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.

New Help Videos

adplugg_help_videos

We’ve just added a new section to the AdPlugg support site for help videos.

The new section includes a number of screencast style video tutorials that teach you how to use AdPlugg. The videos section is broken up by “series”. Right now there is just one series, called “WordPress Ad Plugin Videos”, but we intend to have additional series available soon.

The WordPress Ad Plugin Videos series has two videos in it at this point. Both videos are designed to get you up and running quickly with the AdPlugg WordPress Ad Plugin. Here’s a quick synopsis:

WordPress Ad Plugin Quick Start Video

Duration: 3:38

In the WordPress Ad Plugin Quick Start Video video we take you from the point of having installed and activated the WordPress Ad Plugin all the way through to the point of seeing an ad on your site. This video is great for anyone looking to use the AdPlugg WordPress Ad plugin.

WordPress Ad Plugin Really Quick Start Video

Duration: 0:55

The WordPress Ad Plugin Really Quick Start Video covers the same material as the regular quick start video but does it in 55 seconds. We’ve cut out a lot of the typing and transitions and just show the steps. This video is excellent for those who are very comfortable navigating and using web based services.

AdPlugg On YouTube

In case you missed it, we also recently launched an AdPlugg YouTube Channel. Check it out for more videos about AdPlugg.

More Videos

We plan to regularly add more videos to both the AdPlugg Help Video site and the AdPlugg YouTube channel, so as they say, stay tuned for more…

Got an idea for a video or have suggestions for how we could make these videos better? Post your ideas and suggestions into the comments section below.

Facebook Instant Article Ads

Facebook Instant Article AdsAdPlugg just launched support for Facebook Instant Article Ads. In last week’s post, Facebook Instant Articles: 5 Things You Need to Know, we talked about what Facebook Instant Articles is and what it means for publishers. We also mentioned that AdPlugg was going to be supporting it and allowing you to serve your AdPlugg ads into your Facebook Instant Articles.

Well, we just launched the feature and are excited to tell you all about it. Here’s how it works (note: these instructions are for WordPress sites, see below for info regarding other platforms/sites):

1. Install the Facebook Instant Articles for WP plugin

First you’ll want to install the Facebook Instant Articles for WP plugin. This is the official Facebook Instant Articles plugin from Automattic, the makers of WordPress. This plugin is great but is pretty barebones: it doesn’t (at this point) have any settings available via the WordPress admin. But what it does, and it does very well, is create a Facebook Instant Articles Feed. Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, you should be able to go to http://www.yoursite.com/feed/instant-articles and see a feed ready for Facebook to ingest.

Get Version 1.3 of the AdPlugg WordPress Ad Plugin

In Version 1.3 of the AdPlugg WordPress Ad Plugin we’ve added the ability to insert ad tags into your Facebook Instant Articles feed.

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 feed. 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 Facebook Instant Article ads. You could call them something like “fb-zone-1” and “fb-zone-2”. Once you’ve created your zones, target your ads to them directly or via an AdPlugg Placement.

Add the Ads to Your Facebook Instant Articles Feed

The AdPlugg WordPress plugin makes it easy to add ads to your Facebook Instant Articles feed 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 Facebook to go to the new AdPlugg Facebook settings page.
  3. Check the “Automatic Placement” checkbox. This will enable the feature and create a new Widget Area called “Facebook Instant Articles Ads”.
  4. Go to Appearance and then Widgets. You should now be able to see the Facebook Instant Articles 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.

Select AdPlugg as Your Instant Article Ads Provider

  1. In the WordPress administrator, click Instant Articles in the left menu.
  2. Scroll down to the Ads section.
  3. Under Ad Type, choose AdPlugg.
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and press the “Save changes” button.

Check the Output

Check your feed at /feeds/instant-articles – 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 Facebook Instant Articles Zones to only show one ad at a time (you can do this via the Max Ad Count field in the Zone settings).

Join the Facebook Instant Articles Program

Log into your Facebook account and go to your Facebook Page. Starting April 12th, 2016, there will be a link there to the Facebook Instant Articles program signup page.

Non-WordPress Sites

If you aren’t using WordPress, you can still serve AdPlugg ads into your Facebook Instant Articles feed. To do so, edit the code that generates your feed and add the following tags to the <header> section.

