Only available in Google Ad Manager 360.

Special ad units

Require ad units to be explicitly targeted

Let's say that you have an ad unit that is valuable, sensitive, or strategic, and you don't want traffickers to accidentally target it. For example, you may want to prevent a run-of-network remnant line item from appearing on your homepage. How do you make sure the ad unit is specially treated? You can mark it as special.

If you designate an ad unit as special, a trafficker must explicitly target it, even if it's hierarchically below the inventory that's been targeted. No line item will serve to a special ad unit unless that ad unit has been explicitly targeted.

Special ad units are marked throughout Ad Manager with , which indicates that the inventory requires explicit targeting in order to serve.

Special ad unit targeting

  • If you mark an ad unit that has line items delivering to it as special, any line items that aren't explicitly targeting that ad unit will stop delivering to it.

    • Native styles are not constrained by this special ad unit designation. If a native style targets a parent ad unit, the child ad unit will be eligible as well, even if it's special. However, you can exclude these special ad units in the native targeting picker, which would achieve behavior consistent with line item targeting.
    • Special ad units are treated as regular ad units when applying targeting to pricing rules, protections, video settings, Private Auctions, and Ad Exchange direct tags.

      If you include an ad unit in a blocking rule and it contains special child ad units, those ad units will also be included in the blocking rule despite not being explicitly targeted.

  • If you explicitly exclude an ad unit from line item targeting, its children are also excluded, regardless of whether or not they're special ad units.
  • If you aren’t targeting the parent special ad unit, its child ad units need to be explicitly targeted. This is true even if the child ad units aren’t special ad units.

When you check available inventory for a line item, the forecasting numbers will only include special ad units that have been explicitly targeted.

Video ad rules also need to target special ad units to continue delivering to them.

Special ad units and inheritance

Ad unit hierarchy

When you create child ad units under a special parent ad unit, the children aren't marked as special by default. If you want one or more of the children to be special, you must mark them as such.


Let's assume the following hierarchy, where special ad units are marked with   :

Sports    > Football > Positions > Quarterback   

In this scenario, Sports and Quarterback are specifically marked as special ad units, but Football and Positions aren't.

Given this hierarchy:

  • If you configure a line item to be run-of-network, Sports and its children aren't eligible to serve, since Sports is a special ad unit.
  • If you target Sports, then Football and Positions are targeted but Quarterback is not.
  • If you target Football, then Positions is targeted but Quarterback is not.


You can add special ad units to placements for reporting purposes only. If you add a special ad unit to one or more placements, line items targeted to those placements don't serve to the special ad unit unless it's also explicitly targeted. Additionally, any child ad units of the special ad unit need to be explicitly targeted as well, even if the child ad units aren't special ad units.

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