What Is Google’s DFP - First Look

Kayci Scaggs
January 28, 2021
April 5, 2022
What Is Google’s DFP - First Look

In 2018, Google retired AdWords and DoubleClick brands and went through a rebranding venture with one single goal: to simplify its advertising suite for both advertisers and publishers. Google decided to name and group ad products a bit differently to improve user experience. As a result, today we have Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform, and Google Ad Manager. In case you’re wondering, the tools within DoubleClick haven’t changed, they’ve just been organized differently.

But old habits die hard. People got used to DFP (i.e. DoubleClick for Publishers) and the former brand names. After all, they’ve been around for almost 20 years.

To help you navigate these changes and learn more about DPF, we’ve created this easy-to-use guide to Google DFP. We’ll also cover DoubleClick First Look (DFL) in great detail to help you maximize yield.

What is Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform, and Google Ad Manager? What are the differences?

The difference between Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform and Google Ad Manager

What is DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP)?

DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP, Google DFP) is a powerful ad server run by Google. It enables publishers to streamline their ad management and sell their inventory more efficiently. Ads can be delivered to websites, mobile pages, apps, as well as games.

As of 2018, DFP is available in the Google Ad Manager, along with DoubleClick Ad Exchange (AdX). Google announced they wanted to ’move away from the traditional constraints of ad servers and SSPs’ so that they can build new programmatic solutions directly into their new platform, i.e. Ad Manager. Ad Manager enables publishers greater control of ad management with over 30 different parameters they can set, as well as advanced spam detection and greater security for both advertisers, users, and publishers.

What is DoubleClick First Look (DFL)?

DoubleClick First Look (DFL) is available in Google Ad Manager. It is a feature in Google’s AdX (which is integrated with Ad Manager) that allows you to let selected programmatic advertisers compete against reserved guaranteed line items. In return for the opportunity to bid on these impressions over your premium campaigns, buyers will need to pay a higher price.

The aim of DFL is to let programmatic advertisers generate valuable impressions when they are willing to pay more than your direct campaigns. So, in a nutshell, First Look allows programmatic advertisers to bid on reserved premium inventory.

The direct campaigns still deliver their target impression volumes – just later in the day. An effective First look strategy allows for the best performing ad units to increase their programmatic revenue, without reducing direct campaign revenue. This is a careful balance that we at Publift have become experts in.

DFP and First In Practice: How Does It Work?

You are a publisher and you have a number of standard and sponsorship campaigns currently running in your DFP account. These have been negotiated and the buyers have purchased a number of impressions over a defined time period along with user frequency capping and other settings to help them reach their audience as effectively as possible. The highest cpm for these campaigns is set at .

You believe that you can allow more competition for these highly sought-after impressions with a floor price of $10 whilst still delivering on your other campaigns. This will mean that only buyers through adx that bid more than this will be able to buy the impression over your other campaigns.

If you have sponsorship or exclusive takeover campaigns where an advertiser wants exclusive access to a specific ad unit or your homepage, First Look can easily be excluded from competing on these pages, sponsorships etc. at the tick of a box.

How Can I Set Up First Look?

Lucky for you, First Look is very simple to set up. It requires no additional code changes and works with a publisher’s existing line items. As there are no additional ad requests, First Look adds zero latency to your website. You also have complete control to manage demand and the fill rate for First Look, just as you would in private or open marketplaces.

DFP and First Look: What Are the Pros And Cons?

Some of the most notable benefits of Google DFP and First Look include:

  • Thanks to DFP and First Look, publishers can earn higher revenue with no client side code or added waiting
  • Publishers can serve ads in a dynamic allocation and gain better control by setting their pricing priority, without disrupting user experience
  • DFP ensures a great level of cybersecurity with its malware detection capabilities

The risk to you as the publisher comes only in the setup. You are selling inventory that is usually reserved for sponsorship or guaranteed deals which are often set up to fulfil a specified number of impressions over a defined time period.

