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The Ultimate Guide to WordPress Ads

Once you already have a blog with good and original content, constant readers and even a community created around it, it might be an excellent idea to start monetizing it. At least, it would be a proper way to get a revenue for maintaining the blog in terms of domain and hosting expenses. Although, it’s no news that nowadays blogging has become a full-time job for many content creators. 

From our experience, many of the pre-sale inquiries involve questions regarding the possibility of integrating ads within our themes. Since the ad integration seems to be one of the factors that influence the decision of whether using a certain theme or not, we’ve created this exhaustive guide on how to add ads to your WordPress blog themes.

How to Add Ads to Your WordPress Blog Themes

Using WordPress ads is pretty simple, even if you’re a newbie. As it follows, we will be covering the options of inserting ads within your website considering the use of: 

  • Default WordPress Widgets
  • Theme Integrated Options
  • Specialized Plugins

1. Inserting Ads with WordPress Widgets

The most basic WordPress themes have at least a sidebar widget area and some of them even have footer widget areas, often separated in columns.

Premium WordPress themes tend to have much more options and widget areas, such as among the latest posts, in the header area, after the single post, below the slider. In this case, the themes with a fully widgetized homepage layout — such as Inspiro, Insight, Domino Magazine — are very handy and flexible, as the ads can be displayed anywhere.

Inserting Ads with WordPress Widgets
An Example of Inserting Ads in the Widgetized Homepage Layout of the Insight theme

Basically, inserting ads through widgets implies having a widget which can be placed in a widget area that is built-in with the theme.

There are two ways of adding ads through WordPress widgets: via the Image Widget or the Custom HTML widget.

2. Using the Image Widget

Using this method implies already having a pre-made banner in any of the JPEG, PNG or GIF formats. Also, the sizes of the banner should be adjusted to the width or height of the widget area it will be placed in.

For example, in order to add a banner in the sidebar of Foodica, in Appearance → Widgets, drag the Image Widget from the Available Widgets Area and drop it to the Sidebar Widget Area. After placing the widget, its options will automatically become visible. This is where you can upload the banner and assign a link to it.

Placing the Image Widget in the Sidebar Widget Area of the Foodica Theme

After saving the changes, the banner will be displayed on the frontend in the Sidebar:

Displaying an Ad in the Sidebar of the Foodica Theme

The advantage of using this widget for displaying ads is that extensions such as AdBlock won’t block them. However, at the same time it might be difficult to track the clicks on the banner, and most probably a third-party platform will be needed to analyze how efficient the banner is.

3. Using the Custom HTML Widget

The main advantage of using this widget is that it will display embedded codes from platforms that provide affiliate banners such as Amazon Affiliates or Google AdSense or AdWords. That is, it allows placing third-party banners on a website which can be tracked on other platforms and from which affiliate commissions can be gained. One of the benefits of affiliate platforms is that you don’t have to create the banners on your own, as most of them already provide a variety of pre-made banners.

For example, such a banner can be placed under the main slider from the homepage of Foodica. In Appearance → Widgets, drag the Custom HTML Widget from the Available Widgets Area and drop it to the Homepage (Below the Slideshow) Widget Area. After placing the widget, its options will automatically become visible. This is where you can paste the embed code of the banner.

Adding the Embed Code of a Banner into a Custom HTML Widget Under the Homepage Slideshow of Foodica

Once the changes are saved, the banner will appear on the homepage, under the slider:

Displaying an Affiliate Banner Under the Homepage Slideshow of Foodica

Inserting Ads through Theme Integrated Options

For some users, the methods described above might seem too complicated, this is why most of our themes are already integrated with banner areas. Indigo, for example, is equipped with four banner spots:

  • Header Ad
  • After the first post on the homepage
  • Sidebar Ad
  • After the content of the single post
Banner Spots in the Indigo Theme and Their Available Options

Adding banners through theme options is easy. It can be done by accessing WPZOOM → Theme Options → Banners and choosing the area where the banner needs to be added. Let’s take the After the First Post option as an example. This option provides several fields that will help display a banner inline with the latest posts on the homepage. The banner can be added either by pasting an embed code or by uploading an image. Also, there is a field where a destination URL can be added, as well as a banner title.

Setting Up a Banner After the First Post on the Homepage of the Indigo Theme

After setting it up and saving the changes, the banner will appear after the first post from the latest posts section on the homepage:

Displaying a Banner within the Homepage Latest Posts of the Indigo Theme

What about Google AdSense Activation Code?

