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Introduction to Google DFP: Using Placements

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Read Time: 8 min
This post is part of a series called Introduction to Google DFP.
Introduction to Google DFP: Beginning Ad Integration With Your Website
Introduction to Google DFP: Placing an Order
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What You'll Be Creating

This is the third tutorial in a series about Google DoubleClick for Publishers. DFP is a service that can seem incredibly complicated to the uninitiated, so this series aims to simplify it. 

If you have a website or two that gets moderate amounts of web traffic and you want to know how best to generate revenue, sell ads directly to businesses and optimize your income, then this series is for you. I'll continue walking you through the process I go through with my own sites, keeping the jargon simple and sticking to the basics. 

Please get started by reading part one, Introduction to Google DFP Small Business and part two, Beginning Ad Integration With Your Website

In the last episode, I showed you how to define ad inventory for your website, create ad units, generate tags (the HTML and JavaScript code) and place this code in the appropriate areas of your website. In this episode, I'll introduce you to Placements for combining ad units into groups that can attract new advertisers and simplify the ordering process. Placements allow us to group ad units in various ways such as topics or site sections—and even ad inventory across multiple sites you might publish.

In other words, you might create a placement that incorporates ad units placed on premium areas of your site above the fold. This will attract advertisers seeking to reach your entire audience. Or, you might create a placement that groups all the ads in your Sports section, attracting advertising who wish to reach readers interested in sports. You can even create placements to group ad units covering a topic across more than one site in your publishing network (you are a publishing mogul, right?). This can attract advertisers seeking broader reach on specific topics.

Before we get started, please remember, I do try to participate in the discussions below. If you have a question or topic suggestion, please post a comment below or contact me on Twitter @reifman. You can also email me directly. If you noticed there's been a delay in this series, it's because I'm recently back from brain surgery. Thank you for your patience and support—it's nice to be writing again regularly.

What Are Placements?

Placements are optional elements in Google DFP. You can use them to better organize your ad inventory for yourself and for advertisers. Here are a few examples for using placements effectively.

Featured Ads: You can create a placement for all of your leaderboard ads at the top of your site. This would allow advertisers to purchase the most effective ads across your site. Google says that, "Advertisers are more willing to increase their CPM bids when they can target above the fold or homepage placements." 

Topical Ads: Or, you could create a placement for covering a specific topic, such as PHP Development. This would allow advertisers to target readers interested in PHP. 

Network Inventory: Or, you can create a placement of all the ad units on homepages across multiple websites. This would allow advertisers to target the highest proportion of your readers across all of your inventory.

Ad units can appear in multiple placements. Placements allow advertisers to purchase your inventory in various ways depending on their goals. Note that the usage of placements with various ad unit configurations can complicate your later reporting—because ad units are being purchased and rendered from various different kinds of orders.

For the purposes of this tutorial series, I've been guiding you through setting up advertising for a new site I'm configuring called Let's look at some placements we can configure for ProTools.

As we reviewed in the earlier episodes, Ad Inventory is all of the advertising space you have available to sell on your website. If you printed out every page of your website and cut out all the advertisements and stacked them, that stack would represent your inventory. You can see some of the example ad units we created with ProTools below:

Google DFP ProTools Website Advertising InventoryGoogle DFP ProTools Website Advertising InventoryGoogle DFP ProTools Website Advertising Inventory

Initially, there are three advertising spots per page. There are two in the right sidebar: a small square 250 x 250, and a wide skyscraper ad 160 x 600. And there's one above the comments, a small banner 468 x 60. For more information on these, see Google AdSense's Guide to Ad Sizes.

Creating Placements

For this tutorial, I'll guide you through creating two placements.

The first placement will be for advertisements above the fold in the right sidebar. Advertisers interested in catching the broadest array of our readers will have the best chance with the prominent ads included in this placement.

The second placement we'll create will be for a new advertisement we'll place in the top of stories about Hosting. Advertisers aiming to reach readers interested in hosting may choose to purchase this placement.

Top of the Sidebar Placement

First, I'll visit the Inventory menu and click Placements in the left sidebar. Then, click New Placement:

Google DFP Placements DashboardGoogle DFP Placements DashboardGoogle DFP Placements Dashboard

I'll name the new placement protools_top_sidebar and I'm choosing the top side bar ad unit to be included within the placement: protools_sidebar_top_square_250x250.

Google DFP Create a New PlacementGoogle DFP Create a New PlacementGoogle DFP Create a New Placement

Once saved, you'll see it in the Placements listings:

Google DFP Placements ListingsGoogle DFP Placements ListingsGoogle DFP Placements Listings

If you're wondering what "Enabled for ad targeting" means, a yes on that indicates that public AdWords advertisers can purchase advertising on your placement. We'll explore this in future episodes. 

