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Google AdSense and DFP Integration – A Beginner’s Guide

AdSense Google DFP integration
Serving Google AdSense ads via Google DFP lets you increase CPM, improve targeting, organize and manage ad inventories efficiently.

Google has been a major player on the sell-side of advertising. With its publisher-focused products AdSense and Google DFP (now, Google Ad Manager), it captured millions of publishers including premium media companies. But, there’s a reason why Google AdSense and Google DFP go hand-in-hand. For a publisher who’s looking to go beyond AdSense, Google DFP is the easiest (and the best) option to explore. In this piece, we’ll answer all the questions on Google AdSense and Google DFP integration and see how you can run AdSense ads along with other programmatic ads via DFP. 

Sidenote: We’ll use Google DFP and Google Ad Manager interchangeably throughout the post, but both signifies Google’s ad server product. 

First, a simple question?

To those publishers with more than a million impressions per month, have you ever considered to sign up for an ad server, especially Google Ad Manager? If not, then it’s high time to move beyond AdSense and get Google’s ad server account for your website. 

Table of Contents

Integrating AdSense and Google DFP

Although there are several ad servers available in the market, Google provides one of the most powerful ad servers i.e. DoubleClick for Publishers, for free to help publishers manage ad inventories and grow their ad revenue. Here’s a list of advantages DFP offers to its publishing partners:

  • Google offers a free version of its ad server ( i.e. Google Ad Manager Small Business) to publishers who attract a minimum of 200,000 monthly impressions (there’s no standard number from Google, we took it from our personal experience) to their websites. However, if the number of monthly impressions exceeds 90 million, then the publisher needs to buy the Premium version of DoubleClick for Publishers.
  • Since Ad Manager is one of the native products of Google, it requires less coding and can be easily integrated with Google AdSense or AdX in comparison to other ad servers like Epom, OpenX, etc.
  • Google DFP comes with enhanced malware detection capabilities and strict advertising policies. With the help of Google Anti-Malvertising, publishers can easily obstruct bad ads or report against malware.

So, if you already have an AdSense account, then you’re just a few steps away from an Ad Manager account. As a first step, you need to sign-up for Google Ad Manager which can be done on the website https://admanager.google.com/. Once an account is approved by Google, you need to link your AdSense account to the DFP account in order to serve ads from AdSense. So, in the next part of our article, we’ll take a dive into the integration of Google AdSense with Google Ad Manager.

To enable advertisers to access your ad inventories and serve AdSense ads, it is necessary to link AdSense account to Ad Manager. Below are the steps which will help you to do so:

  • Sign in to Google Ad Manager.
  • Click Admin > Linked accounts.
  • And, then click AdSense > Link an AdSense account.
  • Then, write the Publisher ID associated with your AdSense account in the Web property code.
  • Enter a Display name which you’ll select while creating an AdSense line item.
  • Enter the Contact email address which you used to sign-in to the AdSense account.
  • Then, enter the details to validate your account i.e. ZIP/Postal code and the last 5 digits of your Phone number.
  • Click Save.

To make sure that your website is eligible to apply for DFP for Small Business, Google takes some time to validate the account. Hence, we suggest you wait for some time. If the validation is successful, then go to the Linked accounts section. Here, you can check the status will be showing “Pending”. After this, the AdSense account should also have access to the Ad Manager account. To do that, follow the below steps:

  • In the AdSense interface, click on.
  • Then, click Settings > Access and authorization > Third-party access.
  • Click Approve for your Ad Manager network.

Following the above steps will give AdSense access to the Google Ad Manager account. When you’re done with the linking of accounts, the next step is to set-up AdSense ads and serve via DFP server. 

However, DFP can serve AdSense ads at the network level or ad unit level. If you want to apply the AdSense setting for all the ad units by default, then set-up inventories at the network level. Else, you can set-up AdSense for a specific ad unit.

To set-up ad serving at the network level, follow the below steps:

  • Sign in to your Google Ad Manager account.
  • Click Inventory > Network settings.
  • Then, select Maximize revenue of unsold and remnant inventory with AdSense.
  • And, click Save.

