Why are there ads on my site?
This was the Tuesday morning question I received from a client this week following a holiday weekend. I work with a client named named Dave Courvoisier. He’s a voice actor in Las Vegas and he runs a very popular voice over website and blog.
When I saw that question, and the image that accompanied it, I recognized the culprit right away, the Shareaholic Plugin.

ads by shareaholic

ads by shareaholic

Shareaholic is a tremendous plugin that was one of the first WordPress plugins offering sharing buttons to social media networks. It has grown and imrpoved, been sold, and grown and improved many times over the last 8 or 9 years since I became aware of it.
There was a time in the early days (back when I started working with Dave about 7 or 8 years ago) that this was the go to plugin. It was reliable, the plugin developers kept it updated. It had the latest features that everyone wanted and more.
Along the way, a few years back, Shareaholic started to dabble with Monetization (que some nefarious music and mad scientist laughter).

Now, I’m not saying that monetization or advertising is evil. I highly recommend it for sites under the right circumstances.  Dave has always chosen to keep his content ad free.  He could easily monetize his content in multiple ways. Thus far, the choice continues to be ‘no ads’.

So when ads mysteriously showed up, it was a problem that needed a quick fix.
I had witnessed Shareaholic add advertising before.  In the early days of Shareaholic monetization, the plugin updated and ads were turned on automatically for all users.  I felt at the time that developers had maybe been too gung ho about this new monetization functionality. Either by mistake or acting on good intentions, the plugin updated and everyone suddenly had ads running on their site.
They quickly made it possible to turn ads off and for several years, most (but not all) updates did not trip the settings in a way that inadvertently turned ads to display on a site.

Shareaholic monetization buttons

Shareaholic monetization buttons

Since then, I have witnessed other updates that have turned ads on for a few different clients, and have guided clients away from Shareaholic as a result.
It turned on for Dave’s site.

I double checked a different client’s site, Bobbin Beam a female voice over artist and there, Shareaholic had not turned on with the latest update.   I point out this inconsistency primarily so that we can all be aware that different things sometimes happen on different sites. These sites have many different plugin combinations, they run on different servers from different hosting companies as well. Many factors might create the unique scenario where something gets a screw loose in the update.

Dave was getting good results with the social sharing tools of the plugin and especially with the Related Posts images that are displayed below his content.
We run the site on WPEngine managed WordPress hosting. We cannot use tools like YARPP (yet another relate post plugin) as it runs a server intense bit of logic. This plugin is awesome if you have your own server and are willing to pay for the CPU overhead. It’s probably not the right choice if your site is

  • NOT a) very small and new with very little content or
  • is NOT b) very large with a team of people managing your site and server.

We need Dave’s site and the server it runs on, to run FAST!!!  YARPP did not work.

So we kept Shareaholic as it runs its own logic on servers that the developers control. They need money to pay for those servers, and take a cut on the ad sales or some such mix.  (They provide revenue to the site owners as well.)  I am not knocking them. There is an ecosystem here that needs to be funded or else it becomes too expensive for everyone.
Today, Shareaholic is no longer the right solution for Dave’s site.
We are going to make a quick search for plugins that provide sharing buttons AND Related Post images that are not calculated on the server we host the site on.
Jetpack (from Automatic the people behind WordPress.com) can do most of this these days.
This will be the first place we look as well.

Cons of JetPack (sometimes also known as ShareDaddy) VS Shareaholic

So JetPack unlike Shareaholic has the ability to add related posts and to add sharing buttons.
They use a Henry Ford Style of doing this. Ergo there is one place to put these buttons and that’s it!
Shareaholic, gives many different location placement options for the sharing buttons.
Jetpack only gives a default view of 3 related posts. The number can be customized in Shareaholic.
So if you want to run with buttons at the bottom of your post, only then Jetpack might work for you!
If you want 3 and only 3 related posts image, the same applies.
Anything extra with jetpack requires custom coding in your theme file. (not super userfriendly for lots of website owners that do not code)

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