AdPlugg Network Now Open to All Publishers: Get Paid by AdPlugg!

Access to the AdPlugg Network is now available to all publishers!

Are you looking to monetize your website but don’t have any advertisers? The AdPlugg Network is a new service from AdPlugg that allows you to easily place network ads on your site and earn real revenue by displaying network ads.

Once enrolled in the program, you will have access to a special ad format in your system named “AdPlugg Network”. You can target this ad to your zones, rotate it in with other ads, use it when you don’t have any other ads to show, target it to certain geographic regions, etc.

Every month, you will get paid by AdPlugg based on the number of AdPlugg Network impressions that you register. You can track your AdPlugg Network impressions from the Analytics interface within the system. July 2021 Update: Payments are generally made monthly but may vary depending on when payment is received from the ad exchange.

The program is open to all publishers regardless of where you are located and payments are currently made via PayPal on net-45 terms. July 2021 Update: payments are now made on anywhere from net-21 to net-90 day terms depending on the terms of the ad exchange where the impression was sold.

It’s free to enroll and you can remain in the program whether or not you are currently serving network ads. So signing up to have the option available is a no brainer.

The AdPlugg Network ads come from various advertisers, agencies and ad exchanges that AdPlugg works with. You have complete control over where and when the network ads show.

If you are just now looking to monetize your site, have some empty spots to fill or are looking to boost your revenues, the AdPlugg Network is a great option. It’s super easy to enroll, just click your username in the top right and under Account Settings, click Enroll in AdPlugg Network.

If you have any questions about the AdPlugg Network or how to enroll, please post them to the comments section below.

July 2021 Update: We’ve updated the above post with new information regarding the AdPlugg Network’s payment terms.

Without Code Ads

Without Code Ads

Looking to place ads on your Without Code site? Do it with AdPlugg!

Without Code

Without Code (also known as WOCode) is a popular online website builder and hosting service. You can create an account at www.wocode.com and instantly start creating your site.

Without Code is similar to other hosted website builders such as Wix, Weebly, Squarespace and WordPress.com.

AdPlugg

Same as with these other site builders, AdPlugg works great for serving ads to your Without Code site. Simply install the AdPlugg SDK into your Without Code HTML Header and then drop AdPlugg Ad Tags (special <div> tags) anywhere that you want ads to appear on your Without Code site.

Once you’ve done that, you have the full power of the AdPlugg service to target ads to certain pages or locations on the page (header, footer, etc), schedule ads, rotate ads, track impressions and clicks, etc. The ads can come from any source including direct sold, ad networks, affiliate networks, in-house, etc.

We’ve posted some detailed instructions for how to set up Without Code with AdPlugg into a new section of the AdPlugg Cookbook. You can view it here:

AdPlugg Cookbook: Without Code

Conclusion

In summary, it is easy to use AdPlugg to set up, manage, serve and track your Without Code ads. Without Code ads will work with any of the AdPlugg plans from Free to Business. Try it out today – it only takes a couple of minutes to set up.

If you don’t already have an AdPlugg account, you can create one here. If you don’t already have a Without Code account, you can create one here.

If you have any questions, suggestions, etc.; please post them to the comment section below.

Shopify Ads

Want to place an ad on your Shopify site? Use AdPlugg! We’ve now fully tested AdPlugg with Shopify and we are happy to report that the two products integrate perfectly and work great together!

Shopify is one of the largest e-commerce platforms. The platform is used by over 600,000 merchants. In 2018, merchants sold more than $41 billion worth of merchandise (combined) on Shopify.  Small shops to major brands (such as Budweiser and Tesla) use Shopify for their online stores.

While some of the big companies use Shopify only for the store portion of their site, Shopify is much more than that. Similar to other platforms (such as WordPress), you can use Shopify to create blog posts, pages (such as your about page) and more.

If you are running an online store, you should be doing content marketing by posting regularly to your blog. Putting up new blog content regularly is a great way to drive traffic to your site. But once that traffic gets to your site, you should be working to get the traffic to convert by promoting your products and services. If you can make a pitch within your post that is relavent to your topic, great! But no matter what your topic, you can always place ads for your own offerings in your sidebar, header, footer, etc. It is easy to do this when you add AdPlugg to your Shopify site.

