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Organize your ad stack and increase your ad revenue with this step-by-step guide to Google DoubleClick for Publishers.

DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) is a comprehensive hosted ad serving platform that streamlines your ad management, whether you deliver ads to websites, mobile pages, mobile apps, games, or a combination.

Today we are going to cover three basics of using DFP as your ad server. Here’s what you will find:

  1. Common DFP terms, such as Line Items, Creatives and Orders
  2. Start-to-finish instructions on everything from creating ad units to setting ad tags live on your website
  3. Tips for Organizing multiple ad partners in DFP

What is DFP?

DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) is a powerful ad server run by Google. It helps publishers organize their ad stacks and sell their advertising inventory more efficiently. There are two DFP platforms: DFP Small Business and DFP Premium.

DFP Small Business

DFP Small Business is a free product best suited for smaller to growing publishers.

How do you qualify for a DFP Small Business account? To qualify for a DFP Small Business account you need a Google AdSense account. However, you do not need to use Google AdSense ads while using DFP Small Business.

DFP Premium

DFP Premium is a paid service geared towards sites with high traffic and complex advertising setups. DFP Premium also includes Google Support in the form of an assigned account manager.

How do you qualify for a DFP Premium account? To qualify, your site must garner at least 90 million monthly impressions.

What about DoubleClick Ad Exchange?

Once your site receives 90 million impressions or more, you are obligated to use and pay for DFP Premium. But this also means you can use AdExchange, Google’s programmatic real-time bidding exchange for premium publishers.

Why DFP is Better than Hardcoding

Hardcoding is when you implement ad code from ad networks directly on your website. Hardcoding has many drawbacks, especially as you start to grow your website traffic. With hardcoding, you need additional technology in order to manage and analyze the performance of your ads. It also complicates managing multiple sources of demand/advertising as you will soon find yourself having to log into many different platforms to manage your ads.

DFP beats hardcoding ads onto your site because:

  1. With DFP you can manage multiple advertising partners in one platform.
  2. DFP provides powerful, world-class reporting, meaning you will have all the data you need to help optimize your ads.
  3. It decreases latency, meaning your website loads faster.
  4. With DFP you can also segment international and domestic traffic, which is helpful if you have predominantly international traffic.

Key DFP Terminology

Confused about the difference between a company and a creative, a line item and an order? Don’t sweat it. Here’s our glossary of frequently used DFP terms.

  • DFP Network – everything in your DFP account
  • Company – where 3rd party entities are set up by name in DFP to be associated to orders
  • Advertiser – the agency, network, or direct brand advertiser that will be trafficking ads via DFP
  • Ad unit – the basic unit of web page inventory made up of one* or more available spaces or slots where an ad can appear. Note that you can group one or more ad slots into an ad unit, for clear organization and tracking, we recommend that you keep a 1:1 relationship between ad slots and ad units.
  • Order – the organizational container for campaign line items which contain ad creatives or ad tags
  • Line item – the campaign consisting of flight starts and end dates, targeted ad unit or other
  • Creative – the actual ad creative either in the form of an ad tag code snippet or script
  • Placements – groupings of ad units
A helpful metaphor for understanding DFP: think about the delivery of a package.

Organizing Website Inventory

Ad units are spaces that are used to display ads on your site. Placements are groups of ad units.



Tips for Organizing Your Ad Partners in DFP

There are many ways to organize your ad stack in DFP. Here are some best practices for keeping your ad partners organized.

  1. Create a separate order for each advertiser. In order to simplify your reporting, create a separate order for each ad partner, i.e. Order #1 is Sovrn, Order #2 is OpenX, Order #3 is AdSense, etc.
  2. Create a separate line item for each ad zone on your website. In order to make the most revenue through DFP, create a separate line item for each ad zone. For example, let’s say you have a 300×250 ad zone on your home page, and you’re targeting that ad zone with three ad networks. Within each of those ad network’s orders, create a line item, i.e. a Sovrn line item targeting the 300×250 home page, an OpenX line item targeting the 300×250 on the home page, etc. This is smart because some of your ad zones will make more revenue than others, i.e. the 300×250 on your highly trafficked home page will garner higher CPMs than the 300×250 on your seldom-seen contact page.
  3. Don’t forget about passbacks. Passbacks ensure that no ad impressions ‘left on the table’ by having unsold impressions delivered back to DFP to redeliver to your website.

