Note: This post was original written by Adam, and since has been rewritten from scratch by Colin.
At this point, I’m guessing you’re aware that you can monetize your site with display advertisements, right? I doubt that I’m blowing your mind with that little tidbit.
So perhaps a better lede is this one…
How much work do you put into finding and showcasing the ads you display on your WordPress site?
Do you seek out independent advertisers and manually upload their banner each time? Or was the idea of manually managing everything so frustrating that you gave up, slapped a basic AdSense banner on your sidebar, and called it a day?
No matter what your situation is, you should read this post if you’ve ever sold, or plan to sell, display advertisements on your WordPress blog. Because in this post, I’m going to dig into the best advertising management plugins out there.
These plugins will help you manage your ads and display locations, sell ad spots directly to advertisers, track impression/click statistics, and lots, lots more.
And then at the end, I’ll give you my plugin picks for a few different advertising scenarios.
Let’s dig in…
1. Ads Pro Plugin
You may remember Ads Pro Plugin from my affiliate marketing plugins post. I liked it then, and I still like it now! Ads Pro Plugin has an impressive number of features packed into one low cost. It also boasts a 4.53-star rating on over 2,500 sales at Code Canyon.
Let’s start at the beginning – did you know that almost a quarter of desktop users are using ad blockers nowadays? That means you might be missing out on 25% of your revenue. Ads Pro Plugin helps avoid that by bypassing ad blockers.
Then, it helps you display your ads in a variety of positions on your site. Currently, Ads Pro has over 20 different ways to display your ads, including creative methods like sliders, floating ads, and background ads.
And because 20 different advertising methods can lead to an overwhelming number of combinations, Ads Pro also ships with over 25 different advertising templates. Templates are basically preset ad display combinations designed to maximize your display space without destroying your site’s user experience.
If you’re planning to accept direct ad purchases, Ads Pro includes a front-end interface to easily let your advertisers purchase and manage ad spots. And Ads Pro also includes split-testing so you can find out which types of ads pull in the most revenue.
Other helpful features include impression capping, geo-targeting, filtering ads on specific categories/tags, analytics, and lots more.
Whether you’re just looking to get control over your own advertisements or looking for something to help you sell ads to third parties (or both!), Ads Pro offers tons of features to make your life easier.
Price: $37 with standard Envato licensing.
2. WP PRO Advertising System
Like Ads Pro Plugin, WP PRO Advertising System is another full-service advertising manager.
It comes with over 18 predefined advertising zones. Of course, you’ve got the standards like sidebar banners and in-content ads. But it also includes some more creative options like corner peel ads, background ads, and plenty more.
WP PRO Advertising System can even help you add ads to your MailChimp newsletters!
In the backend, you can easily divvy up ads by advertiser and campaign for easy organization. And you can also quickly view statistics for impressions and clicks.
And here’s a pretty dang unique feature:
WP PRO Advertising System comes with its own banner ad creator that helps you quickly create animated HTML5 banners.
There’s just one thing to pay attention to – the core plugin doesn’t include a front-end interface to sell your advertisements directly to buyers. You can get that feature, but only if you purchase an add-on.
The Pro Ads Buy and Sell add-on, which costs $17, lets you sell ad spots through WooCommerce.
If you don’t need that feature, WP PRO Advertising System gives you similar features to Ads Pro Plugin for a slightly lower price. But if you do want the ability to easily sell your own ads, Ads Pro Plugin comes out to be a little cheaper when all’s said and done.
Price: $29 with standard Envato licensing. Add-on is an extra $17
3. WP In Post Ads
WP In Post Ads offers plenty of powerful ad management features, though it lacks the sheer display options offered by the previous two plugins. As you might guess from the name, WP In Post Ads is only focused on in post ads, not extras like popups and corner peels.
Chief among those powerful ad management features is built-in split testing. You can easily test different ads and positions to see which generates the most money for your site.
To display your ads, you can choose a default position like before content, after content, or after X number of paragraphs. Or, if you want to go the manual route, you can manually insert ads using a shortcode.
As for which advertisements display where, you can either set up specific rules for which ads display on certain posts. Or, if you want a bit more variety, you can tell WP In Post Ads to randomly display your advertisements to figure out which are your top performers.
WP In Post Ads also gives you even more control over where and how your ads display. For example, you can choose to hide ads until after a post has been published for a certain number of days. Or, you can do the opposite and have ads automatically turn off after a set period of time.
And finally, you can also choose to hide your ads from logged in users. This offers up some nifty integrations for membership sites or other tiered privileges sites.
So if you don’t want all those fancy display options, give WP In Post Ads a look for a more lightweight solution that keeps the most important display/analytics features.
4. WP QUADS
WP QUADS is a fork of the popular, but no longer updated, Quick AdSense plugin.
WP QUADS gives you tons of control over where and how your ads display. And despite the name of the plugin it was forked from, you’re not limited to AdSense with WP QUADS. You can also use it to display any other ad code, though don’t expect a front-end interface for selling ads directly or other advanced features.
With WP QUADS, you can choose to either insert your ads at specific positions or have them display randomly within your content.
You can display up to ten ads per page (though only three of those can be AdSense, of course).
You can also use tags to manually enable or disable certain ads or placements.
If you go with the premium version of the plugin, you’ll also unlock new features like ad blocker detection, AMP support, and more layout options.
You’ll also get “conditions”, which let you enable or disable ads on specific devices or for specific post types/user roles.
