Any publisher or developer who has ever added Google Ad Manager tags will have to choose whether or not to use Single Request Architecture. Google strongly encourages publishers to use this option for performance reasons; despite this, 32% of the 10,000 randomly selected Ad Manager-enabled websites we tested choose not to enable Single Request Architecture.
When talking to publishers, we also find that many of those who do have it enabled are not entirely clear as to what it does, and what advantage (if any) it brings. This guide will answer those questions, and help publishers make more informed decisions on when to use it and when not to.
FACT: 68% of websites using Google Ad Manager have Single Request Architecture enabled
Why does Single Request Architecture exist?
To understand why Google offers us the option of using Single Request Architecture, it’s useful to understand the problem that SRA tries to address. Under a ‘multi-request mode’ (non-SRA) set-up, Ad Manager will run an auction every time a unit appears on the page. So, if you have five units on the page, the auction process will be called and executed five times.
How does Single Request Architecture work?
Single Request Architecture can be easily enabled on any page by adding the following line to your GPT:
With the enableSingleRequest function included, Ad Manager will bundle all the auctions into a single request. In this case, the browser sends a single request for all units at once. This means that a simple Ad-Manager-only setup, with five units, will call to Ad Manager once instead of five times — which can improve page speed.
With all this running client-side, these time savings can be significant. That is good for the user experience and good for the publisher’s revenue.
Are there drawbacks to using Single Request Architecture?
Ad Manager’s Single Request mode is incredibly easy to implement and can contribute both to increased revenue and improved user experience. It might seem hard to understand why all publishers don’t use it, but our test showed a third of GAM publishers choose to stick with multi-request mode. There can be a few reasons for this:
Reported problems with SRA and AdSense
Some publishers swear that SRA causes issues with AdSense. We tend to favor AdX over AdSense but do still use AdSense as part of the mix on some sites. We have never experienced problems using AdSense with SRA, but there’s enough circumstantial evidence to suggest that there could be (or once was) a problem for some publishers. Luckily, it’s very easy to change between Single and Multi-request mode, so concerned publishers can simply test this for themselves.
2000 character limit to GAM tag definition
The Ad Manager request URL has a hard limit of 2,000 characters. This will never affect most publishers, but a page with a very large number of units called through SRA could exceed this limit. In this case, switching to multi-request mode would allow that string to be split into shorter chunks and avoid the limit.
SRA can cause problems if you define units that you do not then display
Because Single Request mode runs the auctions when the ad units are defined in the header, this can cause problems if you don’t then display those units. This is common in set-ups where a publisher is defining all units used throughout a site in the head of every page, but tailoring which units are actually shown. There are reasons why this isn’t a good approach even in multi-request mode, but in Single Request mode, it will mess with reporting and can cause issues with invalid impressions. We discuss this issue in more detail in this article.
How to disable Single Request Architecture / Enable Multi-Request Mode
Should you encounter any challenges with Single Request mode (SRA), the process of disabling and transitioning to a different mode is straightforward. If you find yourself facing issues discussed earlier, you can easily make the switch. Simply remove the googletag.pubads().enableSingleRequest(); line from your code. This action will smoothly revert the system back to multi-request mode, resolving any difficulties you may have encountered.
Should I use Single Request Architecture?
Still not sure whether to use SRA or not? Test it out. The performance advantages can be significant, and it will work well for most websites. If you know that one of the issues above might affect you, try enabling SRA but monitoring for issues. It is a simple enough change to disable it at a later point should you have problems.