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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The forecast is clear in Google Ad Manager

If you're a publisher who sells advertising space directly to advertisers, you might have experienced times when you've been unsure about how much inventory is available for you to sell. Google Ad Manager can help you learn what you have available to sell by forecasting your future inventory and subtracting off what you've already sold.

A Helpful Analogy

To put this into context, pretend for a minute that instead of a website, you run a popular destination hotel. Instead of selling space to advertisers, your job is to book hotel stays for guests. You receive all kinds of requests to book hotel rooms: two rooms for a one-week family vacation, 100 rooms for a three-day conference, a suite for a weekend getaway. In order to book these reservations, you have to know both how many rooms your hotel has and how many rooms are already booked. For a hotel, this is fairly straightforward. You know exactly how many total rooms the hotel has, and you can subtract how many rooms are booked for each night.

For a publisher, it's not as straightforward. Since the amount of inventory you have to sell is directly tied to your site's traffic, it can vary day by day. It's also complicated because there's flexibility in how you meet your obligations. If an advertiser has booked advertising space on your Finance and Entertainment sections, for example, you can serve more ads on the Finance page and fewer on the Entertainment page. To compare to a hotel, it's like you have the flexibility to substitute two single rooms for one double room. Because of the variability of traffic and the flexibility in how you can satisfy your reservations, it's hard to know exactly how much space you have left to sell for any day or any specific area of your website.

A Common Problem - and Solution

Even though it's more complicated for websites than for hotels, the customers' (or advertisers') needs are the same: They want a reservation, and you have to be able to guarantee that there will be availability when they show up. A hotel can't operate effectively without this type of capability, and neither can these web publishers.

Google Ad Manager, our hosted ad serving and management solution for publishers with smaller direct sales teams, addresses this publisher problem. It allows you to predict future availability and be confident that when you sell an ad, you'll be able to deliver it. In Ad Manager, forecasting works by using your historical data to estimate how many impressions you have left to sell. Ad Manager's inventory forecasting system allows you to find availability broken down by different areas of your website, by cities or states, and even by custom criteria that you define, like the user's age. Even better, when the inventory you request is unavailable, Ad Manager will give you suggestions for freeing-up the requested inventory, so that you can still make the sale.

New Improvements

In the last few weeks, we've rolled out major improvements to our forecasting system. It's now up to ten times faster, and it uses much more historical data, so you get more accurate estimates of future availability. The new system allows us to quickly add new features in the future. We've already launched one of these improvements: Forecasts now take account of frequency caps, meaning that the availability estimates are modified to account for the fact that you might only want to show an ad once to each user. And more new features are coming soon!

Forecasting also continues to be a major development focus of our DART for Publishers (DFP) ad serving platform for publishers with larger direct sales teams, part of the DoubleClick Revenue Center suite of publisher solutions. Google Ad Manager serves as an effective complement to DFP and the DoubleClick Revenue Center to provide solutions for publishers of all sizes.

To learn more about forecasting in Ad Manager, visit the Ad Manager Help Center.

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