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XenCentral Ad Server 1.3

XenCentral Ad Server is a powerful tool to manage ads on your forum, add them to virtually any page, keep statistics etc. Furthermore, it is a tool for your users/sponsors to purchase ads on your site, activate them instantly paying online, fully manage their ads and much more. The product is not meant only for managing your ads on your site, but also to turn your site into a fully featured ad server for your users, even allowing them to run ads on other sites they own and come back to your site to see statistics, activate new banners etc.

Here is just a brief outline of main features provided by the product:

  • Full integration with XenForo Admin Panel and Front-end (Admin permissions, User permissions, easy On/Off switcher etc.)
  • Up to 70 click-and-go locations in all XenForo pages (with graphical preview of location)
  • Fully customizable Image/Text banners
  • Embed Zones using ANY hook in Custom Hook mode
  • User banner zones: Allow/Deny your users to purchase banners on per-zone basis.
  • Forcing image dimensions for each zone.
  • Unlimited Activation Packages (Pay X for Y Hours/Days/Months/Years)
  • User banner instant activation with PayPal
  • Full set of Targeting tools using XenForo User/Date/Page Criteria options
  • Multi-banner zones with automatic rotation and AJAX rotation.
  • CDN support for uploaded images
  • Full UI for your users to manage their ads, see campaign efficiency - CPM, CPC, CTR, graphical stats etc.
  • Front-end page listing User Zones: show where you accept banners, numbers of slots free, how well each zone performs etc.
  • Zone Statistics: full set of graphical statistics for all zones with possibility to filter by zone and date.
  • Banner Statistics: full set of graphical statistics for all banners with possibility to filter by zone/banner and date.
  • Only banners/zones available for users are shown in Statistics. Administrators see statistics for all banners and zones.
  • Full PayPal support, with transaction history, support for refunds. Administrators have "local" payment method available that skips PayPal server entirely and activates banner immediately.
  • Embed Zone and Banner virtually everywhere a short Embed Code. Copy-paste into your HTML/WordPress/etc. site and run your ad there.

How It Works

The basic blocks for ad management are Zones and Banners. The basic setup is quite simple - create a zone, set its physical location(s) (e.g. before footer, after page nav etc.) and start adding banners to that zone. Banners will appear instantly in physical locations chosen for the zone.

Zones are responsible for:

  1. Physical locations where ads are shown - predefined locations or adding to arbitrary template hook. See section Embedding for further details.
  2. Banner rotation. You configure it on Zone level if you want the banners to rotate or not. If you disable rotation, all banners added to the Zone will be displayed on each page load (next or underneath each other). Enabling rotation only one random banner will be displayed on each page load.
  3. AJAX banner rotation. You have an option not only to rotate banners on each page load, but also to rotate them automatically after the page is loaded, for interval you can define here. With each rotation a new random banner from the same zone replaces the one displaying at that moment. Each rotation is considered as impression for the zone and the banner.
  4. Zone dimensions. If you have some locations where you want the banners not to exceed some sizes, to make it look good, you can set zone dimensions here. Any image uploaded to the zone will be resized down not to exceed these dimensions. Another option is to force these dimensions, if you want to have banners of exactly the same size. Users will be forced to upload images of appropriate size.
  5. Allowing/denying users to upload banners to the zone. Mark the zone as "User Zone" and it will be listed in public statistics pages, and users will be able to choose it when adding their ads.
  6. Number of slots. This is the total number of user banners that can run in this zone. Administrators are able to add banners to the zone from Admin Panel, but users will not be able to create/activate new ads there if all slots are busy. Users will see the date the next banner expires so they can activate theirs afterwords.
  7. Purchase Packages. See section Monetizing for further details.
  8. Targeting: full set of controls to target the zone to specific users/pages using powerful XenForo User/Page Criteria system. See section Targeting for further details.

