Key Points

  • Google Ad Manager is a leading ad management platform for website, app, or game monetization.
  • Google Ad Manager offers monetization features for managing yield, ad serving, viewing reporting and analytics, and maintaining security.
  • Despite its capabilities, publishers experience limitations when using Google Ad Manager — namely cost, technical expertise and time management, and restricted data sources.

Google Ad Manager is the company’s flagship ad management platform, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Whether you’re diving into GAM for the first time or want a deeper understanding of how it all works, we’ve got you covered. 

In this post, we’ll provide a basic overview of Google Ad Manager and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about how it works.

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Google Ad Manager Basics

What is Google Ad Manager?

Google Ad Manager (GAM) is a complete ad management platform that helps publishers monetize their website or app traffic by delivering ads to users across a range of networks and locations. 

GAM gives you control over your inventory, CPM rates, and ad types and provides reporting so you can see how your ads are performing. It also offers a range of powerful features like content blocking and ad fraud protection to help you maximize your revenue and stay secure. 

Google has a long and interesting history in the advertising space, beginning in 2000 with the launch of Google AdWords, its first pay-per-click advertising network which allowed advertisers to target text-based ads across its quickly growing search engine network. But it would be another eight years before Google launched a product that resembled the Google Ad Manager we know today. 

In 2007, Google acquired DoubleClick Inc., relaunching their DoubleClick for Publishers platform under the Google umbrella the following year. It was this move that allowed Google to rapidly expand beyond text and image adverts to mobile video and other ad formats across an array of devices including desktops, tablets, mobile apps, and more. 

By 2018, Google was ready to rename DoubleClick for Publishers officially as Google Ad Manager.

Today, Google Ad Manager is one of the most widely used, full-featured ad management platforms available.

Google Ad Manager Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Google Ad Manager Do?

The simplest way to think of it is by breaking GAM down into four core monetization components: yield management, ad serving, reporting & analytics, and security. 

At its core, GAM is a monetization platform. It’s designed to help publishers of all sizes easily monetize their digital inventory and earn revenue. 

Through GAM, publishers identify locations on their website, mobile or desktop app, game, or other platform where they want ads to appear. Google Ad Manager will then insert what’s known as a “tag” onto the page — a digital marker that indicates where an ad should go and what size it should be.

Whenever someone arrives on that webpage, that tag triggers a request for an ad to be displayed. This request is sent through the GAM system, then through an automated process an advertiser “wins” the right to display their ad there. This all happens nearly instantly, as the page loads. 

Advertisers pay for visibility for their products and brands, and publishers reap the benefits of having their content become a revenue source.

Furthermore, there’s a significant crossover between the four categories that support this overall concept of monetization. However, discussing each core capability in isolation helps provide a complete picture of what you get when you use Google Ad Manager to monetize your content or game.


Yield Management

If monetization is about activating your ability to earn revenue, yield management is about earning as much revenue as possible with as little waste as possible.

Yield management is the process of maximizing revenue by ensuring the right priorities are set when it comes to ad delivery. This is a crucial part of any Google Ad Manager implementation, as it gives you better control over ad space and helps you decide who gets to run an ad. 

By considering data from multiple sources such as auction bids, estimated audiences, forecasts, historical performance, and more, GAM informs publishers where and how to apply rules and algorithms to increase your yield from ad revenue. 

However, it’s important to note that GAM has limits on these features, like the limit of just 200 unified pricing rules that a publisher can create, which will quickly add up as you develop a more powerful monetization strategy.

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Ad Yield Management Resource Center

Read the Complete Ad Yield Management Resource Center


Ad Serving

Ad serving is the process and digital infrastructure for delivering ads to a specific website, blog, or other digital platform. It’s an automated system that uses algorithms and analytics to determine which ads should be served to each individual web page or user interaction. Google Ad Manager lets marketers control how, when, and where their ads are served while also staying within their budget constraints.

In simple terms, ad serving is the process of delivering the right ads to the right audiences at the right time, all without any technical glitches.

While the end result for users is straightforward, the complex calculations that go on out of sight are significant and almost instantaneous. With all that complexity, having a solution like Google Ad Manager handling all the behind-the-scenes work lets publishers focus on making great content.


Reporting and Analytics

Delivering one ad to one user is relatively simple. Delivering an entire ongoing ad campaign in a way that’s constantly optimizing and improving yield is much more complicated. It requires visibility into what’s working, what’s not, who exactly is seeing your ads, and how they’re interacting with them. This is where Google Ad Manager’s reporting and analytics functionality comes in.