Further, if you want to serve ads at ad unit level, you need to follow the steps given below:

  • Sign in to Google Ad Manager.
  • Click Inventory > Ad units.
  • Create an ad unit or click the ad unit you want to edit.
  • Then, go to Adsense inventory settings and click Override.
  • Then, select Maximize revenue of unsold and remnant inventory with AdSense.
  • Click Save.

After giving Ad Manager access to AdSense account and vice-versa, you need to define and traffic AdSense line items in DFP. Following steps will help you to do that: 

  • Sign in to Google Ad Manager.
  • Click Delivery > Orders.
  • Then, create a new order or find an existing one.
  • After this, create a new line item. Then, select AdSense as the Line item type.
  • And, click Save.

Note: Once you’re done with defining line items in Google Ad Manager (DFP), there is no need to create separate AdSense tags for your website since AdSense line items can be delivered through Google Publisher Tags (GPT) in the Ad Manager. The GPT helps DFP to generate tags with “passback” functionality which are further used to traffic remnant line items for unfilled ad slots on a website. If you’re wondering how to set-up GPT in DFP, we have a detailed guide to do it.

Although the above-mentioned steps will help you to do the basic setup of AdSense in the Google ad server, there are three methods to serve AdSense ads via DFP while running programmatic campaigns (be it guaranteed or PMP or open auction). 

  • Passback or Waterfall strategy,
  • Dynamic Allocation or Exchange Bidding Dynamic Allocation, and
  • Header Bidding.

Serving AdSense Ads Via Passbacks

Since we have already discussed types of line items priority in our previous blog post, we assume you’re familiar with it. If not, then here’s a simple table explaining various line item types and their preference order in Google Ad Manager.

Line Item Type Line Item Type Priority Order
Guaranteed Line Item Sponsorship 4
Standard 6, 8, and 10
Non-guaranteed Line Item (AdSense/Ad Exchange Line Item) AdSense/Ad Exchange 12
Non-guaranteed Line Item Network, Bulk, Price Priority 12
House 16

Since the waterfall method enables publishers to serve ads based on the priority order and the historical performance (based on CPM rates, fill rates, etc.) of ad networks, you can set-up multiple ad networks to compete against AdSense ads in DFP and sell ad inventories at best possible CPM prices. After all, who doesn’t want to increase their ad revenue and the “passback” functionality of Google DFP serves the purpose of an ad server – manage and serve ads from multiple demand partners. 

However, there may be chances of availability of a better non-guaranteed line item (with higher CPM rates, targeting options, etc.) or an ad exchange that can sell inventories at higher CPM rates than previously delivered ads. But, due to the priority order of Guaranteed line items, non-guaranteed line items who are willing to pay more for an impression, don’t get an opportunity to deliver an ad.

Hence, to solve this issue, Google introduced dynamic allocation in Ad Manager which enabled publishers to bring Guaranteed and Non-guaranteed line items together and give equal opportunity to all to compete for the ad impressions and deliver the most appropriate ad for the inventories. So, let’s how this dynamic allocation works with DFP and AdSense.

Dynamic allocation in Google Ad Manager (DFP)

As an additional feature offered by Ad Manager, Google introduced dynamic allocation or enhanced dynamic allocation that made Non-guaranteed line items compete against line items with higher priority (i.e. Standard and Sponsorship) and sell the ad impressions at the highest price without compromising the guaranteed campaigns. So, let’s see how DFP and AdSense work in dynamic allocation.

The initial step of DFP is to allocate impressions between Guaranteed and Non-guaranteed line items giving equal opportunity to all to deliver an ad with the best possible CPM rate. It compares all the line items (based on the CPM value) in lieu of only considering priority orders.

In real-time, DFP calculates : 

  • Temporary CPM of the eligible Guaranteed line item (Standard/Sponsorship),
  • CPM of the best remnant ad from Network, Price Priority, and Bulk line items (i.e., advertisers bidding via third-party ad exchanges and ad networks)
  • CPM of the best ad from Google Ad Exchange/Adsense line item (Ad Exchange and AdSense advertisers). 

