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 some are free. 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.
Advanced Ads is a powerful ad plugin with many useful features to automatically place and align ads. Unlike many other plugins, Advanced Ads follows WordPress standards in both interface and code. The latter makes it extremely easy for developers to extend the plugin.
You can find the free basic version of Advanced Ads on wordpress.org. The plugin is now installed on over 150,000 websites and covers many tasks to get started with website monetization right away. Google AdSense users can enjoy the plugin’s convenient AdSense integration, allowing importing created AdSense ads with one click.
The plugin authors offer extensions to increase the ad performance. For example, there are add-ons for sticky and pop-up ads, a dedicated integration for Google Ad Manager, an integration for AMP pages, and an extensive tracking extension.
Using the tracking add-on, you can track impressions and ad clicks either locally or with Google Analytics to optimize your ad performance. Find more information on the Advanced Ads 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Update: Ad Injection is an outdated WordPress AdSense plugin for years, and the author no longer reacts in the forum.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.
Years 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 essential features that professional WordPress websites might need: cache support and many 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 maintained anymore, and too difficult to adjust to your 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 many disabled options. It seems like 2/3 of the backend content is just a dummy of features from the pro version. I sympathize entirely 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, e.g., the advanced reporting and planning. Still, the great usability from the first glance loses a lot when you are desperately clicking dummy checkboxes.
Google AdSense Plugin
Update: The Google AdSense 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.
The plugin offers 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, the plugin’s name Google AdSense Plugin does not provide what it promises.
Simple Ads Manager
Update: The plugin was removed from wordpress.org. You can find all the features above in the All Access license of Advanced Ads.
Simple Ads Manager was the plugin of my choice. It needed some time to understand but has the best proportion between complexity in features and usability. The advert management was flexible and even allowed selling ads directly. You could also perform simple tests. Even Google DFP was directly supported.
The latest reviews showed two drawbacks in the development: errors have been echoed, and the click counting was wrong. Personally, I don’t care about click counting because my ad networks do this. 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.
Based on the reviews and downloads, the Quick 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 seems to be a simple solution that I can recommend.
As significant 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. Ad formats such as skyscrapers on the sidebar are not available.
Find the Quick AdSense plugin on wordpress.org.
Essential functions like the manual placement of AdSense ads, creating an ads.txt file, or privacy settings required in the EU are not implemented in Site Kit. That’s why I wouldn’t call it a full-fledged Google AdSense plugin.
As I mentioned, I have reviewed many more Google AdSense plugins for WordPress, but they are too small, too young, or too buggy to mention them here.