How to troubleshoot deals in Google Ad Manager

DoubleClick For Publishers / Google Ad Manager Ad Optimization
May 14, 2020 | by Kean Graham
How to troubleshoot deals in Google Ad Manager

Programmatic direct has changed the way publishers sell their ad inventory to advertisers. More publishers make their premium inventory available through private auctions and preferred deals.

Preferred deals allow you to sell your ad inventory to a specific buyer.  All preferred deals start with a proposal, and an interested buyer directly negotiates the terms with you. Once all parties agree to the terms and conditions, the buyer will have a priority to bid at the rate agreed or higher on the particular inventory.  If the advertiser fails to do so, or bids lower than the price agreed, that’s the only time that your ad inventory will go to open or private auction. Guaranteed deals work the same way but only with a guaranteed impression volume.

Private auctions are programmatic deals that allow publishers to give higher priority to their advertisers of choice in the auction of their specific inventory. As with preferred deals, you, as a publisher, will set a specific price floor, which is usually higher than the open marketplace rates. Buyers will have an option as to which impressions that they would like to bid on.

The image below highlights the similarities and differences between the different types of programmatic deals:

How to troubleshoot deals in Google Ad Manager MonitizeMore

There are many benefits to using programmatic direct deals. You, as a publisher, have control over the  following:

  • Price of your inventory
  • Quality of Ads
  • Choice of advertiser

With control over these factors, you have a chance to sell your inventory with a higher premium as compared to selling it via the open auction.

Although Programmatic Deals can boost your average revenue and aid you in achieving a great price for your inventory, there are also challenges and issues that you should be aware of before diving into implementation.

  • Unfilled/Blank Impressions: Considering that buyers have the choice to see your inventory, they can choose to purchase your impressions or not. In some cases, if the inventory is not up to par or due to seasonal changes, the advertiser may decide not to bid.  The impression then moves to private auction and to open market. It can lead to blank or unfilled impressions.
  • Manual work to obtain competent buyers: Publishers have to establish that they are big enough to attract the attention of top-tier advertisers. Smaller publishers will have difficulty in this aspect. Subsequently, publishers have to take time listing down potential buyers, taking into consideration the past performances of these advertisers, and keeping them interested in purchasing their inventory.
  • Expansive analysis and risk of underpricing: After you have gotten the attention of potential advertisers, this is when the negotiation process kicks in. It’s another rigorous process, where publishers have to be persistent to facilitate a sale, which could take weeks or months. The rivalry in the open market can elevate your inventory prices. When dealing with the advertisers, you need to be knowledgeable of the correct value of your inventory. If not, you risk underpricing your ad inventory.

An essential tool to use in troubleshooting issues with your deals is the “Private auction troubleshooting tool” in Google Ad Manager.  It provides a summary of metrics or a scorecard for your deal. You can access this information by following these steps.

  • Once logged to Google Ad Manager, Go to Sales and then Private Auctions.
  • Click the Per deal tab.
  • Find the Private Auction you want to monitor or troubleshoot
  • Click View under the “Troubleshooting” column

How to troubleshoot deals in Google Ad Manager MonitizeMore

You’ll see the following metrics in summary:

  • Ad requests (total) –  the total number of ad request for your Private Auction deal
  • The buyer did not bid – The number of ad requests where the buyer did not send a bid response.
  • Bids for this deal – The number of ad requests where the buyer sent a bid response
  • Winning bids – The number of ad requests where the buyer sent a bid response and won the auction.
  • Filtered/filled by competing demand – The number of ad requests where the buyer sent a bid response and did not win the auction.

A similar feature called “deal check” was previously available in the deals UI, but this was deprecated after preferred deals migrated to Google Ad Manager.  As an alternative, you may use the following to get your metrics and monitor the bidding behavior for preferred deals:

How to troubleshoot deals in Google Ad Manager MonitizeMore

Use the tool and data mentioned above together with  these troubleshooting tips if you are encountering some issues with your deals in Google Ad Manager:

Low Impressions

Step 1: Make sure you have to correct ads.txt details entered on the site

Step 2: Check your Line Item or deal settings

Target Inventory should be the same in both settings

CPM or the price floor – rate entered should be the same rate as agreed with the buyer

Check key-value targeting. If your deal targets more than one key-value, requests can only make the transaction if it targets both values.

Step 3: If there are specific URLs targeted in your line item, verify if your these URLs are not in violation of Google policies

Low Bid

Step 1: Check that your domain is verified

Step 2: Ensure that you are sending ad requests and that the buyer is receiving the bid requests

Check the total ad requests

If the total ad requests are lower than expected, check the following:

  • Targeting of your deals
  • Dynamic allocation settings
  • Ads.txt file
  • Scaled Partner Management settings

Step 3: Enable Block override settings for your deal – this will allow URLs and categories listed in your opt-in or blocking rules to take part in the bidding process.

  • Sign in to Google Ad Manager
  • Go to Sales and then Private Auctions
  • Click the Per deal tab
  • Select the deal and then buyer you want to override blocks
  • Click the toggle switch beside Override blocks

Step 4: Confirm with your buyer the following:

  • Has the deal been set up on their end correctly? Has the creative been uploaded, and is it the correct size?  Is the targeting – such as Geo or region correct? Is there a frequency cap that could limit the delivery of the campaign?
  • The deal ID is correct.
  • Start and End date, Status of the deal, Is it active?
  • Budget – does it have enough budget?
  • If the buyer can not confirm any of the details above, you may request the buyer to contact the buy-side support team.

Low winning bids

Step 1: Check the reason(s) why the bid lost in the auction.

There are two possible reasons why the buyer did not win the auction:

Another bid won despite the rate being above the agreed minimum floor price – for private auctions, check the number of bids under “filtered by competing demand,” click on “view details” to check the top sources that are winning against your deal. Check also the rates of your other line items as optimization might have been done to accommodate other demand sources.

How to troubleshoot deals in Google Ad Manager MonitizeMore

How to troubleshoot deals in Google Ad Manager MonitizeMore

Technical issue – check the number of bids under “filtered bids.”

Review blocks/restrictions that you have set up for your inventory – Go to “Protections” and review ad content rules.  You may also opt to enable an override setting for your deals.

Check Creative Restrictions

How to troubleshoot deals in Google Ad Manager MonitizeMore

The recommended practice is to omit creative restrictions.

Creative restrictions may be used but consider doing the following;

  • Check with your buyer if they are bidding with accepted advertisers.
  • Check the details of the creative and use the “Advertiser override” option. Replace the invalid advertiser with the advertiser configured to enable the creative to serve properly.


Programmatic direct has many advantages. For some publishers, it’s one of their preferred selling methods despite being labor-intensive to set up and monitor. If you want to get more out of your deals, get help with setup and monitoring, our ad ops team can help! Sign up to MonetizeMore today!

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