Cranky Ads is a new ad management WordPress plugin from popular blogger Yaro Starak. In some respects it could be described as a combination of an advertisement plugin and an ad marketplace as the plugin allows you to sell ads directly via your website and set the price of any ads you sell plus all of your ads are added to the Cranky Ads marketplace.
Using the plugin is very straight forward. After signing up for a CrankyAds account you can create a zone for your ads. You can sell text, image or video ads. You can choose from 18 preset banner sizes for your banner ads such as 160×600, 468×60 and 88×31. Alternatively, you can define the exact dimensions of your banner ads. This is useful if the preset banner sizes don’t fit into your design well.
Ads can be sold in 18 currencies i.e. any currency that PayPal accepts. Ads can be sold in a variety of time periods such as per day, week, two weeks, month, two months, year, two years etc.
In the advanced section you can ‘alternative prices’ to advertisers. This allows you to give a discount to advertisers who want to purchase ads for longer periods. This section is also where you define the number of ads per zone e.g. it may be 1 ad for a 728×90 ad zone but 8 for a 125×125 ad zone.
Once you have setup your zone you will see it listed in the active zones section. From here you have two options of where your ad zone is placed: you can either add it to your site via a widget or hard code it into your template manually using PHP.
The ad zone initially displays an ‘Advertise Here’ box because no ads have been sold as yet. There is unfortunately no way to switch this ‘Advertiser Here’ banner off however you can upload your own banners via your CrankyAds account to replace this ad. The plugin will only display one of the ‘Advertise Here’ banners at a time (i.e. an ad zone with 8 banner spaces won’t show 8 default advertise here banners).
When a user clicks on the default banner they are taking to the advertisement page. Disappointedly, the plugin automatically generates an advertisement page on your website to place the advertisement information. The only thing that the newly created page has is the shortcode [CrankyAdsAdvertiseHere]. The vast majority of people who will be using this plugin will already have an advertising page live on their site so will have to delete the new advertising page and then add the shortcode [CrankyAdsAdvertiseHere] to their existing advertising page.
You’ll be glad to know that you can define your own advertisement page in the ‘Edit Plugin Options’ page. You just need to enter the page ID of your advertisement page (make sure you do this before creating any zones).
I love the way the ad zone order box is displayed though I’m not too keen on the default yellow box surrounding the main area. There’s no way to customise this directly in the settings area but in the ‘Edit Plugin Options’ page there is an option to disable the default styling so that you can style it yourself via your stylesheet. Underneath the form there’s a CrankyAds logo and the link ‘Powered by CrankyAds. Add an advertising page to your blog now. Click here.’ In my opinion it’s a bit overkill and gives a slightly unprofessional feel to the advertising area.
When an advertiser clicks on the order button, they are not taken directly to PayPal. Instead, they have to sign up to CrankyAds first. The whole point of selling advertisements directly via your own site is to cut out the middle man however asking your advertisers to sign up to a third party service before they can order for you is one more hurdle for them to jump.
CrankyAds only allows advertisers to upload a banner and set the URL of their site too. There is no option to define the alt tags (this problem exists for uploading your own default ads too).
Your CrankyAds account will show you all of the orders that you have received. All of your websites can be managed from this area.
How does CrankyAds make money? Well, in their help section they note that:
We make money when we bring additional revenue to the Publisher, through the Marketplace. The Marketplace is CrankyAds store listing of Publisher’s campaign opportunities. If an Advertiser purchases a campaign through the Marketplace, CrankyAds takes a part of the fees.
The marketplace is something that I unfortunately can’t comment on as it is offline.
I’ve a huge fan of Yaro Starak and what he has done in the past though I feel that he still has a lot to do with Cranky Ads. At the moment it is still rough around the edges. It doesn’t have the features of free ad plugins such as AdRotate or WP125. It’s certainly miles behind premium ad solutions such as WP Ad Center and OIO Publisher.
Lots of little bugs need to be addressed. For example, at the moment you can’t even delete your website from your account. Zones can be deleted via your own website though you can’t delete the corresponding website from your CrankyAds account. The setup is a little strange to me as well. I would rather everything was either handled on my own website or handled in my CrankyAds account but you need to do some things on your own website and other things on CrankyAds. For example, on your own website you can edit ad zones and change important factors such as how many ads are displayed etc however if you want to replace the default ‘Advertise Here’ banner with your own affiliate banners you need to login to the main CrankyAds website and upload banners there.
I suspect that some of the features of CrankyAds that I have criticised are not actually bugs. The whole service seems to have been geared towards beginners and I’m sure many users will appreciate the simplicity of the service however if you are looking for a simple way to sell your ads, I honestly think BuySellAds is a better solution as it’s easier to use and has access to many more advertisers. It is difficult for me to make a fair comparison to BuySellAds as the CrankyAds marketplace is offline and their help page doesn’t state how much of a fee they take (BuySellAds takes a 25% cut).
I would perhaps have a completely different opinion of CrankyAds if the marketplace was online as it seems to be the main reason for using the service. Unfortunately, it isn’t, so at the moment I can’t recommend the service over the other alternatives that are available. As I mentioned previously, I’m a big fan of Yaro Starak. He’s a fantastic writer and has launched some great membership programs over the last few years so I have no doubt that the service and the plugin will see some major improvements in 2012. CrankyAds is by no means a bad solution and I’m sure some of you may find it useful though until some things have been addressed, I would encourage you to use an alternative solution for selling your ads.
At the moment the plugin is not available at the WordPress directory and is only available at the CrankyAds website. I’m sure that when (if) it’s added to the WordPress directory we will see more people using the plugin. More information can be found at the CrankyAds website itself.
Link: Cranky Ads
* Kudos to Josh Kohlbach for bringing this plugin to my attention :)