📆 This is the February 2023 edition of “This Month in WordPress with CodeinWP.”
Hey, WordPress friends. While we had a quiet end to 2022 in the WordPress news space, 2023 has kicked off with a bang!
There were some big WordPress acquisitions, a new ad/promotion product from Automattic, a potential new design for the WordPress.org theme directory, WordCamp Europe 2023 tickets and speaker openings, and lots more.
Keep reading for all the most important WordPress news from the past month:
February 2023 WordPress News with CodeinWP
Awesome Motive acquires Thrive Themes, and Duplicator
While there were a ton of big WordPress acquisitions in 2022, the last part of the year was relatively quiet in the acquisition space.
Well, that’s changed, as 2023 starts off with a big bang with one of the bigger acquisitions that you’ll see:
Awesome Motive, the parent company behind WPBeginner and a huge array of plugins like WPForms and MonsterInsights, just fully acquired Thrive Themes and all of its subsidiary products.
Thrive Themes is especially popular with digital marketers and makes a number of popular plugins and themes, including the following:
- Thrive Architect – a visual page builder plugin that works with any theme and puts an extra focus on landing pages.
- Thrive Theme Builder – a flexible base theme that allows for visual drag-and-drop design.
- Thrive Leads – a list-building tool that stacks up against tools like OptinMonster.
- Thrive Apprentice – an LMS plugin to create an online course.
- Thrive Automator – a plugin to automate interactions between plugins.
- …several other plugins, all designed to fit into the Thrive Themes ecosystem.
That last bullet point is probably the most important – Awesome Motive isn’t just acquiring a single plugin, it’s acquiring a paid ecosystem of 10+ different extensions that are used on over 200,000 WordPress sites (at least that’s the number from the official WPBeginner acquisition post).
It’s also an authoritative website with a blog that Awesome Motive can use to cross-promote products and take up even more space in the SERPs.
While the monetary terms of the deal aren’t public, I’m guessing the numbers are quite large given the popularity of Thrive Themes.
If you want to discuss the acquisition (or see discussion from others), you can check out WP Tavern’s post about the acquisition.
In slightly less big news, Awesome Motive also acquired the popular Duplicator back/migration plugin in early January.
While Duplicator isn’t as big as Thrive Themes, it is still used on over one million sites according to WordPress.org.
Duplicator Pro prices now also mimic the same pricing that you see on other Awesome Motive products, with comparatively low first-year prices and higher renewals.
You can also check out the WP Tavern post about the Duplicator acquisition, which includes some user discussion.
Automattic launches an ad tool for WordPress.com and Jetpack sites to promote posts
On January 11, Automattic announced a big expansion of its Blaze product, which lets site owners promote their content across a network of other sites on WordPress.com and Tumblr (as well as Jetpack users).
Blaze originally launched on Tumblr in April 2022, but it’s now been expanded to include WordPress.
It seems to work kind of like promoting a Facebook post. When you go into your post list on WordPress.com, you’ll get a new Promote With Blaze option next to a post.
You can then design your ad, choose an audience, select your budget, and launch the ad.
When you set your budget, WordPress.com will give you an estimate of how many people that budget will let you reach (again – it’s a lot like promoting a post on Facebook).
When I played around with Blaze, I see the following estimates for different budget levels when using broad targeting:
- $5 (the minimum daily budget) – 5,900 – 8,000 impressions
- $10 – 11,900 – 16,100 impressions
- $20 – 23,800 – 32,200 impressions
- $35 – 41,600 – 56,300 impressions
- $50 (the maximum daily budget) – 59,500 – 80,500
In terms of targeting, you get three main options:
- Devices – mobile, desktop, or all devices.
- Location – you can only choose continents – e.g., North America, Europe, South America, Asia, etc. There’s no option to choose a specific country.
- Interests – you can choose one or more of 26+ broad interest groups – e.g., sports, travel, health & fitness, style & fashion, etc. You can also just target everyone.
Where will your ads display? Currently, the ads will display on free WordPress.com and Tumblr sites. Free WordPress.com sites have always included ads, so there’s no change there.
The only change is that you now have an easier way to promote your site on those free sites.
If you created your site with WordPress.com or Tumblr, you’ll have access to Blaze by default. However, self-hosted WordPress sites can still promote on Blaze if you install the Jetpack plugin.
If you want to learn more, you can check out the WordPress.com announcement post. The Tumblr Blaze FAQ page also has more details about how it works, as the WordPress.com content is still a little thin.
Overall, it’s interesting to see Automattic get even deeper into the ads space. Automattic has long had its WordAds service, which lets site owners display ads on their site to earn an income. But now Automattic is also reaching out to the other side of the equation by letting site owners promote their sites on WordPress.com’s free network (and Tumblr).
A sneak peek of the new theme directory design
Last month, WordPress.org launched a new commercial/community classification system for themes (and plugins), which allows developers to opt-in to mark their plugin as commercial (which lets them include their own commercial support URL in addition to the WordPress.org forums).
Now, we get a look at another upcoming change to the theme directory – a brand new design.
On January 16, Beatriz Fialho posted some design mockups of what the theme directory might look like.
These mockups would help it match the other re-designed pages on WordPress.org. They also put much more emphasis on block patterns and style variations.
I’m not sure what it would look like for non-block themes, but I imagine some of the information will be hidden.
If you want to see the mockups and contribute your thoughts, you can check out the post on the Make WordPress Design blog.
You may also be interested in:
- “Featured” Themes Removed, Native Lazy Loading, Bulk Block Converter, All in One SEO Pack 🗞️ March 2020 WordPress News w/ CodeinWP
- WordPress 6.1, FSE Rebrand, State of the Word 2022, HPOS in WooCommerce 🗞️ December 2022 WordPress News w/ CodeinWP
- WordPress.org Install Growth, Hosted WooCommerce, Style Variations 🗞️ November 2022 WordPress News w/ CodeinWP
That sums up our February 2023 WordPress news roundup. Anything we missed?
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Layout and presentation by Karol K.