Are the New DFP Ad Tags (GPT’s) Decreasing Your Ad Revenue?

After hearing all the exciting news and new features of the new DFP ad tags (aka. Google Publisher Tags), how could a publisher not want to implement them immediately? Google’s new asynchronous tags are supposed to deliver better performance by loading faster than single request ad serving of the past.  In addition, publishers should be able to serve ads in emails and newsletters while DFP has the ability to serve passback ads.

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That all sounds great, right? Well, we fell for it too. We implemented the new tags for several clients and encountered a few problems:

Ad Exchange CPM’s Dropped: The exact day we implemented the Google publisher tags, we saw an immediate drop in CPM’s. The day after we saw close to 20% drops in CPM. Mind you, this was in Q4 when CPM’s are supposed to consistently climb approaching Christmas. Every year we’ve operated we’ve consistently seen rising CPM’s toward the end of the year, but not this year.

  1. Ad Fill Coverage Dropped: As soon as we implemented the Google publisher tags, we saw drops in ad impressions immediately. We compared this to the site’s Analytics and saw no consistency. The traffic remained constant but the ad impressions dropped by an average of 10%. Therefore, the new DFP ad tags served a lower percentage of functional ads versus the old tags.
  2. Non-existent Third Party Ad Network Passback Capability: Google claimed the new DFP ad tags enabled the capability to send passback ad tags to third-party ad networks of the publisher’s choosing. This is a feature that DFP Premium offers and is the optimal passback strategy for any publisher. However, this feature did not work for Google publisher tags. Many DFP reps that we’ve spoken to admitted to this and vowed to make this feature work in the future.

Overall, the new DFP ad tags have been a huge and expensive disappointment. We have reverted back to the old DFP ad tags for new clients and are in the process of doing so with established clients. We believe the drop in Ad Exchange CPM is attributable to the fact that DFP ad tags are iFrames. Expandable ads are not able to be served in iFrames without additional external code setup. Expandable ads go for high CPM’s and the new DFP ad tags aren’t able to serve them properly, negatively affecting Ad Exchange CPM’s.

The new iFrame ad tags are likely the reason why the fill of functional ads dropped by an average of 10%. Expandable ads and certain rich media ads in third-party ad networks weren’t able to serve properly. The lack of a third party ad network capability was due to Google’s inadequate cooperation and communication with third-party ad networks. It’s important to ask your Google rep about these specific features first before implementing the new GPT tags. If you don’t have a Google rep feel free to reach out to us and we can assist.

Keep in mind these tags are still in beta so we would recommend being patient and waiting on implementing the new tags once they’ve been tested further. In the meantime, stick with those old tags and proceed with caution before implementing Google’s new tags.

Kean Graham

CEO and Founder at MonetizeMore

Kean has been a pioneer in the AdTech world since 2010 who believes in the supremacy of direct publisher deals, programmatic advertising, and building ad technology as keys to scaling ad revenue. Here, he provides publisher resources and guides covering areas like website monetization, AdSense optimization, Google Ad Manager, Ad Exchanges, and much more.

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  1. Brian Wozeniak

    We also migrated our code to the new DFP tags back in the beginning of November, 2011. The part that convinced us was that the tags were asynchronous, so it sounded like a win-win situation. Around the time we made the change, our earnings have dropped quite a bit, that is the only thing I can figure out that happened to make our earnings change as much as they have. It is still hard to prove if that is the reason for the drop, but I am just wondering if that was a coincidence.

    Since you have reverted your ad tags to the old ones, have you seen your ad CPMs gone back to what they used to be?

    • Kean

      Hi Brian, we reverted the DFP tags to the old ones in January (The seasonally worst month) and we still saw an immediate lift in AdX CPMs and revenues. Without a doubt it was the new DFP tags that decreased the CPMs.

  2. Brian Wozeniak

    I just wanted to let everyone know that we did end up switching back to our old Google Manager codes in the last few weeks and we definitely have seen a large increase in our revenues back to the levels we were before we switched in November. It is very exciting to see our revenue return, but our website performance is much slower.

    I really liked the new Async Google Publisher tags due to the increased performance of our website, but I just cannot justify that much of a revenue drop for that 🙁

    Thank you for making this blog post, it was enough to give me a clue on what the problem could have been — and now I have confirmed it was the problem for us.

    • Kean

      Your welcome! Let me know if you have anymore questions.

  3. TJ

    When you say you reverted back to the old tag are you referring to the super old “Google Ad Manager tag” or the sorta old, pre-asynchronous “Google Publisher Tag (synchronous)” code?

    Finally, have you taken a look at this as a possible solution:
    DoubleClick Rich Media iframe solution:

    • Kean

      Hi TJ, I was originally referring to the GAM tags, however, we have been working with the synchronous tags a fair bit lately and have been happy with the results. Therefore, I would recommend using the synchronous tags as well to webmasters.

  4. Michiel

    Hi, thanks for you article. I’m working on switching a casual games portal to GPT. They had bad experience when testing it async before, because lots of ads were not being filled. You say you have been happy with the sync version. Is it performing as well as GAM tags now? And were there any gotcha’s implementing this the right way? Thank you!

    • Kean

      Hi Michael, yes we have been happy with the sync results. They perform just as well as GAM with better latency. Let me know if you have any other questions about the setup or optimization of that casual games portal you’re working on.



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