respectively.
This plugin is not free, so if you’re just looking for a free option, you can skip this entry. It’s a system very much like others above, except with additional features tacked on. For example, it has easy Google Analytics integration.
It has automatic updates. It has predefined option sets, or the ability to set everything just the way you like it. Perhaps most uniquely, it has ad scheduling that allows you to only display ads during peak hours, or display different sets of ads during different times of day. All in all, there are a lot of variables to play with here, and the plugin can become very useful. In addition, they have extensions to their plugin to integrate it with other systems, like Woocommerce. One such plugin allows manual management so you can cut out the ad networks entirely.
The regular license for the advertising system plugin is $29, which includes six months of support and access to future updates. The manual buy and sell ads system extension is an additional $12.
In contrast to the above, this plugin is a very simple option that allows you to create 125px square ads on your site, manage them with a simple timer, and keep track of some very basic analytics like click tracking. It’s not the most popular option, and it hasn’t been updated in nearly a year, but if all you need is an ultralight, basic system, this is one of your better options.
This one is another premium plugin on CodeCanyon, but once again, it’s worth it if you want a robust dashboard with a lot of features. It’s a self-styled “insane ad manager” and it allows direct buying or selling of ads on your site without the need to go through a network. You can integrate it with a network, of course, but that’s not a limitation.
One of the biggest selling points of this plugin is that you can create templates on a grid system that makes it easier than you might expect to really customize your ad displays. Plus, ad filters, ad capping options, and over 25 different was of displaying ads makes it very adaptable to pretty much any site.
The license you buy costs $37 and gives you the standard CodeCanyon six months of support, with the option to buy an additional six months of support for a little over $12.
This is not a very robust plugin on its own, and it’s not really designed for managing your ads presence entirely on its own. Instead, think of it more like a supplemental product that helps you optimize your ads on top of the way you already display them. What it does, basically, is sets up general geographic areas, such as the United States, Canada, and other countries. Within each box, you can add the code for ads you want to display to users from those locations. In this way, you can set very discreet ad targets through your ad network, and serve those ads with geolocation targeting via your website. The plugin is another premium offering on CodeCanyon and will cost you $19.
This is one of the most complete ad managers you’ll find out there, just flat out. The best part is, it’s not necessarily just a WordPress plugin; you can use it for other sites as well. The WordPress plugin is a variation if you want it. The full version is $47, and what you get makes it a great deal.
All of the features you might expect out of an ad network can be found in this plugin. You can manage ads manually or automatically, integrate other networks or just sell ads directly. The best part is that selling the ads directly on your site is done through a backend engine; you don’t have to manually do anything more than review them to make sure they’re something you want on your site. Payments and everything else are handled by the system.
You’ve probably seen this kind of plugin in action already, as they exploded onto the scene in the last couple of years. This one, as well as Hello Bar and SumoMe’s bar, are bars that show up in the header and, optionally, the footer of a site. They allow you to customize the content in those bars, up to and including ad content. Now, this isn’t an ad manager on its own. It’s just a great place to put ads where they’re guaranteed to be seen above the fold. Foobar hasn’t been updated in a while, but it’s a pretty simple system, and it only costs $9 for a license so if it’s not what you want, it isn’t a big loss.
Another item on the list of plugins that change the location of your ads, Ad Flap creates flap ads. If you’ve ever scrolled down on a blog and seen a little box come in the lower corner and wave a bit, that’s what this is. It’s a box with your ad in it, that has a little bit of animation – pick from one of 23 styles – and then sits and waits for people to click on it. Essentially, it’s just a way to advertise in a pop-in box with some animation that doesn’t require custom coding. The plugin itself is yet another CodeCanyon special at $16 for a license. It’s a little expensive for what it does, but a lot of similar plugins don’t allow ad code in the box, so this one has that benefit.
If you’ve ever visited Forbes, you’ve seen the welcome screen that shows up before you’re allowed to see your content.
Other sites have similar programs, where clicking an internal link will send you to an ad page for a moment before the actual content loads in. these are interstitials, pages between pages, and that’s what this plugin allows you to do. It’s not an ad manager, but it is a great way to serve ads to people in a way that doesn’t detract from your site design or your content itself. It’s a premium offering for $21, and it’s probably worth it. Just test to make sure you don’t lose traffic to it before you go all-in with it.
If all you want to do is run AdSense on your site and you don’t want to edit files directly, all you have to do is install this plugin. It’s free, it’s dedicated to one single thing, and it does that thing well. It’s old, though, so use caution; if you see any sign of it opening up a security hole or just not working with your configuration, go ahead and drop it.
Calling itself the “modern WordPress ad plugin,” this plugin is another one of the robust, multifaceted ad managers.
It essentially sets up a classifieds section on your site, where users can buy ads as they come. It supports PayPal, it’s customizable to fit your site design and it’s responsive so it works for mobile users. All in all, it’s pretty slick, which is why I’m recommending it despite the price tag. Not that the price is really that intense, it’s only $25. Compared to some of the other entries on this list, it’s a ton of value for the price.
One of the main reasons I include this is because it’s very frequently updated. In fact, it saw an update six days ago as of this writing. It’s a great little plugin to manage ads, with one caveat; it’s designed to work with the AdPlugg service. The service is a small-scale ad network that works best with small and mid-sized sites. Feel free to check them out.
This is an interesting plugin, though I’m not sure I would recommend it over the others on the list. It includes ads, in particular affiliate links, in your content via placeholders. The trick is, it allows you to display them in a somewhat random fashion. It’s an interesting way to test some ads for their viability, but it does kind of throw the idea of content synergy out the window. Use it more like you would use context-based text ads than you would more precisely targeted advertising.
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