For our clients as well as our own projects, I am constantly reviewing every WordPress AdSense plugin that comes around to serve ads from Google AdSense. A good WordPress AdSense plugin is worth a lot, although we often use free versions. I recently updated my notes on approx. 14 free AdSense plugins and wanted to give the readers a quick overview of the 5 most downloaded WordPress plugins that you can use to serve Google AdSense. I listed the plugins in alphabetical order, and so there is no rating.
Update: After it became known that the only plugin that truly allows ad optimization is no longer under development (Ad Injection) and the others don’t allow you to adjust their code and boost ad income, I developed the free WordPress AdSense plugin Advanced Ads. It not only manages ads, but also allows you to hook into it or create useful add-ons. Get Advanced Ads for free on wordpress.org or learn more on the plugin homepage.
A few months after I published this article, I decided to write my own WordPress AdSense plugin to manage and optimize ads and other codes. Before that, I used some of the plugins listed below, but they are either outdated or not meant to really increase your income. Therefore, I wrote Advanced Ads.
At first, it looks like a normal ad management plugin and would serve you well like one. Under the hood, the plugin is developed on WordPress standards, allowing developers to customize a lot of things. There are already a few extensions that I created that show how easy it is to create simple, but powerful ad boosting methods and use them with Advanced Ads. Find Advanced Ads on wordpress.org or learn more about it from the plugin website.
Update: Ad Injection is an outdated WordPress AdSense plugin for years and the author no longer reacts in the forum. I would advise against using it.
One year ago, when I chose an AdSense plugin for one of our WordPress platforms, I considered Ad Injection to be a really great plugin. It offers two very important features that professional WordPress websites might need: cache support and a lot of test options. There was just one big argument against it: the plugin allows just a maximum number of ads without doing a bit more code work than just copy and pasting. Until then, the plugin development seemed to have stopped. Believing the forum, cache support is not working with the latest caching plugins. However, people are still amazed by the options for tweaking their income.
Playing a bit more with this WordPress ad plugin made me realize that it is rather complicated and not very user-friendly. The author tried really hard when describing all the options, and I personally like the way that he wrote the helpful FAQ. Still, I wouldn’t recommend using a plugin that is not somehow still under development and that is too difficult to adjust to your own individual needs.
Based on the raw numbers, AdRotate is one of the most popular ad plugins. I still remember when people first told me about it in a session that I gave on ad optimization more than a year ago. Having tested this ad plugin for WordPress, I must admit that people made a good choice when using it. The free version offers flexible ad management with basic settings. The interface is simple and almost clean.
Once you have installed the free version from the WordPress repository, you will notice a lot of disabled options. It seems like 2/3 of the backend content is just a dummy of features from the pro version. I completely sympathize with a plugin author offering additional paid services. In this case, however, I think he overdoes it a bit. There is definitely a benefit in the commercial version like the advanced reporting and planning, but the great usability from the first glance loses a lot when you are desperately clicking dummy checkboxes.
Google AdSense Plugin
Update: The plugin was removed from wordpress.org.
Imagine that you want to develop a WordPress plugin for Google AdSense. How would you name it? Do you wonder if I would tell you that there is a – and not the only one – plugin actually called Google AdSense?
Most of those plugins are unmaintained for a longer period or didn’t have any real benefit. This Google AdSense plugin for WordPress seems to be an exception – at first glance. I saw the screenshots, the active developer team in the forum, and the feature that one doesn’t have to create ads in AdSense directly – even though I would prefer that personally. I felt stupid installing the plugin. The options were so limited that I couldn’t believe that it was a plugin that has been downloaded approx. 180,000 times.
What the plugin offers is the ability to create up to 3 ads that are then displayed on your front page. Their changelog page is a joke – most of it involves updates for the translations. The PRO-plugin page in the backend is bigger than the core features. There isn’t even an ad plugin available for purchase. Therefore, in this case at least, the name of the plugin does not provide what it promises.
Simple Ads Manager
Update: The WordPress AdSense plugin was removed from wordpress.org.
Simple Ads Manager is the plugin of my choice. It needs some time to understand, but has the best proportion between complexity in features and usability. The advert management is flexible and even allowed selling ads directly. You can also perform simple tests. Even Google DFP is directly supported.
The latest reviews show two drawbacks in the development: errors are being echoed and the click counting is wrong. Personally, I don’t care about click counting because this is done by my ad networks. However, if you sell ads directly with a fixed amount of ads, this feature is critical. Since this bug has not been fixed for a long period, I believe that the author doesn’t have enough time to maintain the plugin. In such cases, you should think about choosing a plugin that comes with a business model than one that is developed for free. From my experience in ad optimization, I know how even small technical changes eat up your valuable time.
Still, if you can live with the bugs or are a developer yourself, SAM is a great plugin and not only when serving AdSense in WordPress.
Based on the reviews and downloads, this WordPress AdSense plugin is slim, simple to use, and comes with an option to experiment with ad placements in posts. For someone who needs only up to 10 ad codes and doesn’t know how to place shortcodes or functions into template files, Quick AdSense really seems to be a simple solution that I can recommend.
As major limitations, even for smaller websites, I would mention that placing ads outside the post content or widgets isn’t supported. In most cases, publishers also want to use banners outside the main wrapper or in the header. Still, for beginners, this is everything you might need to get started with Google AdSense in WordPress.
As I mentioned, I have reviewed many more AdSense plugins for WordPress, but they are too small, too young, or too buggy to mention them here. Feel free to share your experience with these or other AdSense plugins below in the comments.