Another common use for ads on an e-commerce website is for promoting the products of one vendor or manufacturer over another. Stores that move large volumes of say two brands of brake pads can often sell advertising to one of the manufacturers. This provides increased sales for that particular manufacturer and an additional revenue stream for the merchant.

We’ve made it easy to get set up using AdPlugg on your Shopify site. There is now a new Shopify section in the AdPlugg cookbook that teaches you how to do things such as:

These recipes can be used along with all of the rest of the AdPlugg features to allow you to schedule, rotate, track and run reports on the ads on your Shopify based site.

So whether you want to use advertising on your Shopify store to maximize your online store’s conversions, or generate ad revenue, AdPlugg’s got you covered.

Have questions? Want to see more Shopify cookbook recipes? Post in the comments section below.

GDPR Compliant Advertising

AdPlugg is now fully compliant with the GDPR. The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is an EU law governing personal data and how it can be collected and stored.

Using AdPlugg For GDPR Compliant Ad Serving

AdPlugg is a great fit for serving ads under the GDPR. This is because AdPlugg doesn’t store Personal Information regarding the end users that the system serves ads to.

This is not true of some other advertising systems. Some ad systems have been pushing personalization. This is where you might see an ad for diapers on a car site because the ad system knows who you are and that you have a baby.

AdPlugg has taken a more contextual approach. With AdPlugg, a site about cars will typically show ads for cars, car parts, etc.

Which ad is shown is up to placement by the Publisher/Advertiser and not at all based on Personal Data.

Because of this, serving ads using AdPlugg is exempt under Recital 26 (Not applicable to anonymous data) of the GDPR.

Cookie Law

Note: Under EU Law, you may still need a notice on your site notifying your users that your site uses cookies.

Disclaimer: We are not lawyers. Nothing on this website should be considered legal advice. Always consult with an attorney when making legal decisions.

GDPR and adplugg.com

To meet the requirements of the GDPR, we’ve made some changes to the adplugg.com website itself. These changes will be important to you, the user of the AdPlugg site and service.

New Legal Docs!

We’ve updated our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy to include language relating to how we handle personal data under the GDPR.

We’ve also added a new Audience Privacy Policy that has information regarding the privacy of ad audience members (persons viewing an ad served from AdPlugg).

Please take a minute to review the changes and additions to our legal docs.

New Privacy Settings Screen!

From within the system, you can now access and control your privacy settings. To access the new settings, click your username in the top right and go to User Settings. Then click the Privacy Settings link.

New Cookie Preferences Feature!

You can now control how the adplugg.com site interacts with third party systems. For instance, you can disable analytical tracking to have us anonymize the data that we send to Google Analytics. You can also disable Advertising Cookies. This will turn off our integrations with our advertising partners such as Facebook and Twitter.

New Personal Data Export Feature!

You can now get an export of your Personal Data. To use the feature, go to your Privacy Setting (see above) and then click the Personal Data Export link.

New Personal Data Purge Feature!

No longer using AdPlugg? After you cancel your account, you can now have us purge all of your old data from our systems.

To use the feature, go here.

Conclusion

While the GDPR brings a lot of new regulations for online businesses, the rights of individuals to personal privacy are important. Using AdPlugg can allow you to maximize your marketing and advertising potential while respecting the privacy rights of your readers and ad audiences.

AMP Ads

AMP Ads

AdPlugg can now be used for AMP ads!

AdPlugg is now integrated with AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) and you can now use AdPlugg to easily serve any ad that you want into your AMP formatted pages. You can also use AdPlugg to schedule, rotate, and report on the ads that appear in your AMP pages.

What is AMP?

The AMP Project is an initiative led by Google to improve the mobile web.

Loading an entire web site via a mobile browser (on often a shoddy connection) can be a painful experience for the user, often resulting in high bounce rates if the page doesn’t load fast. AMP works to fix all of that by defining a simple page structure and set of tags for displaying a page quickly via a mobile browser.

The standard way to implement AMP is to have two page urls, one regular one and an AMP one. Mobile browsers are told to use the AMP version. Pages that adhere to the AMP standard often load almost twice as fast as a regular web page. This is due to a simplified structure, improved cachability and the elimination (or deferment) of slow loading resources.

