How to Add Ads to WordPress (and Some Paid Advertising Know-How) 

ads in WordPress

Before going into the topic, there are some questions that we need to find answers to.


Do I need to place ads on my WordPress website?

In a minimalistic view of things, if you’re an e-commerce store, a brick and mortar company, a SaaS, or a services company, I would not recommend having ads.



  • It can develop a bad user experience for your audience
  • It can distract users from the actual purpose of your site: selling a product or a service.

If you’re blogging and want to monetize your site somehow, ads and affiliation can be 2 valid options. 

But before jumping into this make sure you have high-quality content. Such content can get you better organic rankings, thus better visibility and increased website traffic. You need high website traffic in order to be able to gain some revenue.

Let’s take an example.

Usually display ads have a click-through rate of 0.46% across all industries across the Google Network. This means that you can get 4 clicks out of around 1000 views. A cost per click (that gets paid by the advertiser) was on average, 0.63$. And this gets split between the publisher (the website where the ad is shown), and the advertising platform (Google, in this case).

This means you’ll need plenty of views, to see some cents at the end of the day in your pocket. This is why you should not neglect the quality of your content.

average CPC


What are the features I care about when choosing an ad provider?

  • The variety of ad sizes. As per Google’s data, the best performing ad sizes are the 160×600 wide skyscraper,  the 300×250 medium rectangle, or the 728×90 leaderboard.
  • Supporting rich media ads (interactive, video) – these ads are more appealing and generate more engagement.
  • Types of targeting. 
    • One type of targeting is contextual targeting when your website displays relevant ads to the topic of your content. This means they are more “clickable”, and you have the chance to optimize your revenue. 
    • Interest-based targeting and retargeting/remarketing can show ads based on your users’ interests and previous interactions with that advertiser. Click-through rates (CTRs) for remarketing ads can be 2-5 times higher than for other types of display ads.
  • Ads control. You should be able to block ads from specific categories (eg: mature topics) or be more selective with ads that target your URL specifically.
  • Ads analytics. You need access to reports and insights that can help you optimize how you place ads on your site (specific placements, sizes, pages, etc). 
  • The possibility of A/B testing.
  • The revenue you get from publishing ads on your site.


Ad auctions for dummies

Now, let’s say you allow ads on your site. How do they work? Who gets to show an ad on your pages?

There are plenty of advertisers who compete with one another in the ad ecosystem to land on certain pages based on their targeting (keywords, URLs, interests, audiences). Now, who wins?

There is an ad auction taking place behind the scenes that determines which ad will show on a page and how much the advertiser will pay (this will influence your own gains). 

It’s similar to traditional auctions, where bidders state how much they’re willing to pay. In this case, advertisers are stating how much they would pay per click or per 1000 impressions (views). The winner will have the best ad quality and the best bid. 

There’s one tricky thing though. The more restrictions you’ll set, the less the competition. This might affect your revenue. This means you’ll have to balance things out a bit. 

You can always test your placements, restrictions via A/B tests.


Advertising platforms for your WordPress website

The advertising marketplace is made up of:

  • Advertisers: the ones placing ads.
  • Publishers: the sites and blogs showing the ads.
  • The advertising platforms and ad exchanges that intermediate the whole thing.

Your website or blog will be the publisher of this story. If you want to show ads you’ll need to adhere to an advertising platform or more. They will just compete one against another for a place on your site. 

How can you identify on any website which platform won the ad auction? Just locate the ad by the triangle sign, and hover over it. You’ll see Google AdSense, or Outbrain, etc.

ad example


One thing you should remember: the bigger the advertising platform, the higher the competition, meaning higher auction bids and more money in your pockets.

Now, let’s see which are some important advertising platforms out there.

Google AdSenseAdSense



The easiest way to put ads on your WordPress website is by applying for Google AdSense (Google’s Ad Exchange). 

What is Google AdSense?

  • Publishers receive 68% of the revenue recognized by Google in connection with the service.
  • You have control over the size and types of ads
  • You can block URLs
  • You can run A/B tests. This means you can compare one of your ad settings against a variation of that setting to see which performs better, thus optimizing your campaigns.
  • There are no minimum traffic requirements

AdSense manages ad placement, ad targeting (to show relevant ads).

Here’s how you can connect AdSense to your WordPress website and start showing ads.



While AdSense is owned by Google, Media.Net is owned by Yahoo & Bing.

Let’s look a bit at its best features:

  • Display and video ads available
  • Offering contextual ads. And I quote: “This format filters the user’s intent via relevant search keywords, resulting in finely targeted ads and much higher revenues as advertisers are willing to pay more for visitors with qualified intent.”
  • Native ads available with the look and format of your own website for higher engagement
  • You have the option to drive the audience to contextually relevant articles on your site through the native unit.
  • They do not rely on cookies, and this is utterly important in the context of the latest regulations.


Outbrain AdsOutbrain


Some of Outbrain’s perks:

  • Pay-per-click model
  • You can make tests and optimizations
  • Support native and video ads

Now, there are some smaller players as well, each with their unique selling points:

Finally, we’re getting into the technicalities of having ads on our WordPress website.


How to put ads in WordPress

No surprise here, we’re going to talk about plugins.

On a general note, here’s how you can install WordPress plugins.


Now, if you only want to work with AdSense, the official Google plugin is Sitekit.

If you want access to multiple ad platforms, you’ll need to look into the plugins’ specifications.

Now, let’s check two of the most popular WordPress ad plugins:



Active installs: 200.000+

Supported ad platforms: Google AdSense, Amazon ads,

Other features:

  • Disable ads on individual posts or pages
  • Ad rotation
  • Country, state, region, and city-level geotargeting
  • A/B testing
  • Adblocking statistics



Active installs: 100.000+

Supported ad platforms: Google AdSense, Amazon ads,

Other features:

  • testing and optimization of ads
  • dedicated Gutenberg block for ads
  • target ads by content and user groups
  • use shortcodes within ads (to also deliver advertisements from another ad plugin like Ad Inserter, AdRotate, Quick AdSense, WP Bannerize, or the Google AdSense Plugin WP QUADS)
  • show ads in the sidebar and in widgets
  • disable all ads on specific pages
  • display or hide a banner by device: mobile and tablet or desktop
  • display or hide a banner by role and for logged-in visitors
  • advanced visitor conditions: previously visited URL (referrer), user capability, browser language, browser, and device, URL parameters.

Some of these features are available only in the paid plans.


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Alina is a digital marketer with a passion for web design. When she's not strategizing she's doing photography, listening to podcasts on history and psychology, and playing with her 2 dogs and cat.


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