7 Free WordPress Banner Plugins to Help You Optimize Your Ad Space

Banners have been the backbone of advertising on the internet since its inception. And though a lot of other solutions have come along in the meantime, banners still play a large roll on many websites. Whether you’re selling ad space, doing affiliate marketing, or advertising your own products and services, a well-placed banner may still be one of your best options.

After testing out as many free WordPress banner plugins as we could find, the seven below were left standing. Each is different from the other, of course, sometimes wildly different. But keep in mind that you may be able to use two in conjunction if one doesn’t do exactly everything you want.

If you know of any good free banner plugin we missed, let us know in the comments.

1. WP Bannerize

WP Bannerize is a banner plugin that gives you a number of ways to display your banners – via code in your theme template, via shortcodes in your posts or pages, or via widgets.

It allows you to set the number of impressions for a banner (i.e. the number of times it will be shown), and it also offers an easy to read statistics section for each banner — at a glance showing you how many times a banner was displayed, how many times it was clicked on, and the percentage of times it was clicked on compared to the number of times it was displayed (aka the CTR or click-thru-rate).

Here’s a look at the backend for a few banners where you can see those stats.

Here’s a look at some of the settings.

A few other features include the following:

  • Create groups
  • Show banners only on certain categories
  • Style banners with your own CSS
  • Add nofollow to links
  • Schedule banner start and stop dates

Featured Plugin - WordPress Newsletter Plugin

Now there's no need to pay for a third party service to sign up, manage and send beautiful email newsletters to your subscriber base - this plugin has got the lot.
Find out more

2. WP Banners Lite

The WP Banners Lite plugin is a relatively simple plugin with the following main features:

  • Lets you put banners into a rotation for new page loads
  • Lets you see stats for impressions and clicks
  • Lets you use shortcodes
  • Lets you create different banner spaces
  • Lets you set number of days to run banner

In addition to the above, this plugin also lets you set up an email that will automatically be dispatched to an advertiser when their ad is finished running. In addition to informing the advertiser that their ad has expired, it includes statistics for the ad.

Here’s a look at some of the simple stats it provides.

And here’s a look at some of the settings.

Featured Plugin - WordPress Facebook Plugin

Would you like to add Facebook comments, registration, 'Like' buttons and autoposting to your WP site? Well, The Ultimate Facebook plugin has got that all covered!
Find out more

3. Useful Banner Manager

The Useful Banner Manager plugin is another relatively simple plugin that offers some basic banner functionality in the free version. There is a paid version that offers statistics and claims to display banners based on performance.

Honestly, the free version doesn’t really do much compared to some other free plugins out there, but it does offer one function that many free banner plugins don’t – the ability to rotate banners automatically after X-number of seconds. Here’s a look at some of its features.

  • Rotate banners after X-number of seconds (i.e. without reloading the page)
  • Order banners in rotation
  • Display random banners in rotation
  • Include nofollow on links
  • Open links in new windows

Here’s a look at the main settings page for adding a banner.

Banners in this plugin are called by code inserted into your theme template, by shortcodes inserted into Posts or Pages, or by widgets.

Featured Plugin - WordPress Pop-Up Chat Plugin

No javascript required, no third part chat engine, just fully featured chat right in your own database on your own WP sites - couldn't be easier.
Find out more

4. WordPress Banner         

The WordPress Banner plugin will allow you to place multiple banners in your system, and it will rotate them on each new page load. Although it doesn’t provide statistics for you (it says they’re coming), it does allow you to set a specific number of impressions for each banner and/or a Start Date and an End Date.

And so all of the above looks pretty standard. What makes this plugin different is that it will let you place your banners in different positions on your site without going into your template code at all. You control the positioning of the banners with a combination of three different controls:

  • choosing a div section in your theme
  • choosing a vertical position
  • choosing a horizontal position with a slider (using %)

That probably sounds a little more complicated than it is once you begin playing with it. Let’s take a look at some of the settings, and then we’ll go into more detail.

To give you an idea of how the positioning works, we’ll choose some different positions with the controls. In the control box, the orange horizontal line represents the banner position.

While this positioning feature is nice for those who don’t like digging into their code, it must be pointed out that the actual positioning of the banners may vary from user to user depending on their browser, screen size, etc.

Featured Plugin - WordPress Google Maps Plugin

Simply insert google maps into posts, sidebars and pages - show directions, streetview, provide image overlays and do it all from a simple button and comprehensive widget.
Find out more

5. AdRotate

The AdRotate plugin offers quite a number of options, even allowing advertisers to upload their own ads if they have permission. Here as some of the main functions it offers.

  • Rotate ads
  • Weight the display of ads
  • Track page views
  • Track clicks
  • Track Click-Thru-Ratio
  • Set up maximum number of clicks or impressions for an ad
  • Set click or impression limit per hour/day/week/month
  • Set up times to display ads
  • Display ads with code, shortcodes, or widgets

Although you can display individual ads where you like, more power comes when you set up “Block” and “Groups” and then individual “Ads.”

You can put Ads into Groups, and then put Groups into Blocks. When you combine the different controls available at each level, it lets create as sophisticated an ad display strategy as you like.

Although each piece of this puzzle is obviously not a physical location, we’ll see if we can represent the system in a graphical way below for better understanding. (The two ads, for example, may be on rotation.)

And here’s a peek into a few of the settings.

This plugin also comes with detailed instructions and a support forum on the plugin author’s website.

Featured Plugin - WordPress Infinite SEO Plugin

Fully integrated with the SEOMoz API, complete with automatic links, sitemaps and SEO optimization of your WordPress setup - this is the only plugin you need to help you rank your site number 1 on Google - nothing else compares.
Find out more

6. Ad Injection

The Ad Injection plugin has an amazing number of options for those looking for a crazy amount of control over when and where ads are placed. This plugin lets you assign ads based on a whole host of different factors, and it also lets you assign random ads on these factors as well.

