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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.

Special ad units (1:36)

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.

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

How special ad units are displayed in the DFP interface

Special ad units are marked with an asterisk (*) in DFP, and you can designate an ad unit as 'special' on the ad unit's settings page (learn more).

Special ad units and 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. There is one exception: designating an ad unit as special doesn't affect how targeting works for native styles. In other words, if a native style targets a parent ad unit, the child ad unit will be eligible as well, even if it's special.
  • 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.

Special ad units and placements

  • 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.

Special ad units and inheritance

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.


An example

Let's assume the following hierarchy, where special ad units are marked with an asterisk (*):

Sports* > Football > Positions > Quarterback*

The Sports and Quarterback ad units were specifically marked as special, but Football and Positions were not.

What this means is:

  • If you configure the 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.

Special ad units in Ad Exchange

DoubleClick Ad Exchange does not recognize DFP special ad units, and will instead treat them as regular ad units when targeting using rules, blocking, or deals.

If you're using Ad Exchange line items for dynamic allocation in DFP, special ad units will only be available to the Ad Exchange if you explicitly target them.

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