Key Points

  • Google Ad Manager (GAM) is a management platform for digital advertising that is accessible for free, and has the option to pay for more premium features (if you qualify).
  • Following some key best practices can help make GAM more effective for publishers.
  • Improving viewability, reducing invalid traffic, choosing the right ad size and placement, and enlisting a third-party ad tech expert are all recommended for publishers of all types.

Google Ad Manager has existed with various names over the last decade or so. Luckily, the product itself has only improved with each name change and the GAM we know today, a leading tool within the ad space, isn’t likely to be going anywhere anytime soon. 

At Playwire, we believe that while GAM should be a platform used by every publisher, it shouldn’t be the only platform. Why, you ask? We answer that question and much more about GAM in this brief guide including some of the most important best practices for Google Ad Manager to help our publishers excel.

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Google Ad Manager Training LibraryBrowse the Google Ad Manager Training Library!

What is Google Ad Manager?

Google Ad Manager (GAM) is a free, comprehensive ad management platform that helps publishers streamline and optimize digital advertising. (The paid version, GAM 360, offers additional features and capabilities.) 

GAM can be used to manage Google ads campaigns across multiple channels and platforms, such as websites, apps, video players, video game consoles, connected TVs, and more. 

Combining sophisticated Google analytics with advanced targeting capabilities, Google Ad Manager is designed to let publishers maximize their monetization efforts without sacrificing user experience. 

6 Best Practices for Google Ad Manager

We won’t beat around the bush. We know what you’re here for. Here are six best practices to get you started on your path to GAM mastery, compiled by our expert Playwire team.

Focus on Viewability

Viewability is a measure of how many people are actually seeing your ads — and how often. Studies have shown that most people need to see an ad unit multiple times before they take action. 

Viewability is a key metric for measuring the effectiveness of your ad campaigns. By focusing on this metric, you can ensure that more people are seeing your ads and that your campaigns are more effective.

Unfortunately, viewability is often misunderstood. For example, many publishers think that placing a banner ad right at the top of the page is the best way to assure your ad is seen. But think about the first thing you do when you get to a webpage in search of some information. That’s right: you start scrolling. Often that “coveted” top spot is out of sight for website viewers before it can pass the one-second “viewed” threshold.


Remember the one-second rule. For a banner ad to be considered viewable, at least 50% of it must be visible onscreen for at least one second. For video ads, that number rises to two seconds.

The one-second rule for ad viewability matters because it ensures that ads are seen by human consumers, not bots. It helps to prevent ad fraud, which costs marketers billions of dollars every year. 

This may seem like a short amount of time, but research has shown that it is long enough for humans to process an ad. That is, assuming the ad is well-designed and instantly impactful. The one-second rule means that the ads placed on your website should be of the highest quality in order to make a splash in a short amount of time.

Furthermore, often the best ad spot on a website isn’t the first one. Getting creative with viewability is a key to GAM domination. 

Check out our complete guide to ad layout best practices!

Reduce Invalid Traffic

When working with Google Ad Manager, it is imperative that you take every precaution in order to keep invalid traffic (IVT) to a minimum. IVT is defined as any activity that artificially generates impressions, clicks, or other engagements that are not attributable to a real human user. This can include things like automated bots, click farms, and trafficked domains.

Publishers who don't take steps to reduce IVT are at risk of having their accounts suspended or terminated. They also miss out on valuable ad revenue, as IVT impressions are typically much less valuable than human impressions. 

Advertisers are increasingly demanding higher levels of protection against IVT, so publishers who can't provide this may find it difficult to win business. Fortunately there are a number of steps that publishers can take to reduce IVT. These include verifying the identity of website visitors, using cookies and device fingerprinting to track user behavior, and setting up filters to block suspicious activity.

Choose the Right Ad Size

It turns out that size matters. This is especially true when using Google Ad Manager, as the platform offers a wide range of ad formats and sizes to choose from. 

While it may be tempting to go for the largest ad size available, this isn’t always the best approach. Instead, it is important to consider the context in which the ad will be shown and select an ad size that is appropriate for the space. 

