Including Google Adsense ads within WordPress used to require actually editing WordPress theme files with the appropriate code to insert the ads where you wanted them. Luckily this didn’t last long and quickly many plugins were released to make implementing Google Adsense ads within themes easier. In January this year Google took note and released a WordPress plugin to make implementing Adsense ads within your blog even easier. The Google Publisher Plugin, although still in beta, is a welcome plugin to the WordPress community. I recently decided to give the plugin a test and implemented it on this blog. I have to say aside from a few little issues I have with it, for the most part I really like the plugin. As an added plus the plugin also integrates Google Webmaster Tools into your blog, although I had already done this through the Yoast SEO plugin I had previously installed. It is nice to see that Google is moving in a direction that will make integrating your WordPress blog directly into the many tools Google makes available to webmasters.
As I said above the plugin has its advantages. It easily allows you to integrate Adsense ads into your blog through a point and click interface. After you install the plugin and link it to your Google Adsense account you can then easily manage what pages and what locations your ads appear on. The plugin will analyze your site and find locations on the pages where you can insert ads. You then click on a location, select the ad specifics such as automatic (Google determines the format), vertical, or horizontal. Then you select whether you want text/image ads or just one of them. That’s all there is too it.
Sounds simple and easy enough. But there a couple problems. First, if you have existing ads defined in your Adsense account you cannot specifically select those ads to appear on your blog. When you insert an ad on a page through the plugin, the plugin will create a new ad unit in your account. The name will be randomly generated and if you want to use targeting within Adsense you will have to manually figure out which ads are which, rename them, and add them to channels as you like.
The next problem is that the ads are responsive. While this is great for ensuring your site displays properly across devices, it does limit what ad units will appear and also can impact your revenues.
Finally, while the plugin does a good job at identifying locations to insert ads, you can not change or move those locations so you are limited to the ones the plugin selects for you.
Just to note, you can go back in to your Adsense account and make some changes to the ads that are inserted. You can change the name, color scheme, and add the ads to channels to enable targeting for each location. All in all I have been impressed with the plugin and since it is still only in beta I think Google is on the right track. Hopefully future versions will make up for some of the current shortcomings with the current plugin.