Counting impressions and clicks

One of the key strengths of digital advertising is that it can provide detailed metrics on how advertising campaigns are performing. The most fundamental metrics are impressions (the number of times an ad has been served) and clicks. Here are some insights into exactly how Ad Manager counts those metrics.

Counting impressions
Counting clicks
Filtering invalid impressions and clicks
Use the Delivery Inspector to investigate why a line item isn't recording impressions, and creative preview to validate whether a creative will count clicks.

Counting impressions

Ad Manager currently counts an impression each time a creative is downloaded in the user's device and has begun to load. Note that the impression is counted before the creative is fully downloaded and viewed by the end user.

Important changes to impression counting
  • On October 2, 2017, Google Ad Manager started counting ad impressions using the downloaded methodology to align with industry standards.
  • Starting October 3, 2017, Ad Exchange and Exchange Bidding mobile app impressions served by Ad Manager are counted when the ad content has begun to load and at least some part of it is displayed within the user's view.

How impressions are requested, counted, and displayed

  1. A publisher sends a request to Google Ad Manager for an ad.
  2. Ad Manager assembles a list of line items that match the request's targeting.
  3. Ad Manager selects the best ad to serve and sends the creative back to the publisher.
  4. The publisher downloads Ad Manager's response to render the creative code, retrieving images or video assets.
    • Starting October 2, 2017, Ad Manager  counts an impression at this step in the process. An impression is counted when the ad response is loaded, even if the ad content isn't fully downloaded. Previous to this change, Ad Manager counted an impression at step 3.
    • Starting October 3, 2017, Ad Exchange and Exchange Bidding mobile app impressions served by Ad Manager are counted when the ad content has begun to load and at least some part of it is displayed within the user's view.
  5. The user views the ad, meeting the creative's viewability standard.

Delayed impressions

Since October 2, 2017, all creative types use delayed impressions. This means that Ad Manager doesn't count an impression until the creative sends an impression request to Ad Manager. Because of this secondary request, the "Total code served count" metric total can be greater than the "Total impressions" value for these creative types.

Ad Manager must receive a follow-up impression request from the creative within 1 hour from the time the creative code is delivered to the end user.

Manual impression counting for banner ads in mobile apps

By default, Ad Manager counts an impression each time a creative is sent to a mobile app, but there is also the option to control impression counting for banners by using the manual impression counting feature of the Google Mobile Ads SDK, which utilizes delayed impression counting.

Watch related Publisher University training

Manual impression counting is compatible only with creatives trafficked directly in Ad Manager. It should not be used when requesting ads to ad units that can serve backfill, such as Ad Exchange, AdSense, or AdMob, or ads from third-party networks, including SDK mediation.

If your Ad Manager-trafficked creative has third-party impression tracking pixels, those will be triggered when the mAdView.recordManualImpression() function is triggered.

Interstitial impressions in mobile apps

Ad Manager counts an impression when the interstitial is shown to the user, not when a creative is served from Ad Manager. If an interstitial request is made and Ad Manager sends the creative to the app, but the app never shows the interstitial, an impression isn't counted.

Counting clicks

When a user clicks on an ad creative, a click request is sent to the Ad Manager ad server. Ad Manager counts a click as soon as it receives the click request and then sends the user the defined click-through URL. Note that Ad Manager counts the click when it's received, not when the user is redirected to the click-through URL.

Filtering invalid impressions and clicks

Ad Manager discards impressions and clicks that are considered invalid. Learn more about Ad Manager invalid traffic detection and filtration methodology

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