Good question and we’ve got this covered, too. If your website is already registered on the Google AdSense platform, it will require adding a certain script in the <head> element of the website. Even though there are a few methods for adding this code in the head section of a website, some of them imply editing theme files directly, which we don’t recommend. Our suggestion is to use a plugin such as Head, Footer and Post Injections or another similar one. If you decide to go with the mentioned plugin, simply access Settings → Header and Footer after installing it and add your AdSense script in the <Head> Page Section Injection field.

Adding the Google Adsense script in the header of each page with the Head, Footer and Post Injections plugin

As you can see, adding banners within our themes is a matter of a few simple set-ups of the available options. These default features are very handy for an initial testing of the ads environment on your website and how the readers react to the banners. That is, it would be a good start for using banners on your website and if at some point you decide you need more options or banner spots, there are several specialized plugins coming to the rescue.

Inserting Ads Through Specialized Plugins

There is nothing a WordPress plugin can’t do! And yes, you’ve guessed it, there are also plugins ready to help you manage the ads game on your website. One big advantage of using a plugin for managing your ads is that it is not theme-dependent and none of the ads or settings will be lost when switching to a new theme. Here are a few plugin recommendations that will definitely extend the advertisements strategy on your website.

Ad Inserter

Ad Inserter allows inserting ads or HTML/Javascript/PHP code on any website created with WordPress. The free version of the plugin offers more than enough options for pretty detailed ads settings.

Key features:

  • 16 code blocks
  • Insert ads in posts/pages before or after a certain paragraph
  • Insert ads in footer or header
  • Desktop/mobile device detection
  • Blacklist or whitelist for categories, tags, taxonomies, post IDs, URLs, URL query parameters, cookies, referers

Advanced Ads

Advanced Ads is another great ads plugin, made to deliver just what its name implies — advanced settings for the best advertising experience. Moreover, it was created based on the developer’s experience of delivering millions of ads per month.

Key features:

  • Create and display unlimited ad units
  • Schedule ads and set an expiry date for them
  • Inject ads into posts and pages automatically without coding
  • Ads can be grouped into categories


AdRotate is also an awesome plugin which allows to easily place advertising banners pretty much anywhere on your site with no coding knowledge required.

Key features:

  • Displaying random or selected banners in pages or posts
  • Automated Javascript cycles of adverts with Dynamic Groups
  • Responsive ads
  • Easy to read stats so you can follow how each advert is performing

Insert Post Ads

Insert Post Ads was created specifically for “injecting” ads into posts and pages as automatic as possible and avoid the hassle of manually inserting ads into the website content.

Key features:

  • Quick and easy setup
  • Select whether to insert post ads on posts, pages, or custom post types
  • Insert post ads using any third party advertising code

BONUS: Tips for Using Ads Efficiently on Your Website

Here are some tips & tricks for getting the most productive results out of your banner campaign and at the same time the best experience for your website visitors without overloading them with too much information. Because, let’s face it, after all, they mainly come to your website for the content you create, rather than for just clicking on banners.

Keep it simple

Don’t add banners to ALL the available ad spots. Intrusive and repetitive ads will lead to an increased bounce rate and, with time, it might lead to a decreasing number of readers. A minimalist style of advertising can go a long way.

Be relevant

Make sure to only display ads that are relevant to the topics you cover on the website. It would be pretty weird to advertise organic products on a blog about cars, for example. This will definitely confuse your readers and most of all, it would be really inefficient.

Consider your readers

Make the experience of your readers a top priority. This includes creating responsive ads that won’t interfere their reading experience either on a desktop or mobile devices. Also, creating a disclaimer page which informs the readers about the presence of affiliate links or other ads they might click on is always welcomed.

Start Advertising Right Away

In this post, we’ve covered the main ways of inserting WordPress ads on a blog or website. To recap, there are three ways of inserting ads and start monetizing your blog:

  • By using the default WordPress widgets
  • By choosing a WordPress theme that is already integrated with banner spots
  • With the help of specialized WordPress plugins

As you can see, WordPress is an ad-friendly platform as it provides all kinds of tools for displaying ads. If you’re planning to create a blog and consider advertising stuff on it, it’s as simple as choosing a premium WordPress theme and setting up the ads as it was shown in this post. Either if you’re a beginner or you’re looking to get the ads on your website to the next level, any methods described above will work.

In case you already have experience with using ads on a WordPress website, we welcome sharing it in the comments section.

Happy blogging & advertising!

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