When Google Ad Manager was announced, one of the places it was showcased was on the Google AdSense official blog, touted as a great ad management solution for publishers. It is supposed to be a great way to mix AdSense with non-AdSense and to be used as a testing tool for publishers… the key is supposed to be.
I have just had a chance to play around with Ad Manager, and it was unfortunately a disappointing experience, especially after having previously used OpenAds (formerly known as phpAdsNew, and which I see has sometime recently changed their name to OpenX).
But first things first, one huge issue that publishers had is the fact that you are giving your information to Google, including specifics about the dollar values of direct advertiser campaigns… which some people were concerned about since it competes with Google AdSense. Now, since I use AdSense extensively, along with Google Analytics, I figure there isn’t much that Google doesn’t know about me anyway But I can certainly appreciate and understand the concerns that people have with giving even more data to Google, especially direct financial information.
One huge appeal to publishers, however, is the fact it is a hosted solution… which means you don’t have to install a database and upload & install a program like OpenX. Not as big of a deal for me or other tech-savvy webmasters, but definitely an implementation stumbling block for others who wouldn’t be able to figure out how to do it, even with extensive hand-holding and instructions. Ad Manager being a hosted solution, which means it opens the door to those who run the other way anytime the word “install” is used in conjunction with “server”. That said, OpenX does now offer a hosted version of their program, although it is in private beta at the moment and has barely a mention on their site.
It has a lot of bells and whistles that AdSense publishers find attractive. You could identify the browser the user is surfing with and serve up Firefox referral ads to just those surfing with IE or Mac software related ads to those on a Mac. You could also do your own geotargeting to rotate YPN ads with AdSense only for US publishers while leave it strictly with AdSense for all international ad serving. And it goes on and on. And while other ad management solutions have these options as well, they don’t have the option of being able to announce it easily to all AdSense publishers.
For AdSense publishers and affiliate marketers, Ad Manager could be great for:
- Rotating multiple similar affiliate programs on an equal basis to determine which is the better converting or has the best overall ROI.
- Rotate an affiliate program with a channel-tagged AdSense ad to determine which is more profitable for a particular placement.
- Geotarget specific ad types (such as YPN vs. AdSense) based upon the visitor’s geolocation
It is pretty shortsighted not to anticipate and implement some of the other uses for a program that could – with the Google name behind it – be quite indispensable for publishers.
It seems that the main motivation for Google launching this free hosted ad serving program is to give AdSense all the remnant advertising… this is turned on by default when creating a new ad order.
That said, it is easy to set up AdSense as a remnant option, but only as a single ad unit style, so even if you are using it for multiple pages or sites, you can only have one AdSense style in your account for all remnant ad inventory space. So it isn’t an option for setting up new AdSense code within Ad Manager to rotate between ad styles. So again, one must use the “Rich Media Redirect”.
It is still in beta, so we might (hopefully) see some changes made to it so it is easier and much more obvious for those who want to use it running AdSense as the main ad inventory and not just as an ad remnant, and of course without having to use the “Rich Media Redirect” (how many people would think to look there?) – something I suspect most publishers won’t realize is a workaround for what they want to do.