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Google Ad Manager Line Items and Priorities – A Complete Guide

Line Items in Google Ad Manager
Are you a bit confused about its line items and priorities in Google Ad Manager? We're here to help.

When you’re dealing with multiple campaigns on your site then you have to prioritize them. You want to make sure that every campaign reaches its goal. You also want to ensure that if a part of your inventory goes unsold then that remnant inventory should also be monetized with some other demand sources. Line items and their priorities in Google Ad Manager enable you in setting up the required mechanism for all such operations.

There are three categories of line items in Google Ad Manager. Based on the type of campaigns you’re running, you have two categories to choose from – Guaranteed and Non-Guaranteed.

Types of Line Items in Google Ad Manager

Guaranteed

The line items under this category are used when you know the duration of the campaign and you have made a commitment of serving a definite number of impressions or a definite percentage of your impressions.

Non-Guaranteed

The line items under this category are used when no strict commitments are made for the delivery of a campaign. Since there’s no guarantee involved, these line items can be over or underserved.

Apart from the above two, there’s a third category of line items called Ad Network and Exchange line items. The line items under this category are used to serve ads from Adsense and AdX. In the true sense, they are non-guaranteed line items only. They just represent the programmatic demand from Google’s platforms.

The Guaranteed, Non-Guaranteed, and Ad Network and Ad Exchange categories have multiple types of line items and each line item has a priority assigned to it. The assigned priority is conveyed through a numerical value. You would want to prioritize one demand partner over the other based on the deal you have signed. So, this prioritization will be done by selecting the appropriate type of line item for every demand partner.

Guaranteed Line Items
Line Item TypePriority
Sponsorship4
Standard6

8

10

 

Non-Guaranteed Line Items
Line Item TypePriority
Network12
Bulk12
Price Priority12
House16

 

Ad Network & Exchange
Line Item TypePriority
Adsense12
Ad Exchange12

Now, let us discuss each one of these categories in detail.

Guaranteed Line Items

There are two types of Guaranteed Line Items:

Sponsorship:

Sponsorship has the highest priority among all the line items. It is used for directly sold sponsorship campaigns. It delivers a percentage of available matching requests. It is also called ‘share-of-voice’ because a certain percentage of inventory is shared with the sponsorship campaign. The numerical value of its priority is 4. It is the lowest number among all the numerical values and signifies the highest priority.

The start and end date of a direct sponsorship campaign are generally fixed. They can be charged based on CPM, CPC, or CPD (cost per day). When there’s a fixed targeting criterion for a campaign then the number of the matching impressions becomes the basis of calculating the percentage.

  • So, if you set the percentage goal of a sponsorship line item to 100% then it’ll serve for every matching request. It is called Exclusive Sponsorship.
  • If there are two sponsorship line items with 50% as their percentage goal then both the line items will serve equally. It is called Competing Sponsorship.
  • If there are multiple sponsorship line items with different percentage goals but the sum of all the percentage points is equal to a hundred (say 50%, 30%, 20%), then the line items will serve accordingly. It’s called Multiple Competing Sponsorships.
  • If the sum of percentage points is more than 100 (say 50%, 50%, 50%) then the sum will be treated as 100% and the percentage points will be used to determine their actual value. For example, 50%, 50% and 50% (total is 150) becomes 33.3%, 33.3% and 33.3%. 

Standard:

Standard Line Item type is also used for directly sold campaigns. It delivers on the basis of the number of impressions. It also has a fixed start and end date. It has three different priority levels – 6, 8, and 10 which are nothing but high, medium, and low respectively. So if there are multiple standard line items with matching requests then the one with the highest priority will serve the ad. Also, if a lower priority line item can beat a standard line item in price, then the lower priority line item will serve.

Here’s an example of a campaign goal that’s ideal to use as a standard line item: 1 Million impressions during a period of 30 days in the lower sticky ad unit.

Non-Guaranteed Line Items

They are also called Remnant Line Items. These Line Items are used in non-guaranteed deals. Inside the Non-Guaranteed category, there are four types of Line Items:

Network:

It is used when you’re dealing with ad networks that have no impression goal. It serves on the basis of a defined percentage. It has a priority level of 12. It can compete directly with Ad Network & Exchange Line Items. It can have an unlimited end date. The prices can be calculated on CPM, CPC, or CPD basis. 

