In the advertising world, the term Roadblock refers to combining ads on different positions to show at the same time. This setup gives the advertiser’s message more weight and increases the value of the campaign to him, the publisher and visitors. This tutorial describes how you can build a roadblock ad campaign with Advanced Ads.

What to use roadblock ads for?

Imagine that every ad placement on your site chooses a random ad from a group. Now, a potential client wants to purchase ads on all placements and make sure that those are displayed at the same time. A roadblock setup makes sure that this is possible. Here are two more use cases from our users that come to mind:

  • the client also purchased an advertorial and wants to make sure that only his ads go with it
  • the client wants to deliver a left and right sticky ad together with a matching background ad

You can replicate the steps in this tutorial with very little technical knowledge. They could be used for far more complex solutions if you understand the basic principles applied here. We might be able to provide you with a quote for an individual setup job in case you need help. Just reach out.

Setup

To use a roadblock ad setup, you need at least:

  • WordPress
  • Advanced Ads and Advanced Ads Pro installed
  • Cache-busting enabled for the placements involved
  • two groups with at least two ads in each (for testing)

How the roadblock works

A roadblock consists of three elements:

  • choosing the campaign (see two methods below)
  • deliver the ads belonging to the campaign
  • remove the campaign at the end of the page (if you run ads not belonging to any campaign)

Choosing the campaign

Let’s call ads which are only displayed together to be a campaign.

The first step in our roadblock setup would be to choose the campaign. There are two ways to do that.

  1. implement a central code in the page header
  2. implement the code with the first ad belonging to the campaign

Both methods have their advantages.

Choose a roadblock campaign using a header code

By header code, I am referring to some code we are adding to the head part of your website. It should be executed before any ads are displayed.

The code looks like this:

The code sets a cookie with a random setup ID. The example above chooses either 1 or 2 as the value of the cookie, so it works if you have two campaigns.

You can set the number of available campaigns by adjusting the value of the advads_max_campaigns variable.

Setups are chosen randomly with equal weight.

To use this header code method, you have to

  • create a new Advanced Ads ad with the plain text & code type
  • copy the code from above into the code field
  • adjust the advads_max_campaigns variable in the code
  • save the ad
  • go to Advanced Ads > Settings > General and activate the Use advanced JavaScript option. This will allow using the  advads.set_cookie function
  • go to Advanced Ads > Placements and create a new </head> placement
  • assign the ad to that new placement (and set cache-busting to off, if used)
  • save the placements

The header code is now added to the <head> section of your site.

Choose a campaign with the first ad

As an alternative to the header code method, you can also choose the campaign based on the first ad displayed.

This method makes it a bit easier to control how often each campaign is displayed or also showing ads that do not belong to a campaign.

This setup is also a bit easier to update since you don’t need to remember which campaigns you already have or which index each campaign has.

Since this method is based on a specific ad, you need to make sure that this ad is loaded first on your site. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the ad that is first visible.

You basically set the campaign cookie with the ad using the Custom Code option in the Layout / Output meta box of the ad settings.

Since we know which campaign this ad belongs to, we can give the campaign cookie a specific and understandable value, like “campaign1” in the example above.

If you rotate multiple ads at this position, each can set a different campaign with each ad in the rotation or the same campaign cookie for multiple ads. Using an ad group, you can also choose the weight of each campaign here.

You could also assign Display and Visitor conditions to that ad to show some campaigns only on specific pages or to specific visitors.

Displaying additional campaign ads

Once we have the campaign set with either of the methods described above, we can set up the rest of the ads belonging to it.

First, make sure you have the Advanced Visitor Conditions module enabled in Advanced Ads > Settings > Pro.

Advanced Visitor Conditions option

You can now choose the Cookie condition in the Visitor Conditions section of the ad settings.

Enter the name of the cookie like you set it in the method above and the name or index of the campaign.Roadblock Cookie Example

Whenever this ad should be displayed, it first checks if the cookie has the correct value. The ad won’t show up if the cookie doesn’t exist or its value is different.

You can use multiple Cookie conditions if an ad belongs to various campaigns. Connect those conditions with OR then.

If you want to put ads that don’t belong to a campaign into the rotation then just skip the cookie setting and use the ordered ad group with those ads checked after the ones with the Cookie condition.

You also need to enable cache-busting. First, enable the Cache-busting module in Advanced Ads > Settings > Pro. Then, make sure that all the ads using the Cookie condition are delivered through a placement that has the cache-busting option set to auto or AJAX.

Delivering ads which don’t belong to a campaign

If you are using the first ad to select a campaign and want to show ads that don‘t belong to any campaign, you need to make sure that the appropriate cookie is cleared before a page request is made. Otherwise, the cookie from the previous page impression is still set and only the campaign ads belonging to it will show up.

To remove the cookie, just create a header ad code with the following content and assign that ad to a <head> placement.

What else you need to know

The principles used in this tutorial could enable complex ad setups. Reach out to us and ask for a quote if you need help with your specific configuration.