Create and manage creative templates

Simplify creative trafficking for a variety of ad experiences. #creativetemplates

Creative templates are created and managed under Delivery and then Creatives and then Creative templates.

Creative templates are forms you fill out or use when trafficking creatives. Creative templates define how to show an ad—that is, how the ad should look, behave, or serve. They can also be used for other purpose outside showing an ad, such as including third-party tracking pixels. 

You select a creative template when adding creatives to a line item or when uploading new creatives to the creative library. 

There are two kinds of creative templates. 

Standard templates: Included in Ad Manager by default. Standard templates support some common ad experiences or other useful applications, such as adding third-party tracking pixels. 

Custom templates: Created by an administrator or other technical resource in your network. Custom templates are tailored for your network to deliver ad experiences or provide applications not covered by standard templates or other creative types available.

Both standard and custom templates are listed as one of the several display creative types when adding new creatives.

This article covers how to create and manage creative templates. To create new custom templates, you or a technical resource needs to know the ad serving or other goals required of the new template and the necessary coding skills to meet those goals.

If you're a trafficker and simply want to know how to use creatives templates, see Traffic with creative templates.

Standard and custom creative templates aren't supported for Programmatic Direct, with the exception of publisher-managed creatives for Programmatic Guaranteed. See the available features for Programmatic Direct.

Standard creative templates

Standard creative templates are included in Ad Manager by default and cannot be changed. You can't modify standard templates, an no template can be deleted. However, you can inactivate creative templates, making them unavailable to traffickers.

List of standard creative templates
Name Description
Forecasting pixel Improves accuracy of forecasting on inventory hosted by third parties. Used only for tracking purposes and is not an ad visible to users.
Image banner with optional third-party tracking Image banner ad with a click-through URL that open a new tab. Includes the option third-party tracking pixels. Also includes the option for Safecount survey URLs. Safecount is a third-party service that allows you to engage with users via your ad.
Mobile app download Image and text ad that invites users to download a mobile application.
HTML5 animated ad

Animated HTML5 ad with configurable transitions between image files. Requires GIF, JPG or PNG files.

You can upload multiple image files and configure:

  • Transition type: the way one image file transitions to the next, such as a dissolve, a push, or scale, or pivot
  • Transition direction: Where the next image file comes from—top, bottom, right, left
  • Transition anchor: where an image is anchored
  • Transition duration: how long to take for each transition
  • Transition delay: How long to wait before the next transition
Mobile image carousel

Image ad that renders multiple images in a carousel—a rotating display of images triggered when users swipe from right to left. 

  • Maximum number of images in a carousel: 5 
  • Supported operating systems: Android 2.2+ or iOS 4.3+
Mobile interstitial with auto-close (app)

Image ad interstitial with auto-close control. Supports portrait and landscape orientations. Works on apps running Google AdMob Ads SDK 6.0+.

  • Supported operating systems: Android or iOS
Mobile fixed-position banner

Image banner ad for mobile web that stays fixed to the bottom of the screen as the user scrolls. Includes a close button for dismissing the ad.

  • Template should be trafficked on an out-of-page line item. Learn more
  • Only supports GPT synchronous mode. Learn more
Pop-up or pop-under ad Image ad hosted by Ad Manager that pops over or under the content page in a new window. New window is automatically sized for the image file. 
Pop-up or pop-under ad (third-party hosted)

Image ad hosted by a third-party service that pops over or under the content page in a new window. New window is automatically sized for the image file. 

Ensure that traffickers include a click macro in the third-party URL to track clicks. Engage with your third party for implementation details.

Text ad Text-based advertisement.


Previous trafficking experience

Some names of standard creative templates (previously, "system-defined templates") have changed. New names are simplified and better reflect consistency across Google Ad Manager.

Now Previous
HTML5 animated ad Image animation 1
Image banner with optional third-party tracking Image banner with optional third party tracking
Mobile image carousel Mobile Image Carousel (app and web)
Mobile fixed-position banner Mobile Web Adhesion Banner
Pop-up or pop-under image Pop-up or pop-under window with image content
Pop-up or pop-under ad (third-party hosted) Pop-up or pop-under window with third-party content

1 "Image animation" had been available to select from an initial page when first adding creatives. Now, you can select "HTML5 animated ad" from under the standard creative templates card. "HTML5 animated ad" works the same as "Image animation" and was simply renamed.

While you can't modify standard templates, you can copy them. Simply select the creative templates you want to copy from the table of creative templates, and select Copy. The template is copied with the same name, appended with "(copy 1)", and can then be modified.

To find custom templates, you can filter the table for Type and then Custom or filter based on the name.

