Google Ad Manager is the next step for publishers looking to improve ad revenue after using AdSense. Now AdSense is a pretty easy-to-use service where Google takes care of most things and provides best practices to help publishers.

However, things get tricky for publishers when they move to Google Ad Manager.

To help such publishers, we have created this guide with details that you need when you start with Google Ad Manager.

Table of contents:

In 2018, Google rebranded some of its services in order to make them more user friendly.

We have Google Ads in place of Google Adwords. Google Marketing Platform dissolved DoubleClick and Analytics 360 suite. And finally, Doubleclick for Publishers (DFP) and Doubleclick Ad Exchange (AdX) are rebranded as Google Ad Manager.

Google Rebranding
Image Source: Think with Google

Before that, DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) and DoubleClick Ad Exchange (AdX) were separate services accessed via different dashboards. DFP was responsible for ad serving and AdX was a marketplace for publishers to reach a bigger pool of advertisers.

When it comes to services, the things are still the same, just these services are now being managed under one dashboard – Google Ad Manager.

What is Google Ad Manager?

Google Ad Manager (GAM) is a comprehensive ad management publisher platform, designed to streamline ad delivery, reporting, and monetization. This is achieved by combining Doubleclick for Publishers and Doubleclick Ad Exchange.

As mentioned, Google services are the same, it’s just everything is now under a single umbrella. Here are a few notable features:

  • Create, update, and deliver line items in DFP
  • Manage sales, send invites for direct deals, and accept insertion order
  • Manage web, mobile, and app inventory at one place
  • Include AdSense and AdX to compete for impressions
  • Comply with latest privacy norms like GDPR, CCPA, and more

As the name suggests, with Google Ad Manager, publishers have a single management platform for all inventory and various programmatic deals running on them.

The Versions

Google Ad Manager further has two types of accounts: Google Ad Manager for Small Businesses (free) and Google Ad Manager 360 (paid version).

Here’s the basic differences between the two:

GAM for Small PublishersGAM 360
PriceAvailable for freePaid version, price depends on featured selected by a publisher
ImpressionsUp to 150 million monthly impressionsTo be negotiated with Google based on average impressions and additional features
FeaturesLine item management, historical data, customized reporting, and access to API.Everything offered by GAM for Small Business + customized features and direct Google support

Is Ad Manager Both, SSP And Ad Server?


Automation continues to change the way we do business, with advertisers looking to transact all their campaigns, guaranteed or not, programmatically. That’s why we broke away from the traditional constraints of “ad servers” and “SSPs” to build new programmatic solutions directly into the product we now call Ad Manager—from our programmatic deals framework to features like Optimized Competition that help you maximize yield across reservations, private marketplaces, and the open auction. Ultimately, with Ad Manager, you get a complete ad platform that helps you earn more and grow revenue, no matter how you sell.


Meaning, Google has combined every aspect of the ad industry to give a comprehensive ad platform that increases competition in the market for better yield.

What About Google AdSense?

Google AdSense is separated from Google Ad Manager. This is mainly due to the fact that Google Ad Manager unites high yielding publishers and advertisers. Whereas, AdSense is for small-to-medium publishers.

For new booming publishers, AdSense is the first step to ad monetization. However, when publishers start to get a good pageview, it’s time to move to GAM. With GAM, publishers can sell inventory based on impression not clicks (in case of AdSense). And reach out to demand partners of their own choice and even add/invite external demand to bid on the impressions.

Finally, publishers using Google Ad Manager are allowed to work with third-party ad servers, SSPs, and exchanges; even add them to various line items to further improve their yield.

Multiple features to choose: With Google Ad Manager, publishers can choose to run multiple campaigns programmatically, guaranteed or not. Furthermore, they can optimize the inventory from open auction, private marketplace, and reserved deals. 

Increased competition means increased revenue: In the integrated environment provided by Google Ad Manager, publishers can have more advertisers competing for their inventory, automatically increasing their revenue. Moreover, with bidding methods like EBDA (now Open Bidding), publishers can take their inventory to multiple demand partners without risking security. 

Security and management: Everyone in the ad industry is aware of ad frauds. These frauds have been known to cause problems for publishers (such as affecting user experience or website ban). However, Google is dedicated to protecting publishers from such frauds. Also, with Google managing the inventory and payments, publishers would’ve few things to worry about.