You can see what the AMP version of this page looks like here: https://www.adplugg.com/blog/amp-ads/amp

AdPlugg and AMP

AMP has strict standards regarding what can appear on an AMP page. This is one of the ways that it ensures fast load times. In order for an element to appear on an AMP page, it needs to be an officially approved AMP extension.

AdPlugg is now an official AMP extension and a provider of amp ads.

We’ve also integrated with the AMP WordPress plugin from Automattic to make it easy to place ads into your WordPress powered AMP pages.

Note: the instructions below are for WordPress users. If you aren’t using WordPress don’t fret, see the “Non-WordPress Sites” section below for how to drop tags into your AMP pages manually.

1. Install the AMP for WordPress Plugin

First you’ll want to install the AMP WordPress plugin from Automattic. This plugin will create an AMP page for all of your posts and pages. You can access the AMP page by going to http://www.example.com/some-post/amp.

2. Get Version 1.7 (or higher) of the AdPlugg WordPress Ad Plugin

In Version 1.7 of the AdPlugg WordPress Ad Plugin we’ve added the ability to insert ad tags into your AMP pages.

3. Configure Your AdPlugg Ads

If you don’t already have one, create an account at adplugg.com. Next, upload the ads that you want to include in your AMP pages. AdPlugg allows you to upload virtually any kind of ad that you want. This includes image ads, text ads, HTML5 ads, etc. I’d recommend that you create some AdPlugg Ad Zones that are specifically for your AMP ads. You could call them something like “amp-zone-1”, “amp-zone-2”, etc. Once you’ve created your Zones, target your ads to them directly or via an AdPlugg Placement.

4. Add the Ads to Your AMP Pages

The AdPlugg WordPress plugin makes it easy to add ads to your AMP pages by utilizing a system that you are probably already familiar with, the WordPress Widget System! Here’s what you do:

  1. Log in to the WordPress administrator.
  2. Click AdPlugg in the left menu and then click AMP to go to the new AdPlugg AMP settings page.
  3. Check the “Automatic Placement” checkbox. This will enable the feature and create a new Widget Area called “AMP Ads”.
  4. Go to Appearance and then Widgets. You should now be able to see the AMP Ads widget area.
  5. Drag and drop the AdPlugg Widget into the Widget Area.
  6. Configure the Widget by giving it a Zone machine name, width and height.
  7. If you want the zone to repeat throughout the Page/Post, check the “default” checkbox to make the widget the default.

5. Check the Output

Check your AMP page or post at /your-post-name/amp – it should now include your AdPlugg ads! Feel free to add more ads, rotation, scheduling etc, from the settings available from your account at adplugg.com! Note: it’s best to limit each of your AMP Zones to only show one ad at a time (you can do this via the Max Ad Count field in the Zone settings).

That should do it, see the contextual help (in the top right of the WordPress Admin) for more details.

Non-WordPress Sites

If you aren’t using WordPress, it’s no big deal, instead of adding the tags via the AMP WordPress Plugin, you can just add them yourself (either manually or programmatically). Just drop a tag like the one below into your AMP page wherever you want your ad to appear:

Example


    <amp-ad width="300" height="250"
        type="adplugg"
        data-access-code="<your access code>"
        data-zone="<amp_zone_2>"
    ></amp-ad>

Change the access code, zone names and sizes in the code above to match your account and requirements.

Simply drop this tag into your AMP page and your ads will appear wherever the tag is placed.

Conclusion

AdPlugg makes it easy to serve, manage and track your AMP ads. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions; please post them to the comments section below!

Why Should I Use an Ad Server?

“So why should I use an ad server?” This is a question that we’ve gotten a number of times. And this week, I’m going to give you the low down.

It’s easy to see advertising as an afterthought when working on making a great website or blog. And in fact, that’s exactly the reason why you should outsource your ad serving; you want to be able to focus on providing great content.

So without further ado, here are our top reasons why you should use an ad server:

Stats are your Friend

Unless you are serving only in-house ads, you are going to need to keep track of how many impressions and clicks the ads that you serve are getting. If you can’t provide proof that the ads are being shown, don’t plan on keeping your advertisers around very long.

