Digital advertising is still huge and predominantly one of the simplest ways to monetize a website. But there is no simple method to setup ads in WordPress aside from editing the code directly.
Thankfully there are tons of great plugins you can use to manage your ad inventory. In this post I’ll focus on free ad plugins for WordPress ranging from native ads to rotators and custom ad managers.
If you have a budget you can try buying some premium plugins instead. But if you’re just starting out these free plugins should offer more than enough functionality without costing you a dime.
The SwiftAd plugin is fairly new in version 0.5 as of this writing. But it’s also a powerful way to manage your display ad inventory with custom rotation, tracking, and ad management.
Some of the top features include:
- Custom geotargeting
- Limit date range and total impressions
- Built-in tracking inside WordPress
- Simple split testing feature
One thing to note is that SwiftAd is a freemium plugin. This means the free version is somewhat limited only supporting 10k impressions of ads per month. After that it does require a monthly billing setup which may not be worth your time.
If you run a smaller blog without much traffic I do recommend testing this plugin. If anything it’ll help you learn more about ad management and get your blog started on the right track.
The ever-popular native advertising network Taboola has its own plugin made for WordPress users. All you need is a Taboola account and to have your site accepted into the system.
From there you just enter your publisher ID and the different widget IDs running on your site. It could not be an easier setup!
Many webmasters are turning to native ads because they generally get higher CTRs and earn more than traditional display banners. But Taboola can be a tough cookie to crack since they’re one of the stricter native networks.
If you can get in and you wanna give native a shot then Taboola is a trustworthy brand to run with.
3. Advanced Ads
WordPress Advanced Ads is yet another freemium plugin for handling ad impressions on your website. This is totally free to install and use for as long as you like, but it also comes with optional upgrades that you can pay to add onto your site.
It’s compatible with all networks ranging from AdSense to Amazon. You can target all the typical ad unit sizes and even build responsive placements to fit properly on mobile screens.
You’ll find a list of placements on the main site along with how to inject ad code into content dynamically. All of these features are incredibly valuable to publishers who ultimately want to increase their monthly ad revenue.
And with various display options targeting archive pages, certain post types, and content pages(like your homepage) it’s easy enough to run relevant ads without writing a single line of code.
4. Google AdSense
Truthfully they both offer a very simple user experience for configuring ad spots and connecting to your AdSense account. My general impression is that the BestWebSoft plugin just handles easier and it’s more well developed.
The basic features that you get are more than enough to run any type of AdSense ads on your site. So you can set this up once and let it run forever.
5. WP Advertize It
No matter what size adblocks you’re running or where you want them placed you can bet WP Advertize It supports them all.
This plugin might even be a better alternative to the official AdSense plugin since you can work with Google publisher accounts just as easily.
Plus with WP Advertize It you can setup self-promo blocks rotated alongside your advertising scripts. These blocks let you include your own banner ads promoting anything you want; from your own WordPress themes to affiliate programs.
This plugin has in-post support with many popular ad placements inside the content.
- After first paragraph
- Before last paragraph
- Middle of page
- Before post comments
- Directly below page title
You can even insert ads into your posts using shortcodes if you want them to appear in a very specific location.
I’d rate this plugin highly in the “ease of use” category which makes it one of the best choices for non-technical WordPress users.
Rotation scripts are huge because they let you run across multiple networks with ease. AdRotate is a completely free plugin that supports all the major ad networks like AdSense and Doubleclick/DFP.
You’ll get real time stats in your dashboard to see which adverts are getting the most clicks & impressions. This way you can study placements to learn which areas of the page perform better than others.
Like many other plugins this one does have a pro version, although if you’re just rotating through a few ad placements you really won’t need it. AdRotate comes with so much free functionality like page/post targeting that it should work perfectly fine on its own.
The interface blends perfectly into WordPress so it’s very simple to preview all your ads before launching live.
If you’re looking for a free rotation plugin definitely give this a shot. The free version is far from limited and it’s one of the best ad plugins I’ve found for running & tracking personal ad spots.
The ever-popular BuySellAds network is dominated by blogs and content publishers hoping to earn a little more through display banners. Most of these sites run on WordPress so it makes sense to use the BuySellAds WP plugin whenever possible.
You just enter your BSA code and select the ad units to appear. You can select where the widgets go and even add new widgets based on your zone IDs in BSA.
This plugin supports RSS and mobile advertisements too so you can really maximize your revenue.
8. Interstitial Ads
I haven’t seen too many fullpage interstitial ads recently but I know they’re gaining traction on mobile and content-heavy websites.
But if you’re looking to increase conversions and/or maximize revenue then definitely try interstitials. This plugin can get you up & running without much effort. The WP dashboard even has a full editor to change settings like the close button style and the wait time before appearing over the page.
This plugin was developed by WPmanage so you can find a premium version on their website. But stick with the free version at first just to see how you like it.
9. Trivia, Polls, Advertising & More
The vaguely titled Trivia, Polls, Advertising & More is actually an advertising plugin. This is meant for website owners who want to increase revenue through a myriad of different techniques.
It’s developed by Insticator where they run this plugin on dozens of big sites like The Atlantic. Each custom poll/trivia question is managed on the backend connecting into your database so this offers a great way to increase user interaction.
For example, by sandwiching a poll between two ad spots you might increase conversions or at least draw attention onto that area. This can even include links internally towards your other articles on the blog.
This goes beyond just a simple ad plugin but it can help increase revenues if you get it setup right. I specifically recommend this if you’re also looking to gather input from your visitors on site features or the user experience.
10. Insert Post Ads
We’ve all see ad blocks crammed inside articles at various positions. But it’s fair to assume these site owners are not copying their ad code into every single post they write.
Instead they’re using a free plugin like Insert Post Ads which does exactly as the title describes. You can select exactly where the ad(s) should appear in each post, or if any should appear at all.
This is almost guaranteed to increase increase CTR especially if you keep ads close to the top where most where most visitors browse. You can use this plugin with AdSense or any other 3rd party advertising platform. It’s definitely a great plugin to try and it offers a lot of customization.
11. Ad Inserter
Last but certainly not least is the Ad Inserter plugin developed by Igor Funa. This has some of the highest reviews in the WP plugin repo and it’s one of the simplest plugins to setup.
It can work on mobile responsive websites, in RSS feeds, and even in AMP pages. You pick from 16 common ad unit sizes and place them anywhere on your site.
The in-content placements often perform well so those are great to utilize. But you can also run tests and track conversions to see which ones perform best in your layout. You can even work with custom shortcodes or PHP calls to insert ads directly.
However you do not need any coding skills to work with this plugin. It’s a noob-friendly option for newer WordPress users just learning the ropes.
This is also officially endorsed by Amazon as a quality ad insertion tool which makes it even more valuable. Take a look over the plugin page and see what you think.
These are some of the best free ad plugins for WordPress. Each one is still up-to-date and they all cover a variety of networks and features.
Take another look over this list and find a few that catch your attention. This is the best way to find a plugin that works for your site, and to find one you can trust for any other sites you launch in the future.