CrankyAds Plugin Review

CrankyAds is an advertising plugin for WordPress blogs and I thought I would give it a review. I don’t run ads on this site, but many clients do and for years I’ve been recommending Max Banner Ads as a way of managing your adverts, but this doesn’t allow you to take payment, manage campaigns or have many other statistic features that can be required.

CrankyAds looks like a solution to these problems and as it’s run by old friend Yaro Starak (with another online friend Blaine Moore now working for CrankyAds) it’s definitely time for a look at it.

Installation

CrankyAds is a WordPress plugin so installation is a breeze. Just download from their site and then in WordPress go to Plugins > Add new. Select Upload and browse to the zip file to upload, and then select Activate.

When returned the plugin page, a nice Start here message is shown under their plugin:

I’m a little disappointed that for a free plugin they’re not in the WordPress.org plugin repository, as it would make installing it, and updating it, easier, but that’s not unusual.

First use

Clicking on the Start here take you to the settings page. However you have to either register an account or sign in with your current account details. Registration is done on the settings page and is quick and easy. Once done you are taken to the Zones setup page. Zones is a familiar term if you’ve ever used advertising software and essentially refers to the regions or areas of the site you want to sell ads on. So you may have a header zone, a sidebar zone, or a footer zone. What is nice is the page shows a couple of YouTube videos walking you through step by step how to step up zones, which you can open in a new window to follow along.

Adding a Zone

This is as simple as giving the zone a name – like Header zone, a description and then selecting whether it is to have image ads, text ads or video. Then you set the size, the amount (and currency) that you want to charge for that ad space, and the duration that charge is for (i.e monthly).

If you want you can have multiple prices for a zone, so if they sign up for a year instead of monthly it would work out cheaper.

You can also have multiple ads per zone. This is especially useful for sidebar 125×125 ads where you might have 4 or 6 ads slots, not just one like in the header.

Once done you have the choice of adding a widget to display the zone or you get given the template code to add to your theme in the exact location you want the ads.

Advertiser Setup

Below is a screen shot of the default ad in my sidebar on a test side, and also the auto-generated page a potential advertiser is taken to when they click on an ad.

If there are more zones than just one, the plugin highlights the zone that the person had clicked so they know which one is relevant to them.

If they like what they see they can click Order now. They are required to login to (or register for) CrankyAds as that is where their (and your) campaigns are managed.

Pros

There’s a lot to like about the plugin.

  • It’s free and doesn’t add any branding to the zones (it does on the advertise page, but as advertisers need a CrankyAds account this is no problem for me)
  • Setting up an account is quick and straightforward
  • Adding and configuring zones is really easy and the preview shows you what you’re getting so there’s no doubt
  • Makes taking payment really easy
  • Advertisers have control over their ads without any involvement from you
  • You can allow advertisers to have multiple campaigns per ad slot they buy
  • You can upload your own ads/campaigns to fill in the unsold zones with your own, perhaps affiliate, ads
  • The upcoming marketplace will make it easy for potential publishers to find your site. For this CrankyAds will take a portion of the payment as a fee, but ads sold directly through your site do not incur this fee of course

Cons

This is more of a wish list than a cons list.

  • The plugin should be in the WordPress.org plugin repository (apparently it will be soon)
  • There should be other default locations built in. Max Banner Ads uses hooks to allow you to select to insert ads within a post or at the end of a post, or just in the first post etc. This would really help people with no technical knowledge to insert ads in their desired location
  • The automated Advertise here page should have configurable design or at least an option for dark websites. I would like to be able to change the colors, wording on the button and add some other text at the beginning of the page

Summary

CrankyAds is a great, free, easy solution to adding adverts to your site and making it easy for advertisers to sign up completely hands off for you. You can download it here

The Top Five Reasons Why Blogging Increases Your Business

In today’s internet-led world, a blog can increase interest in your business on a daily basis. Forget about advertising or marketing (well, not entirely!), a well-presented and well-written blog can be your ultimate advertising department, without costing the earth.

Reducing the costs of advertising

Whichever way you look at it, creating and maintaining a blog is cheaper than splashing out on a costly advertising campaign. However you choose to go about starting, whoever you decide to use, there is no other package that is as cost effective as using a blogging service.

Enhancing communication capabilities

Probably one of the greatest advantages is its ability to reach thousands of people all over the world instantaneously. There is no other media currently in circulation, which can be as effectively accessed as a well built and well maintained blog. Newspapers and magazines are all bound by geographical locations, where as blog has the potential to reach anyone, anywhere in the world. By using effective tags and keywords, within seconds, you could be placed at the top of search engines across the globe.

A website can offer the same coverage, but it tends to lack the interaction that a blog can offer. A blog offers your client an informal, but direct, place to chat with your company in a real-time situation. You are also able to keep your clients updated with the latest company information and products, without making them feel that they are under any hard sale pressure to buy – an important factor that puts many people off approaching companies.

Improving research abilities

With a blog, potential clients are able to research your company and see the latest products you have to offer on a daily basis. There is nothing worse than looking for something and having to trawl through mounds of useless information. It is able to present information in an ordered and concise way, a valuable tool for any company.

Generating valuable and targeted feedback

Are you worried that you are not stocking the right merchandise or that you need to improve certain areas of your business? If you are, just ask! Within the blogging culture, feedback plays a huge role and this can be used to your company’s advantage. Whenever something comes up that you are unsure how to handle, turn to your blogs visitors. It is the one place where you will get an honest and swift response.

Enhancing your online reputation

Many companies have a big corporate personality that surrounds them. By creating a blog, this can be translated into a one-to-one, hands-on image. If you let your clients see how you regard their opinion, you will certainly start seeing the benefits. There is nothing that can hook a customer quicker than openness and honesty.

Blogging for your business is simple and cost efficient. It has the potential to build the reputation of your company on a global scale and is a fun and easy way to promote openness and trust between you and your customers.

What more could you want from an advertising department?

What are the other advantages of blogging for business? Let me know if you have any!