This may be old news to you, but as I spent some time looking for the solution to this one, I’ll assume it wasn’t just down to my rank stupidity, and other people might be looking for how to put some advertising on a Vanilla-based community.
This is going to be one of my longer posts, but I can summarise it quickly:
Use the Pockets plug-in.
If you’re in for the long haul, first, a bit of background. With the assistance of a few mates, I run a hi-fi and music community called Audio Chews, for which we use Vanilla. An inspired choice of platform by my business partner Paul Silver, it’s proved to be a delight to use after some exposure to other forum software.
It’s been hosted on an ‘all-you-can-eat’ deal, along with some of my other sites, but we’d like to put it on some better hosting. But that costs more money than I’m paying at the moment, so we’re looking to get a bit of revenue from the visitors to the site – Google Analytics has shown that despite a small and loyal membership, we get a lot of visitors who don’t join.
Hopefully, they’ll not be averse to clicking on some ads. But how to get them on the site?
Like WordPress, which I’m using for this blog and quite a few other sites, Vanilla uses plug-ins to enhance its functionality, but unlike WordPress, there are no explicit advertising or AdSense plug-ins. I finally discovered that the Pockets plug-in allows you to drop in some HTML in loads of different places (pockets) around the Vanilla theme.
1. Open an advertising account
I’d decided to use the Amazon Associates scheme for Audio Chews, but you could use Google AdSense or anything you like.
2. Download and install the Pockets plug-in
The Pockets plug-in is here. Download, unzip and FTP into your plug-ins folder.
3. Activate the plug-in
From your Vanilla Dashboard, scroll down to the Addons section on the left of the screen and click on Plugins. Scroll down to the Pockets plug-in and click on Enable. You’ll be taken to the Pockets configuration screen. You can also get here from the Appearance section on the left of the screen (you must have enabled Pockets first, though).
4. Have a look at the configuration screen
It’s actually pretty easy to use, but gives you lots of flexibility.
First, click on Show Pocket Locations.
The pocket positions are in yellow. Scroll around and see where you can place your ads, and decide where you want to put them.
5. Have a look at the kind of ad options you have in your advertising account
The ones that interested me in my Amazon Associates account were the Contextual Widgets, which taylor the products offered in the ads to your community’s content. Once you’ve decided what kinds of ads you want to display, grab the HTML and head back to Vanilla.
6. Add the ads to the community
Click on Pocket, if you need to. Then click on Add Pocket. Paste the HTML into the second panel, labelled Body, and name the ad – ‘Top of main content’, or something.
For the moment, leave Page as All. You can play with more advanced page choices later – I’m going to run the ads a while before I start restricting the pages they’re shown on. The choose the Location for the ad – these are the pockets you displayed earlier – and under Repeat, choose where you you want the pocket to appear. At this stage of the game, Before or After is probably best, as they cover the most popular positions on the page.
Ignore the Conditions options. Then, under Enable/Disable, choose Test Mode. Click Save, and have a look at your home page. You’ll be able to see the ad, but your members won’t.
If anything’s not quite right, go back to Step 5.
Otherwise, go back to the Pockets screen and change Test Mode to Enabled. Save, and all your members and visitors will be able to see the ad. Then set up as many ads as you need.
There’s a lot more that can be done, but this summarises about where I stand at the moment with the advertising on Audio Chews.