I’ve been using the free version of Max Banner Ads on various client sites for a while, and quite frankly it’s brilliant.
The WordPress community spend a lot of time and effort making free plugins, and I often donate to those I find most useful (and encourage you to do the same), however there are also many I would happily pay for, and Max Banner Ads is one of them, from Pawan over at MaxBlogPress.
So what’s good about it?
Pretty much everything! It makes adding ads to your site a breeze for a non-techie, though of course there is a learning curve. The more I use it the more I like it. You can set up zones – areas in your site to have advertising – and these can be within posts, in the sidebar (it can create a widget for you), above the first post, and below the last post automatically. If you want to place it elsewhere it will give you the template tag code for adding to your theme.
– Flexible layout options are available plus custom css if you need it, but there is no need to mess with code or template files if you don’t want to.
– It will automatically rotate any number of banners, say if you want to show four 125×125 ads in your sidebar, but have six ads – no problem, it will just show 4 if you want it to.
The site has an excellent video (linked above), well worth 6 minutes of your time, showing how in around 14 minutes you can have all the advertising on your site sorted out and managed through the WordPress dashboard.
– For your own ads it will track impressions and clicks therefore giving you a Click Through Rate (CTR) for each ad.
– If you get given some ad code you can even paste it into a box and it will automatically take out the relevant image URL and the hyperlink for you – how good is that?
The free version is fully functional, the paid version ($47) simply removes the Powered by Max Banner Ads link if you want to. You can also leave it there, with an affiliate link in to promote it. So I finally bought a premium plugin and paid for this because I use it so much and think it’s worth paying for. You can also use it on as many of your personal sites as you like, I have it on two.
So what’s bad about it?
There are obviously some things the plugin doesn’t do:
– Manage payments for you. This requires a different plugin (a paid for one), or a system like OpenX. For most bloggers though direct sales are a small part of what they do, most are affiliate ads or ad server code that can be handled by this plugin.
– Not rotate ads. Sometimes it would be nice not to rotate a group of ads and just keep the same one or two in the same position. To get around this you can just create two (or more) zones each with one ad in, and then put the zones next to each other using the code provided.
– Not all locations can be managed by this plugin. Sometimes template changes are necessary to get adverts in the right location, but the options that do come with the plugin are very impressive and powerful. And for those times you do need to add code to the template it gives you the code to add. Excellent.
I recommend anyone starting out who would like to manage some adverts themselves to take a look at the free version, it really is an excellent system. I don’t even have graphical adverts on this site, but I’ve found it invaluable on others, and worth paying for even if it didn’t remove the Powered By link. Have you used it? Or something else? Any thoughts?