Create a story insertion order

Storytelling is when you show a sequence of creative messages to one person, one at a time. This could be a sequence of videos, display creatives, or a mix of both. A typical sequence starts with a video to drive awareness of your brand. Next, you may want to show a display banner to encourage online or offline purchases, and so on. While storytelling often walks a consumer through the path to purchase, you can also use storytelling to engage consumers in an exciting brand campaign.

To tell a story using Display & Video 360, create a story insertion order (IO). Each step of a story is an individual line item that's automatically assigned to that IO. The creatives assigned to each step are the creative messages that will be shown to your consumer. These line items and the story IO can only be created and edited as a group.

Each person that views a story will view one step per impression. These impressions may be during the same web browsing session (in different ad impressions) or across multiple browsing sessions. You might think about a story like a marketing funnel. The reach of the line items in the story IO are dependent on how many users have been shown an impression from the line items above it.

Step 1: Create a story, add steps, and assign creatives

  1. Open your advertiser in Display & Video 360.
  2. In the left menu, click Campaigns, then select an existing campaign or create a new one.
  3. Click New insertion order.
  4. Click Story.
  5. Enter a name for your story IO. Each line item will inherit this name along with a step suffix. For example, line item 1 will be named "Story Name_step1", line item 2 will be named "Story Name_step2", and so on.
  6. In the "Line item sequence" section, click Assign creatives.
    • Select one or more creatives to assign to the first step of your sequence. If you want the first step of your story to drive awareness, we recommend assigning one or more video creatives.
    • You can only select one format per step, so if you assign a video creative, you'll only be able to add other video creatives to that step.
    • The following formats can be assigned to story line items: Video, audio, HTML5, rich media, native, and data-driven creatives. (YouTube ads and publisher-hosted creatives are not supported.)
    • If you assign more than one creative per step, the creatives in each step will rotate evenly.
  7. Click Step 2, then click Assign creatives.
  8. Select one or more creatives to assign.
  9. Each story requires at least 2 steps. To add more steps to the sequence, click Add step, then assign creatives to the step. You can add up to 6 steps.
  10. To change the order of the steps, select a step you want to move, then click the up or down arrow. After the story is saved, you can no longer change the order.

Step 2: Select dates and budget

  1. Select your desired flight dates. These dates apply to all line items in the story. After the flight starts, these dates cannot be edited.
  2. Enter a budget for your IO.
  3. Enter budget and pacing settings for each line item in the sequence.

    Each line item in a story insertion order is a step in a sequence. As you assign budgets, consider them as an interdependent group. For example, the budget of step 1 will affect the reach of step 2, and so on.

  4. Select a bid strategy.
    • Either set fixed CPM bidding for the whole story, which applies to each line item, or choose a unique bidding strategy for each step.
    • To set different bid strategies for each step, click Customize per step, then click Edit. Select a strategy for each step, then Save. Set your budget for each step to the CPM for that creative type times the number of total story impressions. If you assigned the same creative types to all steps of the story (for example, all display creatives), set an equal budget for each step. If you're using a high CPM format like video, put it in the first step.


      If your goal is to reach 10,000 people and you expect an average CPM of $1, you should set Step 1's budget to be $10. The rest of your IO budget should be allocated to the rest of the steps. Remember to check back regularly to assure your budget allocations are not limiting the spend of subsequent line items.

    • When using audio line items, you can only select between fixed or CPA bidding strategies. These are the same options available in regular audio line items.

      Always monitor your budget and spend on story insertion orders to make sure you're not overspending in the first steps and running out of budget for later steps in the story.
  5. In the inventory source section, select the inventory you want your ads to run on. Stories support both deals and open auction. This inventory is used for all line items in the story.
  6. Select targeting settings. This targeting applies to all of the line items in the story.
    • Similar audience targeting is not supported.
  7. Click Create to save your story IO and line items. After saving, you'll no longer be able to add, edit, or change the order of line items in the story. However, you'll still be able to adjust bidding, budget, and targeting settings.

 Advanced content. Advanced settings

The following settings are optional.

  • Set a final step frequency cap. To avoid annoying consumers by repeatedly serving them the same creative after they've gotten to the end the story, you can set a frequency cap for the final step of the sequence. This frequency cap only applies to the last line item of the sequence. All other line items will have a frequency cap of 1. The total story IO frequency cap will be the final step frequency cap + 1 for each previous step.


    If a story has 3 steps, and you set the final step frequency cap to 5, the total IO frequency cap is 7 (1 + 1 + 5).

  • To track conversions, go to the conversion tracking section and select a Floodlight activity that will represent a successful conversion for the story. The same Floodlight is applied to each line item in the story.
  • Target an audience list. Keep in mind that a member of your audience must be served a creative from the first step before they'll be eligible to see a creative from the second step.

Edit a story

Story line items are not editable individually. To edit these line items, open the story IO instead. You’ll be able to edit almost everything after the insertion order is created, including:

  • Creatives assigned to the line items
  • Bidding for each line item
  • Budget (both the overall story budget and line item budgets)
To make sure you hit your key performance indicators, we highly recommend keeping an eye on your story and editing the budget during your campaign.

Editing limitations

  • Bulk edits are not available for story line items, however, you can bulk edit the story IO along with other IOs.
  • After you've saved a story, the order of steps (line items) cannot be edited. You can't add, remove, or change the order of steps. Instead, create a new story IO. Similarly, you can't edit the steps of a copy of a story IO (copying an IO makes a new, already saved, IO).
  • After the flight starts, flight start and end dates cannot be edited.

Best practices: Check mark icon Best practices

For the best performance, follow these recommendations:

  • Never allow your total line item budgets to exceed your unspent story IO budget. Think of the line item budgets as levers to distribute your overall story budget, rather than "hard stops" like you might think of them in real-time bidding IOs and line items.

  • Distribute your budget evenly across line items in the beginning and check back regularly to make adjustments as you better understand how quickly users move through your sequence funnel.

  • If you decide to apply customized bidding per step, make sure that your budget reflects your bidding choices.

  • Track your conversions across all line items. Since you use the same pixels for all steps of the story, you can measure how each step incrementally contributes to your overall performance.

  • Use the "Combined" tab on the campaign overview page to see all your story IOs and line items organized in one place.

Frequently asked questions

Can a creative belong to more than one story?


Can the same creative belong to more than one step in a story?


Can I pause or archive creatives assigned to a story?


Can I A/B test different sequences?

Absolutely. You can A/B test a story IO the same as any other IO using experiments in Display & Video 360. You cannot, however, A/B test a story line item, because splitting your cookie pool would affect the reach of subsequent steps.

Are story IOs able to serve to non-personalized ad inventory?

No. Creatives served with story line items are considered personalized ads.

Does this work with all exchanges and reservation inventory? Preferred Deals and PG?

Yes, story IOs can target all exchanges, open auction and deals. If you want to target Programmatic Guaranteed (PG) inventory, make sure to add it as an inventory source in your story targeting. However, keep in mind that targeting applies to the IO as a whole. This means if you're bidding on both PG and open auction inventory, either type of inventory can be bid on in each step. Compare bidding strategies before mixing inventory to avoid overpaying.

Can I change the targeting on individual line items?

No, targeting is only editable for the IO as a whole; you cannot do granular targeting per line item. Targeting can be changed for the IO at any time though.
Was this helpful?
How can we improve it?

Need more help?

Try these next steps:

2024 Privacy Readiness guide

Prepare for a world without third-party cookies and unlock the AI
opportunity by adopting the right durable audience and measurement
Start Today

Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu
Search Help Center