Key Points

  • It’s easy to get lost in the maze that is Google Ad Manager (GAM). There is a long list of features and functions that, honestly, aren’t all relevant to your needs.
  • The ad monetization process in GAM is both non-linear and cyclical. It will require constant adjustments and flexibility to master.
  • A Google Certified Publishing Partner like Playwire can help you better utilize the right suite of tools and features within GAM so you can streamline the monetization process and reach your ad revenue goals sooner.

If you’ve been in the publishing game for a minute, you’ve likely tried your hand at Google Ad Manager (GAM). It’s the industry standard for advertising platforms, falling under the umbrella of some of the most important pieces of your overall ad tech stack.

To find your way in the ad monetization world, you will definitely need to learn to navigate GAM during some point on your journey. Maybe you’re brand new to publishing and looking to learn GAM’s features and functionality from the ground up. Maybe you think you already know how Google Ad Manager works. Even so, there’s probably a lot you don’t even realize you don’t know. 

It’s a relatively easy-to-use platform, but you still have to way find. And you can’t reach optimized ad revenue until you become a master navigator.

In this article, we help you become just that by breaking down each section of Google Ad Manager and how they all work. Get ready to master the platform, optimize your ad ops, and learn how to take advantage of every tool GAM has to offer.

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How Google Ad Manager Works: The Basics

Everyone starts at the trailhead, so let’s talk about the basic context and setting.

Here’s what you can do in GAM —

  • Define your ad inventory
  • Create and manage ad campaigns
  • Collect data and harvest insights for reports

Then, it’s advance to go —

  1. Select the areas of your site or app that are available and suitable for advertisements.
  2. Then, place the ad tag provided by GAM on your site page or within your app.

Once you place the generated ad tags on your page, GAM handles the details. The system manages requests from advertisers, filters through the requests to find the best option, then serves an ad.

How Each Section of Google Ad Manager Works

GAM didn’t get to be a leading ad tech tool with paltry rations. The platform also offers a sweet, high-octane trail mix of sophisticated features for targeting and reporting. Plus, controls that can help with sales, ad inventory definition, ad delivery, ad campaign customization, and more. 

Let’s explore.

Sales Sections

First vista: sales-related sections and elements of Google Ad Manager. These are used by ad ops teams to maximize programmatic ad campaign success. The view includes — 

  • Proposalsdetails about transaction agreements between publishers and advertisers that function in a similar way to orders. Programmatic proposals typically require more details to assist in the negotiation process.
  • Proposal line itemsinformation about ad delivery that helps publishers and advertisers programmatically come to an agreement. Each line item outlines the specifics of the campaign (think impression objectives and targeting) as well as extra information (like billing terms, buyer contacts, seller contacts, internal notes, and sales and conditions).
  • Private auctions: exclusive, invitation-only programmatic auctions that can have set rules curated to each inventory section or buyer. 
  • Deals settings: these controls are where users can activate notifications, control publisher profiles, establish buyer visibility, and access impression estimations. 

Delivery Sections

Once you’ve made it through a sale, it’s time to climb toward the delivery process. These tools, which are typically managed manually, are used by ad ops and yield ops teams to ensure ad delivery is optimized —

  • Orders: the foundation of any GAM campaign. Orders contain information about advertisers and the players who will be running the campaign.
  • Line items: the line items you include in your orders outline how each ad should appear on your page, the negotiated price, and any other necessary information.
  • Creatives: the actual meat-and-potatoes of the ad. This is the image, graphic, audio, or video that is displayed on your site page or app.  
  • Yield groupscollections of inventory that you want to be sold. Yield groups can be sold via ad exchange, Open Bidding, or app mediation for mobile apps, but through an ad exchange is the default.
  • Bidders: with Open Bidding, you can incorporate demand from third party buyers to compete with Google demand inside GAM in order to increase CPMs.
  • Delivery tools: the place to review details about each advertisement including Google’s reason for selecting one ad unit over another.

Inventory Sections

Here’s where you may need to set up camp and hunker down a little. 

Ad monetization with Google Ad Manager isn’t exactly a linear process. While defining your inventory is one of the first steps to getting started with GAM, you’ll have to adjust and adapt as you go if you want to reach optimization.

GAM’s inventory pieces are used across a variety of teams; ad ops and yield ops take advantage of their ability to drive inventory value and establish ad unit formats and sizes that are attractive to prospective buyers.

