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


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’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”

WordAds 2.0, unveiled in November 2015, integrated WordAds into’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’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 API.
  • The payout/earning settings are all controlled via Calypso and we want a singular, unified experience.

WordAds is deeply tied into’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 responses to “Automattic’s WordAds Network is Now Open to Self-Hosted WordPress Sites”

  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 account), but instead they make something that not only benefits them, but also benefits Jetpack users. Well, those with popular sites at least.

  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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 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.

  5. Hi Linda, I’ve just activated mine on 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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