Example

<header>
    ...
    <section class="op-ad-template">
        <figure class="op-ad">
            <iframe 
                  src="https://www.adplugg.com/serve/<your access code>/html/1.1/index.html?zn=fb_zone_1" height="250" width="300"></iframe>
        </figure>
        <figure class="op-ad op-ad-default">
            <iframe src="https://www.adplugg.com/serve/<your access code>/html/1.1/index.html?zn=fb_zone_2" height="50" width="320"></iframe>
        </figure>
    </section>
</header>

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

Conclusion

AdPlugg makes it easy to serve, manage and track your Facebook Instant Article ads. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions; add them to the comments section below!

Facebook Instant Articles: 5 Things You Need to Know

Facebook Instant Articles Infographic
Facebook Instant Articles is a new feature for web publishers from Facebook. Here’s a run down of the 5 things that you need to know.

1. Shows Articles Within the Facebook Mobile App

Traditionally, when a user clicked an article that you posted to your Facebook page, they would go to your website to view the article. With Facebook Instant Articles, when a user clicks on one of your articles from within the Facebook Mobile App, they are shown the article within the Facebook Mobile App.

Key Points

  • Works on iPhone and Android devices.
  • Is seemless for users
  • Is up to 10 times faster than content served through a mobile browser (Facebook accomplishes this by buffering the content before the user clicks it and by not having to render your site, just the article content).
  • The Facebook App shows a small lightning bolt icon in the top right of the article’s featured image if the article is available via Instant Articles.
  • Desktop and browser (non app) users will continue to be directed to your website.

2. Requires your Site to Have a Custom Feed

Rather than submitting your articles to Facebook, with Facebook Instant Articles, Facebook will regularly pull your feed and automatically add new articles to your Facebook page.

Key Points

  • Facebook pulls from your feed, you no longer need to push your articles to Facebook
  • The Instant Articles Feed format is based on RSS but requires certain non-standard elements (a standard RSS feed won’t work).

3. There’s a WordPress Plugin For It!

A couple of weeks ago (March 7th, 2016), Automattic, the makers of WordPress launched a new Plugin called Facebook Instant Articles for WP. This plugin adds a special feed at /feed/instant-articles. You can submit this feed “endpoint” to Facebook when you enroll in Facebook’s Instant Articles program.

Key Points

  • You will need to install a special plugin (such as Facebook Instant Articles for WP) to add Facebook Instant Article support to your WordPress site.
  • Other CMS systems will likely have their own Facebook Instant Articles plugins. If you have any info about these, please post it to the comment section below.

4. Allows You to Serve Your Own Ads

Facebook wants to make Instant Articles a win for Facebook, its mobile app users and for the publishers generating the content. For this reason, they allow you to include your own ads within your feed.

Key Points

  • You can serve your own ads within the articles that you submit to Facebook Instant Articles.
  • Ads need to be submitted through your Instant Articles feed in a special format.
  • You can distribute your ad “tags” manually throughout your feed content or place your ad tags in the header to have Facebook place them throughout the article automatically.
  • AdPlugg is currently adding support for Facebook Instant Article feeds and intends to fully support them by the time Facebook launches the feature (see below for the release date).
  • If you don’t have your own ads, you can optionally choose to serve Facebook Audience Network ads within your articles.
  • There are some restrictions regarding the type of ad and the “ad density” (number of ads that you can display). See the official documentation for more info.
  • Some of the publishers already using Facebook Instant Articles have complained about ad revenue issues. Facebook is working to address those concerns.

5. Becomes available to all publishers on Apr 12th, 2016

Facebook Instant Articles is already in use by major publishers such as BuzzFeed and the Washington Post. On April 12th, 2016 Facebook Instant Articles becomes available to all publishers.

Key Points

  • Was launched for select major publishers on May 12th, 2015
  • Launch for all publishers is scheduled for April 12th, 2016

How To Try Facebook Instant Articles

Facebook Instant Articles Screenshot
To try out Facebook Instant Articles, do the following:

  • Open the Facebook app on your Android or iOS device.
  • Use the built in search to find and pull the official page for BuzzFeed or the Washington Post.
  • Click on any of the articles that have a lightning bolt in the top right corner of the article’s featured image.
  • Enjoy the lightning fast load time :).

Conclusion

Facebook Instant Articles is an exciting new feature that provides an enhanced experience for the user while allowing publishers to gain exposure and grow ad revenues.