After estimating the CPM rates of Guaranteed and Non-guaranteed line items, the one with the highest CPM rate wins and delivers the ad for the publisher’s inventory. If a Guaranteed line item wins, the entered CPM is used instead of a Temporary CPM rate. Note that Google DFP assess the pace of the guaranteed campaign before delivering a remnant ad. In fact, temporary CPM is based on the delivery of the line items. If the guaranteed line item needs to be delivered, Google will assign a higher temporary CPM and then deliver it. 

Note: If you want to dynamically allocate line items in DFP, you need to link your ad exchange account to Google Ad Manager. The process of linking an exchange account is similar to the AdSense account link procedure.

Although dynamic allocation enables remnant line items to compete against guaranteed line items, Google takes complete control of the whole process. For instance, Google previously used the ‘last look’ feature which allows its own ad exchange to see what others are bidding and outbids them if it wants too. Then, there’s a waterfall way of passing bid requests from one demand to another. 

To ensure a fair auction and allow all the advertisers to get an equal opportunity to buy the ad impressions, the industry came up with header bidding*.

*Google released exchange bidding to get back publishers into its own stack. We would suggest you take a deeper look into the comparison here.

How to run Header bidding?

Header bidding is a way to go monetization strategy for publishers as it enables them to sell their ad inventory at maximum CPM rates by allowing several demand partners to bid for the ad impressions in real-time. Whoever bids the highest, wins the impression.

Publishers can have complete control and transparency in the way bids are being accrued.

Unlike Dynamic allocation which happens inside the DFP server, Header bidding can be implemented on the client-side or the server-side. If header bidding enabled, the DFP ad server makes an ad call to bidder partners simultaneously, asking them to bid for the impression. Like an auction, whoever offers the highest CPM for the impressions, buys the ad slots and returns the ad request with an ad in milliseconds. And, of course, bids from header bidding partners (demand partners) compete with Adsense and Google AdExchange to win the impressions. 

One of the best things about header bidding implementation is that – you can easily set it up in Google Ad Manager with the help of open-source Prebid.js. To set-up Header bidding with Prebid in DFP, you can read this guide. Also, various header bidding providers in the advertising marketplace can make this job easy for you. If you don’t have an in-house team to setup and optimize header bidding, then reach out to us.

Best Practices for using AdSense with Google DFP

To maximize your website’s revenue, publishers must follow a set of best practices for better ad serving via Google Ad Manager. So, we’ve listed down a few recommendations to ensure you earn more with Google DFP and AdSense.

  • For those of you who have multiple users working on Ad Manager and AdSense, ensure that your workflow is transparent and there are no ambiguities between DFP users and AdSense users.
  • Since DFP offers a variety of targeting methods, ad customization options, make sure you take proper advantage of these tools to optimize your ads. 
  • Signing up for Google Ad Manager wouldn’t make a difference if you don’t have any other ad exchanges and demand partners to compete against Google AdSense. Try to set up a direct deal or connect with other ad exchanges via header bidding.
  • Managing Google DFP can get quite complicated. Remember to take one step at a time and then analyze the impact on your website.
  • Use Google Ad Manager to target Google Adsense ads.


There is no doubt that publishers can increase their website’s ad revenue with AdSense and Google DFP integration. Some publishers run AdSense alone, while some work with Google Ad Exchange and other demand partners at the same time (depending on whether they are eligible to get access to ad exchanges). So, just make sure you have done the integration of ad server and DFP properly, and keep optimizing consistently to see the lift in revenue.

Here’s how to set up Google Ad Manager and run your first campaign.

Automatad Team

At Automatad, we help publishers to monetize better without hampering the user experience. Our products are live across hundreds of publishers, earning them incremental ad revenue with every passing second. You can request a free audit to get an estimated revenue uplift today.

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  • October 29, 2020 at 9:53 am
    A ROY


    I have tried Google Ad Manager, and most of the time My Adsense ads are sowing there. After running that ads for few weeks I can see some money (< $100) against clicks and lying with AdManager.

    My question is "What happens to that money ? Will it be added automatically to My Adsense account or I can withdraw it from Ad Manage Account separately?

    • October 29, 2020 at 11:08 am


      You’ll be able to withdraw money from AdSense as usual. Google Ad Manager is an ad serving tool and in your case, AdSense in the one that pays you.

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