Banners are actually WHAT is displayed in the zones - so they have minimal options to define the content of the banner. There are two main types of banners depending on their content:

  1. Image banner: upload an image, set the URL where you want users to be directed clicking the image, and you are done.
  2. Text banner: set the text you want to appear, URL where you want users to go, and just skip uploading any image - text-only banner will appear in all locations defined by the Zone.

Actually both banner types are HTML-based, and administrators have option to completely customize that HTML in any way they want, including adding script-based ads, like OpenX ads. Text/Image/Url are just placeholders that can be used in that HTML.

Note: for click statistics URL is required and only using placeholder {url} in your HTML you will get the click tracked by the system. Click stats are not available for complex banners like OpenX embedding, Flash banners etc.

Another feature configured on banner level is banner status and its "owner". If you set a user as the owner of the banner they will see that banner in their My Ads page, see its statistics, be able to purchase additional activity period for it, edit, deactivate or delete it (editing of active banners is controlled by usergroup permissions). If banner activity period is not defined, the banner never deactivates automatically.

And of course, you can make the banner inactive (uncheck Active checkbox), to disable it for anything - displaying, managing by owner etc.

Here are some images demonstrating General administration, and Zone/Banner management

 

Embedding

The product makes it extremely easy to embed your ads virtually anywhere in your forums, without any template edit, keeping all your ads in one centralized place for easy management. Furthermore, the product allows to embed your ads anywhere, in any site you have access to using short copy-paste embed codes.

Product support two ways of automatic zone insertion - predefined locations and appending to arbitrary template hooks. Predefined locations are more than 70, grouped by page/location, and activating each you will see a screenshot demonstrating where approximately your ads are going to be shown with that location. Some locations support before/after modes (e.g. you will see one Page Title location, activation which will get options to show the zone after or before page title).

Arbitrary template hook insertion allows all the same as predefined locations, but is more powerful and does not limit hooks that can be used in any way. In this mode you are asked for 3 options:

  1. Hook name. Any template hook you can see in your templates. If you do not remember hook name exactly, that is not a problem - just start typing to get suggestions that also mention in which template the hook appears.
  2. Append/Prepend to hook.
  3. Wrapper template. This is optional, and by default zones are not being wrapped with any special HTML. However, there are some cases when you need banners to be formatted in some special way - centralized, float to the right etc. Here you can set the template that should be used to wrap banners. The product ships with some predefined wrappers, which you can see by typing "xcas_zone_wrapper" and will get suggestion for matching template. Of course, any template can be used here and you can create your own ones based on default wrappers.

In this mode you are free even to create multiple definitions even or the same hook (e.g. one to prepend to hook content and one to append).

For manual insertion mode all you need is just select "Embed Code" in Manage Zones page in Admin Panel, and copy the code provided. The code can be used in any web page supporting HTML/JavaScript be it WordPress, Joomla! or a simple HTML website. Both zones and individual banners can be embedded this way.

It is always recommended to use automatic embedding methods when you embed zones on your XenForo pages, as it allows to use larger set of targeting options (based on current node being navigated etc.). In cases when you want to add the zone somewhere in templates that do not contain any template hooks, just add the template hook manually and use Custom Hook mode to add your zone to that hook.

An example of embedding in completely custom HTML page can be seen at http://xencentral.com/test/static.html

 

Monetization

The product is a perfect tool to manage advertisement you want to run on your site, but not only - it has all features allowing to use it as Ad Server, not only for you, but also for your users. Many users run their small to medium sites, blogs and would like to run ads there, but are not able to run their separate OpenX installation for that, and do not use other provides like Google Ads for several reasons. You can give them an easy to use and still fully functional ad server solution, where they can just upload their banners, and embed them anywhere with easy copy-paste code, and still be able to manage their ads from a single page, see how well their ads perform compared to the price they are paying (CPM, CPC, CTR), and full statistics in time for ad impressions, clicks, domains their ads are most clicked on etc.

Both you and your users have all tools to show additional information to potential customers in statistics pages, so that users ordering an ad in any zone would know how many times approximately their ad will be displayed, what is click-through-rate for the zone etc.

