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Google Ad Manager Features I'd Like To See

     
3:54 pm on Apr 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I don't know of any better place to put this, so I'll put it here. Maybe some Ad Manager people will stumble across it, or maybe ASA will be kind enough to point someone to it.

I've been struggling with Ad Manager for a little while now. I like the idea of it, and it strikes me that Google has ahold of about half a good product there. So for those of you who have been working with it, if you have features you'd like to see, post them here, or if you know how to help out with other issues, you can post that too.

My first list:

- Respond to support issues in a timely manner. I have had an open issue about importing my AdSense channels for MONTHS. Every now and then I drop another email and they tell me engineering is still looking into it. If you can't figure it out, just say so.

- Why isn't Ad Manager more AdSense friendly yet? It doesn't cover placements for ad links? Why isn't there some kind of a built in rotator function to evenly serve differently styled AdSense blocks in the same placement? I have to do it myself with PHP.

- The download / upload system for ad slots is severely borked. First of all, if you put a few ad slots in by hand, and then download them in a CSV file, it would be natural to assume you could edit that file, add a bunch of new ad slots, and upload the same file back up - but you can't! it doesn't work. The BulkSampleAdSlots.csv file has an extra column for Placement Names. Why doesn't the download CSV have that column too?

- Along the same lines are the cryptic error messages when it doesn't want to accept your bulk upload file. Tells me parse errors on random lines. The only thing different is one word in the ad slot name. What parse error? Is there a limit to the length of the names? There's nothing in the doc for that. I created the file from scratch, I used the download file (after adding the Placement Names row) and I pasted my data directly into the Bulk sample file - still the same parse errors.

The worst thing about it is that if, at any point, you run into an error or stopping point with *one* thing, however small, it stops your whole program. For example, I was trying to upload hundreds of ad slots, but it didn't like eight. So it wouldn't upload ANY.

I tried to import my existing channels (I have a lot of those too) and it didn't like *one* (says it already existed in the account, when it didn't) so it wouldn't import any of them.

And that's just the AdSense portion of it. More later.

10:03 am on Apr 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Why isn't there some kind of a built in rotator function to evenly serve differently styled AdSense blocks in the same placement?

Now that would be a nice feature, an automatic flip between text and image ads to help counteract ad blindness.
12:04 pm on Apr 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Good to see some discussion of this. I've been using Ad Manager a lot lately, and find it pretty useful, but there are niggles. I'd certainly like to see support for link units, rotation of adsense styles would also be pretty nifty.
12:18 pm on Apr 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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It needs a complete rewrite, and this time test the damn thing. Good idea, badly executed.
12:46 pm on Apr 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Perhaps it would be nice if admanager-invoked adsense units actually recognized regular adsense units on your site. The way it is now, you will end up with duplicate ads if you use both forms of adsense on one page.
1:25 pm on Apr 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone else noticed Ad Manager ignoring the 'one creative per page' instructions? I have, not sure if it's a general problem or just something I'm doing wrong.
3:21 pm on Apr 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I haven't gotten that far.

I am trying to force the ad rotation by rotating the Ad Manager generated code with PHP; so far I have impressions in my account, but no clicks. And my traffic is way up. So I'm thinking maybe I'm doing it wrong, but hey, I can't check cause I can't click, can I?

They finally uploaded my bulk ad slot file for me - according to the support response I got, it was because my CSV file didn't have my pub ID - but guess what, the sample file I downloaded had no place for it!

Usability stuff like this just drives me nuts.

Also not clear on the reporting. I'm seeing impressions in one part, not seeing them in the AdSense impressions box on the Placement reports. Why not?

This whole thing smacks of yet another thing they buy, they don't really fix it up, but it doesn't really work, and you can't really get decent support. (Something like the current state of the Google Affiliate Network, but that's another post)

I'll let it go to the end of the day; if I still get no clicks, it goes back in the dustbin. It's more important for me to be able to rotate ad blocks (for testing AND to combat ad blindness) than it is to play with this thing.

