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Troubleshoot unfilled impressions

An unfilled impression, or blank ad, is an ad request that didn’t return an ad because none were eligible to serve. Avoid this by populating your network with widely-targeted (run of network) House or Ad Exchange line items.

Find unfilled impressions

In DFP reporting, combine the "Ad unit" and "Ad request size" dimensions with the "Unfilled impressions" metric to see where impressions are going unfilled across your network. For more granular reporting, traffic backup line items.

Traffic backup line items to capture unfilled impressions

Book a run-of-network house line item (or other catch-all remnant line item type like Ad Exchange) for every possible ad unit size. When new ad units are created, these line items will be targeted to run on them.

Users who have disabled JavaScript won’t see custom creatives, so ensure that the house line item uses a standard image creative.

For inventory that you want to leave unfilled — for example, in cases of unsold inventory where you'd rather not run a house ad — create a 1x1 pixel blank house ad. The house ad can be delivered so that in reports you can track unfilled impressions separately from intentional blanks.

  1. Create an advertiser for your house ad, if you don't have one already.
  2. Create an order for your 1x1 pixel line items.
  3. Create a new line item for each ad slot size on your website where you want to serve blanks.
    1. Set the size to the size of the ad slot, such as 728x90, not 1x1.
    2. Set the type to "House".
    3. Set the targeting to Run of network, or to the areas of your website that make the most sense.
  4. Add a 1x1 pixel image creative to the line item, and override the line item's size. You can use any 1x1 pixel image, either hosted in DFP or remotely. The click-through URL is required but isn't used, so you can enter any value.

Discover the reason your line item isn't delivering

Use the Delivery Inspector and Ad Request Simulator tools to see what is eligible to deliver and understand why your line item might not be eligible. You can also open your line item and refer to the "Troubleshoot" tab to see recent non-delivery causes.

Line item targeting doesn't match

For line items to serve, their targeting must match the inventory settings and Google Publisher Tags on the page.

  • If a line item targets a key-value, but the key-value isn't in the page's Google Publisher Tag, the line item cannot serve to the page.
  • If an ad unit is designated as a special ad unit, traffickers must specifically target it, even if it’s a level below a targeted ad unit. This feature is not available in DFP Small Business.

Line item isn't approved or ready to deliver

Line items must be approved and have assigned creatives before they can be delivered to a page. Wait 20 minutes after approving the line item to see if the ad unit is still blank. DFP pushes information to the ad server every 20 minutes.

Line item doesn't have enough creatives assigned

Traffic as many creatives in these house line items as there are same-size tiled ad slots in a single webpage. DFP prevents the same creative from being served to a webpage. You don’t need to do this for Ad Exchange line items because Ad Exchange creatives can serve to multiple slots on the same page.

For example, let's say you have a webpage with 2 banner ad slots of the 728x90 size. If your House line item contains only 1 creative of the 728x90 creative size, DFP serves a creative from the house line item to the first ad tag, but then nothing is available to serve to the second ad slot since the same line item and creative cannot serve more than once to a single page. So, the impression is unfilled.

If, however, you add another 728x90 creative to your House line item, that second creative can serve to the second ad lot and you avoid the unfilled impression.

If a line item's display creatives setting is set to Only one, the line item will deliver no more than once to the page, even if it's eligible for other slots on the page and there are enough creatives assigned.

Line item or creative start times haven't passed

A line item cannot serve to a page unless the start time for both line item and creative have a date and a start time. Verify that the line item and creative start time has passed in your local time zone.

Line item frequency cap or other settings conflict

Frequency capping or labels assigned to a line item can prevent delivery and cause unfilled impressions.
If you're using DoubleClick tag creatives, they may have hit their daily impression goals, or have other targeting defined in DoubleClick Campaign Manager (DCM) that prevents them from serving to the line item, such as geography, dayparting, or frequency caps.

Creative rendering blocked by an error

Your line item and creative might be serving to the page but not rendering properly. Use Chrome Developer Tools to:

  • Verify you’re getting the appropriate HTTP 200 responses for each ad request.
  • See if any JavaScript errors in the "Console" are leading to creative rendering issues.

Nathan is a DFP expert and author of this page. Help him improve the content by leaving feedback below.

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