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How to Optimally Setup Unified Pricing Rules in GAM?

Setup Unified Pricing Rules (UPR)
Looking to setup Unified Pricing Rules (UPR) optimally? Then, you're in the right place.

Unified Pricing Rules came into effect by the end of 2019 and every publisher must have made the changes accordingly. 

While publishers agree that the Unified Pricing Rules have simplified the auction dynamics, some publishers have overlooked the pricing rules and they aren’t able to generate the desired yield. Knowing how and where to optimize your pricing rules is essential to maximizing your ad revenue.

If you’re also standing in the same queue for the answer, then this article is for you. Here we are going to help you understand why you’re not able to get the desired revenue as well as how to get the most out of the Unified Pricing Rules with an optimal set-up.

As a reminder, Google has introduced Unified Pricing Rules to centralize the setting and management of the price floor or target CPM in the Ad Manager. Though it created a unified auction for all, a publisher who hasn’t set-up UPRs optimally may lose revenue because of multiple factors.

For example, setting floor prices too high might drive away the advertisers. On the other hand, setting too low might attract the irrelevant advertisers. So, here is a list of strategies/actions to set-up Unified Pricing Rules optimally.

Table of Contents:

7 Ways to Optimally Set-up Unified Pricing Rules

Set the Price Floor based on the Inventory Value:

On every website, a specific portion of the audience and ad slots may be attracted to a specific advertiser. For example, an inventory may yield better for sports advertisers but it may not get expected CPM rate from a travel advertiser.

Since UPRs unifies all the ad inventories, setting the pricing rules according to the ad inventories will increase the overall revenue. If you set a lower CPM rate for the inventories, buyers may leverage bid shading which will further lower your ad revenue.

According to AdExchanger, buyers may lower the CPM rates by 20% if they use bid shading. So, analyze the winning CPMs of the buyers in the auction and set the price floor according to it. Besides, these days many ad-tech companies provide advanced techniques to help the publishers find an optimal price for the auction.

The Unified Pricing Rules apply to all demand sources i.e. Authorized buyers, Open bidding, and Remnant line items (that includes header bidding line items as well). Hence, the UPRs affect the overall revenue distribution i.e. among Google Ad Manager, Exchange bidding, and Header bidding.

So, when you add a price floor in the UPRs, make sure that the same price floor is added for the header bidding partners. Because many times, if SSPs have a lower price floor than the UPR’s price floor, they will lose the auction every time. And the worst thing is that they cannot find out why they aren’t winning unless you tell them.

For this reason, set the same price floor for SSPs as the floor value you added in Google Ad Manager if you want a header bidding line item to win.

Segregate the Geographies based on their Performance:

Since we believe that you have been in the advertising space for a while, you might have an understanding of how the CPM rates vary from one region to another. For example, CPM rates are usually higher in the tier 1 countries (e.g. United States, United Kingdom, etc.). So, it is very important to know the geographies that are performing best for your business and then add the UPRs accordingly. 

To do that, you can simply go to Google Ad Manager and create the Ad Exchange Historical report. Select the Country dimension and metrics Total Average eCPM and Total fill rate.

Now, group the countries that are performing closely in terms of CPM (+/-0.05 CPM) and put them into the same pricing rule. For the other countries that have significant differences in the CPM rate, the UPRs shall have to be created separately on the basis of the fill rate.

Make Use of Inventory Branding:

As Anonymous branding type wasn’t supported by IAB’s ads.txt and apps-ads.txt standards, Google UPRs allow only Branded or Semi-transparent. So, if you haven’t set the inventory type as Semi-transparent, Google will consider it as a Branded inventory and will display the complete URL where the ads will be served.

Getting access to Branded inventories is a dream for advertisers as the ad-buying becomes more transparent for them. And if you’re not setting a floor for such inventories, advertisers may buy the ad inventories at a lower cost. So, make sure that the price floor for such premium ad inventories is higher than the Semi-transparent inventories.

Experiment with Multi-size Pricing:

Google UPRs enable the publishers to set different price floors for multi-size inventories. For example, if you have two ad sizes 970×250 and 728×90, you’d definitely like to charge buyers more for the bigger ad size. On the other hand, you’d like to sell the smaller ad size at a lower price.

In such cases, do not forget to set separate sub-pricing rules for different ad units. Because if not done, it may reduce the ad fill rate of your ad inventories and consequently, lower ad revenue.

Reconsidering the above example, you can set pricing sub-rule 1 for 970×250 ad unit, and sub-rule 2 for 728×90. Besides, you can also create pricing rules for all sizes by selecting Set pricing for everyone and all sizes in order to keep the fill rate high.

Set UPR for all ad sizes

Add the Pricing Rules at the Advertiser-level and Brand-level:

Google Unified Pricing Rules allow publishers to set an advertiser-specific and brand-specific price floor. However, advertiser-level and brand-level pricing rules apply to only authorized Buyers and Open Bidding demand. You cannot set pricing on an advertiser-level or brand-level for remnant line items (and that includes header bidding also).

As of now, you can specify 50 advertisers per pricing rule. So, to manage the channel conflict,  group the competing advertisers and set a high price floor under pricing rule. This will boost the ad fill rate and overall ad revenue. But make sure that the advertisers that are brand unsafe are listed under Protections and blocked.

Check the Affected line items and Optimize them:

If you haven’t noticed before, Google shows the number of remnant line items that will be affected by the UPRs in the section Affected remnant line items. For example, you might see:

There are 31 line items below the floor price set in the rule.

Check affected line items in UPR

So, click on the number of line items to understand and troubleshoot them. When you click on the specific line item, you can see their pricing rules. Google recommends to enable Target CPM for such line items and observe how they perform. For further details and insights on the bid landscape over the time period, you can use the Pricing rules card in the Overview dashboard.

Pricing rules card

In the Pricing Rules card, you can get a combined overview of the bid landscape for each UPR. You can evaluate how bids are getting distributed for your ad inventories and the impact of pricing rules on your revenue. To simplify, the Card displays the winning bid and highest losing bid and why it lost in the auction and how pricing rules affected the bid. 

Bid landscape in Pricing Rules card

Image Source – Google

Once you’re done with all the changes in the Unified Pricing Rules, do not rush into getting the results in a day or two. In general, the new changes in the UPRs take more than a week to reflect on the changes in the revenue and fill rate. So, wait for the time being. Meanwhile, create a report on the Unified Pricing Rules activities.

This can be done by creating an Ad Exchange Historical report, and selecting the dimension Unified Pricing Rule and other required dimensions and metrics to understand the performance of pricing rules.

Conclusion

Unified Pricing Rules has undoubtedly created a fair platform for publishers and advertisers. However, Google has a system limit on how many pricing rules a publisher can create in an account. So, make sure you have set-up the UPRs optimally. If you have a pricing rule that is of no use, remove it. Because exceeding the system limits may cause you to pay Google. Try the suggestions and let us know how it goes in the comments section. 

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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