Automattic’s WordAds Network is Now Open to Self-Hosted WordPress Sites

AdControl

Automattic announced today that its WordAds advertising network is now available to self-hosted WordPress sites via Jetpack and the new AdControl plugin. WordAds, which bears a name confusingly similar to Google’s AdWords, delivers all the advertising seen on WordPress.com’s free sites. (Ad display on VIP or upgraded sites is opt-in.)

Self-hosted WordPress site owners who want to earn money with WordAds must first apply to join the network and are required to meet a minimum traffic requirement. Automattic doesn’t publish the exact minimum necessary for eligibility but the WordAds FAQ page says “a site generally needs thousands of page views each month.” The site will also need to have both Jetpack and the AdControl plugin installed.

“We’ve been working on the plugin off and on (mostly off) since mid 2014,” said Derek Springer, a Code Wrangler at Automattic who helped write the AdControl plugin. “We took a big pause to completely re-work the back end (WordAds 2.0) which is what we are now using all over WordPress.com.”

WordAds 2.0, unveiled in November 2015, integrated WordAds into WordPress.com’s main Settings interface with earnings reports and payout information. It also introduced a real time bidding environment where ad agencies and buyers can bid on global ad impressions.

In 2013, Automattic paid out around $1 million to WordAds publishers whose sites delivered 1 billion ad impressions per month. Published numbers are not yet available for 2015, but WordAds 2.0 has increased interest in the program, according to the announcement today. With the release of AdControl for self-hosted sites, the number of publishers available on the network has the potential to increase significantly.

Why Does AdControl Require Jetpack?

For years, the WordPress community has been waiting to see how Automattic will monetize Jetpack. In addition to giving self-hosted users access to many of WordPress.com’s features, Jetpack now serves as a gateway to Automattic’s advertising network for more than 1 million active installs.

I asked Springer why AdControl requires Jetpack and he cited the following reasons:

  • We need the site’s unique ID (assigned to each Jetpack site) to track ad impressions in the back-end.
  • We piggyback on Jetpack’s REST API connection to access some authenticated endpoints in the WP.com API.
  • The payout/earning settings are all controlled via Calypso and we want a singular, unified experience.

WordAds is deeply tied into WordPress.com’s infrastructure and as such requires authentication for tracking and rewarding participating sites. Jetpack provides the connecting link and is now key to opening up the world of independently-hosted WordPress blogs to Automattic’s advertising network.

33 Comments


    1. Can’t agree more. Looks like Matt is going for the full package. May be a sweet moment to apply for a job with them :-)

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  1. This is brilliant. I figured they’d make a free Jetpack plan also premium at some point or introduce a site limit (number of sites that you can connect with the same WP.com account), but instead they make something that not only benefits them, but also benefits Jetpack users. Well, those with popular sites at least.

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  2. Not sure how this will play out. The web is saturated with advertising already. And they don’t work that great, with few exceptions. Even large sites had to close due to the drop of their advertising revenues. It’s time to come up with a better model than advertising.

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  3. It is great to know that in addition to modules you are unlikely to use bloating jetpack there is one that you are unlikely to be permitted to use. I don’t get why people use that bloatware at all.

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      1. Will need to search for it, but the former brute protect people IIRC shown that you “pay” 200ms just for having the plugin active. (this was the second test they have done after in the first one they claimed it has no impact when compared to similar functionality of other plugins)

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    1. When was the last time you actually, truly, tried jetpack. I remember being unimpressed with it long ago, but the latest incarnations are quite well coded. The services and features take the place of a lot of bloated single use plugins out there as well.

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      1. The problem with jetpack is its bloat. You should have have on your site a code you can not maintain and jetpack is is too big for that (mainly from security reason but not only). The bloat leads to the plugin being updated once a month or two which means that you need to inspect the changes and re-test your site and this is just a waste of your time.

        Now coding….. lets just say it doesn’t have a great code and has some shady concepts (like turning off login limiter).

