Tag Archives: Ads

WP125 1.1 Released

The WordPress 125×125 ad management plugin has just got better. I’ve just released version 1.1.0, which improves performance, adds several customization options, as well as a few major features.

New is version 1.1:

  • Setting to change the widget title.
  • Option to remove the default ad styling, enabling you to use your own CSS rules.
  • Settings are no longer stored in a database table, but in WordPress’s built-in Options system. This reduces database queries, and improves performance.
  • Admin menu functions are no longer included outside of the WordPress Admin (hehe :D ).
  • A few other tweaks were made of efficiency and security nature.
  • Major feature: If you supply an email address in the options page, you can opt to receive email notifications when ads expire, allowing you to easily send follow-up emails to advertisers, or simply just stay in the know.
  • Major feature: Placeholder ads! If an ad slot is empty, instead of not being shown, a placeholder ad (a.k.a “Your ad here” image) will be shown, linking to your sales page.

Download the plugin here, or just use the WordPress 2.5+ automated plugin updater.

If you have any suggestions, or if you find a bug, please leave a comment or shoot me an email.

EDIT: Everyone using 1.1.0, please upgrade to 1.1.1, unless you don’t mind your ads being unclickable. A stupid mistake on my part caused the issue in 1.1.0. It’s been patched now.

EDIT: Arg!!! I made another mistake. Version 1.1.1 is identical to 1.1.0, and therefore didn’t get the fix. Please use 1.1.2. :D

ANOTHER EDIT: Another bug squished. 1.1.3 is out, everyone. Fixes an issue with the slot dropdown on the Add/Edit page.

Background Advertising

What’s your opinion on “background ads”? They often come up on sites like IMDB and GameSpot, or on other sites with fixed layouts, replacing the normal background image with an ad that seems to have the website floating on top of it.

Do you tend to find this sort of ad annoying, or do you think it’s a smart idea to handle ads that way. I kind of like them. They’re out of the way mainly, and you tend to find them more interesting than a “normal” ad. On the other hand, they kind if detract from a design in some cases, removing some of it’s individuality.

I’ve been seeing the ads more often lately, and IMDB and GameSpot, as I said, tend to get them quite frequently.

On a related note, we may be seeing this sort of thing on Twitter of all places. A new service called Twittad will aid you in finding advertisers to buy your profile’s background for a given time and price. An interesting concept, and I think it will be fun to watch how well this goes over with the Twitter users.

One thing I like about this sort of thing, especially with Twittad, is that there’s no clicking through the ad, away from your site. It’s purely a branding thing. The advertiser isn’t trying to leech your pageviews in order to increase their’s, but to improve the strength of their brand, so people will come there on their own.

Google Ad Manager

Google’s Ad Manager is now out of beta. It looks like my WP125 plugin has some competition now. :D Okay, okay, it’s not really in the same category as WP125. Sure, they both manage ads, but mine does so from within WordPress, and is designed to make 125×125 ads as easy as possible, while Google’s service is designed to offer as much power as possible, while keeping the interface clean.

Google’s offering is more advanced, at the expense of usability. Google Ad Manager is intended more toward the audience that OpenX has. For people who want to manage CPM/CPC ads, or ads simply with a start/end date. Google Ad Manager allows you to define various ad zones, with a wide variety of ad dimensions (including 125×125 and custom sizes).

Overall Google’s offering looks like a very good way to manage ads. It seems powerful, and the interface is clean and reasonably easy to use. If you’re looking for a full-scale ad server to handle ads across a medium to large site, this is an option well worth considering. It’s overkill for an ordinary blogger looking to sell 125×125 ads.

If you have a Google Account, all you have to do is go to google.com/admanager/ and login to start using the service.

Poll: How Do You Monetize Your Blog?

How do you monetize your blog?

Are you an AdSense maniac or an affiliate fanatic? Do you direct-sell ad space to advertisers like I do on Webmaster-Source?

Or are you part of a marketplace like BuySellAds, or a network like Casale Media or Doubleclick?

Or is your blog an ad-free zone?

Take a minute to vote in this poll (no registration, no hassles, just two clicks), and maybe elaborate upon your choice a little in a comment. We’d like to know.

I’ll start. I direct-sell 125×125 ads on Webmaster-Source mainly, and I voted that since it’s my largest source of blog income. I do have a single AdSense block that I haven’t been able to bring myself to delete (I’m halfway to another check again :D ), and I put the occasional affiliate link in, but mainly I try to keep to the 125x125s, which are noticeable enough, yet unobtrusive enough not to be a bother.