If you return to your Ad Units listings, you'll notice specific ad units now show that they've also been included in a placement—our top square on the sidebar is now in 1 placement:

Google DFP Ad Units Listing with PlacementsGoogle DFP Ad Units Listing with PlacementsGoogle DFP Ad Units Listing with Placements

Google also provides tips for naming placements which may help you reach advertisers more successfully. It can be most effective to use friendly names beginning with your site or site network—for example, Pro Tools Top Sidebar might have been a bit better.

Hosting Articles Placement

First, I'll create a new 468 x 60 ad unit to be placed at the top of any story I write on the topic of hosting. Currently at ProTools, I have two stories on hosting providers. Then, I'll generate the tag code for this ad unit.

If you need to review how to generate an ad unit, go back and review part two: Beginning Ad Integration with Your Website. Here's an example:

Google DFP Generate Ad Unit TagsGoogle DFP Generate Ad Unit TagsGoogle DFP Generate Ad Unit Tags

When you add a single ad unit, you have to add a bit of JavaScript to your existing page header. I'll add this part:

 googletag.defineSlot('/1056613/protools_hosting_top_full_banner_468x60', [468, 60], 'div-gpt-ad-1444079615188-0').addService(googletag.pubads());

To my existing header from part two, so it looks like this:

<script type='text/javascript'>
googletag.cmd.push(function() {
googletag.defineSlot('/1056613/protools_above_comments_full_banner_468x60', [468, 60], 'div-gpt-ad-1427669183026-0').addService(googletag.pubads());
googletag.defineSlot('/1056613/protools_sidebar_mid-skyscraper_160x600', [160, 600], 'div-gpt-ad-1427669183026-1').addService(googletag.pubads());
googletag.defineSlot('/1056613/protools_sidebar_top_square_250x250', [250, 250], 'div-gpt-ad-1427669183026-2').addService(googletag.pubads());
googletag.defineSlot('/1056613/protools_hosting_top_full_banner_468x60', [468, 60], 'div-gpt-ad-1444079615188-0').addService(googletag.pubads());

That code defines all the ad slots in your site that Google will require to have available.

You can see the body portion of the tag code to include on this page:

Google DFP Generate Ad Unit HTML and Javascript CodeGoogle DFP Generate Ad Unit HTML and Javascript CodeGoogle DFP Generate Ad Unit HTML and Javascript Code

To place the code for the in place advertisement, I'm going to rely on Shortcoder which I wrote about back in January 2015 (see Using the Shortcoder Plugin with WordPress). Since I'll be adding articles on hosting to ProTools over time, I want it to be very simple to place this ad unit with each story. I'm going to place the Google DFP tag (code) in a shortcode to make it easier each time I want to include with each new hosting article.

Google DFP Using WordPress Shortcode to Simplify Ad IntegrationGoogle DFP Using WordPress Shortcode to Simplify Ad IntegrationGoogle DFP Using WordPress Shortcode to Simplify Ad Integration

In other words, I just need to paste [sc:HostingTopAd] at the top of all my WordPress posts about Hosting. If you wish to center your ad, you'll need to surround the Google tag within the Shortcode definition with <center>...</center>.

Here's an example of a hosting-related article with [sc:HostingTopAd]:

Google DFP Pasting a Shortcode with an AdGoogle DFP Pasting a Shortcode with an AdGoogle DFP Pasting a Shortcode with an Ad

You can see an example of this advertisement running here, and here's what another one of the hosting articles looks like with the top ad in place. Once the ads have existed for more time, they'll generally run more image ads than text ads:

Google DFP Hosting Article with New Ad PlacementGoogle DFP Hosting Article with New Ad PlacementGoogle DFP Hosting Article with New Ad Placement

Please note that defining placements has nothing directly to do with where the ads appear. Placements describe where the ad units have been placed across your site and site network. They assist you in organizing your advertising inventory, attracting advertisers and processing orders—but the individual ad unit code is still placed within your website as if they didn't exist. Google DFP takes care of mapping orders for placements to your ad unit code on your site.

Next, we'll create the placement for the hosting ads including this new unit:

Then we'll have two active placements in our system for ProTools—note I've renamed my first placement to be more friendly to advertisers:

Google DFP Placements ListedGoogle DFP Placements ListedGoogle DFP Placements Listed

Now that we've created the placements, they are there to support the management of our own house ads as well as attracting new advertisers with their targeted focus.

What's Next?

As I've said before, it's easy to get overwhelmed by DFP. It's one of the most complicated user experiences I've encountered. In this series, I'm trying to cover small pieces of DFP in ways that are simple for you to walk through, understand and repeat for your own sites. I'm especially focused on describing terminology more clearly than Google has.

In the next episode, we'll explore selling directly to advertisers and placing their orders for your ad units and placements within Google DFP.

Please feel free to post your questions and comments below. You can also contact me on Twitter @reifman or email me directly. You can also browse my Tuts+ instructor page to see other tutorials I've written.

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