Google provides publishers with a complete suite of publisher tools that are designed to help you get the most out of your website. This ranges from publisher tools that help you to monetise your content to tools that help you measure and improve the performance of your website. In this guide, we’ll give a quick overview of each Google publisher tool and how it can be used to get the most out of your monetisation setup.
What is Google AdSense?
Since 2003, Google AdSense has provided publishers with a way to earn ad revenue from their content. Publishers earn revenue on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis which means that they will earn revenue each time a user clicks on an ad served on their website. The simplicity of AdSense and its ease of use mean that it is often the first stage in a publishers’ monetisation journey. Ads can be targeted to your website contextually, demographically or because an advertiser has specified a placement preference in their targeting choices.
Did you know that more than 38 million websites worldwide use AdSense?
Barriers to entry for AdSense are pretty low and Google has never specified a minimum pageviews requirement. The main thing Google looks for in order for a publisher to be eligible to monetise using AdSense is original and interesting content that complies with their publisher policies. As such, the first step in getting started with AdSense is getting your website approved. Once approved, setup is relatively simple and requires you to place a code snippet that is provided by AdSense in the head section of your website.
AdSense is the perfect solution for smaller publishers as it’s simple, reliable and pays with every click. However, when your traffic exceeds one million page views per month, it may be time to start thinking about whether you could optimise your setup with another solution.
What is Google Ad Manager?
Google Ad Manager, also known as GAM, is a publisher monetization platform from Google. Google Ad Manager is part ad-server and part Supply Side Platform (SSP), giving publishers a single system to administer ad supply from direct sales, third parties and Google’s own programmatic demand. Google Ad Manager is a cloud solution, so there is no software to download and install. Everything is managed through the online interface at https://admanager.google.com/.
Google Ad Manager was originally two distinct products: DoubleClick for Publishers (the ad server) and the DoubleClick Ad Exchange (SSP). The two products have been growing closer over recent years and finally merged under the new name in 2018.
Ad Manager is targeted at larger publishers and those with more complex set-ups. Although it is often seen as an alternative to AdSense, GAM performs a lot more roles than being an ad network like AdSense is. See also AdSense vs Ad Manager.
Any publisher can create a Google Ad Manager account but not all functionality is enabled by default. Ad Exchange demand (the SSP part of Google Ad Manager) is a particularly notable feature that is only available by invitation from Google or a Google Certified Publishing Partner. We’ve written a post before on how to access Google’s exclusive Ad Exchange, which you can read here.
What is Google Ad Exchange (AdX)?
Ad Exchange, or AdX as it is more commonly known, is Google’s premium ad monetisation platform. It is designed to provide publishers with high-traffic websites with more control which allows them to optimise their ad setup. AdX and DoubleClick for publishers used to be two separate products, however, the two products were consolidated and rebranded in June 2018. As AdX is a premium feature within Google Ad Manager, it is exclusive to those that are invited or that work with a Network Partner Manager, like OKO.
Ultimately, AdX is an online marketplace that facilitates the buying and selling of digital ad inventory via real-time bidding technology. AdX differs from AdSense as AdX allows publishers, advertisers, ad networks, ad agencies, SSPs and DSPs to buy and sell an open pool of ad inventory without the need for a mediator. As such, AdX has the same demand as AdSense plus some additional demand. Publishers earn ad revenue using AdX on a CPM basis which means revenue is earned with each impression, rather than on a CPC basis.
What is Google Ad Manager 360?
Google offers two versions of Ad Manager. “Google Ad Manager” is free to use up to 150 million ad impressions per month. There is also a premium version of the product called “Google Ad Manager 360” that ships with a number of additional features. As such, Google Ad Manager 360 is a paid and premium version of Google Ad Manager that is made for the largest publishers who have crossed the free monthly impression limit. We have written a full comparison of Google Ad Manager vs Ad Manager 360 here.
Publishers using Google Ad Manager can serve up to 90 million impressions per month to tier one countries, including the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand and/or Australia. Once this limit is exceeded, publishers must pay to use Google Ad Manager 360. The price is dependent on the impression volume.
In terms of functionality, Google Ad Manager provides a number of tools and capabilities suitable for small and medium-sized publishers. GAM 360, however, is an enterprise solution that includes everything offered by GAM plus a few additional tools to help the largest publishers to succeed. Some examples of additional features included on GAM360 are; direct support from Google, the ability to create first-party audience segments and advanced video ad options.
What is AdMob?
AdMob enables publishers to generate ad revenue from their mobile apps through in-app advertising. It is available for both Android and iOS platforms. App publishers are able to serve high impact, targeted ad formats to users and maximize the value of their impressions. AdMob provides developers with granular controls for brand safety and a holistic overview of ad performance and user engagement with Google Analytics.
