I am going to walk through the steps to add 125x125 ads to the sidebar of a WordPress blog. The 125x125 ad blocks will sit two wide and up to eight high.

Historically I've been running a couple 250x250 Adsense blocks and a few 60x234 half banner ads on my passive income blog. With the increasingly popular 125x125 Ad banners available it was time for an upgrade. I've documented the steps for others because it was something I had to go figure out myself and I could not find good directions for inserting the 125 x 125 ad blocks.

The whole process is very fast and painless.  The biggest part is getting the ad code to insert at the end of the process.

Step 1:  Set your sidebar width.  I started with several blogs that were already configured with sidebars set a little wider then 250 so that the 250x250 ad blocks looked correct. Depending on your theme and layout you may need to adjust the width of the sidebar.

Step 2:  In the WordPress Dashboard go to Plugins-Add New.  This brings up a search box.

Step 3:  There are a number of plugins that facilitate 125x125 ad blocks.  I tested one that I could not make work properly before installing Ad Squares Widget.  Search for Ad Squares Widget in the search box.

Step 4: When it comes up, select Install Now. You may also need to Activate it from the Installed Plugins list.  In up to date WordPress installs this should just be automated. No need to manually upload files to your directory like the steps suggest.

Step 5:  Ad Squares Widget creates a new menu option on your under Appearance on the Dashboard.  Don't worry about that - it just has information about the widget that you don't really need.

Instead, head to Appearance-Widgets area and look for the Ad Squares box.  Drag it into your sidebar in the position you want the ads to appear.

Step 6:  Open the drop down and select the number of squares you want to display.  You can have multiples of 2 up to 8.  You can drag in a second widget to get more squares or break up the squares into two areas.  You can also change the number of squares up without losing anything,but if you reduce the number it wipes out any ad code in the bottom squares (in other words it chops the bottom ads off).

Step 7:  Change the title.  I retitled my blocks "Sites I Make Money With" and "Blog Sponsors" but you can select the title you like.

125x125 Empty BoxCredit: Ad Squares Widget

Step 8: Set the padding (the space around each square). I set mine to 15px but you can use whatever looks best given the amount of available width.

Step 9:  Insert Ad codes in the squares.  Empty squares are filled with a little box that looks like the gray box beside.

Step 10: Finally Save and Close the widget.  Then go see how it looks on your blog.  If you see issues try adjusting the padding, checking the ad codes etc until you get it right.

Optional Step 11:  After you have filled your boxes you might like to shuffle the ads randomly.  Just click the button for that.  Don't shuffle while you are setting things up and previewing the ads because that will really mess you up - you will not know which code is in which box and the blank spot code fills in the empty boxes.

Optional Step 12:  If you would like to rotate a few different ad codes ( inside a particular square ), just insert a special tag "rotate" tag between every ad code. It looks like this but I added a couple spaces to make it show up.  

In other words, one, some  or all of your squares can contain multiple ad codes separated by this rotation tag.  This is a way to change up the ads so that repeat visitors and multiple page visitors see different ads over time.  

If an advertiser provides several different graphics you might put all the graphics in one box with the rotate tag.  Or rotate different advertisers in a box if you like.

Expert Feature: With more sophisticated programing you can also arrange for certain ads to come up on selected pages or topics. That is beyond the scope of this article though. 

What Kind of Code Can The Squares Take?

Ad Square Widget accepts any type of ad code into the squares: AdSense®, XHTML, PHP, IFrame, JavaScript, whatever.  Basically anything your blog can accept, this widget can handle.

Do I Have to Stick With 125x125 Ads?  

No you can use any size ad you want, but if you don't keep the ads the same size weird things happen and stuff does not display correctly.  You might try all 120x120 ads or something but don't go crazy - find another solution like pasting in html or javascript directly in text boxes.

What if I Want Ads to Expire?

This particular widget does not set time limits on ad display.  I did spot alternative widgets that had this function. If you are selling ad blocks by time then using a 125x125 widget that makes the ads expire would make a lot of sense.  For the typical blogger putting up affiliate ads the expiry function is not useful. 

Where to Get the Ads to Run?125x125 Ad slot setupCredit: JadeDragon

There are several sources of ads:

  • Affiliate networks and sites with direct affiliate programs
  • Ad networks including Google Adsense and smaller networks that support 125x125 ads like Project Wonderful 
  • Selling ads directly to sponsors (works better if you have a higher traffic site)

I would not be inserting Adsense code in the 125x125 boxes. It works, but Adsense text ads this small only show one advertiser and it counts against the three Adsense blocks you are allowed on a page.  Better to save Adsense for bigger placements on your blog.  

Instead I'd head to an affiliate network like CJ.com or ShareaSale.com to find some appropriately themed advertisers you can affiliate with.