AdPlugg is adding support for Facebook Instant Articles as we speak and we are tying the functionality into our WordPress Ad Plugin.

If you have any questions or comments about Facebook Instant Articles, AdPlugg’s support for them, or anything else; please post them to to the comments section below!


Infographic template design by Freepik.

WordPress AdSense: The Ultimate How-To

wordpress_adsense

Making sense of AdSense on WordPress

In this blog post we are going to talk about how to use AdSense with WordPress. We’ll go though what options are available, best practices and more.

Ad What? Word Who?

WordPress is the largest CMS (Content Management System)/blogging platform in the world and is used by more than 60 million websites. AdSense is Google’s advertising system for publishers allowing publishers to place google ads on their sites. It’s estimated that over 1.5 million sites use Google AdSense.

Getting Started with WordPress

WordPress is totally free and setting up a WordPress site is incredibly simple at this point. The easiest way to do it is to get a free hosting account from a host such as GoDaddy or BlueHost. Once you have your hosting account, both of these hosts have automated systems for installing WordPress into your account.

Getting Started with AdSense

Getting set up with AdSense is a bit more complicated. The first step is to sign up for an AdSense account. The steps are pretty straight forward so I’ll just give you an overview here (For more info, see the AdSense Help). This is what you do:

  • Go to the AdSense Signup page.
  • Sign in (using your existing Google Account) or create a new account. Tip: if you have an account with your domain in it (ex: bob@yourblog.com) using it can speed up the approval process.
  • You will then need to fill out info about your self, site, business etc.
  • Lastly you will need to agree to the AdSense Terms of Service.

Once you have finished the signup process, you will be given access to your new AdSense account. You may not however be approved yet. The AdSense approval process can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of months depending on your site, geographic location and application info. Again, using a domain specific email address can speed up the process.

Once you’ve completed the signup process you can start placing ads on your site. They won’t however start to show until you’re account has been approved and activated.

WordPress AdSense Integration

WordPress AdSense integration can be done in a number of different ways. Basically the goal is to place the ad tags that you receive from AdSense on the front end of your WordPress site. Once your account is approved, AdSense will automatically inject ads into the tags. These are the most common ways to add AdSense tags into your WordPress site:

  • Serve them with AdPlugg or other AdSense compatible WordPress plugins
  • Add the tags into a Text Widget
  • Add the tags into your WordPress theme

Note: we plan to go into these options in more detail in a follow-on post.

Once the ad tags are serving to your site (they will be invisible at first), Google will review your site and hopefully approve it. Once approved, you will start to see ads on your site.

If you have any questions or have something to add, please use the comment section below.

New WordPress Ad Plugin Available Now

We are excited to release our new WordPress Ad Plugin which offers all of the same features of our ad management system in an easy to use WordPress plugin.  This new plugin allows all sites that run on WordPress to easily add AdPlugg to their site by installing the plugin and setting it in a widget area.  Link your WordPress site to AdPlugg  using your AdPlugg Access Code and have ads instantly running on your site.

Download The WordPress Ad Plugin!

WordPress is the most popular blogging system in the world, it’s run by more than 60 million websites! As of August 2013, WordPress was being used by more than 18.9% of the top 10 million websites (source: Wikipedia).  By releasing an easy to install WordPress plugin, we hope to better serve sites using WordPress and allow you the easiest way possible to place and manage ads on your site.

Installation of the AdPlugg WordPress plugin takes just a matter of minutes and can be done entirely from the WordPress Administrator interface, all without ever touching the WordPress site’s underlying code.  Once installed, the plugin (and all ads on the site), can be fully controlled, managed, and tracked from your adplugg.com account.

From your AdPlugg account, you have complete control over the ads on your site.  This includes the ability to add, update, delete and schedule ads. In addition, AdPlugg features sophisticated tracking and reporting capabilities allowing you to track and graphically view the effectiveness of your ads.  This data can then be shared with advertisers to increase your advertiser retention.

Our basic AdPlugg blog advertising service and new WordPress Plugin are completely free for low traffic sites.  Additional pay options and features are available for more demanding, high volume customers.   You can upgrade as your site traffic grows.  If you are unfamiliar with how AdPlugg ad manager works, then learn more now.

If your site doesn’t use WordPress, don’t worry,  we also have an easy to install Ad Snippet solution that works on any site regardless of platform, operating system, programming language etc.

Please try out the new WordPress Ad Plugin and let us know what you think!