How to Implement Passbacks in DFP

It’s a good idea to use passbacks when you’re first starting out with DFP. However, they’re similar to training wheels. Once you know what to expect from your ad partners, you will be able to arrange them from top to bottom based on who has historically garnered the highest CPMs. Once you have that data, passbacks are no longer necessary as DFP will optimize your ad stack automatically.

Passbacks are implemented in two ways:

  1. Using DFP. You can create specific ad units with passback-enabled ad unit (GPT) code that can be targeted by ad partners to send unsold impressions back into DFP. However, there are limitations to this approach. If not implemented correctly, it can cause infinite looping that can cause discrepancies and improper ad delivery. For these reasons, we recommend the more direct, ad network to ad network approach.
  2. Ad network to Ad network. With this method, there is no need to create special ad units in DFP. All you need to do is insert the ad code of the second ad partner in the waterfall within the first partner’s advertising platform, and so on. That way the first network will pass back to the second network in your waterfall, who will pass back to the third, etc. AdSense is often the last partner in a waterfall because they offer 100% fill.

Sample DFP Setup

Sally has a shoe review website, sallysshoes.com, that receives one million page views a month. Sally uses DFP to organize her advertising. She allocates her inventory into three different buckets: premium advertisers, ad networks, and house ads.



Now let’s take a look at how her orders are setup. Sally uses three ad partners (Sovrn, OpenX, AdSense) to target the two ad units on her home page. Each ad partner has its own order, i.e. order one is Sovrn, order two is OpenX, order three is AdSense. Within each order, Sally has two line items: one that targets the 300×250 on the home page, and one that targets the 728×90 on the home page.



How to Create and Implement Ad tags in DFP

Step One: Create the Ad Unit

  • Click on the Inventory tab in the upper menu bar.
  • Click Ad Units in the left-hand sidebar. Then click New Ad Unit.
  • Name the ad unit, and make sure there is no space in the ad unit name, i.e. ‘yoursite300x250ATF’.
  • Fill in ad unit details for where you will want ads to serve. Save the ad unit.



Step Two: Create the Ad Unit

This is also called generating the Google Publisher Tag (GPT).

  1. Select ‘Generate tags’. In the inventory tab, select ‘Generate tags’ from the left-hand menu. Select the ad unit that was created and click ‘include’, and then ‘Generate tags’.
  2. Select tag type. Select tag type (Google Publisher Tag), and click ‘Continue’.
  3. Select tag options. The default setting ‘Enable Single Request’ enables all ad units on a page to be called via one call. If you want ad units to be called individually, deselect ‘Enable Single Request’. We recommend deselecting it for performance reasons.
  4. Copy and paste generated code for the header. From the first field of this page, you can copy the generated code to paste into the header <> of your website’s code. You can do this by inserting it into your website’s content management system (CMS) or by directly pasting into the <head> section of your website’s HTML.


Premium Line Item Delivery Types

Line items are an important piece of how you organize your ad stack. Premium line items (sponsorship, standard, and network), will deliver the highest CPMs.

  • Sponsorship – Sponsorship line items have the highest delivery priority . Best for: Time -based campaigns where an advertiser buys a percentage of all available targeted inventory. Sponsorship line items can target a CPM, CPC, or CPD rate or goal. Example: Sally has a direct partnership with a large premium brand (ex. Nike). They formally agree via a signed insertion order (IO) that Nike will buy 100% of all 728×90 impressions at the top of her home page for the month of March.
  • Standard – Standard line items are most commonly used for directly sold campaigns that have an agreed – upon impression quantity with an advertiser. Best for: Time -based campaigns where a specific number of impressions is to be delivered over specific dates for an advertiser. Standard line items can target a CPM or CPC rate or goal. Example: Sally has a direct partnership with a brand of any size. They formally agree via a signed insertion order (IO) that the brand partner will be guaranteed a specific number of impressions over specific dates for an advertiser.