If an ad is too large, it may overwhelm the surrounding content and put off potential customers. On the other hand, if an ad is too small, it may be easy to miss and fail to make an impact. 

One example of a popular ad size that isn’t worth the hype is the 728x90 banner. It’s often placed in that top spot we mentioned earlier, and just as often site visitors scroll right past it.

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Google Ad Manager Pillar

The Publisher's Guide to Google Ad Manager and GAM 360

Choose the Right Ad Placement

Ad placements on Google Ad Manager can be divided into three categories: automatic placements, managed placements, and dynamic allocation. 

Automatic placements are generated by Google's algorithms and are generally less expensive than other types of placements. Managed placements are hand-picked by advertisers and tend to be more expensive. Dynamic allocation is a mix of automatic and managed placements that allows advertisers to optimize their campaigns for maximum effectiveness. 

When choosing ad placements, it's important to consider factors such as cost, reach, and engagement. Cost is especially important, as you want to ensure that your ads are reaching the right audience at a price that makes sense for your business but still maximizes the effectiveness of the ad. Choosing the right ad placement strategy plays a vital role in that balance.

Make Use of Price Floors

A price floor is a setting that defines the lowest fixed CPM rate that you are willing to accept for an ad impression. Unified pricing rules is the name used in Google Ad Manager for the tools used to manage price floors.

The relationship between fill rate and CPM plays an important role in your overall ad revenue. Raising your floor price will lower your fill rate and reduce the supply of your ad inventory, making it more valuable and driving higher CPMs. Thus, the balance with price floors comes in finding the perfect price floor settings in order to maximize the combination of fill rate and CPM.

With Google’s Unified Pricing Rule tool, you can make some pretty sophisticated rules allowing you to conditionally set price floors for a very large combination of different factors including: inventory, mobile app, geography, device category, browser, and much more.

Ad Yield Management Guide

Learn more about the capabilities of GAM’s Unified Pricing and how to build your target CPM and price floor strategy in Google Ad Manager in our complete guide.

With that said, there are a few pain points when it comes to managing your own price floors in Google Ad Manager. All too often, publishers look at price floor rules as individual items, single rules added on an ad hoc basis, because you simply don’t know any better. This can leave your rules disjointed and your ad revenue suffering. 

Additionally, Google Ad Manager 360 (the paid premium version of GAM) limits you to just 200 custom unified pricing rules at any given time. When you combine all the factors you can use to create rules, you’ll find that there are millions of different combinations you can create.

If you’re looking for something easier that comes with a team of experts helping you every step of the way, we suggest you reach out to a Playwire team member to learn more about RAMP’s price floor controller (PFC). Playwire’s PFC can create an unlimited number of custom rules that can be dynamically applied for you. Less work, more revenue.

Get Help

Google Ad Manager (GAM) is a powerful tool for publishers, but it can be challenging to master. A third-party solution like Playwire can help you get the most out of GAM by providing expert support and a suite of features that are designed to optimize your ad operations. 

Playwire can help you improve your fill rates and maximize your CPMs through real-time bidding and dynamically-generated ad units. Plus our reporting tools can give you granular insights into your ad performance, constantly improving your revenue generation with our AI-powered Revenue Intelligence algorithm. 

With Playwire, you'll have everything you need to take full advantage of Google Ad Manager and drive revenue growth for your business.

Is Google Ad Manager Enough?

Even if you master all our best practices and become a Google Ad Manager guru, you might find that it’s still not meeting your needs.

Here are four signs Google Ad Manager might be falling short when it comes to helping you maximize your advertising revenue and grow your business.

  • You’re spending too much time managing each ad campaign
  • You’ve hit the knowledge barrier for segmenting and ad serving
  • You want and need access to more demand sources
  • You’re missing out on header bidding

If you find yourself saying “yes” (or at least nodding silently at your computer screen) to any of these points, it’s time for you to consider Playwire. Don't worry, you're still have access to the incredibly effective tools that Google has to offer considering Playwire is a Google Certified Publishing Partner (GCPP), but you'll also gain access much more.

Find out why we’ve been the go-to ad tech partner for end-to-end ad monetization for over 15 years. Contact us today.

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