Just follow these simple steps to allow your users to purchase banners on your site:

  1. In Manage Zones page create a zone, and mark it as User Zone. Set number of user banner slots available. Set to 0 to allow unlimited number of ads to ordered for that zone.
  2. Under Purchase Options tab define any number of purchase options just setting the price and the length of subscription. Price and currency format need to be compatible with payment method used (for now PayPal is available, more payment methods will be implemented).
  3. Make sure you have your PayPal address set XenForo options.

Now the zone will be listed in front-end Zone Information page with number of total slots, free slots, and basic stats with a button to see full stats. Any user will be able to create their ad for that zone choosing one of packages you have created in Admin Panel, and activate their banner instantly by paying online. Once activated, user will see that ad in My Ads page, with all information needed. It is made extremely easy for users to extend their banner activity period without waiting for it to expire.

Users have access to Transactions page, which lists any payment they made, along with information for what they have paid and when. PayPal refunds are fully supported, and when refund is issued the system automatically de-activates the banner (basically reverts the initial action), and adds a log entry to Transactions page.

For each their ad users see Embed button, that gives them a short copy-paste code to use on their sites. No matter if user's ads are running on your board or not, they always have option to embed their ads in any other site, as long as their ad is active on your site. This is a great opportunity for your users to run their ads both on your site and in their personal sites, increasing income they have for the same initial payment. Again, system keeps track of where the ads where embedded and shows clicking statistics to users depending on domain running the ads. For upcoming versions the functionality of embedding user ads will be extended to allow embedding of multiple ads at once (rotating them automatically), embedding all user ads at once and optionally rotating (regardless of zones where ads are initially purchased) and much more.

Product features banner types called Placeholders, which are perfect way to show your users where they can order and have their advertisement displayed on your site. Placeholder is just a banner created in any way – image, text, custom URL which is active as long as there are no other active banners in the zone, and once user purchases a banner in that zone, placeholder stops showing and only user banner(s) are being shown/rotated.

 

Statistics

The product stores numeric statistics about impressions of zones and banners, allowing to see changes in number of impressions during the time, and keeps additional statistics about each click - IP (country) and domain where the ad was displayed. All statistics graphs are fully configurable by date, zone/banner filter etc.

 

Targeting

Targeting is a must for any ad management software, and our product has full set of features powered by XenForo default User, Date and Page filters. User filters apply limiting based on almost any information about currently navigating user - usergroups, custom fields, gender and much more. Date filters allow to limit the zone to be displayed on particular time interval only. Page filters allow the zone to be embedded only if current page being navigated matches some criteria. This filtering mode is available for automatic embedding methods only, as with manual embedding there is no way to catch information about current page being displayed.

Country filtering is possible using custom fields only for now (you can make it required for your users to set their country and use that information in User Fields filter). For the next release full support of country targeting based on user IP will be implemented.

Gender and age targeting should be done using the same pattern above, and is much easier as XenForo asks for gender and birthday at registration by default, so most likely all your users have this information set.

 

What's New

Version 1.1.0

  1. Added support for impression-based limiting, allowing users to purchase ads for any time interval and/or for any number of impressions.
  2. Added new/edited ad moderation controlled by usergroup permissions.
  3. Added a setting to define usergroups who are completely excluded from seeing any ads on the site.
  4. Enhanced post-related locations to allow embedding in the first post only.
  5. Mobile-responsive image-based ads.

Upcoming Features

  1. Impression-based banner activation
  2. IP-based country targeting
  3. Embedding user-zone instead of separate banners. Users will be able to select which banners they want to rotate and copy appropriate embed code.
  4. More payment methods for ad activation
  5. Zone-based limitation of image VS text ads (text-only and image-only zones)

Requirements: XenForo 1.2/1.3 
Price: 59.99 EUR 
Support/updates price: 35 EUR/year. 1 year support/updates included in initial purchase

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