What Are Multiplex Ads? How To Get Started With Them?

Updated on: January 2, 2024
Publishers looking to engage audiences through native ad formats should keep track of multiplex ad formats when planning their media selling.

The space immediately below articles has always been an afterthought for publishers. But as content recommendation ads have matured, publishers and advertisers notice the power beneath the fold. Also known as ‘native recommendation ads’, ‘suggested content’, or ‘sponsored content’, content recommendation ad formats make the ads blend into the look and feel of the publisher’s website.

Though content recommendation ads have been around for some time, their inclusion on publisher sites has exploded in recent years. And it’s not hard to see why. Companies like Taboola and Outbrain have perfected this ad format, and publishers looking to diversify their revenue streams have taken note.

In fact, Google introduced ‘Multiplex ads’ to provide publishers with much-needed native ad revenue and serve content recommendation ads on their websites. This guide examines the promise of multiplex ads, how you can get started, and more.

What Are Multiplex Ads?

Multiplex ads are Google’s native ad format types that enable you to deliver content recommendation ads on desktop and mobile devices. Such ads can be served through an open auction in Ad Manager and are customizable to blend with the website. Multiplex ads often appear in a grid format, but the layout of ads can be changed according to your needs. Here’s an example of Multiplex ads:

Google Multiplex ads are displayed in less obvious areas of the page, such as above image galleries, in between post blocks, or well down the page. They emphasize content discovery by promoting related items to content already viewed.

How Do Auction Dynamics Work for Multiplex Ads?

In Ad Manager, Google holds independent auctions for each cell within a grid. As a publisher, you can set target CPM or price floor for the cells in the unified pricing rules for the ad units. Conversely, advertisers can bid for each cell and serve the ad if they win the auction.

Benefits of Multiplex Ads

  • When placing ads on a webpage, finding the right balance between advertising and the user experience is important. With Multiplex ad layouts, users can continue to enjoy the content of the website while, at the same time, the ads do not impact the experience as they appear at the bottom of the page—a win-win for both – you and your readers.
  • On the one hand, you don’t need to worry about the quality of Multiplex ads served on your websites since Google is sure to set high standards. On the other hand, you can reach the largest pool of potential advertisers through Google, and you don’t need to worry about getting unfilled ad impressions for the Multiplex ad units.
  • Multiplex ads can help reduce banner blindness, a major issue for many publishers. Since they look like native content, users are less likely to avoid them on the website.

How to Get Started with Multiplex Ads in Google Ad Manager?

Setting up Multiplex ads is easier if you’re experienced with native ad units in Ad Manager. Assuming you’re a beginner, let’s help you to set them up.

  • On the Ad Manager home page, click Delivery > Native > New native ad and select Multiplex ad from the dropdown menu.
  • By default, Google decides the ad layout and dynamically chooses the best-performing Multiplex ad styles for desktop and mobile devices. If you want to customize your ad, disable the option “Let Google optimize layout.”
  • Once you disable the default setting, select the layout for the multiplex ads. Google provides three different layouts:
    • Single column (landscape image) – For mobile devices and rail placements on desktop.
    • Single column (square image) –  For mobile devices and rail placements on desktop.
    • Multi-column (landscape image) – For desktop layout only.
    • Now, you can let Google decide the best font and color design for your ad or manually change the design.
  • At last, set the targeting criteria for the Multiplex ads and click on Save and Continue to proceed further. While setting the targeting parameters, ensure it matches the line item’s targeting.

Additional note: Ad Exchange line items are needed to serve multiplex ads. So, ensure you have the same. Also, ensure that the expected creative size is ‘Native programmatic.’

How to Analyze the Performance of Multiplex Ads?

Measuring the performance of your Multiplex ads can give you valuable insights into what is happening with your ads over time and get the most out of your native ad set-up. Here’s how to create a report on Multiplex ads in Ad Manager:

  • Select Reporting > Reports > New Report on the Ad Manager home page.
  • Fill in the basic details, including the report type as ‘Historical.’ Select “Multiplex style name” in the Dimensions settings.
  • In the Metrics section, select “Total Multiplex cell impressions.” It shows the number of times the user viewed an ad in the grid. For example, if a grid with four ads loads on four occasions on the website, Google will count it as 16 impressions.
  • Invite the collaborators/editors (if any), and save and run the report.

Related Read: How to create different reports in Google Ad Manager?

Google to Stop Supporting Multiplex Ad Formats

Google announced it would stop supporting multiplex ad formats from July 20, 2023. The company has been encouraging publishers and advertisers to use the standard format since 2020, and the move was aimed at improving user experience and providing support for ad formats like content recommendations.

However, after three years, Google has discontinued support for multiplex ads due to declining usage. So, if you haven’t set a fallback native ad, you should look into it to avoid serving blank ads on the website.

What else you should do? Well, you can set up a fluid native-style ad with the same targeting criteria. Check out this announcement post from Google to learn more about the timelines.

What’s Next?

Finding the right ad format is not a simple task. There are dozens of options, many of which don’t follow a “one-size-fits-all” approach. The best option for your business will depend on what you’re trying to accomplish and how much you want to invest.

But when it comes down to it, there’s no denying that with the recent additions in ad designs to Google Ad Manager, multiplex ad formats should be at the top of any publisher’s list of considerations. Whatever you do, just ensure you’re putting all the right pieces together to create an interesting and compelling ad unit for your viewers.


How to Install Multiplex Ads in WordPress?

Publishers can run multiplex ads in WordPress by setting the ad format in Google Ad Manager.

How to Use AdSense Multiplex Ads?

Publishers need a Google Ad Manager account to run multiplex ads and Google AdSense.

How to Use Multiplex Ads in GAM?

To use multiplex ads in Google Ad Manager, go to Delivery > Native > New native ad > Multiplex ad. However, please note that Google will be discontinuing the ad format from July 2023.

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