WPAds alternative and how to migrate to Advanced Ads

WPAds was one of the first free plugins for managing ads on WordPress sites. Many web admins are still using this tiny tool. Even though we took over its support and fixed major bugs, the plugin features are outdated and will not receive updates any longer.

You should switch to our continuously maintained Advanced Ads plugin to ensure your website’s functionality and security.

Advanced Ads follows a similar concept like WPAds but provides more options for ad optimization. This tutorial will teach you how to migrate your existing WPAds-setup to the recommended alternative easily.

Similarities between WPads and Advanced Ads

The migration from WPAds to Advanced Ads is relatively comfortable and quickly done. You will recognize the zones and banners from WPads as placements and ads in Advanced Ads. The plugin introduces a third structural element as well: the ad groups.

The following screenshot shows a typical WPAds setup with three different zones (content, header, sidebar) and three rotating ads on each zone.

WPads zones and banners

Typical WPads setup with zones and banners injected with PHP functions or shortcodes

Migrating banners from WPads to Advanced Ads

Duplicating the banners from WPAds is easy. Open one of them, copy the code, and paste it into a new ad unit of Advanced Ads. Use the Plain text and code ad type, and click on Publish. Now, open the Placement menu of Advanced Ads, and select this newly created unit for the spots where it should appear.

Ad groups and rotations

To show more than one ad on the same placement:

  1. Create an ad group and add the ads that you want to display there.
  2. Open the Placement menu and select the group instead of a single ad.
  3. Use the ad weights that you can find in the group menu to implement weighted rotations.

They work similarly to the “weights” of WPAds.

Retaining the WPAds banners

Suppose you prefer to switch from WPAds to Advanced Ads making smaller steps, e.g., because your adverts are changing anyway and you don’t want to spend extra work exporting soonly deprecated ads. In that case, you can run both plugins simultaneously and use Advanced Ads to deliver ads from WPAds automatically.

To inject the existing WPAds banners, create a new ad and select the plain text and code ad type. Paste the PHP function of a WPads zone into the ad code field and allow PHP by activating the appropriate option below the code field. After publishing the ad, you can select the placement where you want it to appear.

WPads Alternative

Use the PHP function of WPads to show your existing banners

Switching from zones to placements

WPAds zones are injected with PHP functions or shortcodes in different positions on the website. You can clone them in Advanced Ads by creating new placements for each zone.

Manual Placements

The original header zone of the WPAds example is probably injected via PHP. Replacing it with a Manual placement of Advanced Ads takes little time. This placement is called “Manual Placement Header” in the following case.

Advanced Ads is a recommended alternative to WPads

Create a manual placement in Advanced Ads and replace the PHP function of WPads

Click on Show usage to see the PHP function or the shortcode of this placement. If you are currently injecting the WPAds header zone with PHP, you only need to search for the old WPAds PHP code in your theme files:

<?php wpads( 'header' ); ?>

Replace it with the PHP function of Advanced Ads:

if( function_exists('the_ad_placement') ) { the_ad_placement('manual-placement-header'); }

Open the Placement menu and select the ad that you want to show on this position. That’s all.

Sidebar Widgets

Choose the Sidebar Widgets placement in Advanced Ads to migrate sidebar ad zones. You can select this placement (or any ad or group) in the Advanced Ads widget, which you can find in your available widgets list.

Automatic Content Injections

The content zones of WPAds are usually injected directly into the theme, e.g., with a PHP function at the bottom of each post. Or they are manually placed with shortcodes.

If they are injected with a PHP function, create a new manual placement for it and replace the PHP code in the theme files. There are two options to manage zones which are displayed via shortcodes. You only need to create a Manual placement for them to keep their custom position but migrate these spots to Advanced Ads.

Search for the WPads shortcodes.

And replace them with the Advanced Ads shortcode for this placement:

To benefit from all optimization features of Advanced Ads, like split tests, delete the content ads zones and create content placements instead. They provide even more options to inject ads into posts and pages.

Replace Shortcodes automatically

If you have already published a lot of content with shortcodes, the manual replacement of these shortcodes will be time-consuming. There are some tools to automate this task, but you should use them carefully. Always remember to back up your database before you make any automatic changes!

Favorite plugins to automatically replace shortcodes:

What else do you need to know about the WPads alternative?

WPads provides an impression counter for all created banners. It is possible to define a limit of served impressions for each ad unit with the plugin.

Advanced Ads has a similar feature in the Tracking add-on but provides more additional options. For instance, you can spread a fixed amount of impressions over a specific period with it or limit clicks.


Joachim started marketing his first local news website in 2009. Shortly after, he successfully monetized his travel blogs about Morocco. He is an expert in affiliate marketing in the tourism and travel industry. When he's not writing tutorials for Advanced Ads or supporting other users, he prefers staying in Marrakech or at the Baltic Sea.

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