Okay, now it’s your turn. Vote in the poll below, and share what your solution is. (If you’re reading this in an RSS reader, you’ll need to click through to the permalink to vote in the poll.)

Where do you use your smartphone the most?

  • EVERYWHERE! Whenever I have a chance! (86%, 6 Votes)
  • While waiting in line (29%, 2 Votes)
  • On public transportation (14%, 1 Votes)
  • In the car (ಠ_ಠ) (14%, 1 Votes)
  • In the bathroom (14%, 1 Votes)
  • At restaurants (14%, 1 Votes)
  • At work (14%, 1 Votes)
  • Other (14%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 7

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Performancing Launches Ad Network

Performancing has just launched a new ad network, by the name of PerformancingAds, with 125×125 ads in mind. The network aims to sell blogs’ 125×125 ad inventory to advertisers in one-week increments, and split the revenue. Your blog is shown in a self-service marketplace, where advertisers can easily browse the network sites and buy ads, and according to the email they sent me they have “full time ad sales representatives selling 125×125 ads” for the network blogs.

Apparently the revenue split so you get a minimum of 60% on ads the network sells, and 100% on ads that you sell. You control the pricing of the ads even. Payment is handled through PayPal and is transferred at the end of every month.

The network doesn’t have any apparent traffic minimum to join, though there is a “premium” option for those with over 250,000 U.S. monthly page views, where they handle other ad formats, instead of just 125x125s.

This looks like a good new ad network for smaller blogs, as well as the large ones. Be sure to take a look at their FAQ.

WP125 Plugin: Easy WordPress 125×125 Ad Management

After a few months of planning and work, I’ve finally released my new WordPress plugin. I’d had the idea sine around the time I started selling 125×125 ads on Webmaster-Source. I thought it was a bit of a pain to hard-code ads in and manually take them down after their run was over. And I don’t like figuring out end dates by counting ahead on a calendar either. That’s why I put together WP125, a WordPress plugin for easy 125×125 ad management.

I built the plugin to simplfy the management of 125×125 ads, and lower the barrier to get started selling them a little. Some of the features include

  • Custom ad layout options.
  • A widget to drop into your sidebar to make it easier to set the plugin up. Or you can use a template tag if you’re pro-code like me.
  • Click tracking.
  • Ads are automatically taken down on their end date.
  • The plugin can figure out an ad’s expiration date automatically, based off how many days you say the ad should run for (no more counting forward on your calendar!). It took a bit of time and effort to get this feature working, but it was certainly worth it.

Try the plugin out, and tell me what you think. It’s a first release (1.0.0), and it’s barely been out tweleve hours, so it may have some bugs or interface oddities that need fixing. (It’s not on WordPress plugin site quite yet either, but I’m working on that…) Tell me what you like, what needs fixing, etc.

I think WP125 is off to a good start, but I had to shave off a couple features I’d originally planned in order to get it out the door in time for the WLTC WordPress Plugin Competition. Sadly, that means I’m unable to use it on Webmaster-Source to manage my ads. I built the plugin to work the way I figured most people woud prefer, and pushed my preferences to the side for now. I handle my ads a little differently than other people, and it would have taken too much extra time and work to build support for that into the plugin. Hopefully I’ll have the time to include the settings I’d like at a later date.

Enjoy the plugin, and send your feedback along!

Flash Page Peel Ads

One thing I’ve found interesting of late is Flash Page Peel Ads. They’re an intriguing form of advertisement. You’ve probably seen them in some form or another by now. In a textbook case, a page with one of the ads on it appears to have a “dog-ear” fold in the upper right corner. When hovered over, the corner peels back to reveal an image, often an ad, underneath. Unobtrusive, and kind of fun to play with. :D

There have been debates over whether the ads are a good idea or not, though this isn’t really a topic you can go off comments from other people. The web is full of people who would call a single 125×125 ad “annoying” simply because it’s an ad. What do you think of them? Annoying or not? A good rule of thumb when deciding on such matters is “would it bother you if you ran into it on a site you frequent?”

Personally, I think they’re a good idea because they stay out of the way until a user requests further interaction. They’re noticeable, yet can be ignored very easily since they take up so little space on a page. It’s fun to hover over the ad to make it peel open and close too. (Not to mention you have a large ad that can be priced highly, yet takes up little space on the page.)