Integrate IAB standards: Google implements IAB Lab’s ads.txt to all the ad platforms to combat domain spoofing. Due to this, publishers remain protected from ad injections and similar malpractices.

Detailed reporting: GAM’s reporting features allows virtually to create any type of report – from yield report of specific demand partner to performance of ad units. These reports can be customized based on the dimensions and metrics. Here is a quick guide to create Google ad manager report here.

How to Get Started With Google Ad Manager?

Google Ad Manager is often referred to as the premium version of Google AdSense. With GAM, publishers get access to top-end advertising brands, programmatic exchange, and advanced optimization tools.

For publishers, there are two ways to get hold of Google Ad Manager:

  1. Sign in to Google Ad Manager using Google AdSense account. Google will then review the publisher’s application and approve if everything falls under the requirements.
  2. Alternatively, the publisher should be working with a Google Certified Publishing Partner (like AdPushup) and get an invitation from them to join Google Ad Manager. Even then Google will have to approve the publisher.
Google ad manager dashboard

Delivery: This is where you create/update orders and line items from advertisers. The line item stores the information related to deal between publisher and advertiser including details of ad (size, format, placement), deal type (direct or programmatic), CPM, time-period of deal, and more.

Inventory: It stores details of all ad units available on publisher’s property to sell including, web, mobile, and app. Further, the inventory can be grouped into categories to help advertisers target them.

Reporting: You can create customized reports just by selecting the data sets. GAM also has predefined reporting templates that can be used to generate/schedule reports as per requirements.

Admin: This is where you can manage your account, add/remove users, and assign them specific access points to the users.

Create Line Items and Optimize Them

After accessing Google Ad Manager, the next step is to set up the line items to start selling the impressions. Here are brief steps, you need to follow:

Google ad manager ad units
  • Define the ad unit: First you need to define ad units, areas on your website where you allow online ads.
  • Create orders: Order specifies advertiser or demand partner. All line item from an advertiser go under the specific order created for it.
  • Create line items: Line item stores detail related to deal – programmatic, direct, remnant, type of ad format, targeting allowed, and more.
  • Add creatives: When it comes to showing ads, publishers can either add an URL or use images provided by advertisers. All these can be managed under Delivery >> Creatives.
  • Generate ad tags: Finally once you are done creating ad units, you generate ad tags and place them on your webpages.

Setup Hybrid Header Bidding

eMarketer data shows a 50% increase in publishers investing in hybrid approach over just client-side or server-side header bidding.

Google understood the need and gave publishers a platform to run Google Open Bidding and Header Bidding in parallel in its Ad Manager platform.

hybrid header bidding

Basically, Google Ad Manager activates Ad Exchange, Open Bidding, and header bidding all at once. All three platforms compete with one another and highest bid before timeout gets the impression.

With hybrid header bidding, publishers get increased demand and competition. And advertisers get a fair chance to bid.

Sneak Peek Into Google’s Unified Auction and Unified Pricing Rule

Unified Auction enables all ad networks, exchanges, and agencies bidding via Google to have equal chance to bid for an inventory. Basically, all demand will get simultaneous bid requests from Google server, this is to run a single auction rather than multiple demand-level auctions. 

Similarly, Google presented a Unified Pricing rule where a common pricing rule will be applied to Ad Exchange, Exchange Bidding, Network, Bulk, and Price Priority line items.

open bidding unified auction
Source: Think with Google

This step is taken to clear up the business practice for supply- and demand-side.

In Closing

Since the re-branding in 2018, Google has made a few changes to the interface to make it more user friendly. These changes are expected to continue as Google updates its product and services.

Some noteworthy updates to Google Ad Manager interface are:

  • Addition of ‘Creative’ library: This is a dedicated section for publishers to collect and store all creatives.
  • Renaming: A few options were renamed to improve user understanding of the terms. For instance, ‘Queries’ is now ‘Reports’, ‘System Queries’ are now called ‘Templates’, and many others were changed.
  • Changes in line item: The top-level targeting type has now been named as ‘Custom Targeting’. ‘Inventory Type’ has been introduced to further define in what contexts are your ads exactly being served.

1 Comment

  1. MD SHEZAD Ansari Reply

    Nice, article it has overall all information about Google ad manager. Thanks for this article.

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