An hour or so with Google Ad Manager

I've been after a good Ad Server for my FlightSimX blog for some time. I'd been using OpenX (or whatever their name is this week) for a while, but my old hosts asked me to stop using it as it was killing their server. I've explored some other options, but none seemed to offer what I was after, so I was pleased to be advised by Google that my Ad Manager account had been set up and was ready to use.

When first trying to access my account, I was asked to select my time zone. I only had a choice of US zones, so I dropped an email to Google and they kindly set my account to the correct UK zone. For some reason, you can't do this from your account yourself. Not to worry. A quick acceptance of the T's & C's and I was in.

My first thoughts were "where do I start?". Fortunately, there's a bunch of tutorials and the usual extensive Help system provided that soon got me moving.

I did get a little confused over some of the terms, but I guess that's only because they're different to other packages I've used.

Here's how I went about creating my first ad:
  1. Go the the Inventory tab and create a new Ad Slot. Think of this as the physical space on your site where an ad will appear. You specify the size of the ad, and you can also opt for Google AdSense ads to be displayed under certain conditions. More on this later.
  2. Go to Placements and create a new one. This one threw me until I read through the Help. A placement is really (potentially) a group of ads on your site. I say potentially, as it can be just one ad if you like, as was the case for my first ad.
  3. Assign an Ad Slot to your placement.
  4. You can specify targeting at this point if you wish, but I just left it at the default no targeting setting.
  5. Now, what I wanted to do was insert an affiliate ad to use in the slot. To do so, I created a new "Order" by clicking on the (not surprisingly) Orders tab. I then clicked on New Order and added the details of my ad. Watch out here, as mine defaulted to start tomorrow. This confused me initially when I couldn't see any ads. You can also set pricing here, but for this ad, there was no price (it was my ad I was placing).  There's one setting on this page to really pay attention to, labelled "Value CPM". Think of this as "Fake Value"! What it does is "pretend" that the ad is set to, say, $3 CPM, even though it's real cost is, in this case, zero. This also works in association with AdSense. If you're getting $2.50 CPM on AdSense and you want your own ad to take precedence, simply enter the "Value CPM" as some higher value. Neat.
  6. That's just about it. Grab the code it generates for you - there's a chunk to place between the <head> tags and some more to ad for each ad "placement" and you're set.
This is not meant to be an extensive tutorial, but will hopefully get your started. There's a huge amount of functionality that I haven't even touched upon yet, like reporting, checking for free ad slots etc. I'll save those for another day.

Anyone else using the Ad Manager? What do you think of it?