Google Ad Manager

Google Ad Manager Unified Pricing Rules Guide

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Unified pricing is part of Ad Manager’s transition to the first-price auction. With the second-price auction model shifting to first-price, advertisers and DSPs will try to indulge in bid shading — they will try and lower their bids. And Unified Pricing is supposed to tackle this by running a unified auction.

second-price auction to first-price auction
Source: Google

Price floors were introduced to make sure that publishers would not accept bids under a certain CPM. If the bid offered by the advertiser was $2 and the price floor was set to $5, the advertiser would not have been able to win the impression. However, high price floors are generally accompanied by a decrease in fill rate. Also, multiple instances (and filters) are applied to adjust to different advertisers, geographies—making price floors complex to manage.

Google believes that the move to first-price auctions is a necessary adjustment to better respond to a digital ad ecosystem, which is increasingly shifting towards first-price auctions and a model where consistent pricing rules will govern all demand sources. And overall, unified pricing is important to make ad tech less complex than what it is, right now.

What are Unified Pricing Rules?

Unlike before, the pricing of all inventory across all indirect demand sources can now be controlled via Unified Pricing Rules under a single panel within the Google Ad Server. Basically, unified pricing is designed to work as a centralized floor price management system for all publisher’s inventory on Google Ad Manager.

Consistent rules and pricing will now be applied across all channels — Open Auction, Private Auction, and First Look Auction.

This is a list of channels that should experience the change:

  • Open Bidding (Formerly Exchange Bidding)
  • AdX Open Auction
  • Private Auctions
  • First Look Pricing
  • Price Priority, Network, and Bulk line item types

As a publisher, if you have any of your website inventory transacted under any of the sources listed above, you will need to make a change to your pricing rules.

Steps to Configure Unified Pricing

You can set up a new Unified Pricing rule by following these steps:

  1. Login to Ad Manager account.
  2. Move to ‘Inventory’ tab
  3. Click the ‘Pricing Rules’ section
  4. Go to the  ‘New Unified Pricing Rule’ button.
  5. Set all your rules at once.
Creating a Unified Pricing Rule in Ad Manager

Tackling Overlapping Rules

  • Two rules targeting the same inventory: The one with the higher floor price applies
  • Unified Pricing and Open Auction Rule applied to the same inventory: The one with the higher floor price applies
  • Unified Pricing and First Look Pricing applied to the same inventory: The one with the higher floor price applies

New Limits to the Inventory

  • Number Of Rules: 200 UPR’s per network.
  • Type Settings: Only Target CPM and Fixed CPM can be set
  • Scope of Rules: Advertiser / Buyer specific rules will now be applicable only for the AdX and EBDA traffic.

Advantages

  • Operational simplicity: Instead of maintaining price floors in a fragmented manner, all price floors across all partners, can now be handled in one place
  • Transparency and informed buyers: Given there will be constant floors across all partners and exchanges, buyers will be in a position to plan better and will be in better know how what the publisher expects rather than trying workarounds like Bid Shading.

Drawbacks

  • Rule limit: Only 200 UPR’s can be applied per network. This means that if you are a big publisher with millions and billions of pages, you will now be unable to make rules past this 200 mark.
  • Per buyer limit: Setting per bidder floor prices will not be possible given the new changes. What that means is that the floor prices will remain the same for Google DBM and the other DSP’s like The Trade Desk. Some publishers who believed that Google leveraged its data capabilities are unhappy as they will now have to set the same floor prices as other (DSP’s) even to Adwords.
  • Targeting/blocking limits: Only targeting advertisers and brands is possible now but not a buyer (like a network like AppNexus). Anonymous pricing has been dissolved and you can no longer possible to set priority rules anymore. 

How to Exclude Inventory from Unified Pricing Rules?

Excluding Inventory from Unified Pricing
  1. Click the Protections tab.
  2. Select New Protection > Inventory Exclusion
  3. Give a name for your protection
  4. Set targeting and inventory type to reflect the Open Auction pricing rule. Open Auction rule types are “Display”, “Mobile app”, “In-stream video”, and “Games”. 
  5. Press “Save” for the rule to reflect in the Rules tab.

It seems like while empowering publishers, Google is also taking control of various programmatic and non-programmatic deals its hands by introducing a unified pricing system. For instance, SSP now won’t be able to add customized floor price to inventory sold via Ad Manager. However, it’s just a matter of time before the publisher ecosystem comes up with new strategies and tactics to work with the new changes made to the Ad Manager.

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