Even for in-house ads (ads that promote your own products and services), statistical data is crucial to let you know if your ad is getting any clicks, or if you should change out the creative.

Ad Stats Take a Lot of Disk Space

Ad statistics (impressions, clicks, etc) take a lot of storage room. It’s better to store this rapidly expanding data in the cloud where systems have been set up to handle it. If you try to store the stats data yourself, you can end up needing a bigger hosting account or could end up running out of space – causing an outage.

Faster Loading and Lower Hosting Costs

By loading your ads asynchronously off of a third party server, you can cache your pages. Caching can speed up your site and lower your hosting costs. Smart publishers serve all of their pages out of cache and offload traffic stats, comments and ads to third party services.

Serving Ads is A Different Beast from Serving Content

Ad Servers are designed to be able to do computationally expensive ad serving strategies quickly. This includes ad rotation, scheduling, targeting, etc. The average web hosting account is designed to serve mostly static content. Trying to run ad serving strategies on your web server can slow your site down and increase your hosting costs. In addition, serving content and ads and off the same system can make it difficult to determine the source of any issues.

Serve Ads to All of your Sites

By using a separate ad server, you can serve the same ads to multiple websites. This can be important as you grow and start to include more offerings, blogs, etc.

If you run ads directly off of a standalone plugin, you will only be able to serve those ads to a single website. By using a separate ad server, you can serve your ads to any number of websites.

Conclusion

Hopefully this post has given you a good idea of the pros of using an Ad Server. With AdPlugg, we’ve taken all the cons out by making it free and easy to instantly get your own cloud based ad server. Go to our signup page to get yours now.

Have questions? Something we forgot? Please post to the comments section below.

How to Pass the Facebook Instant Articles Review

Want to breeze through the Facebook Instant Articles review process? This post gives you all of the info that you are going to need. So let’s get started.

Quick Overview of Facebook Instant Articles

If you aren’t already familiar with it, Facebook Instant Articles (FBIA) is basically a feed reader that lives inside of the Facebook mobile app. You create a Facebook Instant Articles feed and Facebook pulls it in so that your content can be shown to the user within the Facebook mobile app. This provides a better user experience, is faster and creates less load on your servers.

Facebook lets you run your own ads within your Instant Articles (Facebook Instant Article Adsyou can do this with AdPlugg) or you can choose to have Facebook Audience Network ads automatically inserted.

Setting Up Your Facebook Instant Articles feed

There are a number of steps involved with setting up your FBIA feed and submitting it. For this post we are going to assume that you are using WordPress. If you aren’t using WordPress, check out our Facebook Instant Article Ads for Any Site post for setup instructions (the info here will still apply to the review process).

Here are the steps for WordPress:

  1. Write and publish at least 5 articles (posts).
  2. Install the Instant Articles plugin for WP plugin.
  3. In the WordPress admin, click on the “Instant Articles” menu item in the left sidebar. Follow the onscreen instructions. It will have you log into Facebook and connect to your Facebook “Page”.

The Facebook Instant Articles Review process

By this point, you should have submitted your feed to Facebook. You can see the status of your feed by doing the following:

  1. Log into your Facebook account.
  2. Click on the arrow in the top right, and then click on your page.
  3. In the bar across the top, click on “Publishing Tools”.
  4. In the left hand menu, under Instant Articles, click on “Configuration”.

Now in the middle of the screen you should be able to see a three step process, with the following steps.

  • Step 1: Set Up Instant Articles – This should already be completed.
  • Step 2: Submit for Review – There may be a button here asking you to submit. If so, you can go ahead and click it.
  • Step 3: Start Publishing Instant Articles – We’ll get to this in a bit.

Getting Approved

After submitting your feed for review (step 2 above), you will need to check back periodically to see if you’ve been approved (at this point you don’t receive a notification but they will probably add this eventually). Note: It can take 1-3 business days before your feed is reviewed and its status is updated.

Once your status is updated, it will either show that there are issues or, if you really nailed it, you will see the following:

When we submitted the feed for the AdPlugg blog, we came back one day later and there was a message indicating that there was an issue with our feed. The issue was related to our use of WordPress Smilies. Facebook didn’t know what to do with these. Since they weren’t important, we just removed them. If Facebook rejects your submission based on something that you need to keep, you can keep them or omit them (from the feed only) by defining a Transformer Rule.