Custom creative templates

Changes to a custom template affect associated creatives

Changes to existing creative templates affect creatives that were previously associated with that template. Changes could cause unexpected or undesired behavior. Good practice suggests custom creative template not be modified once they are in production. Instead, copy the template and make modifications.

If you can't get around modifying an existing creative template, ensure that you do thorough testing with previously associated creatives. 

To create a creative template:

  1. Navigate to Delivery and then Creatives and then Creative templates.
  2. Click New creative template.
  3. Enter a descriptive name that helps traffickers discover your template. Names can be up to 64 characters in length.
  4. Select the Creative template for out-of-page creatives setting only if the template is intended to be associated with out-of-page creatives. Ensure that you or the trafficker set "Expected creatives" in the line item for out-of-page creatives.
    There are important restrictions and caveats for the settings. Learn more
  5. Select Serve into a SafeFrame if the creatives associated with the template are intended to serve into a SafeFrame. Learn more
  6. Optional but recommended: Enter a description of the template to help traffickers determine which template to select.
  7. Click New variable. Custom creative templates must have at least one variable. Variables can define or enforce things like what kind of creative image files the template accepts, a third-party click tracking URL, or custom events like how long and video ad should run. Learn more
  8. Enter HTML code in the Define snippet field. Click the Insert macro button to insert standard macros. Click Select a variable to insert defined variables into your creative code. These variable placeholders will be replaced with the values defined by each trafficker when served to your inventory.
    If you update an existing variable in a template, it doesn't automatically get updated in the Define snippet field. You’ll have to update it yourself manually.
  9. Click Save.

Creative template for out-of-page creatives

Out-of-page creatives include floating or pop-up creatives. Do not enable this setting for creatives that are not out-of-page, such as traditional images creatives, otherwise impression reporting could be adversely affected.

The "Creative template for out-of-page creatives" setting: 

  • Requires that you insert the "Viewed impression" macro. The "Viewed impression" macro ensures impressions are counted in reporting only when they are fully rendered.
  • Cannot be changed after template is saved.

This setting requires that you insert the "Viewed impression" macro. The "Viewed impression" macro ensures impressions are counted in reporting only when they are fully rendered. This setting cannot be changed after template is saved.

Code snippets

Custom templates also contain some other attributes and optional custom variables.


Variables define, enforce, or restrict how you want creatives to look, behave, or serve. When you add a variables, you need to indicate its type. When a trafficker uses a creative template, the variable appears as an input field for the trafficker. Types include:

  • File: Upload a file
  • List: Add items from a list
  • Number: Add numbers from a list
  • Text: Enter text
  • URL: Enter a URL

You can ad multiple variable to a template and variables of the same type. You can also indicate if entry for the trafficker is required.

When you add a new variable, make sure that you include it in the "Code snippet" field as a macro, otherwise it won't populate the creative template with the input field traffickers need to use when adding a new creative.  

Macros and variables in code snippets

Macros are included by default in Ad Manager and can be added in the "Code snippet" field  by clicking Insert macro. Macro strings are later replaced with another value or code that dictates how a creative serves, behaves, or looks. There are also useful macros cache busting or click-through URLs.  Learn more

Ad Manager doesn't support nested macros such as [%asset#%] inside [%third_party_code%]. When the same macro occurs two or more times, only the first expands.

For every variable you create, Ad Manager creates a variable reference that should be inserted into the "Code snippet" field.  After creating a variable, you'll see the Insert variable option under the "Code snippet" field. You won't see it before that. Insert the variable into the code snippet at the appropriate location, with whatever potential custom code you enter.

Export and import creative templates

Export and import creative templates to edit them offline. You might want to export and reimport a creative template to:

  • Copy a creative template from one Ad Manager network to another
  • Use a preferred offline editor 
  • Enforce code reviews or validation

Exporting and importing creative templates can be done from the details page of an existing or new template.

Export a creative template

  1. Navigate to Delivery and then Creatives and then Creative templates.
  2. Select the creative template you want to export to go to its details page.
  3. Click Export.
Some content, such as the HTML code snippet, is exported with standard JSON encoding to ensure it can be properly parsed when re-imported into Ad Manager. If you want to edit the snippet offline, you’ll need to use a standard JSON library or web utility that can handle JSON encoding.

Import a creative template

  1. Navigate to  Delivery and then Creatives and then Creative templates.
  2. You can import either to:
    • Add a new creative template by clicking New creative template and then Import from the details page.
    • To update an existing custom template by going to its details page and then clicking Import.
  3. Once imported, click Save.
For destination URL macro requirements, reference the API developer doc for template creative.


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