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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Photo: Outdoor advertising construction from Bigstock