If you have issues, fix them, press the resubmit button and wait again for approval.

Check Your Articles

Once you have been approved, you can publish your articles. First however, it’s a good idea to review them using the Facebook Pages Manager app. The Facebook Pages Manager app is available for iOS and Android. Just search for “Facebook Pages Manager” inside the App Store or Google Play and you should be able to find it pretty quickly.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed the Facebook Pages Manager app, do the following to check your articles:

  1. Open the Facebook Pages Manager app on your iOS or Android device (note: if you have the regular Facebook app, you should automatically be logged in).
  2. Click the ellipses (three dots) icon in the bottom right.
  3. Scroll down and under “SECTIONS”, click on “Instant Articles”. From there you should be able to see all of your instant articles. Click into them to review each one individually.

Publish Your Articles

If everything looks good, follow the below steps to publish your articles:

  1. Log into your Facebook account.
  2. Click on the arrow in the top right, and then click on your page.
  3. In the bar across the top, click on “Publishing Tools”.
  4. In the left hand menu, under Instant Articles, click on “Production Articles”.
  5. Click the checkbox next to the articles that you want to publish or click the checkbox in the header row to publish all articles.
  6. In the Actions drop down menu, click Publish.

Conclusion

That’s it. You should now have articles published to Facebook Instant Articles.

Please see our Facebook Instant Article Ads post if you want to include ads in your instant articles.

For more information regarding the Facebook Instant Article review process, check out the official docs from Facebook here.

Have a question or see something that we missed? Please post to the comments section below.

WordPress HTTPS Everywhere

https_everywhere
“I always feel like somebody’s watching me”, the 1984 hit song from Rockwell sums it up…and he might just be right! At the Google I/O Conference back in 2014, Google introduced (or at least endorsed) the principal of HTTPS Everywhere. Where as traditionally HTTPS was only used on login and credit card pages, during the conference, Google suggested that HTTPS be used on all pages on all sites, EVERYWHERE!

Why

Not interested in the “Why”, skip to the “How” below.

Before we get into the “why”, it’s important to note that it’s not just Google. Over the last couple of years, most major sites have been moving towards this concept of HTTPS Everywhere as well. Now Google, Facebook, Twitter, The New York Times and others only serve pages over HTTPS. Last month, AdPlugg followed suit and switched to 100% HTTPS as well. We still allow you to serve your ads over HTTP but anytime you are viewing a page on our website, it will be over HTTPS.

In 2017, Google has gotten more serious about this initiative and it is no longer just an option, now there is a penalty! Beginning last month (January, 2017), Google Chrome now displays an exclamation point in the search bar any time you are viewing an HTTP page. This is designed to alert the user to the fact that they are not on a secure page. Where previously the norm was HTTP and only some pages had HTTPS, Google now wants all pages to be HTTPS and to alert users when they aren’t on HTTPS. In addition, Google is now using HTTPS as a ranking factor, favoring sites that are on HTTPS to those on HTTP for Google’s search results.

The reason Google is doing this is interesting as it represents a shift in what is considered “sensitive” data. In fact, as I am writing this article, I wanted to describe passwords and credit card numbers as “sensitive data”. Google is suggesting that all of our activity online be considered sensitive, and it makes sense. Any time you are browsing over HTTP, a man (server) in the middle somewhere on the internet (or your own ISP) may be spying on what you are doing. In some cases ISPs even alter the content that you see. For instance, if you were to request http://www.example.com, your ISP could easily change what is returned to you since it is being transmitted in plain text. If however, you were to access https://www.example.com, your ISP and servers in the middle can’t read the request or response and you know that not only are you not being spied on but that no one has messed with the information that you are viewing. This can be especially important when you are using public WIFI. If you are on public WIFI over HTTP, the hotel, coffee shop, airport might be spying on what you are doing, if you are on HTTPS, you know that no one in the middle can see anything.

There are some concerns for the publisher however, HTTPS is costly. First of all, you need an SSL cert and your server needs to be configured to support HTTPS. You need to be aware that every page requested must be individually encrypted by the server and not just once, it needs to be individually encrypted for each user. This can cause quite a bit of additional load on your server and result in additional hosting costs.

