Google’s free version of Google Ad Manager dominates the ad server market. Tight integration with Google’s own demand products (AdSense, Ad Exchange and Open Bidding) allows them to offer this powerful product at no cost to most users. With such a capable product available for free, it may seem surprising that many publishers instead choose to pay for the nearly identical Ad Manager 360 product. More surprising still is that adoption of the premium 360 version of Ad Manager appears to be on the rise again. So, what does Ad Manager 360 offer that the free version doesn’t and what does it cost to upgrade?
Let’s cut straight to the chase: Many Ad Manager users barely scratch the surface of all the available advanced features and simply want to efficiently serve Google demand in competition with their header stack.
A look at the core monetisation options in Ad Manager 360 shows the advantage that the premium product offers in this regard. Ad Exchange as standard is the big headline for most publishers, but Open Bidding brings further auction pressure, too. Publishers with agency demand for their inventory will also see a big advantage in being able to make Programmatic Guaranteed deals.
|Ad Exchange demand||Restricted||Yes|
|Programmatic Guaranteed deals||No||Yes|
There are notable differences in the inventory feature line-up of Ad Manager vs Ad Manager 360, but these differences are not critical for most publishers. For most publishers, features like a deeper inventory hierarchy bring value, but not enough to justify the fees by itself. Similarly, Special ad units and suggested ad units can be major time savers, and many publishers find themselves hitting the standard limit of 5,000 custom dimension key-values surprisingly quickly.
|Levels of ad unit hierarchy||2||5|
|Special ad units||No||Yes|
|Suggested ad units||No||Yes|
|Custom dimension key-values||5,000||20,000|
Identity and privacy
Publishers looking to first party data and preparing for the end of the cookie are probably amongst those most seriously considering a move to Ad Manager 360. PPIDs and Google’s full Audience Solutions offering are generally only available as part of Ad Manager 360. Note that items marked here as restricted may be available on request from a Google Account Manager, but with strict eligibility criteria.
|Data protection report||No||Yes|
Ad Manager 360’s exclusive trafficking features are “nice to haves” rather than essentials for most publishers. Creative wrappers are probably the most frequently used, but these are unlikely to ever be the sole justification for a publisher moving away from the free product.
|Advanced expressions targeting||No||Yes|
|Hosted video limit||30MB||512MB|
One of the ways that Google’s range of 360 products always stands out from the standard versions is in how they share data and integrate with other products. Ad Manager 360 can be integrated with Data Studio, allowing dynamic reporting beyond what is available in the UI. It also integrates with Google Analytics, but you will need the 360 version of both products. Most powerful of all is the data transfer option that allows precise data to be transferred from GAM into third party solutions for further analysis; this is critical information for advanced publishers.
|Google Analytics Integration||No||Yes – GA360|
Other features exclusive to Ad Manager 360
There are a number of additional features of the 360 product vs the free version that don’t fit neatly into the headings above; some fall under the support umbrella, which may appeal to you if you have more complex ad management needs or don’t have the resources to solve every issue internally.
|Future sell through report||No||Yes|
|Direct access to Google support||No||Yes|
|Multiple Customer Management||No||Yes|
A note about Ad Manager 360 Advanced
If having two similarly named versions of the same product wasn’t enough, let’s briefly talk about Ad Manager 360 Basic vs Ad Manager 360 Advanced.
Ad Manager 360 Advanced offers additional specialist video features over the “basic” version of Ad Manager 360. These are robust features, but unnecessary for the vast majority of publishers. At time of writing, the features only available in the Advanced version of the product are:
- Video ad rules
- Content ingestion
- Dynamic ad insertion
- Partner management
- Cross-sell with YouTube
- Interactive ad formats through Studio templates
These options are only available through a Google account manager.
Pricing and commercial terms: GAM vs AM360
The biggest difference between the 360 and standard versions of Ad Manager is, for many, the price. The standard version of Google Ad Manager comes at the amazing price of $0 per month for the vast majority of users, whereas Ad Manager 360 comes with significant monthly costs.
|Monthly minimum||$0||Region dependent|
|Max impressions per month||90m-200m*||unlimited|
|*Region dependent. Ad Exchange/AdSense not included|
The price of Google Ad Manager 360 depends largely on two factors: The region that you are based in, and the volume of impressions you serve. The fee is a CPM charge based on the impressions served, with an agreed minimum monthly commitment. The higher the volume of impressions you serve, the lower that CPM fee.
How to access Ad Manager 360 for “free”
Given that the price of Ad Manager 360 can easily run into tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, it may seem out of reach for many. The good news for publishers who aren’t making millions of dollars per month is that they can get all the benefits of Ad Manager 360 without paying a penny.
OKO’s full ad management service is built on Ad Manager 360. That not only gives you the benefit of all these premium features, and because it is fully managed, you never have to worry about how to make the most of them either. Best of all, you don’t have to pay for it. We work on a revenue share basis with our publishers, so you will never get a bill for any of the features you see on this page (or for any of the other features that make up our full ad management solution).
If you would like to learn more about how Ad Manager 360 combines with the rest of our ad management stack to earn publishers more, just contact us today.