You have to make sure you set your floor prices correctly so that First Look does not cannibalise all of the impressions from these deals, leaving you underdelivering your direct campaigns. DFP First Look should be taking a small percentage of your premium inventory at very high CPMs, allowing you to make more revenue whilst still delivering on your agreed upon deals.

How to Select the Right Floor Price in My DFP Account

This is a fine balance but Google recommends that you make 90+% of your premium inventory available and have a First Look fill rate at 1-3%. This is, of course, just a guideline and it will take some experimentation to find a sweet spot where you are increasing revenue without cannibalising on your existing deals. In order for First Look to fill at this low rate, your cpm rates can often be up to 4 times your regular adx CPM rates.

How Does DFP First Look Complement Header Bidding?

Even if you are using header bidding, DFP First Look helps to increase demand for your inventory. A buyer who is not purchasing through one of your header bidding partners, but highly values the impression, now has the ability to compete against standard and sponsorship line items, paying you even more for this impression. Buyers may even end up bidding against themselves for the same impression through these different channels. More competition for your impressions is always going to help increase your yield.

How Can I Get the Most Out of My DFP Account And First Look?

To help you get the most of DFP, as well as First Look, we have outlined this process for you in five steps.

Understand your inventory

Understand your inventory – All publishers understand that some ad units perform better than others on their sites. Good publishers understand this so well, that they package up inventory for sale or request a serious floor price to serve an advertisement in these positions. The best publishers can tell you how volatile the cpm may be, and around what average this price falls for any given unit on their site. Understanding the malleability of price at this level allows you to strategically price First Look for optimum returns.

Segment your inventory

Segment your inventory – Now that you’ve taken a deep dive into your performance, you can begin to group ad units together around similar price points, devices, sizes, geography, inventory and availability, or, whatever makes your ad units unique. Thanks to DFP, you can set your rules for First Look and optimize prices.

Prepare your first look structure

Prepare your First Look structure – With all these groupings in mind, start building out your rules in Ad Manager. These clusters will allow you to either move ad units up or down tiers or, move the whole tier into a different price bracket. Currently, there is no way to work machine learning into this product, so it is vital to keep naming conventions clear and use the minimal amount of clusters to optimise. You don’t want to spend hours a week adjusting floor prices. Once completed, you’ll start accruing revenue through First !

Report and optimize

Report and Optimize – Once you’ve taken advantage of DPF perks and kicked off your First Look journey, you will want to know how you are tracking. There are two main metrics to keep your eye on in the query tool. Ad request eCPM tells you the revenue trend per 1000 ad requests to DFL (DoubleClick First Look). Coverage tells you the proportion of ad requests that DFL was able to match with an ad. Fluctuation in rule price affects these figures, so make sure you set yourself benchmarks for both and keep an eye on your reservation line items!

Make it a habit

Make it a habit – Now that you’re live and optimised, it is important to regularly check in and continue fine-tuning. Seasonal factors will often have an effect on performance, plus any changes to your site. Depending on time budgeted, keeping on top of DFP will ensure yield remains high.

Laptop screen showing data report


Although DoubleClick for Publishers and DoubleClick AdExchange now exist unified in Google Ad Manager, the terminology has strong roots in the industry. One thing hasn’t changed: the benefits for both publishers and advertisers.

We hope you now have a better understanding of DFP or Google DFP, if you will.  Consider setting up First Look as it can help you expose more of your inventory to high-value demand, allowing them to compete against your standard and sponsorship line items in exchange for higher CPMs. You might  increase your revenue by 10%, which is a fine ROI considering the effort.

It can also be used in conjunction with header bidding to further increase the number of demand sources competing for your inventory. With a bit of programmatic know-how, it is relatively easy to do, however, finding that sweet spot can take time.

works with a number of publishers and the team has done the experimentation already. Want to see how we can help you drive programmatic revenue? Get in touch with us today.

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