It's too bad though, because on the face of it, it *sounds* like exactly what I need.

4:43 pm on Apr 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I'm happy to pass along any feature requests for Google Ad Manager.

The Ad Manager team works closely with our team because of how many Ad Manager users are also AdSense publishers. :)

ASA

5:36 pm on Apr 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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That's great, thanks.
6:13 pm on Apr 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Please make it more user friendly. A step by step approach would be very good. Thanks!
6:40 pm on Apr 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I gave up on Google ad manger some time ago. It is really hard to use product. I found openx hosted much easier to use. They have good community and rock solid support. Give it a try, you won't regret it. I run all my affiliate links and banners (around 200+) via their service. It also support geo targeting and other tons of features.
7:41 pm on Apr 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I have clients using openx, and it's been a disaster for them. Main reason being it's slow.

Another issue I haven't run into yet but I'm sure I will is channels. I don't see any way to apply one or more channels to an AdSense ad slot, which is how I usually track things for testing purposes. On the other hand, When I name my placements, it shows up in my AdSense account as a channel, but it's not part of my 200 channels. So I'm not entirely sure how this works? Would like to get some clarification on this.

8:22 pm on Apr 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Yes openx had some problem 2-3 weeks ago but now it is working fine. They do throttle client if you send too many requests (I think 2million or something like that is free and never touched that kind of impressions). One can get their premium service or just download and install the software on your own server.

I'd love to see Google ad manager but it is too complicated and confusing to use. I hope they will get it fixed it...

10:14 pm on Apr 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Well, installing your own copy of openX on a subdomain should be faster than querying G's servers.
2:15 pm on Apr 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

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We did. Still didn't like it.
4:21 pm on Apr 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I would like to be able to more easily keep track of what is pointed at each ad slot -- i.e., if I have named a particular slot called MySite_EducationATFLeftSky160x600, it would be great to be able to produce a list (or graphic) of what orders are "aimed" at that slot, either individually or through a batched placement.

Yes, I know I should be able to keep track of this myself but it seems like something the software could do a lot more easily and accurately.

It's possible this capability already exists and I just haven't discovered it, in which case I will withdraw in stunned silence.

4:22 pm on Apr 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I would like to be able to more easily keep track of what is pointed at each ad slot -- i.e., if I have named a particular slot MySite_EducationATFLeftSky160x600, it would be great to be able to produce a list (or graphic) of what orders are "aimed" at that slot, either individually or through a batched placement.

Yes, I know I should be able to keep track of this myself but it seems like something the software could do a lot more easily and accurately.

It's possible this capability already exists and I just haven't discovered it, in which case I will withdraw in stunned silence.

6:32 pm on Apr 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Would also be nice to have thumbnails on the Creative Reports, or just to be able to click through to them somehow. All very well to know that CV_338*280_en_3 is performing well, but would be nice to know what it looks like.

I've now confirmed that the 'one creative per page' instruction just isn't working.

3:07 pm on Apr 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Played around a lot with Ad Manager over the weekend. The bulk upload works with my new (corporate) account but not with my old (personal) account, so I think maybe my previous issues were because there's something wrong or different with that account.

That said - apparently you can only use the bulk upload to add new ad slots, you can't use it to make a change, even if it's just a description change. I understand why you wouldn't want to indiscriminately make changes to ad slots, but I think a confirming "are you sure you want to do this?" should be sufficient; after all you *can* make the changes manually. But once you get over a handful of ads, it's really a PITA.

3:47 pm on Apr 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

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A great thread! Brings a long-time lurker like me to the fold!

I would like an Advertiser Payment system to be incorporated. As a small time publisher, I think a payment system hosted by Google will add more authenticity/transparency/convenience. Publishers like me would love to sell space but have been shying away just because of the logistics of managing money (which I think has been one of the reasons for the success behind AdSense.)

