How To Manage Ads and Track Clickthroughs with AdRotate Plugin in Your WordPress Blog

Managing your advertising, affiliate links and banners can be load of work if you do too much manually. You should set tracking of links, track the number of times the ads are displayed, test different banners, etc. Fortunately, there are many plugins to WordPress that do all this for you.

In this article, I present the one plugin, AdRotate, that I'm currently testing in this blog. I'll tell you:

  • What the AdRotate plugin is
  • Examples on how you can use this plugin for many different purposes
  • Step-by-step tutorial to set up ads with AdRotate, AdRotate 101 if you will, with screenshots

AdRotate is free plugin under GPL license, so you don't have to pay anything for it. And with this guide, you can set it up in matter of minutes + the time you use to set the ads up and set the placements for the ad groups you create. After that, you just have to watch and AdRotate displays your ads, at random if you configured it that way, and track clicks to boot - so you can focus on writing or whatever aspect of blogging you enjoy the most.

Like said, I'm test running the plugin at the monent and from what I've seen so far, I like it. I wanted to share these experiences with you, so if you want to find out more, read on...

What is AdRotate plugin and What You Can Do With It?

AdRotate is one of many plugins that you can use to manage ads and advertising on your blog.

With AdRotate you can:

  • Save advertisement and/or affiliate codes and images to the plugin,
  • set scheduling and expiration for the ads (nice if you sell direct advertising),
  • set clicktracking for the ads and display the ads in many different ways, and
  • display the ads anywhere in the blog, utilizing post tags, widgets and php code
  • display random ads from set group (e.g. display random 468x60 banner in set area)
  • display randomized or configured blocks of ads (e.g. block of several 125x125 ads that are very popular on blogs nowadays)
  • and much more.

AdRotate comes with built-in widgets you can use to display the ads on sidebars or any other widget area your theme supports, which makes displaying the ads very easy. Also adding the ads to a post is very easy, for example if you do affiliate marketing article, you can set spesific ad for that article and track the displays and clicks of the ad from that one article.

The possibilities are very nice as the pluging is very flexible, so you can you it to "non-advertising" links too, just for fun or to track some spesific links. Also if you set a group of normal text links as AdRotate group, you can easily display random set of those links in your sidebar or just display all of them. Of course you could just list the links as "links" in WordPress, but with AdRotate you can set "featured link" if you like, which would display one link from your blog (perhaps some of your affiliate promotions) on top of your blog or sidebar, or whatever placement you like.

The fact that AdRotate can easily be used to rotate anything is what I liked about AdRotate, and main reason why I'm writing this post. In fact, if you look at the top right corner, where my RSS Subscription text link and RSS subscribe -pictures are, those are both displayed by AdRotate. The one picture is displayed at random from 8 different "RSS Feed" pictures and the one link is displayed at random from selection of links with different anchor texts and such. And I did all that just for fun - but now I can see how often those links and pictures are clicked, so in theory after longer period I can decide which of the pictures and link-texts is "the most efficient" one.

AdRotate Tutorial

Installation and Activation

with the latest WordPress versions, 2.7.x, the plugin installation system is so easy that everyone can do it:

  1. Just go to the Plugins section,
  2. click "add new",
  3. search for "AdRotate"
  4. click "install"
  5. activate the plugin after succesful install.

or you can install the "old-fashioned way":

  1. Download the plugin from the AdRotate Plugin page at WordPress Plugin Directory
  2. Upload the plugin to plugins -folder with ftp client, like FileZilla
  3. Activate the from the plugins -page in WordPress dashboard

Finding AdRotate from Dashboard

After succesfull installation and activation, you can see AdRotate in your Dashboard on the left (if you're using WP 2.7.x like I am):

AdRotate on the Dashboard

AdRotate on the Dashboard

There are two ways to add an ad to AdRotate (that's a lot of "ad"), by Banner Wizard or Add/Edit Banner window.

The Banner Wizard is the easiest way to add, let's say Google AdSense code to AdRotate. If you read the previous post "How To Get Google AdSense and Display Ads on Your WordPress Blog", you can now use AdRotate to display those ad units, several even, and randomize what units are being show or just who the one.