However, Google has spoken and publishers would be wise to listen. For Google to remain popular, the user must have a good experience using the Google Chrome browser and Google search engine. Google has decided that the user will best be served by viewing pages only over HTTPS. It’s my belief that 10 years from now, Google won’t return HTTP results at all and Chrome will turn red with alerts any time you are viewing an HTTP page.

Because of Google’s initiative, blogs are now recommended to use HTTPS only as well. In this post I’ll be explaining how to set your WordPress site up for HTTPS only.

How

Now that you know why you should move your WordPress site to HTTPS only, in this section, I’m going to tell you how to do it.

Get an SSL Certificate

If you don’t already have one, first you are going to need and SSL certificate. SSL certificates are used to encrypt the data that is transmitted between your WordPress site and the user’s browser. If you are already feeling like you may be in over your head, you may want to just contact your hosting company. They can provide you with an SSL certificate and install it for you. However, if you think you can do it on your own, you can save some money.

I recommend ssls.com for inexpensive certificates that work just as good as the pricey ones. Go to www.ssls.com. For the average WordPress blog, their Comodo Positive SSL for $8.95 for 1 year is a great deal. SSLs.com provides instructions for how to create a private cert and CSR (Certificate Signing Request). Once you checkout, they will provide you with your SSL/TLS cert.

Install the SSL Certificate

How you install the SSL certificate is going to vary based on your host. Check your host’s help for details. You can also contact your host for help, once you have your own cert, most hosts will help you install it for free.

Configure WordPress for SSL Only

Once your SSL cert is correctly installed you should be able to view your site over http or https.

Now we want to configure WordPress and Apache so that they know that your site is only on https and to redirect all http requests to https.

Update Your WordPress Settings

  • Log in to your WordPress admin.
  • Go to Settings and then General.
  • Update the “WordPress Address (URL)” and “Site Address (URL)” fields to use https (ex: “https://www.example.com”).
  • Save the Changes.

Update your internal links (Optional, but recommended)

Most likely, you have links throughout your site that link to other parts of your site. And likely, these links all say “http://”. In the next step, we are going to redirect all http bound traffic to https. So while these links will continue to work, for SEO reasons, it’s a good idea to update all of your internal links to https so they point to the real page and not to a redirect.

The easiest way to do this is using a tool called wp-cli. In order to use wp-cli, you will need to have command line (SSH) access to your hosting account. Once you have wp-cli installed, issue the following command (update example.com to your own domain).

wp search-replace http://www.example.com https://www.example.com

If you don’t have SSH access (or don’t feel comfortable using it), you can do the search and replace using the WordPress Search and Replace Plugin.

Redirect all HTTP Traffic to HTTPS

We can update our internal links to use https instead of http but we don’t have any control over backlinks from other sites, google, etc. The last thing that we want to do is to break all of those links. What we should do instead is 301 (moved permanently) redirect the http request to https.

You can redirect all http traffic to https by adding the following to the top of your .htaccess file:


RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
RewriteRule (.*) https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [R=301,L]

Conclusion

You now know both why you should move your WordPress site to HTTPS only and how to do it. Have something to add or need help? Post to the comments section below.

Also note that AdPlugg can serve ads over HTTPS in both our Free and Pro versions.

Why We Love Advertising (And Why You Should, Too!)

love_advertising
One of the big stories as of late is the rise of fake news. Facebook, Google and other tech giants are working hard in an attempt to combat the onslaught of news that is misleading, disputed or just downright inaccurate. An interesting byproduct of the fake news phenomenon has been an increased interest in real, factual, journalism.

The fake news epidemic was at a fever pitch during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. The New York Times reported that at least in one case, the news was being created and spread purely for profit. Opportunistic individuals had discovered that fake news that confirmed ones own political beliefs were extremely likely to generate traffic through social media. The fake news site could then prey on unsuspecting ad networks (such as Google AdWords/AdSense) to turn the traffic into profit.

Now Facebook and other social media sites are working to stop the spread of fake news. Just last week, Facebook announced that it will be fact checking news stories and shame posts with a ‘Disputed’ tag.

