How to Setup Google Ad Manager: A Step by Step Guide

Updated on: December 22, 2023
Want to set up Google Ad Manager (or Google DFP)? Then, you're in the right place.

Google Ad Manager helps publishers automate and streamline the process of selling and distributing their ad inventory across channels. Most publishers find serving, managing, and optimizing their ad stack helpful.

Pressed for time and looking to set up Google Ad Manager quickly? We have a step-by-step guide to help you get set up. This article has all the details to help you plug in your ad layout and start quickly.

How to Set up Google Ad Manager?

If you already have an account with AdSense, you can directly create an account on the Google Ad Manager official website. However, if you don’t have one, create an AdSense account, as Google has made it mandatory to have an AdSense account. Once you are with an AdSense account, you can sign in and set up Ad Manager.

  • Create Ad Units
  • Create New Order
  • Create New Line Item
  • Add Targeting
  • Define Ad Creative
  • Generate Ad Tags

Step 1 – Create Ad Units

First and foremost, you need to create ad units. To create and set up ad units, follow the steps:

  • Go to Inventory > New ad unit > One level below “Network”. An ad unit can be created at a parent level or lower level (under parent-level). If you click one level below “Network”, it’s a child unit – created under an ad unit. If you want to create a parent unit, you can go with the “current level

Create ad unit in Google Ad Manager

  • Then, enter a Code E.g., adserver_tech. This code is used to identify the ad unit in the associated ad tag (present in the site’s source code) and cannot be changed once saved. While you debug/troubleshoot, you rely on the code to recognize the ad unit. 
  • Enter a name (E.g., sitename_adsize_placement) and add a few lines about the ad unit in the description. Apparently, this will help you identify the unit on the Google Ad Manager interface.
  • Select the ad unit size from the drop-down menu (Size). You can select more than one size (300×250, 728×90, and 336×280). Need help picking up the sizes, then look at the best ad unit sizes guide
  • From the Target window drop-down menu and choose one of the options i.e., Top or Blank. If you select Top, the landing page associated with the ad will be opened in the current tab when a visitor clicks the ad. If you want to open the landing page in a new tab, then select Blank (suggested).
  • The placement option is optional and can be skipped for now (If you’ve already created placements, you can add this ad unit to any of those placements. What are placements? If you want to group a number of ad units for targeting, you can create placements). 
  • Then, the Frequency caps feature limits the number of times a user is served certain ads
  • Then, click Save.

Create an ad unit in ad manager

Just like this, you can create as many ad units as you want. 

Step 2 – Create New Order

Then, the next step is to set up an ad campaign. This is how it’s done:

  • Click Order > New order. Enter the name of the advertiser, for example, Amazon Advertising.
  • In the Company block, click Add a new company. Enter the name the same as that you filled in the name of the advertiser. And select one option out of three – Advertiser, Ad Network, and House Advertiser.
  • Then, click Save.
  • Fill in your email address in the Trafficker space. 

Create an order in ad manager

Step 3 – Create New Line Item

Follow the below steps to create a new Line Item:

  • Click Order > New line item. Select the line item type: Display or Video or audio. Enter the Name of the line item, for example, Amazon Alexa.
  • In the Inventory sizes, add the sizes of line items, i.e., 336×280, 728×90, 468×90, and so on. You can add more than one size here.
  • Now, it’s time to configure Settings and Adjust Delivery.

Create line item in ad manager

Before making any changes in the Settings, it’s important to understand the terms involved in this section because these two sections define the delivery of ads on the website.

Google DFP enables publishers to prioritize the order of delivery of Line Items. Line Items are divided into three types based on their priority of delivery. 

These three are further sub-divided into the following categories:

Types of Line Items

  • Sponsorship – Used for direct-sold campaigns where % of impressions and a start and end date are pre-defined. Select this when a buyer wants to “take over” your webpage or the complete website. Line items of the Sponsorship type usually have the highest priority over other items.
  • Standard – Used for direct-sold campaigns where impression goal and a start and end date are pre-defined. Unlike Sponsorship priority, select this when a buyer wants a specific number of impressions.
  • AdSense – If you want to place ads and give preference to AdSense inventories, then select this option. Here, AdSense ads will be served first and then others.
  • Ad Exchange – Similar to that AdSense priority, this gives preference to Google Ad Exchange ads.
  • Network – Select this when you have an ad network without impression goals. It is suggested to use Network priority when you want to display several line items evenly.
  • Bulk – Select this when you’re selling inventories in bulk and your buying partners aren’t sure of delivery timelines.
  • Price priority – Use this when filling your remnant inventories with the highest-paying Line Item.
  • House – House priority is the one with the lowest priority. Use this when no ad buyer (ad network, ad exchange, etc.) can serve an ad. This can be typically used to promote your products or services. When no ad network or ad exchange delivers an ad, then this enables the server to return an in-house ad of the publisher.

