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Here’s Why You Are Getting Charged for Using Google Ad Manager

Google Ad Manager Billing
If you have been serving more than 90 million ad impressions via Google Ad Manager, then you'll need to set up billing to ensure delivery of your line items. Here's what you need to do next.

Google Ad Manager is a full-stack ad platform and it has added several products and tools to help the publishers drive up the ad revenue. That explains why 49% of publishers use Google Ad Manager for ad serving. The best part is, it comes for free. While there’s a steep learning curve, you can get started with Ad Manager with just an AdSense account. 

Anyways, when you cross a certain threshold limit, Google Ad Manager will start charging you for the additional impressions.

If you have access to Ad Manager 360, then you might be familiar with the billing set-up as it is available by default. For the publishers who have started delivering close to 100 million impressions via the unpaid version of Ad Manager, this may seem quite new.

Though setting up billing in Google Ad Manager must not take more than a few minutes, you need to know when to set it up in the first place and how to do it right. So, in this post, we’ll help you to understand:

Why Might Google Ad Manager Charge You?

The ad server delivers trillions of ad impressions on behalf of publishers. For the publishers who have access to the free version of Google Ad Manager, the ad server permits 90 million to 200 million display ad impressions per month based on the country. In the context of video ads, the threshold value is 80,000 (Src). 

But if you are delivering more, then you will be charged. Most importantly, ad impressions aren’t the only metric to keep track of. You also need to keep an eye on all the other system-level variables including, orders, line items, ad units, creatives, key values, and yield groups.

When you exceed any threshold, you’ll be asked to update the billing so that Google can charge you for extra usage. Else, it will pause the delivery of line items to get back the total impression within the limit.

If you are in the situation, you’d be required to take a step back, and figure out when will you be charged for serving extra ad impressions. Though Ad Manager will send you notifications about reaching the threshold of impressions, you need to find out before it starts displaying a warning message in the UI and stops the delivery of line items.

So, how do you do that?

How to Check If You have Reached the System Limits?

Check total ad impressions served:

Google Ad Manager reports are easily accessible and will help you to capture data related to the ad impressions. You will be required to pull out Historical reports, but in case you also wanted to consider your reserved impressions, you can run a second Future Sell-through report (available for GAM 360 users). Historical reporting data includes AdSense impressions, AdExchange impressions, Invoiced impressions, Unfilled impressions, and Total impressions.

Since Google Ad Manager includes the unfilled display ad impressions* while calculating the total ad impressions, you need to combine Requested ad sizes and Ad unit (all levels) dimensions under Inventory to have a better understanding of where the unfilled impressions are going. 

unfilled impressions in google dfp

Then, select Unfilled impressions and total impressions as the metrics. total impressions filled and unfilled in google ad manager


Sidenote: While calculating the total number of ad impressions for billing purposes, Google Ad Manager doesn’t count unfilled mobile app and video ad impressions. But it does count unfilled display impressions.

Check total line items, orders, inventories, and creatives served:

As we have given a hint before in this article about the system maximums for line-item delivery, Google Ad Manager has updated the UI to display the same. If you haven’t seen that yet, follow the steps given below:

  1. Go to your Google Ad Manager home page, and click Admin > Global settings in the left navigation bar.
  2. Select Limits to view your system threshold value.

Line item limit in GAM

Here, you can also view the number of line items currently existing in the Ad Manager account. If you scroll down to the next section, you can get a combined overview of how many active ad units, key-values, etc. are set up in the server:

inventory and ad creative limit in google ad manager

The data provided in this section will help you to identify how many more ad units, ad placements, or key values can be delivered. But, the challenges start from the time when you start reaching the thresholds. For example, a total of 600,000 line items also includes the line items that are inactive due to some reasons. It is pretty obvious that nobody wants to pay for an inactive line item or unfilled ad impressions.

line items limit in google ad manager

Exceeding System Limits in GAM – Next Steps

For Ad Impressions and Ad Units:

Paying Google for unfilled ad impressions isn’t going to help your business by any means. That is why it is important to know the demand channels responsible for leaving the ad inventories unfilled. Once you have a clear understanding of ad fill rate, you can reduce the unfilled impressions by:

  • Implementing dynamic floor price or adjusting floor price based on the seasonality,
  • Taking advantage of private marketplace deals,
  • Running ads on the placements with high viewability and CTR,
  • Including pre-roll format for video ad inventories as it has more demand than other video ad formats.
  • Removing the ad units that are used for tracking purposes (e.g. 1×1 pixels).
  • Increasing the ad inventories and ad units for which ad exchanges, ad networks, and other demand channels can compete to increase the yield. 
  • Implementing effective header auctions.