GAM provides a suite of reporting and analytics tools to track, measure, analyze and optimize digital advertising campaigns. Its reporting system provides visibility into data such as impressions served, clicks received, revenue earned and more. 

All in all, GAM analytics allow publishers to uncover key insights about their audience and business performance through intuitive charts, graphical diagrams, and reports that can be customized to meet specific requirements.

However, while GAM’s reporting is some of the best there is across the ad tech industry, there are limitations to what publishers can see. If you want something even better, consider Playwire and our powerful suite of Advanced Yield Analytics, which provide publishers with access to detailed, extremely granular ad revenue analytics and insights.



Google Ad Manager provides a powerful suite of security measures to prevent unauthorized access and keep user data secure. 

GAM is constantly finding new ways to ensure all popular browsers are supported with the highest level of security standards via Transport Layer Security (TLS) mechanism, which is industry-standard encryption technology used by most major websites today. 

A comprehensive set of API controls and audit logs also guard against malicious activities such as API abuse and account hijacking attempts. All user data is kept safe, and both publishers and advertisers are kept happy.

What’s the Difference Between Google Ad Manager and GAM 360?

Google Ad Manager is available free for businesses, whereas Google Ad Manager 360 (GAM 360) is the premium paid version. So what do you get in exchange for your money?

GAM 360 is an advanced version of the platform, offering superior targeting and audience segmentation capabilities, more powerful ad serving, and access to open bidding, as well as comprehensive reporting features. This advanced version also provides custom integrations with DoubleClick Campaign Manager, Access Manager, Ad Exchange, Audience Center, and Sales Management tools.

These features make GAM 360 more powerful and provide more insights into user behavior than ever before. It's also designed to operate across all devices and browsers, providing complete control over where your ads appear. With its streamlined workflow, it's now easier to set up and manage ad campaigns, in theory achieving greater results in a shorter amount of time. 

For businesses looking to take their digital advertising efforts to the next level, GAM 360 may be worth considering.

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Google Ad Manager Pillar

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

What are the Drawbacks of Google Ad Manager?

Google Ad Manager is a powerful platform. But it’s far from a flawless one. 

At Playwire, we’ve seen publishers come up against three main roadblocks when working with GAM: its high cost for premium features, the level of difficulty associated with managing campaigns without technical support, and its limited access to demand.



Despite its success, many businesses struggle with the high cost associated with using GAM 360. For large enterprises who genuinely need everything GAM 360 has to offer, it's worth the price. The problem is there’s no bespoke offering where publishers can pick and pay for only the features they need. It’s all or nothing, and a huge number of businesses simply don’t need (or even know how to use) all the features they’re paying for.

The high price tag often forces companies to find other solutions in order to remain competitive and relevant in their respective industries.

One alternative? Partnering with an end-to-end ad management partner like Playwire, capable of economically handling the entire ad tech stack and serving as both a technical and creative partner for your monetization strategy.


Technical Expertise and Time Management

Mastering Google Ad Manager can be a daunting technical and time-consuming task. While the platform offers advanced features such as automated bidding and reporting, full utilization of these features requires significant effort and at least a basic understanding of user acquisition, monetization and programmatic solutions. 

Not to mention the fact that once you’ve built what you need in GAM, executing the necessary changes on your website requires a very heavy and sophisticated technical lift.

To get the most out of Google Ad Manager, it’s necessary to ensure all settings are properly configured so that campaigns can take advantage of optimization strategies like frequency capping, placement tests and targeting variables. Regularly monitoring results is essential to maintaining a successful campaign in the long-term.

Many publishers simply don’t have the technical expertise or time to take all of this one. They’re better off enlisting the help of ad management experts so they can focus on creating great content.


Limited Demand

Google Ad Manager is a great source for advertising demand. But it’s just one source for advertising demand. By handling Google Ad Manager yourself as your sole advertising solution, you’re missing out on Amazon’s TAM (Transparent Ad Marketplace) and other demand sources that can be combined to increase your revenue. 

With only GAM, you’re missing out on a whole lot of demand.

Playwire: For GAM, GAM 360, and Everything In-Between

Want access to all the data sources, all the features, and none of the intensive time commitment? Playwire is your answer. We can collect data from a range of sources to create more granular audience segments, plus more demand sources than any other ad monetization solution to generate the highest possible RPMs.

We’d love to tell you more. Contact us online today.

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