        The code is probably no worse then most wordpress plugins, and for sure jetpack has useful parts, but since the most time you spend on a site is on its maintenance, you want should prefer plugins that you will not need to constantly maintain.

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    2. Probably because most developers turn off the modules that they don’t use before they even hit the back-end. It’s just one filter…

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    3. AdControl/WordAds requires Jetpack for its API, but it is not a Jetpack module. It is an entirely separate plugin.

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      1. OK, that sounds much better, although it is still backwards. So if I want to serve ads I need to have all the bloat of jetpack although the API related code is like 5% at best of the jetpack code.

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      2. You’ll only need Jetpack’s JSON API and Stats modules active. If having the other modules lying around inactive is a problem, then I suppose AdControl/WordAds might not be for you. ;)

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  4. It’d be great if these ads loaded after the page renders. The last thing WordPress needs is another render-blocking script.

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  5. Applied For wordads Today .. and got approved .. Lets See How it works

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  6. Any figures on approximate CPMs?

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  7. I think this is a smart move by the company and I like competition. I know they are in the early stages of the program, but there are more features I would like to see before jumping in. Presently, my ad network of choice is Google AdSense for various reasons:

    1. speed (if you ~don’t~ enable all their 3rd party networks)
    2. international coverage
    3. all IAB ad formats
    4. ability to disapprove ads / categories

    I’m also one of these people that doesn’t like ads to interfere with the user’s reading experience. From that standpoint, I wish I had more control where I could place the ads. These early options aren’t the best for my users, but I will definitely watch this space as I’m also an ad purchaser. It’s also an interesting time as publishers are experiencing a drop in revenue because of ad blockers, which I understand. Many sites put revenue ahead of user experience.

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  8. This is good news, I’ve been waiting for this moment. wordads support self-hosted wordpress patform highly anticipated by many as an alternative adsense. works well and hopefully get a better result.

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  9. What is wrong with just using Google Adwords? Seems to be a much more powerful and user friendly network.

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  10. I think this is great, having what seems on the face of it to be a solid alternative. It also seems like it’s easy to implement which gives the less technical bloggers an easy way to jump in on revenue. I only realised this year how many hit’s I was getting on my plain old wordpress.com blog which I hadn’t touched since 2009. That really motivated me to do something about it.

    I’ve applied, but I do have to consider how this will work along side adsense, which might be it’s limitation. Lack of placement options could be a problem – however adsense can be moved around at least so that should cover it.

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  11. Good news, yesterday one of my blogs have been approved but I think it would be better if wordads can display daily earnings reports such as Adsense or other networks

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  12. Is there any info on the ads being responsive? I couldn’t find any on the the FAQ page, although it does mention that the ads run on mobile devices, so there is hope. Would be great if someone could confirm this.

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  13. Hi Linda, I’ve just activated mine on https://www.tech-knowhow.com yesterday, are you getting any ads yet? I have the places for the ads, but no content and it’s been like this for about 35 hours now. Regarding the stats, I read somewhere that once you’ve had wordads for one month, these will show up in your wordpress, settings, adcontrol.

    Could you take a look for me and see if any ads appear when you look at it? I’m wondering if it just doesn’t show up because of the country I’m in or something. (Note I have both adsense and wordads at the moment – so make sure it’s the one that says ‘about these ads’ at the top.

    From my reading, adsense seems a lot more professional and I may remove wordads based solely on that, but will try it and see.

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  14. Yeah, it was quite clean looking until that. Given they’re not working I have little choice but to remove them.

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  15. I don’t get it. Why not just use Google Ads? What is the difference?

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    1. >I don’t get it. Why not just use Google Ads? What is the difference?
      Jeffrey – Google Ads are one of the buyers in WordAds. Others are Facebook Audience Network, Yahoo, Aol, Amazon.com a9, and 60 other bidders.

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  16. I have blog in wp.com, and wordads already running there.
    I want to move that blog to self hosted wp.
    Does wordads will automatically run in my new blog?
    Or do I need to apply wordads again?

    Thanks

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