Thank you all.

4:51 pm on Apr 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Where's the end to end automation?

I'd like to see it made self-service for advertisers.

Let the advertisers choose their own ad slots, upload their own creatives, schedule their own campaigns and pay for it with Google checkout or PayPal etc. All I want to do is approve or deny the ad. (I admit I am spoiled by the simplicity and ease of Adsense.)

For whatever reason, some advertisers want to advertise directly through me and not through Adwords and there no easy way to do it.

9:35 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

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OK, everyone, I've shared your feedback and now I have some updates from the Google Ad Manager team (who are very happy to hear from you guys).

ASA

Hi All,

Thanks for your great comments about Google Ad Manager. We truly appreciate and value your feedback since it directly influences Ad Manager improvements.

In addition to this forum which our product team keeps a close eye on, the Google Ad Manager Help Forum has a section for Ad Manager Features and Product feedback which our product team reads on a regular basis. I recommend posting your questions in this forum in addition to Webmaster World for the greatest visibility. You can access the Ad Manager Help Forum here: [google.com...]

To address the specific questions in this thread I have provided answers below:

Bulk Upload:

The bulk upload tool in Ad Manager is a powerful time saving tool for creating your Ad Manager inventory. However, we're aware that working with CSV files can cause formatting issues which lead to errors. Our team is working to make bulk uploads easier to use, and to eliminate the guesswork when troubleshooting errors.

As you mentioned, at this time you cannot currently bulk edit your ad slots, and this is an area our team is concurrently working on. In the meantime, if you need to make bulk changes to multiple ad slots, please contact the Google Ad Manager team who can assist you with bulk changes: [google.com...]

AdSense Link Units:

AdSense is seamlessly integrated in Ad Manager to serve text/image-ads in order to help users maximize the revenue of their unsold and remant inventory. In order to take advantage of this feature, you must design your ad slot sizes according to AdSense standards: [google.com...]

Since link units are non-standard sizes, they're not eligible to be integrated with Ad Manager at this time. If you would like to serve your AdSense link units in Ad Manager, you can do so by pasting the link unit tag into Ad Manager as a rich media creative. However, please note that click data will not be reported in Ad Manager if you do this, and you will have to track this data in your AdSense account.

AdSense Rotator:

This is a great idea, and we understand the need for publishers to do A/B testing with their AdSense ads. We'll take this feature into consideration as we continue to make improvements to Ad Manager.

At this time, this is a manual process and you will need to edit your AdSense settings on a slot-by-slot basis to test the performance of different color palettes. You can edit your AdSense settings by following these instructions: [google.com...]

Step-by-Step Help:

I recommend clicking the 'Getting Started' link in the top of your account. This will take you through an overview of how Ad Manager works, allow you to click-through interactive tutorials, and provide you with additional resources to help you get started.

Channels:

The placements you create in Ad Manager will show up in your AdSense channels for reporting purposes. You can report off of these placements in AdSense, but they can only be modified in your Ad Manager account.

One Creative Per Page:

The one creative per page feature only applies to line items that contain multiple creatives. If multiple line items are targeting a single page, more than one creative may appear.

Keeping track of what is pointed at each ad slot:

I recommend trying our competing line item reports. You can access this reports from any line item, ad slot, or placement. This will provide you with a table of all line items that are competing in a particular slot. For more information, please visit: [google.com...]

Advertiser Payment System / Self-Service:

These are great feature requests, and I agree integrating a payment system into Ad Manager would be very useful to help publishers with the invoicing and billing aspects of their ad operations. Additionally, advertiser self-service would help publishers scale their ad sales. As we continue to make improvements to Ad Manager, we hope to offer options like this in the future.

Keep the great ideas and comments coming. Your feedback helps us shape and design Ad Manager around your needs.