  • Ad units: spaces on your website or mobile app available for ads to be displayed. Ad units make up your inventory.
  • Apps: mobile applications where ads can be displayed. To be monetizable, apps must meet Google Ad Manager’s publisher guidelines.
  • Sites: websites where ads can be displayed. Just like apps, sites must meet Google Ad Manager’s publisher policies.
  • Audience: Google Ad Manager 360 (the paid version of GAM) allows publishers to access Audience Solutions — a feature where publishers can use first- and third-party insights to power custom targeting campaigns.
  • Key-values: the controls for campaign targeting that determine whether an ad is suitable for a specific request. They can identify web pages and web page sections while also taking into consideration demographic data about past visitors.
  • Targeting presets: collections of targeting groups that streamline the campaign setup process. This can include rules and frequently used line items.
  • Traffic Explorer: another feature only available through GAM 360 that unlocks unparalleled insight into your inventory using first-party data.
  • Traffic forecast: provides predictions about future inventory performance based on past performance and real-time performance analysis. 
  • Ad Network settingsfundamental settings concerning the details of your Ad Manager network.
  • Pricing rulesUnified Pricing Rules allow publishers who use programmatic methods to manage their CPMs and prevent sales that fall below their floor prices. There are tons of complexities including restrictions and limitations to GAM’s price floor tool. Learn more about this and how Playwire is revolutionizing GAM’s pricing rules tool, here.
  • Inventory rules: limits, restrictions, and exclusions on which specific inventory can be included in the open auction.

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Google Ad Manager Pillar

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

Protections Sections

Protections controls and tools are used by yield ops team members to preserve brand reputation, buyer satisfaction, and user experience. 

Think of them like the bear spray of your locked pack that safeguards in the face of potential dangers. Maybe you miscalculate — no worries. Protections will be there to set you back on course and prevent a worst-case scenario.   

  • Protections: these rules oversee ad content to ensure no prohibited content is displayed on your website or app. They also prevent the display of ads from competitors.
  • Network level: these controls can restrict certain demand sources, interest-based ads, and remarketing campaigns.

Video Sections

If you want to display ads next to the videos that run on your site or mobile app, these pieces are important to understand —

  • Ingest Video Contentin order to begin ingesting and targeting video content, you need to connect your GAM account with your video content source (see more on this below) or Content Management System (CMS).
  • Content sources: video sources are attached to a type, status, and date that can be managed in Google Ad Manager. Eligible video content is identifiable by an ‘active’ status. Inactive sources cannot display ads while ‘archived’ can only display ads that don’t qualify as content-targeted.
  • Ad rules: a premium feature, available only in Google Ad Manager 360, where you can set up controls to manage the way ads are served with videos on your site or app. Standard rules control single streams whereas session rules control a series of streams. 
  • Video creative profiles: requirements that streamline the trafficking process by determining whether or not a video creative can be displayed on specific platforms.

Reporting Sections

This is where Google Ad Manager monetization comes full circle. The end of the path takes you right back to the beginning. Remember: reports are the log that make your journey better each time. Data and insights collected are the backbone of future campaign strategies.

  • Reporting: GAM users can create custom reports by filtering through data, examining metrics and insights, and exporting reports for sharing. Reports can be scheduled for whichever time windows make sense for your team.
  • Templates: create custom report templates by establishing which criteria and metrics must be included for each reporting cycle. 

Work With a Google Certified Publishing Partner

Google Ad Manager provides publishers with the swiss army knife of features designed to help them with everything they need to maximize their ad yield. 

Will you use every GAM feature? 

Probably not. That’s why you need to understand how each feature works so you can know which ones will work best for your site or app. Even so, eventually, you’ll need to upgrade from the free to the premium version of GAM, which comes at a non-negotiable, one-size-fits-all cost.

However, there is an easier way to get the Google Ad Manager (and GAM 360) features you need without having to manage a full in-house team or pay a pretty penny. 

Google Certified Publishing Partner like Playwire provides you with access to Google demand in addition to a variety of additional demand sources

Plus, Playwire does more than just connect you to premium demand. We have a highly-skilled chopper in the sky: we can solve the maze from this view, and help you navigate it with ease. Our team of ad ops and yield ops specialists are dedicated to maximizing your ad revenue. We provide comprehensive management, support, and benefits designed to help you meet and exceed your revenue goals. 

There’s no reason to navigate Google Ad Manager on your own — let us equip you with all the tools you need to meet your targets. Reach out to us online to get started.

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