Line items

*If a publisher has multiple line items with different priorities, then Google DFP prioritize them in the following order –

Sponsorship > Standard > Network > Bulk > Price Priority > House

Google DFP Line item priority

Related Read: Different types of line item priorities in Google Ad Manager

So, returning to Settings, select the priority you want from the drop-down menu Type. Enter the Start time and End time to deliver ads across a day. Then, specify the Goal % of remnant impressions, usually meant to determine the number of impressions the line item should ideally serve.

Next to Settings is Adjust Delivery. This section is optional and used to modify ad delivery timelines.

After entering the ad delivery specifications, move to the Add Targeting (below the Settings option)

Note: If you’re creating a new Line Item, you’ll have to Approve it. Otherwise, ads will not be served. To do that, Go to Order > New Line Item > Approve. That’s it.

Step 4 – Add Targeting

This section is used to display ads based on certain targeting options. In Google DFP, follow the steps to add targeting to your line items:

  • Click Inventory. Include the ad inventories where you want to display targeted ads (This is where you select the ad units and/or placements you created in the first step. If a user loads the page, the ad unit gets called, and then the unit will trigger the associated line items). And then Save.
  • Then, click Geography and enter the locations where you want to display the ads.
  • Click the User Domains. It is used to target users coming from specific websites. For example – when you want to target visitors coming to your website from another website, then you can add this referral website link in the User Domains.
  • Below the User Domains is a Browsing option that targets visitors based on their browsing details i.e. browser they are using or their operating system, etc.


Note: With Custom Criteria, you can target specific attributes since this option enables additional targeting options e.g. tagging web pages to specific attributes and then targeting them. 

Advanced Reading: A Beginner’s Guide to Key-Value Targeting

Step 5 – Define Ad Creative

Now you have to add ad creatives. Go to the Creative tab in the left side menu bar and select Add Creative. Then, 

  • Click on New creative.
  • Select the advertiser by searching for the name. Go to the Image file and upload an image that will be displayed in the ad slot*.
  • Give a name to the ad creative, specify Target ad unit size, and upload the image file.
  • Enter the Click-through URL in the field.
  • Select Associated ad technology providers, if there are any, and save the settings.

*This applies when you are running direct deals with advertisers from whom you can get the ad creatives. If you’re running programmatic ads, you need to include a third-party ad creative in the place of the image file. So, instead of selecting the upload image option, you must go with a “Third party”. 

Once you’ve added creatives, you must associate them with line items. It can be done by navigating to the line item creation tab (refer to step 3). 

That’s it. Next to it is the last step – Generate ad tags. Let’s see how to do that.

Step 6 – Generate Ad Tags

After creating ad units, the next and final step is to generate and add ad tags to your website’s code. This is how you can generate ad tags:

  • Click Inventory > Generate tags. Then, select the ad units you want to create ad tags for. After selecting all the ad units, click Generate tags at the bottom.
  • Then, go to the Tag type drop-down menu and select one – Google Publisher Tag, Mobile Application Tag, and AMP Tag.
  • Tick the Enable Single Request, and if you want to collapse the ad unit when it is unfilled, then opt for Collapse empty divs. This is optional.

tag types

  • Then, copy the generated tag (in the Document header) for the header and paste it to the header code of your website. This tag contains the Publisher ID and all ad units for that particular page. Here’s what the head tag looks like:

<script async src=""></script>
  window.googletag = window.googletag || {cmd: []};
  googletag.cmd.push(function() {
    googletag.defineSlot('/73188410/publisherwebsite_120x600_Desktop_AXT', [120, 600], 'div-gpt-ad-1637047976907-0').addService(googletag.pubads());
  •  After doing this, copy the tags generated (in the Document body) and paste them below <body> tag in your website’s source code. An example of a body tag:

<!-- /73188406/91mobiles_120x600_Desktop_AXT -->
<div id='div-gpt-ad-1637047976907-0' style='min-width: 120px; min-height: 600px;'>
    googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1637047976907-0'); });

Once the aforementioned steps are done, the ad server is ready to serve ads on your website.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Google Ad Manager?

Google Ad Manager is an ad server. It is a technology that enables publishers to define, manage, and monitor ad inventories on their web, mobile app, or video ad inventories to display various ad types.

What are the Eligibility Criteria to get a Google Ad Manager Account?

If you’re a publisher receiving 1 million+ page views per month, you can sign up for a Google Ad Manager Account.

Can I get Google Ad Manager Account without Adsense Account?

No, In order to get a Google Ad Manager Account, you must signup for Google Adsense.

How to Set up Google DFP for Small Business?

Here’s how to set up a google DFP account for a small business: create ad units, create new order, create new line item, add targeting, define ad creative, and generate ad tags.


In this post, we’ve seen how to set up Google DFP and run ads. But your job isn’t done here. Google Ad Manager setup is basic, you can utilize passback tags and advanced techniques like header bidding to take complete advantage of your ad server. Whatever we’ve followed applies to all the campaigns you’ll create in the near future – you just need to change the priority, targeting, etc. to ensure proper delivery.

Have more questions? Let us know in the comments. Need personalized recommendations or setup assistance, we’re a click away

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