2:14 pm on Apr 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I notice that since I have been running some ads out of Ad Manager, I seem to have a lot more impressions. Like, more than twice as many. Haven't added any new slots or placements. Is that normal?

Thanks to ASA and the Ad Manager team for the feedback. I realize they're always trying to get us into the Google forums (having that issue with AdWords too) but it's all I can do to make it here, let alone yet more forums.

Still would like to see them work the link units in - I realize they are a non standard format, but there are plenty of sites, large and small, that *only* run AdSense for advertising, and there's just as much call (and need) to A/B test link units as there is for ad units.

3:50 am on Apr 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Well I spent about eight hours on this today, and I just plain give up. Can't be done. It's obviously not meant for end users, or at least, not end users like me who run a combination of AdSense, affiliate ads, and direct advertising. It must really be meant for people who deal with agencies or directly with advertisers. Which is too bad, because my advertising requirements are really too heavy to handle manually, but what I want to do can't be made to fit into Ad Manager.

Maybe the next version will work out better.

6:04 am on June 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Are any other Ad Manager users seeing problems with AJAX / Javascript functionality? My account is crippled, basically can't see any reports, update any creatives. Been like this for two days or so.

Seems to be a similar problem with Gmail, which you can fix by switching to http rather than https. Doesn't seem to be an option with Ad Manager though. Doesn't seem to be a browser / cache issue.

2:05 pm on June 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I've been using Ad Manager in a limited fashion on one site, but haven't seen the problem. On the other hand, I've been having a lot of problems with sites with AJAX with IE8 - are you using that?

One thing I really wish we had in Ad Manager is the ability to assign more than one channel to an ad slot.

8:55 pm on June 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone noticed that with Ad Manager, the impression counts are inflated? With roughly the same visitor and pageview stats as this time last year, I'm showing more than three times the impressions. This makes my CTR and eCPM look like a disaster, although overall, I'm up about 40% in income over the same period last year.

On the face of it, it shouldn't matter; I'm making more money. Except I don't know what decisions may be made on the Google side based on my seemingly disastrous CTR and eCPM. Like as in which ads to show where, or how I get smart priced.

I think I'm going to take a couple of pages out of ad manager and put regular AdSense code on them, to see what happens.

7:44 pm on June 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I've been playing around with Ad Manager for a couple days and I have a simple question... is there any real advantage to using this if you don't sell ad space on your own?
8:47 pm on June 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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The main reasons I was using it were the ease of uploading ad slots (once I got around some glitches that Google still has to fix), using placements as channels I didn't have to worry about the 200 channel limit (and what's a person have to do to get raised up to 500 like everyone else, anyway?) and because with Ad Manager, I could make the ads open in a new window.

However, I seem to have a TON more impressions and much lower CTR and eCPM. I put some regular AdSense ads in today and saw an immediate jump in both. That doesn't mean that Ad Manager caused it - it's also one of my busiest days of the year, and the stats aren't real time, and there are a hundred other factors that could be causing the difference. Too soon to tell if that's really causation.

3:51 am on June 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I have an ad manager account for a long while, never managed to figure out how to make it do the most basic stuff I do in some really simple cgi scripts for rotating ads between direct advertisers (with a target of what number of impressions need to be made), affiliate banners (percentage chance) and adsense (rest).

I'd love to have the ability that ad manager is supposed to add over anything else: minimum CPC for adsense.

And the other illusive is geotargeting based on where the visitor is coming from (the affiliate ads could really use that: they only work in certain countries), and some of my advertisers would love it too.

But I've never ever seen anything from GOOG this hard to use, or even just understand what it can and can't do.

My first suggestions:
- a FEATURE list with a few words of explanation what the terminology you use means
- a proper MANUAL
- a TUTORIAL showing how to get the different features it's supposed to have to work for a *simple* setup

Might be a good idea to grab somebody who' never played with the thing and let the developers observe (not help) what makes the users struggle, then go back to the drawing board.

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