WP QUADS isn’t as powerful as the previous plugins, but it also has a decent free version. So if funds are tight, consider giving it a look.
Price: Free. Pro version starts at €49.
5. Elite Video Player
Elite Video Player is a responsive video player for WordPress. So why is it on this list? Did I accidently copy and paste it from the list of video player plugins I’m writing?
No, this plugin is supposed to be here. See, Elite Video Player also adds powerful advertising options to any of the videos that you embed in WordPress.
With it, you can add pre-roll, mid-roll, post-roll, or popup ads to your videos. It also lets you add custom ad skip times…just like you’d see on YouTube. And you can set these same ads to run for different videos in a playlist.
Best of all – you can add these ad types to any of the video types that Elite Video Player supports. Currently, that’s YouTube, Vimeo, self-hosted videos, and Google Drive videos.
Elite Video Player includes some other features for actually embedding videos, but the unique selling proposition of this plugin is definitely the advertising options.
If you regularly include videos in your posts, this is definitely an advertising option worth testing.
Price: $36 with standard Envato licensing.
AdRotate is another full-service advertising solution like Ads Pro Plugin and WP PRO Advertising System.
In the free version, you can manage both your own ads as well as third-party networks like AdSense, Chitika, DoubleClick, and more.
You can quickly see how many impressions and clicks your ads have received and monitor the different ad groups you set up for their performance.
You can also set up basic schedules for when individual ads should run as well as click and impression capping.
If you go with the premium version, you can set more detailed schedules as well as geo-target your ads to areas as small as individual cities.
And if you want to sell ads directly to individuals, you can easily accept PayPal payments. Then, you can sync up specific advertisements to user accounts to give them personalized stats. Advertisers will get their own front-end dashboard where they can see an overview of both their ads and stats.
Advertisers can also set up their own ads and see a live preview before submitting the ad.
After an advertiser submits their ad and pays, all you need to do is manually approve the ad for it to start display. You can even set up alerts for whenever a new ad is submitted.
I think AdRotate has the best free version of any of the plugins on this list. And its pro version can go toe-to-toe with the other ad management plugins.
Price: Free. Pro version starts at €29 for a single-site license.
7. WordPress Ad Widget
WordPress Ad Widget is by far the simplest option on this list. If you just want something free and lightweight, it’s worth checking out. Otherwise, the other plugins offer way more functionality.
Basically, it gives you a widget that you can place anywhere in your sidebar. In that widget, you can easily place your own custom banner ads as well as Google AdSense ads.
It’s simple and helpful for beginners, but that’s about it.
8. Advanced Ads
Advanced Ads is a free advertising management plugin with premium add-ons. Even without the add-ons, it’s got plenty of features that make it worthy of this list.
You can create unlimited ads, including your own as well as AdSense and other publishers. To display your ads, you can put them in various locations of your posts as well as your sidebar, footer, header, and more. The plugin also includes its own function if you don’t mind digging into your theme’s code.
You can also choose conditions for when to display ads. For example, you can choose to turn off ads on specific categories, tags, pages, posts, etc. You can even toggle ads on and off for specific authors, which is a nice feature. And finally, you also get the ability to enable/disable ads for specific user roles and devices.
As for individual ad display options, you can set up schedules and expiration dates for ads to easily manage time-sensitive ads.
Up until now, all of those features are free. Here’s what some of the paid add-ons can get you:
- Advanced Ads Pro – more placements and control over when your ads display.
- Selling Ads – sell ads directly to advertisers.
- Geo Targeting – adds a variety of geo-targeting options for your ads.
- Tracking – get detailed statistics for all of your ads.
- Sticky Ads, Popup and Layer Ads, Slider – three different add-ons adding three different sets of display options.
Advanced Ads’ free version rivals AdRotate. And the premium add-ons help it stack up with the other plugins, though the price might start adding up if you need multiple add-ons.
Price: Free. Add-ons range from €19.00 – €29.00 for a single-site license.
9. Ultimate Ads Manager
Ultimate Ads Manager is another free ad manager. It helps you manage and track all of the ads that you display on your site.
First off, you can easily create ads via a new custom post type. You can either create your own ad or simply paste in the AdSense code.
The plugin includes a shortcode for each individual ad, or you can have the plugin randomly select which ad to display.
And once an ad displays, Ultimate Ads Manager logs all of the clicks and impressions. You can easily view these stats directly from your dashboard. And if you have a ton of ads, you can group ads together to make those statistics easier to find.
If you pay for the premium version, Ultimate Ads Manager can also sync up with Google Analytics so that you can view stats for your banners directly in Google Analytics.
Price: Free. Or $9.90 per month for Google Analytics integration and a few other features.
Which advertising management plugin should you pick?
As usual, this is the part where I try to give you some guidance as to which of these 9 plugins you should actually pick. To that end, let’s run through a few specific scenarios…
If you need the ability to sell ads directly to advertisers, then you should pick Ads Pro Plugin or AdRotate Pro. You can also get that function with WP PRO Advertising System and Ultimate Ads if you purchase an add-on.
If you want a neat way to display ads on embedded videos, then Elite Video Player is a no-brainer.
If you’re only planning to display ads in your content, then give WP In Post Ads a look. It doesn’t match the sheer display options of other plugins, but it gives you split-testing as well as tons of different options for controlling when and how your ads show up in posts.
Now it’s over to you – what plugin do you use to manage the ads on your WordPress site? Or have you just been running freestyle up until now?
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Our opinions are our own and we only recommend plugins that we believe will genuinely help you.