Conscientious readers have now become fully aware of the issue and have learned that much of the “news” being shown in their various social feeds may be of a dubious nature and from dubious sources.

The backlash from this is likely to be two fold. On one hand, the ability for new news sites to gain traction and grow may be hindered by an increase in reader scrutiny. On the other hand, it sets a high bar that news organizations must achieve to be viewed as reputable on the web.

Advertising plays a vital role in this and its role will increase over time. While many of the promotors of fake news profited at the expense of unknowing advertisers and ad networks, the problem is now known and being actively addressed. Solutions are being devised to keep advertising dollars from making it into the hands of fake news publishers. Advertisers don’t want their ads shown next to fake news stories and readers don’t want to read fake news. Social media and the ad-tech industry can make this happen.

As part of the fake news fallout, we expect to also see an increase in direct-buy advertising (the kind that we at AdPlugg specialize in). With network, blind and remnant ad buys going to unknown sites of unknown or questionable reputations, more advertisers are going to want to place ads directly with reputable sites.

It has been reported that traditional media outlets such as Vanity Fair, the New York Times, and others have all seen increases in subscriptions and traffic since the onslaught of fake news. We expect to soon here reports of increased ad revenue as well.

For publishers, the only path forward now becomes one toward legitimate factual reporting that gains the respect of both readers and advertisers.

Bot Filtering: AdPlugg Takes on Bot Traffic

bot_filtering
What do the Terminator, the Star Wars films, the Matrix, and AdPlugg have in common? They all feature epic battles against robots :-).

AdPlugg’s battle is against bot traffic penetrating statistical data. This bot traffic can skew results, show false impressions and even worse, false clicks. This is a major concern and one that we at AdPlugg take very seriously.

So what is a “bot”? Bots are automated programs that browse the web. They might be browsing for all sorts of different reasons but the most common is for creating search indices. Bots that crawl the web are known as crawl bots or “spiders”. Of the crawl bots, the most well known is Google’s Googlebot. Crawl bots read a page and then follow all of the links on the page. The bot then does this again on the next set of pages, creating a spiderweb of linked pages that make up the known web.

This can be problematic for online advertising as online ads aren’t the same as other links. Online ads are designed to be viewed and followed by humans only. This is for two reasons. The most important being that advertisers buy ad space to get impressions and clicks from humans, not bots. Also important is that paying another site to link to yours is a “black hat” practice that can get you penalized or even banned from search engine results.

To combat the issue, ad links are required to include a ‘rel=”nofollow”‘ attribute. This attribute tells bots, “hey this is an ad, don’t follow it.”. Bots that follow the REP (Robots Exclusion Protocol), won’t follow the link. This attribute is included automatically on all ad links that AdPlugg serves.

However, ‘rel=”nofollow”‘ doesn’t stop all bots. Even amongst the largest search engines, there is inconsistent support for the standard. Wikipedia’s Nofollow article reports that while Google and Ask.com fully respect the attribute, Yahoo and Bing both follow the link anyway (but exclude the link from their search rankings).

Other offenders are much less well intentioned. Email harvesters, spambots, malware and bots that scan for security vulnerabilities are unlikely to respect the nofollow attribute.

This leaves it up to the ad servers and ad trackers to identify and filter bot traffic. It’s tricky however, because the links can’t appear broken. If a bot, such as Bingbot, tries to follow the link (even though nofollow is set), the link should work. Otherwise, it’s possible that Bingbot will demote the page (from the Bing search engine rankings) for having broken links.

AdPlugg handles bot traffic by allowing it to pass through but filtering it out of the statistics. This keeps all links working but stops bot traffic from being included in the ad’s impressions and click statistics.

The trick is identifying the bots. AdPlugg now scans for and filters out over 400 known bots. We have systems in place to update our bot list as we become aware of new bots. Similar to the plight of CAPTCHA technology, identifying bot traffic for the purpose of ad stats is a difficult battle. Bots that don’t want to be identified are remarkably good at it.

AdPlugg’s battle against the bots is an ongoing effort and our systems are continually being worked on and improved. We often get asked, “what differences make AdPlugg better than other options such as stand-alone plugins?” Well, bot filtering is a big one.