It’s June 20, 2019 and I’ve just updated this article because of one new feature added to Ad Inserter plugin which makes it my favorite ad management plugin.
Most of what follows is the original except for my “favorite” declaration as well as explaining what new feature Ad Inserter offers (and it’s included in the free version).
It’s funny when I think back about some of the dumb stuff I did when starting online.
I had a niche site with which I had no idea how to monetize. I had little traffic and no clue how to get traffic.
The site earned nothing.
And yet, for some reason that I still don’t comprehend, I shelled out something like $97 for some way-too-complicated ad management plugin.
I installed it and couldn’t figure it out. I had to set up zones and place ads within zones.
AdSense wasn’t even on my radar then.
I can’t remember what I planned to put in those ad spots.
Anyway, amazingly that site went on to earn quite a lot. I still own it actually; it’s a going concern. I don’t monetize with ads on that site, but I’ve since published a few sites that I monetize with ads.
I’ve learned a lot about monetizing with AdSense and other ad networks.
Since display ads form a good chunk of my business income, using the right ad management tools is important to me… even paid ones.
I don’t use that first plugin I bought, but I’ve since used my fair share of free and paid ad management plugins.
This post sets out what I think, after endless hours of testing and earning well over $1 million in ad revenue, is the best ad management plugin.
The top 2 ad management plugins
I’m going to restrict my analysis to what I consider the top 2 options, both of which I’ve used extensively. Don’t worry, I’ll render an opinion as to what I think is best.
The 2 you ad management plugins to consider are:
- Ad Inserter plugin
- Advanced Ads plugin
1. Ad Inserter
What I will say here are 2 features this plugin offers that the other two don’t.
First, the dashboard is Ajax powered, which is awesome because it’s fast. I can slam ad code into each placeholder in a fraction of the time it takes to do so with Advanced Ads and Better Ads plugins. Those two are slower because you must first create the ad, which is akin to creating a post. Then you must assign a placement.
Ad Inserter handles all this in a crystal smooth Ajax interface. Within the same screen you input code and assign placement. I love how simple and fast it is.
The second feature it has that the others don’t is that you can input shortcodes within the same placeholder as your ad. This comes in handy far more often than you might think.
For instance, I use Bellows accordion menu plugin, which can be displayed anywhere with shortcode. With Ad Inserter I can place an ad above the Bellows menu in the placeholder. This is just one example of many uses to combine ad code and shortcodes.
Here are some key screenshots:
Here’s the main thrust of the update… the new feature which is the ability to insert ads above/below images. Check it out:
Should you use the free or paid version of Ad Inserter?
95% of publishers will get by with the free version. The paid version offers more placeholders, but since the free version includes up to 16 ad placeholders, you’re probably good. I use a lot of ads but don’t use up all 16 placeholders.
Next ad management plugin…
2. Advanced Ads
If you want ultimate ad placement control, Advanced Ads (free version is here) is the way to go. You can pretty much control ad placement in every conceivable way. The following are placements I appreciate:
- Above/below specific images
- Above/below tables
- Above/below lists
- Above/below specific paragraphs
- On category pages
- You specific devices such as only mobile phones (you need the premium version for this)
- In the gutter
- Sticky ads
- In custom posts
On and on and on.
Advanced Ads Screenshots:
This next screen is why I love Advanced Ads plugin. Check out the nuanced placement options you have, which can make a huge difference.
For example, you don’t want ads to show up in the middle of bullet lists, but you definitely want ads to show up above and/or below.
I particularly like how you can control after or before specific images within a post or page.
Which one is the best?
When it comes to amount of features, Advanced Ads is best. There is pretty much no limit to how specific you can place ads. However, I prefer simple and Ad Inserter is far easier and faster to use. Faster is key for me. Since Ad Inserter does all I need it to do on every site I own except one, I’d say for most sites Ad Inserter will do the job.
Not too long ago, my favorite was Advanced ads because of how accurate it was at inserting ads above and/or below images.
However, this year Ad Inserter added the option to specifically insert ads above/below images. Therefore, I’ve pretty much removed Advanced Ads from all sites (but one… long story) and exclusively use Ad Inserter.
The one exception where I continue using Advanced Ads is I have one site with custom posts that has its own ad layout. Advanced Ads is so nuanced that it makes it possible to specify ads to show up wherever you want only on custom posts.
Other than that, I use Ad Inserter.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes that’s “the best blogging email newsletter around.”
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.