Below is a list of some of the things it lets you do.

  • Rotate ads
  • Show ads only in certain categories, by certain tags or authors
  • Don’t show ads in certain categories, by certain tags or authors
  • Automatically place ads in different positions without touching code
  • Show ads after X-number of paragraphs
  • Show ads only on older posts
  • Show ads only if post has X-number of words
  • Control number of random ads shown
  • Use characters instead of words for placement variable
  • Show ads or not depending on where visitor came from
  • And more

Here’s a look a few of the settings. (There are too many settings to list here.)

While this plugin gives you an amazing amount of control in placing your ads, it seems to lack even the basic of statistics functions.  It does not appear to track clicks, impressions, and click-thru-ratios, etc.

Featured Plugin - WordPress Membership Site Plugin

If you're thinking about starting a paid, or just private, membership site then this is truly the plugin you've been looking for. Easy to use, massively configurable and ready to go out of the box!
Find out more

7. Easy Advertisement Insert

Finally, there is the Easy Advertisement Insert plugin. This is a very basic plugin that simply lets you insert ads into eight different spots on your site without touching any code. In truth, this is really an insertion plugin. For example, you will need to use your own HTML code to insert your banners, placing the code in the correct spot on the settings page.

The plugin comes with no other functions common to banner plugins such as image uploading, statistics, ad rotation, etc.

But true to its name, it is indeed simple to use. And so if you are only looking to easily insert ads without touching any code, this will work for you.

Here are the ad positions the plugin offers.

  • Adspot 1: Below posts title on the front page.
  • Adspot 2: Below the title when post is open.
  • Adspot 3: Below post content when post is open.
  • Adspot 4: Below title when a page is open.
  • Adspot 5: Below page content when a page is open.
  • Adspot 6: Below the commentboxes.
  • Adspot 7: Above the header.
  • Adspot 8: Below the footer.

And here’s a look at the different boxes on the settings page that you will need to fill in with whatever it is you are looking to display.

And so that’s it. Some of the plugin above have a crazy amount of options while some are simple and pared down. Hopefully at least one of them will be just what you’re looking for.

Featured Plugin - WordPress Appointments Plugin

Take, set and manage appointments and client bookings without having to leave WordPress. Appointments+ makes it easy.
Find out more

Photo: Outdoor advertising construction from Bigstock

Comments (5)

  1. Great write-up Joe. My only concern is that you haven’t mentioned the security history of these plugins, and that’s something people should always take into consideration. WP-Bannerize has had a remote exploit in the recent past, and while that’s fixed now it should still be a point of contention.

      • Thanks for the info, Shawn.

        In terms of security, I sometimes see people arguing that if something has had security issues, then you should be wary. But WordPress itself has its own security issues from time to time. And so if we start eliminating things based on that, then we’d have to eliminate running WordPress itself (and some do, of course).

        I think if developers are quick to jump on security issues, then these things should be looked as an “acceptable risk” (as running WordPress is for the majority of us). If the developers are slow with security fixes, then that’s a different story. I don’t know about the specific security issues with the two plugins you mentioned. Were there issues with the developers fixing those problems?

        • As a security-focused developer (nearly 20 years now), I think it’s more important that we evaluate not only a products security history, but their responsiveness and *how* they react to security issues.

          WordPress core does it right – they receive security reports privately, but address the specifics publicly and implement various methods of ensuring that the same things can’t happen again. Their codebase is tracked, monitored and uses a queue for changes that requires approval by known-good committers.

          Many other systems, notably most plugins and themes shared for WordPress, have far fewer controls in place. Most have only one author. Code contributions weren’t even control-authenticated until earlier this year. And too often the developer will simply fix that ONE identified problem/exploit instead of performing a full code review to ensure other common mistakes aren’t made.

          WP Bannerize is a perfect example of this. In 2.8.6 there was a security vulnerability reported (an SQL injection). 2.8.7 was released as a security fix…but only addressed one aspect of the vulnerability. 2.8.7, released about a month later, fixed another aspect of the vulnerability, but didn’t even indicate that this update was security-related so users that are not keen on installing updates due to compatibility concerns might have hesitated to install a *security* update on their systems. There have since been over 20 updates released to this plugin, but the changelog is so vague that you’d have to manually perform a code review for each version to determing if anything was security related, and since it’s now a new major version, chances are good that there was a significant rewrite since the security issues were first discovered last year. That does *not* mean that it’s now “safe”, only that there might be many new security issues that could be discovered and exploited at any moment.

          AdRotate has a very similar history, though their responsiveness was closer to two months after they initially “fixed” the first reported security exploit last year. And another security exploit was reported for AdRotate exactly two weeks ago. They have not released an update, and since the version that was found to be defective ( there’s no indication in the changelog that the issue has been addressed – so it’s very likely that it’s still there and will remain indefinitely.

          This is the type of thing that terrifies me as a host and developer. My clients could be installing defective plugins like this by people who have no consideration for the risk they’re putting their users at, and ultimately it could result in hacked sites, content that violates our TOS, or even server stability issues.

          The only way to address this kind of thing is to educate the user – and when articles like this one provide a generic review of plugins neglect to include their security history, it’s a real concern to me. Please consider doing a cursory security check on plugins and themes when you post recommending them. It could save your visitors quite the headache later on. It’s quite simple: google “exploit pluginname” and the results should pretty much speak for themselves.

  2. Which one will be working with responsive theme also being able to switch flash ad to image ad whenever someone use a mobile device such as iphone or ipad? They are very important features.