You’ll use the Network Line Item when you want to allocate a definite percentage of impressions that are left after the Guaranteed Line Items have delivered.

While using Dynamic Allocation, you can assign a weightage to the Network Line Item to control how often it should compete with others. For example, if you want a Network Line Item to always compete with other line items in Dynamic Allocation then you can set the weight to 100%. Similarly, if you set the weight to 50% then it’ll compete only half the time.

Bulk:

Bulk is used when you’re dealing with an advertiser who has an impression goal but doesn’t have any fixed timeline. The impression goal works like the upper limit for the number of impressions to be delivered. It also has priority level 12 and it can compete directly with Ad Network & Exchange Line Items. Since it is a Non Guaranteed line item, it can remain underserved in cases where Ad Network & Exchanges line items can outbid Bulk line items. The prices can be calculated on a CPM and CPC basis.

 Price Priority:

The Price Priority Line Item is used when there’s no impression goal and the no end date. It is used to sell the unsold inventory to the highest paying buyer. Its priority is also 12. Ad Network & Exchange Line Items can compete with Price Priority line items as well. When the number of impressions is unlimited, there’s no question of over or undeserving, but you can still specify a daily or lifetime cap for it. The pricing can be calculated on a CPM and CPC basis.

So, for example if you are working with a header bidding partner, then you’ll be using this line item.

House:

The House Line Item has the lowest priority of 16. It is used to serve ads when no other line items are serving. It is generally used for non-revenue generating ads. In-house offerings like events, products, or services can be promoted with House Line Items.

Note: Until the line item’s goal or cap is met, they’ll serve in the following order:

  1. Line items with percentage goals, like Network line items.
  2. Line items with an absolute number of impressions or clicks, like Bulk Line Items.
  3. Line Items with unlimited goals, like Price Priority Line Items. 

Ad Network and Exchange Line Items

The line items under this category are used to add Adsense and AdX demand for your inventory.

Adsense Line Item:

Adsense Line Item is used to serve ads from one of more Adsense accounts. Its priority is 12. Your Ad Manager account should be linked to your Adsense account before starting to serve ads with this line item. 

Ad Exchange Line Item:

Ad Exchange Line Item is used to serve ads from one or more AdX accounts. Just like Adsense  Line Item, its priority is 12 and your AdX account should be linked with Ad Manager to serve this line item.

While running Preferred Deals, the Ad Exchange Line Item serves before all the Non-Guaranteed line items but only after the Guaranteed Line Items have served.

So How Do these Line Items Work Together?

Google Ad Manager serves ads based on the priorities selected by you. Upon receiving an ad request, GAM goes through all the priority levels to find the most eligible line item. First, the non-eligible line items are eliminated on the basis of frequency capping, day-parting, exclusions etc. In the next step, the highest priority line item is selected from the remaining ones to serve the ad. If two line items are equally eligible, then the winner is selected on the basis of CPM.

But it’s different with Dynamic Allocation

When a publisher uses the Dynamic Allocation feature in GAM, then the line item selection process changes significantly. 

First, if there is a Standard Line item eligible to serve, then a temporary CPM is allotted to it. The temporary CPM depends on how the line item is reaching its goal. Suppose if there are lesser chances for a line item to reach its goal then a higher temporary CPM is allotted, if it is about to reach its goal then a lower temporary CPM is allotted. The CPM works like a weightage.

After the Standard Line Item, if there are any non-guaranteed line items eligible to serve then the line item with the highest average CPM is selected. Then the temporary CPM from the Standard Line Item and the highest average CPM from the non guaranteed line items are sent to AdX to compete in real-time. If AdX can pay a higher CPM then it serves the impression. If not, then the winner among the remaining two serves the ad.

How does a typical  Line Item setup look like?

Although there are so many Line Items available for the publishers, typically the setup is based on whether the deal is guaranteed or non guaranteed. Sponsorship and Standard Line Items are used for guaranteed deals, apart from that publishers use price priority mostly all the time. Other line items are rarely used.

What’s Next?

You have to first understand the requirements of the campaign before deciding the right kind of Line Item for it. For guaranteed direct deals use Sponsorship or Standard Line Items. For all other non-guaranteed deals, choose one among Network, Bulk and Price Priority. Use House for the situations when there are no ads to serve. Use Ad Network and Exchange Line Items to serve ads from Adsense and AdX. Have any questions? Let us know in the comments. 

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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