Leveraging ad testing with Google Ad Manager helps publishers to optimize their ads without changing the existing set-up in the server.
As a sell-side partner, we understand how important it is to validate that the ads are performing well on the site in order to deliver better user experience and drive more revenue. Though Google Ad Manager measures the performance of your ad campaigns by generating reports, the ad server does it on a weekly, quarterly, monthly basis or after a specific date range. But, what if we tell you that you can check the functionality of your ad units, advertisers, or line items even before getting them live on your site?
If you’re wondering how’s that even possible, then let us tell you that Google Ad Manager allows publishers to create test objects (line items, ad units, advertisers, etc.) to check the functioning and behavior of the ads on your pages. Since testing and measuring are equally important to optimize and run the ad campaigns smoothly, we’ve written this article to explain how to do ad testing in Google Ad Manager and its impact on user experience.
Why Do You Need Ad Testing?
Ad testing is a process that enables publishers to test ads and analyze how they function during development without affecting the live website. It provides the most reliable answers to your questions on DFP setup and errors. For example:
- Why ad units are active or inactive?
- Is the ad unit size correct or should it be changed?
- Are the landing pages rendering the ads as intended or not?
- Are the key-values mapped to the ad units are accurate?
Ad testing not only ensures that the ads are functioning smoothly but also enables publishers to figure out what needs to be changed in order to deliver a better user experience. Since ad campaigns consist of various elements such as advertisers, line items, orders, key-values, placements, etc., let’s dig down in detail and see how we can test them in Google Ad Manager.
Stage #1: Testing Advertisers, Ad Units, Order, and Line Items.
Since Advertisers, Orders, etc. are the steps where you begin setting up an ad campaign, why not start testing with them. So, create a test advertiser, orders and line items for the advertiser to start the testing. After the creation of test objects, you need to create a test page on your site so that testing can be done without affecting the live website.
This is how you can create a testing web page:
1. Go to Notepad or you can use TextWrangler as well. And write the code:
2. Now, save the code as an HTML file and upload it to the webserver where you have hosted the site. Since this step varies and depends on the web host configuration, your web developers team can help you to complete the process.
Let’s test the objects.
How to test objects:
Further, to identify the ads showing abnormal behavior, publishers can check how they are being rendered and respective impressions. So, you can start the process by using different IP addresses to generate ad impressions and see how your ads are delivered by the test objects (advertisers, line items, or orders) in Google Ad Manager. Refresh the webpage every 3-4 seconds to check whether the ads are being replaced by a new ad or not. Also, notice the page load time simultaneously. If you have enabled ad refresh, then stay on the page to see whether the ads are getting refreshed as expected.
What should you do after testing:
Sometimes, refreshing ads rapidly trigger the spam filtering of Google Ad Manager and marks the ad impressions as spam. In such a case, adjust the refresh rate and change it from Manual to Automated or vice-versa to get to the optimal set-up.
Stage #2: Testing Ad Manager Ad Tags.
Since tags play an important role in the functioning of associated ad units on a website, there’s a necessity for you to test ad tags. After all, ad tags initiate the whole process of getting the ad to the users.
How to test ad tags:
To start testing ad tags, generate ad tags in Google Ad Manager and place the ad tags on their respective location – in the <head> and the <body> code blocks. Then, visit the test page using different browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.) and operating systems, and devices to see if the ad calls are made properly from the browser.
What should you do after testing:
Doing the above-mentioned steps will help you to understand the functionality of various ad units on different devices. If you believe ad units are showing unexpected behavior, then you can use Chrome developer tools to visually see how the requests are being made as you load the page. Better, you can use Google Publisher Console to get into the specifics of ad requests on the page.
Stage #3: Testing Ad Creatives.
Google Ad Manager offers various trafficking features for ad creatives such as frequency capping, ad exclusion labels, roadblocking, etc. Since creatives on your site influence both user experience and brands (that delivers the ads), it is recommended to test the creatives before associating them with a line item of active order.
How to test ad creatives:
So, add at least three to four ad creatives and check if they are rendering properly across all devices. Ensure that the impressions and clicks are counted. Also, you can take advantage of the “Preview” feature of Ad Manager that helps to view how the creatives look on your website. To do this in Google Ad Manager, follow the steps:
- Click on Delivery > Line items.
- Click the Line items you want to Preview. Then Google Ad Manager will display the creative in the Preview tab.
You can check the preview of a line item in a new window, on your site, or on your device (mobile app or device).
What should you do after testing:
If a creative isn’t rendering as expected, then you need to contact advertisers for the creatives that work properly. Also, if you’re serving out-of-page ads (interstitial, pop-under, pop-up, or floating – we advise you to follow coalition of better ads guidelines while selecting the ad format), then ensure you’ve updated Google Publisher Tag on your site for rendering those ads.
Sidenote: We also suggest you make sure the ad creative is compatible with iFrames so that it doesn’t interact with the other elements present on the page and affects user experience. By default, all ads delivered by Google Ad Exchange and AdSense are sandboxed.
In essence, ad testing in Google Ad Manager is performed to ensure that the publishers are running the right ad campaigns that aren’t hampering the user experience. Though we have tried to cover the necessary points to consider while testing ads in Google Ad Manager, there are many more things publishers could do. If you are looking for troubleshooting help, then we’ve covered it extensively here.