Develop and manage custom creatives

Simplify creative trafficking for custom ad experiences

Custom creatives allow you develop custom ad serving solutions that creative templates or other display creative types don't provide. Developing a custom creative requires some technical skills and an understanding of your organizations ad serving goals.

If you're a trafficker, you probably aren't the person who develops or manages custom creatives. Your job is simply to add a custom creative to a line item. If this is the case, you can follow the instructions to add an existing creative to a line item and select the desired custom creative.

This article covers how to develop and manage custom creatives.

Required skills to develop custom creatives

To create and develop new custom creatives, you or a technical resource needs to know the ad serving goal required and have the necessary technical and coding skills to develop the solution. Depending on the solution in question, you or a technical resource may need to be familiar with:

  • HTML, CSS, or JavaScript
  • Ad Manger macros
  • Ad Manager ad tags
  • Digital ad industry standards

The technical resource may be someone at a creative agency representing the advertiser you're doing business with. This technical resource needs to provide you with the code to input or files to upload during creation of the custom creative. Work closely with this technical resource and test the creative to ensure that it behaves as intended.

When to use custom creatives

Some reasons you might want to use a custom creative include implementing:

  • Tracking pixels with custom code or macros
  • Internal redirects with custom code or macros

    The Campaign Manager creative type supports internal redirect but doesn't allow the use of custom code or macros. Custom creatives can allow you to implement internal redirects and build code or use macros around the redirect.

  • Image creatives where you need multiple third-party impression tracking URLs

    Image creatives can include a single third-party tracking URL. Custom creatives allow you to enter multiple third-party tracking URLs.

  • Specialized ad experiences not supported by other creative types

    The custom creative form is flexible enough to allow you to create a variety of ad experiences with HTML5, JavaScript, CSS, or other resources.

Start a custom creative

A custom creative is a form in Ad Manager that allows you to input code and upload files or other resources. You can start a custom creative in either of two ways. Once you start the custom creative, you'll need to configure its details.

From the creative library 

  1. Navigate to Delivery and then Creatives and then Display creatives.
  2. Under either the "Standard" or "Master/companion" tabs, click New creative.
  3. Select an advertiser. 
  4. Select Custom from the display creative types available. 
  5. Configure the details and click Save.

From a line item

The line item must be of the "Display" (and not of the "Video") ad type in order for you to select from the display creative types. The ad type is shown at the top of a line item details page.

  1. Follow the instructions on how to add a new creative to a line item.
  2. Select Custom from the display creative types available. 
  3. Configure the details and click Save.

Configure custom creatives

The custom creative form has various fields or settings. Configuration options are described below.


Name your custom creative something descriptive that will helps traffickers later find the custom creative.

Target ad unit size

Line items can only add custom creatives with the same inventory size. Line items can specify multiple sizes, but custom creatives are restricted to one size. 

Code type

Under "Code type", you'll see the options:

  • Standard
  • AMP
  • Standard and AMP 

Creatives can be based on standard code, AMPHTML code, or both. Standard code consists in HTML, CSS, or JavaScript and references to macros or files and assets uploaded to the custom creative. 

Upload files

Allows you to upload files or assets. For every file or asset uploaded, Ad Manager creates a file reference that should be inserted into the "Code" field.


Depending on the code type you've selected, you'll see either one or two fields available corresponding to your selection. These fields store code you input.

  • Standard: accepts HTML, CSS, or JavaScript code
  • AMPHTML: accepts AMPHTML code

If you've selected the "Standard and AMP" option, you'll see both fields. In either case, these fields can also reference macros or file macros. File macros are automatically created and available when you upload assets via the "Upload files" option. Learn more

Click-through URL

The landing page where users go if they click the ad.


Option to enable the creative to serve into a SafeFrame. New creatives now serve into SafeFrames by default. Learn more

SSL compatibility options

By default, Ad Manager detects SSL status automatically. Learn more

Orientation of creative

Any, portrait, landscape. This option is only relevant for serving creatives but not applicable to custom creatives that are only being used for tracking pixels.

Third-party impression tracking URLs

You may enter multiple URLs for third-party tracking services. The tracking URLs are pinged when the creative appears so you can later report in systems outside Ad Manager on ad serving activity. Tracking URLs can contain macros. These URLs are not supported for creatives with an actual size of "Out-of-page."

Custom field 

Fields or settings created by and for your Ad Manager network. These fields prompt users to enter or indicate information that isn't available in Ad Manager by default. They don't affect ad serving or delivery but can be used in reporting later. Learn more


Depending on what you selected as your code type ("Standard", "AMP", or "Standard and AMP"), you'll either see one code input field or two. These fields are where you'll input and store code. They are also where you'll reference macros or file macros.


The standard code input field accepts any standard HTML, HTML5, CSS, or JavaScript.


The AMP is an open-source effort that aims to make creation of websites and ads that are consistently fast and high-performing across devices and distribution patterns. Learn more

AMPHTML code input field includes boilerplate AMPHTML code. This boilerplate code can be a starting point for developing your AMPHTML ad experience. Ensure that you're writing well-formed AMPHTML that meets your ad serving objective. Learn more at the AMP Open Source Project website.

When working with AMP HTML, you can click Validate at any time to check your code.

Macros and file macros

Macros are special strings in a creative's code. They're included by default in Ad Manager and can be added in the "Code" 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 for cache busting or click-through URLs. Learn more

In addition, for every file or resource you upload, Ad Manager creates a file reference that should be inserted into the "Code" field. You'll reference the macros in your code and not direct links to these resources. Click Insert file macros to find these file references and insert them.

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