They’re an interesting concept, though one that’s been earning some bad rep from “Make Money Online” blogs, which I find annoying in themselves, implementing them in annoying and shoddy ways. Personally, I’d like to see this new ad format go into more serious use. They lend to cleaner pages, and they’re kind of fun.

Online Advertising For Newbies (SXSW Podcast)

Want to learn a little more about how to effectively monetize online content? Be sure to listen to the Online Advertising For Newbies podcast from South by Southwest. It was recorded by a panel of people who know what they’re talking about, such as blogger Darren Rowse, DoubleClick manager Heath Row, blogger Wendy Piersall, and AdBrite VP of Sales Jim Benton.

The podcast covers a reasonably wide range of methods to monetize a website, and good practices for doing so. It’s definitely worth listening to if you’re slightly above “ad newbie” status, and are trying to find something better than pushing AdSense blocks in people’s faces.

(As a side note, I wonder if this should really be called a podcast. Technically it isn’t, since it’s a single audio file, instead of a series of episodes delivered via RSS. But how many people really care?)

No Free Lunch: Ads and RSS Feeds

The upcoming launch of AdSense for RSS has sparked an explosion of outrage throughout the internet (especially in places like Digg). Many of the Diggers complained that RSS is no place for ads, and that the world is coming to an end because feeds will have, the horror, ads in them.

Listen up: Don’t expect to get good content for nothing. If you want to read full content in your RSS reader, expect to start seeing more ads. Many feeds already have ads in them, and the publishers have every right to put them there. Are you paying for the content? Probably not. So why are you complaining about some unobtrusive contextual ads?

The core principal behind RSS is to provide notification of new content. While it’s true that full article content can be offered in a feed, don’t get bent out of shape if it isn’t. You either get summaries, or full feeds with ads. Yes, there are a lot of sites that don’t mind giving away content for free, and aren’t too worried about everyone seeing ads (myself included), but don’t expect everyone to be that way. You’re given ad-free RSS feeds because the publisher wants to; you don’t have a “right” to have ad-free content. If you don’t like it, you can unsubscribe.

In my opinion, the full RSS feed concept is flawed. I believe RSS is supposed to serve as a notification of new content, not a way of getting content without visiting the actual website. (Note that the Webmaster-Source feed is full anyway, as a convenience for people who don’t share my reasoning.) The way I normally use RSS is to have just article titles, which click through to the web location of the article. NewsFire for the Mac OS can be set-up this way, and the MyNT RSS reader works much the same way by default. I prefer to visit the article on the actual website, both to support the website, and to view the content as originally intended.

On the Digg page regarding AdSense for RSS, several users immediately started giving advice on how to block the ads via the Windows HOSTS file, and saying that the AdBlock developers had better get going and write software to remove ads from RSS. (Some of the Diggers have some sense, though, and have left comments pointing out the idiocy of the anti-ad arguments.) Let it be noted that I’ve defended AdBlock on a few occasions in the past. However, there is some merit to the argument that blocking ads is stealing from the publisher. I do not blanket-block ads. I do use AdBlock to nuke particularly irritating advertisements on occasion, but I think it’s rather selfish to insist on not having any ads at all. As tempting as it is to block every network ad imaginable, I don’t do it. Plugins like AdBlock shouldn’t even be “necessary.” It’s the publishers’ responsibility to not place annoying ads. If they don’t keep ads to a tolerable level, by all means, strip the ads out with AdBlock.

There’s a scientific term that’s fitting here: “There is no free lunch.” If you’re not paying a subscription, why are you complaining about some ads? I can see complaining about Forbes.com, but what about a site with reasonable ads?

When Should You Add Ads?

Right from the start.

If you have ads on your site from the beginning, your readers aren’t going to complain when you add them in. (Though my advice to the whiners would be to read the article in their RSS aggregator.)

Unfortunately, when you’re starting out, there aren’t a lot of options for ads. You have the ubiquitous AdSense, then you have affiliate programs, and a sprinkling of smaller ad networks.

My advice: Use AdSense in the beginning, and see how well it works with your site. Use some affiliate programs lightly as well (for products you recommend, not just because it’s an affiliate program). Eventually, when your site gets to a reasonable level, transition from AdSense to direct-selling ads (e.g. 125×125 ads).