How To Add Google AdSense Code Into AdRotate with Banner Wizard

  • Go to Banner Wizard
  • add title of this ad and
  • copy the advertizing code (link, script, etc.) into the AdRotate.
STEP 1: Adding Google AdSense Code to the Banner Wizard

STEP 1: Adding Google AdSense Code to the Banner Wizard

  • Create AdRotate Group for this ad, or choose from existing ones:
Create or Select a Group for the Ad

Step 2: Create or Select a Group for the Ad

  • In this example, we create a Group called "468x60 Banners", as the Google AdSense code I created on the AdSense Tutorial, was 468x60 banner.
  • One the last page, we can see preview of the add and the codes we can use to display this ad or the group we added the ad to.
  • There's code/tag that can be copied to a post and add will display there, and
  • There's the php code that can be copied to php-widget or directly into the WordPress Theme
  • Or you can you use one of the 5 widgets that come with the addon, and display the ad on the widget areas your theme supports.
Step 3: Copy the AdRotate code and copy it to a post, theme php-file or anywhere you want the ad or group of ads to be displayed

Step 3: Copy the AdRotate code and copy it to a post, theme php-file or anywhere you want the ad or group of ads to be displayed

Displaying the Ad in a Post

So I copied the code from the Banner Wizard, and added it to this post, like this:

Adding the code tag from Banner Wizard to a Post is simple after the ad and group has been created.

Copying the code tag from Banner Wizard to a Post

Google AdSense Ad is customized to the content, but it will take some time before AdSense picks up what kind of ads it should display on your site, if you haven't used it before.

How To Add Any Link and Image Into AdRotate

There is two ways to add link to AdRotate:

  • copy the link to the clicktracking/ url -field in Add/Edit Banner screen to enable clicktracking (more on this later) or,
  • normal link, just like you would create normal link:

<a href="">

There is also two ways you can display images on AdRotate:

  • use the direct image source, from your own server or anywhere in the world (just like you link to a "normal" picture), or
  • upload the ads to the "banners" directory AdRotate creates in the wp-content folder.

Using direct link a image is easy enough, so just create a link with img-tag instead of text anchor text:

<img alt="ad1" src="">

And transferring the pictures to the banners-directory isn't too hard either, if you have used ftp connection to your domain before:

Transfering Advertising Banner with Filezillla

Transfering Advertising Banner with Filezillla

If you copy the pictures to the banners-directory, you can then choose images from a menu in AdRotate.

In this screen you can also copy the link to the "clicktracking/ url" -field and thus, turn on the clicktracking. If you do this, you will see how many times this ad was clicked on (very useful). I also chose a new Banner Group (300x250 Banners) I created in the Manage Groups -screen:

Added the link to the url, turned on clicktracking and selected the picture from the menu (as I uploaded the picture to the banners-folder in wp-content-directory)

Create / Edit Banners Screen

As I chose to use the clicktracking and used the uploaded banner, the actual link and image in the code are done using tags: %image% and %link%, like this:

<a title="ShoeMoney Free 12 week training course" href="%link%"><img title="ShoeMoney Free 12 week training course" alt="ShoeMoney Free 12 week training course Worth $$$" src="%image%" /></a>

At any time, you can check the the banner id or group id later (for linking purposes) from the Manager Banners- or Manage Groups -page. On Manage Group -page you can also create new groups. Always create groups based on the ad shape and position. For example, create a group: "125x125 Ads", and then you can display a block of ads from this group at random (so display 8 banners from 12 total for example). And adding a block of ads to your sidebar is as easy as adding a widget to a sidebar and setting the group ID to the widget!

Continuing with the example, we need to check the banner id and group id, so we can link the ad to this post...

here we check the banner id ("14") from Manage Banners -page:

Checking the Banner ID from AdRotate Manage Banners -page

Checking the Banner ID

And the group id ("4") from Manage Groups -page:

Checking the Group ID

Checking the Group ID

Displaying Another Ad in a Post.

After checking the banner id (14) and group id (4), we can create the banner code, and and copy the code to this post like before with the other ad code, like this:

Copy the AdRotate tag with group and banner id to a post

Copying the AdRotate tag with group and banner id to a post

So we know what code to use in the AdRotate tags in the post (in my case, group="4" and banner="14").

If you like to display the same ad in a sidebar, go to "Appearance" and "Widgets", add the AdRotate Widget 1-5 to a sidebar/widget area, and configure the group id or ids and banners you want to the widget and it will handle displaying them.

Or you can add the php code directly to your theme, if you know what you're doing. I left this "advanced" topic out of this post, but if you're used to editing your theme, adding the AdRotate php-code in there shouldnt' be a problem.

For more information, check the AdRotate Manual from the AdRotate Plugin Homepage. And if you still get stuck, post into the forum in there.

Resources and links

I'll be looking forwards from hearing how you do, if you decide to try AdRotate, or any other advertising management systems: Leave comment and tell how you're doing with ads on your blog and how you manage your ads and advertising...

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