Display ads

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 a 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 3 ad management plugins

I’m going restrict my analysis to what I consider the top 3 options, all of which I’ve used extensively. Don’t worry, I’ll render an opinion as to what I think is the best.

The 3 you need to consider are:

  1. Ad Inserter plugin
  2. Advanced Ads plugin
  3. Better Ads plugin

1. Ad Inserter

I’ve used Ad Inserter the longest.  It has some amazing features that the other plugins don’t have.  But first, to avoid being repetitive, I wrote about Ad Inserter extensively here.

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:

Screenshot of AdInserter Plugin

AdInserter Plugin Placement Options Screenshot

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:

Advanced Ads Create a New Ad Screenshot

Advanced Ads Step 1 Placement Selection

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.

Advanced Ads Precise Ad Placement

3. Better Ads Plugin

Of the three plugins I’m including in this analysis, Better Ads Plugin offers the least control.  In fact, it’s rather simplistic/

However, it does one thing so well that it’s a key ad management plugin I use on all sites on which I place ads.

Better Ads magical power is the ability to display regular AdSense ads in Google AMP pages.

I’ve put most of my sites on Google AMP and therefore it’s important that I have a plugin that can display AdSense ads on the AMP platform.

Better Ads does this spectacularly.

While the degree of control is not as good as Advanced Ads or Ad Inserter, it’s good enough for AMP.

Better Ads Screenshot:

As you’ll see below, while placement options are okay, they aren’t nearly as good as Advanced Ads or Ad Inserter.  However, the AMP ads is excellent and works really, really well.

Better Ads Plugin showcasing AMP ads placement.

Which one is the best?

I use all three on my ad-supported sites because each one has its benefits.

However, if you prefer to use just one, get Advanced Ads (you can try the free version here).  I believe it too can display ads on AMP.  The placement options are seemingly unlimited.

All in all, Advanced Ads plugin is the best option available because of its nuanced placement capabilities.

You definitely should start with the free version, but you might just find that you’ll need the premium version to enjoy the additional granular control it offers.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Just stopping by to say hello. Found your blog from SideHustleNation. I like what you’re blogging about. I hope to connect with you momentarily and build a positive sustainable blogging relationship. Thank you for just being you. 🙂

  2. Hi Jon,

    Thanks for your recommendation of Advanced Ads. Just two additional notes to Advanced Ads: Of course does Advanced Ads understand shortcodes, so you can add every shortcode to your ads, e.g. shortcodes from your Bellows accordion menu, from Amazon plugins or even from other ad management plugins like AdRotate or ad inserter. You can mix shortcodes with code as well.

    If you use the Responsive Add-on of Advanced Ads, you have full AMP support. I recommend not the Automattic plugin but this one: https://wordpress.org/plugins/accelerated-mobile-pages/ which provides much more layout options. Together with Advanced Ads, you have many many options to monetize your AMP site.

    Best regards!

  3. I always go with AdInserter. The main feature I like about the plugin is its ability to control show/hide ads in selected page or posts from post editor itself. Also, there is an option to display ads on AMP pages too but I never tried that.
    I think Better Ads plugin works efficiently only on Publisher theme.

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