Managing advertising in Joomla

Joomla allows you to manage your site's advertising clients and their display and text ads. You can keep track of impressions (the number of times an ad is shown), clicks (the number of times an ad is clicked on), and much more. …

Ads in Joomla-speak are called banners. I personally find this terminology confusing, because I associate "banner" with a display ad, as distinguished from a text ad. For clarity, in this note I shall use the terms display ad and text ad. Naturally, when I am citing Joomla's controls and labels I shall do so verbatim.

Ads are enabled and disabled sitewide with mod_banners, located in Extensions – Module Manager. If all you are looking for is how to get rid of ads, then disable mod_banners and you are done. Otherwise, open it for editing and you will find several display options:

In Details – Position, you can change the module position for the ad if needed. Some templates do not have all module positons available, for example, or perhaps you just want to experiment. In any case, you may find it helpful to view the module positions of your template by appending "?tp=1" (without the quotes) to the end of any URL.

In Menu Asignment, select "All" to make your ads visible on all pages, or else select which menu items you wish ads to appear on.

In Parameters – Module Parameters, the "Count" field sets how many banners you want to appear on a single page. I normally set this to one. Then the obscurely named "Randomize" field sets in what order the several banners on each page will appear. There are two options available. "Sticky, Order" will serve up banners always in the same order. "Sticky, Randomize" will serve up banners in random order, which is what is normally wanted.

In Parameters – Advanced Parameters, you might want to disable caching for testing purposes. Once the site goes live, remember to enable it again.

Change any other parameters as desired and press "Save".

mod_banners does an admirable job of handling either display or text ads. If you want both, I've found the easiest solution is to have two copy of mod_banners. One retains the default name "Banners" and is for display ads; the copy I name "Text Ads" and is for text ads.

To make this work, I have two categories of ads: display and text. To set this up, go to Components – Banner – Categories and select "New" to create the new category "Display". Fill out the form and click "Save". Repeat for text ads.

To copy mod_banners, go to Extensions – Module Manager, select Banners (mod_banners), and press "Copy". You have a new module named "Copy of Banners" which is identical to the original. Rename it as desired.

Open the display ad copy of mod_banners for editing. Find the parameter "Category" and set it to "Display". Change other parameters as desired and press "Save".

Do the same with the text ad copy of mod_banners, setting its category to "Text". Find the parameter Module Class Suffix and set it to "_text". Again, change other parameters as desired and press "Save".

Before you can create an ad, you must have a client for it. In Components – Banner – Clients, select "New" to create a new client. Fill out the form with the client's information and click "Save".

If you have not already done so, you now need to create at least one category for the new banner. In Components – Banner – Categories, proceed as described above or as appropriate for your needs.

Ask the client for his artwork (468 x 60 pixels, PNG, JPG, or GIF format) and for his landing page's URL. Once you have the artwork on your workstation, upload it: In Site – Media Manager, click on the "banners" folder to open it. Click on "Choose…" and select the artwork your client supplied you. Then click "Start Upload" to upload the artwork to Joomla.

In Components – Banner – Banners, select "New". Fill out the form for the new display ad. The principal fields to fill in are:

  • Banner Name: Something to help you remember this ad
  • Show Banner: Whether this ad is published (yes) or not (no)
  • Category and Client: As previously chosen
  • Impressions Purchased: The number of impressions the client has contracted for (most clients pay by the impression), or select "Unlimited"
  • Click URL: The URL of the client's landing page
  • Clicks and Custom Banner Code can usually be left alone
  • Banner Image Selector: Choose the new artwork you just uploaded

Enter other parameters as desired and press "Save". Check your work by viewing a page of the site. Remember to disable your browser's ad blocker for this domain.

Ask the client for his text and his landing page's URL. A typical text ad runs ten words or so.

In Components – Banner – Banners, select "New". Fill out the form for the new text ad. Most fields are filled in in the same way as display ads, above. The banner image selector should be left blank, naturally, and the custom banner code should be the following:

[html:a href=""
   target="_blank"]Name of Ad</a>
Your client's ad text goes here

Enter other parameters as desired and press "Save". Check your work by viewing a page of the site.

Every time a banner needs to be displayed (which is to say, every time a browser displays any page in your site), the browser manager randomly selects one from all of the banners published in the browser manager. When the visitor goes from one page to another within your site, or even just refreshes the same page, a new banner is randomly displayed.

It is in your interest to have more than one banner published at any one time, and have them noticeably different from one another. Having a variety of banners gives your site a high traffic, professional look.

It is standard practice in online advertising for the client to provide his own landing page (the web page he wants the ad to link to). The client would give you the URL of his landing page and all you have to do is link to it. If you are not only selling an ad but making a landing page too, be sure to bill accordingly.

Buying into an online banner ad campaign is cheap. As of this writing, the going rate is $0.04 – $1.00 per click (cost per click, or CPC) depending on the industry and popularity of the web site it is placed on. Artwork for the banner is sometimes thrown in as a freebie. But landing pages are something else entirely. A properly designed and tested landing page can go for US$500 to $8,000 depending on how much testing and tracking is done.

Inexperienced clients sometimes ask me to provide hosting for their landing page, but this is bad for everyone. Only by hosting his own landing page can the client keep me honest by checking his web logs with my CPC bill. Without those logs a client might be tempted to claim I'm not sending him the clicks I say and balk at my bill. Personally, I prefer that the client provide his own hosting, his own landing page, and his own artwork. That way I stay focused on what I do well, and the client — who knows his prospects better than I — does what he does well.


About Warren Post

So far: Customer support guy, jungle guide, IT consultant, beach bum, entrepreneur, teacher, diplomat, over-enthusiastic cyclist. Tomorrow: who knows?
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2 Responses to Managing advertising in Joomla

  1. anonymous says:

    Anonymous writes:good article – thanksI would like to be able to specify what article an ad appears with – the J! core seems to only offer resolution to the category level – any ideas?

  2. wpost says:

    That's something I've never had call to investigate. Good luck, and if you find an answer, please post it here.

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