To get started, you simply need to sign up and use the Google Mobile Ads SDK to place ads within your app with a few lines of code. App publishers are paid on a monthly basis once $100 in ad revenue is earned.
What is Google Publisher Console?
Google Publisher Console provides publishers with information about the way Google Ad Manager is functioning on a page. This enables you to troubleshoot ad delivery issues and optimise the performance of ads on your website. Any user can run the Publisher Console on any page that contains the Google Publisher Tag, however, functionality is limited if you’re not logged into the Ad Manager account serving the ads.
Within the Publisher Console, there are two main tabs: Ad Slots and Page Requests. On the ad slots tab, you can view the ad slots present on-page along with other important information, such as ad size, the number of ad fetches and how long it took the ad to fetch and render. The page request tab allows you to diagnose and troubleshoot certain issues, such as page load time.
If you use Google Ad Manager to serve your ads, you should definitely be using Publisher Console to test new implementations, fix errors and block creatives. We’ve written a complete three-part guide for publishers on how to set up and use the Publisher Console which you can read here.
What is Publisher Ads Audits for Lighthouse?
Publisher Ads Audits for Lighthouse enables you to improve ad speed and overall quality by running a series of automated tests on any page that runs Google Ad Manager using the Google Publisher Tag. The automated tests provide valuable insights into how the ads are performing on a page in terms of speed.
By visiting https://developers.google.com/publisher-ads-audits/ and entering the URL you want to test, you can see how your ads are performing on-page in terms of speed, performance and best practice. Lighthouse also provides optimisation opportunities to help your web page load faster. The reports are split into desktop and mobile.
We’ve written an in-depth guide to help publishers get the most out of Publisher Ads Audits for Lighthouse which you can view here.
What is Funding Choices?
Google’s Funding Choices provides publishers with a way to recover revenue from users that use ad blockers. It is a privacy-compliant Consent Management Platform that integrates with Google’s advertising services. The tool works by displaying a custom message to ad-blocking users that explains how ad blocking impacts their business and content.
There are three types of messages available to publishers:
- A dismissible message that still allows users to view content.
- A dismissible message that counts and restricts the number of pageviews a person is permitted per month before the content is blocked. For example, users may be permitted to read three articles per month.
- A message that blocks access to content entirely.
All message options provide users with the option to either permit ads being shown on-site or pay to access the content. Users can pay to access either through the site’s subscription service or through Google Contributor. When publishers collect revenue from Google Contributor, Google takes a 10% fee.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is Google’s powerful web analytics application that allows publishers to track and report on traffic patterns on their website or app. It is a vital tool that all publishers should be using as it provides valuable insights into user behaviour that can help you deliver better results in many areas of digital publishing.
Studying user behaviour is a vital component of ad monetisation because it can help inform and optimise your monetisation strategy, which often means more revenue for you. For example, you might look at which pages users spend the most time on and increase the number of ad units on that page with the aim of increase impressions and ad revenue. It can also help you spot any unusual traffic patterns that might result in invalid traffic issues and revenue deductions.
What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console is another free tool that enables publishers to monitor, understand and troubleshoot your website’s traffic and performance in Google’s search results. If you’re new to Search Console, you’ll need to add and verify your website before you can do anything else to prove to Google that you’re either the site owner, webmaster or another authorised user. As a publisher, there are a lot of benefits associated with the reporting functionality from Search Console, particularly for SEO purposes.
For publishers of ad-funded websites, there are a few reasons why you should be using Search Console. The first is to access the Ad Experiences report. Once you have verified your website with Search Console, you’ll be able to access the Ad Experience Report. This report enables you to view ad experience status and identify ad experiences that do not adhere to the Better Ads Standards. You can learn more about the Better Ads Standards here. If you identify any violations and fix them, you can then request a review of the website.
Search Console’s ‘Core Web Vitals’ reporting functionality is also extremely useful for publishers. Core Web Vitals relate to the speed, interactivity and visual stability of your website and they help Google, and publishers, to measure the user experience. The three core metrics are:
Speed: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) looks at how quickly the biggest thing on the page loads.
Interactivity: First Input Delay (FID) looks at how long before a user can click or scroll.
Visual Stability: Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) looks at how often users experience unexpected layout shifts.
We’ll be sharing a more in-depth article on Core Web Vitals soon but ultimately, these three metrics are used to determine user experience and page rank, both of which have an impact on how many ad impressions a publisher receives. Cumulative Layout Shift, in particular, is an important metric to monitor because it has a direct correlation with invalid traffic and can cause revenue deductions in AdSense.