Remnant Line Item Delivery Types

  • Network
    • Best for: Time-based campaigns where typically an ad network buys a percentage of all available targeted impressions remaining after direct or guaranteed line items have met their daily pacing goals. Though not always required, these ad buys can also be agreed upon via signed insertion order (IO), with the ad buy on behalf of multiple advertisers without a direct relationship to the publisher. Network line items can target a CPM, CPC, or CPD rate or goal.
    • Example: Sally has a partnership with Sovrn to target multiple ad units or placements for remnant inventory on her site at various CPM rates from January to July with allocation percentages varying depending on the ad unit.
  • Price Priority
    • Best for: Time-based or open-ended schedule campaigns where typically an ad network buys an unlimited or specific number of remnant, non-guaranteed impressions, either based on the total time of the line item’s schedule (lifetime) or based on a daily impression goal within a defining or open-ended schedule.
    • Example: Sally has a partnership with Sovrn to target multiple ad units or placements for remnant inventory on her site at various CPM rates with an open-ended end date to deliver as many available impressions as possible until Sally determines that the campaigns need to be paused or updated. Price Priority Line items can target a CPM or CPC rate or goal.
  • Bulk – Bulk is similar to price priority but you must have a fixed quantity of impressions. They deliver evenly by default.
    • Best for: Time-based or open-ended schedule campaigns where typically an ad network buys a specific number of remnant, non-guaranteed impressions, either based on the total time of the line item’s schedule (lifetime) or open-ended schedule.
    • Example: Sally has a partnership with another remnant partner to target all unsold inventory (Run of Network or Run of Site) on her site at a CPM rate $1 below her Sovrn line items. Bulk Line items can only target a CPM rate or goal.
  • House – House line items are typically used for ads that promote products or services chosen by you. House ads are commonly non-revenue generating and always have the lowest delivery priority.
    • Best for: Campaigns where publishers serve their own product or services for marketing and not necessarily to directly impact revenue.
    • Example: Sally wants to ensure that if there are any unsold impressions from her remnant line items, then her in-store product cleaning and repair services are advertised instead of a blank ad slot. House Line items can target a CPM or CPC rate or goal.

Step Three: Create Orders and Line Items

  1. In the Delivery menu, select ‘Orders’ to create a new order.
  2. Fill in order details. Give the order a name, select an advertiser, or create a new one.
  3. Create an initial DFP line item that will deliver the ad via the call for a creative.


  1. Fill in the delivery and targeting details. Line items can be targeted to individual ad units, placements or the entire site.
  2. Click ‘Save’.
  3. Now you’re ready to add a creative!


Step 4: Add a Creative

  1. Click ‘Creatives’ – Click ‘Creatives’ on the left-hand side menu of the Line Item page and then select ‘Add Creative’ from the Creatives menu page.
  2. Select advertiser – Next, select an Advertiser from the dialogue box and click ‘Continue’.
  3. Select ‘Third party’ – On the next page, select ‘Third Party’.
  4. Name creative – Name the creative in a way that corresponds to the ad tag, with the ad network, ad size, and position on the page listed, i.e. Sovrn_300x250_ATF.



  1. Track macros (or not) –  Here you have the option to add macros, which are strings of text that can be added to the ad tag URL to enable supported functionalities in DFP. Sovrn tags do not need macros.
  2. Target ad unit size – Select the same ad size that you intend to target on the size.
  3. Uncheck ‘SafeFrame’ – Uncheck ‘Serve into SafeFrame’ which is checked by default
  4. Click ‘Save’ – You’re done!



Step Five: Associate Creatives to Line Items

  1. Click ‘Add Line Items’ from the new Creatives page.
  2. Search and select the Line Item and click ‘Include’ to associate the Line Item.
  3. Click ‘Save’.


Step Six: Verify Creative to Line Item Association

The final step… you’re so close!



DFP isn’t easy to learn and it can take a while to fully understand. But it’s a worthwhile platform to learn if you want to increase your ad revenue. You’ve got this!


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