For Line Items and Creatives:

Google Ad Manager provides troubleshooting tools to find the underperforming line items. You can access this feature by navigating to Delivery > Line items. Use the Filters to select the line items that aren’t delivering. Click on Troubleshoot to find the reasons why they didn’t deliver, and resolve the issues.

Troubleshoot Line Item

Line items are the major stumbling blocks for publishers as Google Ad Manager doesn’t allow to delete line items permanently. But, it does allow altering the status of line items from “active” to “inactive”. However, this isn’t going to help you in any way as the server counts inactive line items as well while calculating the total number of line items per account.

So, you have only one choice here – ensuring that the existing line items perform well. If all of the line items are delivering as per your expectations and you still need to add more, then you will be required to pay Google a fee.

Also, the ad server has put a limit on the number of creatives as you have seen in the above image. So, check the Creatives. If you find duplicate creatives for a line item, remove them to create space for the new creatives. 

Note: If an ad creative is associated with impressions, then removing it from the GAM UI will also delete the data associated with it from the GAM reports. Hence, GAM experts recommend deactivating the creatives rather than permanently removing them. 

For Key-Value Pairs:

Google Ad Manager will only allow passing 200 keys per network and 100,000 values per key. For reporting purposes, the limit is 30,000 key values. Hence, in order to keep your account within the limit, you need to exclude unnecessary key-value pairs from the reports.

In addition to these basic elements, the Ad Manager has defined a threshold value for various other factors such as unified pricing rules, floor price, proposals, targeting criteria, and many more. To get detailed information on the limits, refer to the GAM support page.

For publishers with millions of ad impressions, these points can help to avoid the charges. However, for bigger publishers who wish to deliver more impressions, there is no escape. In such instances, publishers have to get in touch with their Google Account Manager to set up the billing feature in Ad Manager.

How to Set up Billing in Google Ad Manager?

When a publisher is about to reach the threshold value, Google starts notifying via different means (e-mails, notifications in UI, etc.). Once you get a notification, get in touch with your Account Manager to enable the feature for you. 

As soon as the feature is available for your account, you will be able to see a Billing tab in Google Ad Manager. Then, follow the steps below to set up your account for billing:

  1. Go to the Google Ad Manager home page and click Billing > Sign up.
  2. Enter your Billing information. Select the account type – Business or Individual. Enter the business name, your billing address, and information for the primary contact.
  3. Select the Method of payment – Bank account, Credit, or Debit card. Enter the other details. And click Continue.
  4. Select a language for communication. Review the Welcome page, terms, and conditions, and click Continue. At last, click Done.

Google Ad Manager will send you notifications after 30 days from the date you sign-up for billing features about your charges via an invoice. You can view the invoice after the completion of a month by clicking on the Billing > Invoices, and View invoices.

The server displays the status of your payment as Open and Due. If you have status with Due and fail to pay the fee within the specified time, Google will stop serving ads and the UI will display error messages while setting up additional line items, creatives, etc. 


Google Ad Manager will ask you to pay the fee based on its own reports. So, if you see any discrepancies in the invoice and believe that your in-house report doesn’t match with Google’s, you can initiate a payment reconciliation request by addressing the same via e-mail written in your invoice. 

Participation in Google Ad Manager is free up to a limit. So, before asking the Account Manager to enable the billing feature for your website, check if you can optimize the current set-up. If there is no space for optimization and you really need new line items, creatives, proposals, etc., then go ahead with the procedure. Let us in the comments below if you have any questions. 

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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