What is an Ad Unit? | Complete Guide For Publishers

If you’ve focused your eyeballs on the internet, you’ve likely encountered advertisements in various forms. These advertisements are smartly and strategically fitted on different websites, social networking sites and apps to attract your attention and promote the products. This gives advantage to the advertisers to reach their target audiences more effectively and efficiently. From social media platforms and search engines to websites and mobile apps, digital advertising spread to every corner of the online world.

As there is an increasingly growing need for powerful and effective advertising formats, companies look to capture consumers through a diversified approach of digital platforms. So the role of ad units come into play which offers to convey messages, promote services and user engagement.

What is an Ad Unit?

An ad unit is a specific area on a website, mobile app, or other digital platform where advertising are shown. Ad units can be thought of as the building blocks of internet advertising; they exist in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles, and they serve as the canvas for marketers to showcase their products or services.


Ad units can vary greatly in design and functionality, ranging from simple text-based banners to rich media ads with interactive components like films, animations, and games. They might be static or dynamic, disruptive or subtle, depending on the preferences of both advertisers and authors.

Types of Ad Units

The digital advertising market is diverse, as advertisers able to engage with their target audience through various ad units. Let’s look at some of the most common forms of ad units:


Banner Ads

Banner Ads are the most common form of online advertising. These ads are rectangular advertisements typically displayed at the top, bottom, or sides of a webpage. They come in various standard sizes, including leaderboard (728×90 pixels), medium rectangle (300×250 pixels), and a skyscraper (160×600 pixels). Banner ads can feature static images, animated graphics, or text-based content.

Interstitial Ads

Interstitial ads are full-screen advertisements that appear between content pages or during transitions within a mobile app. Unlike traditional banner ads, interstitial ads cover the entire screen, providing advertisers with enough space to deliver their message. These apps are typically displayed when users are engaged in some activity like playing games, watching a video, etc. These ads are often used to promote app downloads, showcase product demonstrations, or deliver immersive brand experiences.

Native Ads

Native ads are designed to seamlessly blend in with the surrounding content, making them less intrusive and more engaging for users. These ads mimic the look and feel of the platform they appear on, whether it’s a social media feed, a news article, or a search engine results page. Native ads can take the form of sponsored posts, recommended content, or in-feed advertisements, offering advertisers a subtle yet effective way to reach their target audience.

Video Ads

With the rise of online video consumption, video ads have become increasingly popular among advertisers seeking to capture users’ attention. These ads typically appear before, during, or after online videos, similar to TV commercials. Video ads can range from short, skippable clips to longer, immersive experiences, and they often feature high-quality visuals, compelling storytelling, and clear calls to action.

Pop-up Ads

Love or hate them, pop-up ads are a common sight on the internet. These ads open in new browser windows or tabs, grabbing users’ attention with their sudden appearance. While pop-up ads can be effective in capturing immediate attention, they can also be perceived as intrusive or annoying, leading some users to install ad blockers to avoid them altogether.

Text Ads

Simple yet effective, text ads consist of plain text displayed alongside search engine results, within email newsletters, or on websites and blogs. Unlike visual ads, text ads rely solely on the power of words to convey a message, making them a popular choice for advertisers looking to drive traffic to their website or generate leads through search engine marketing campaigns.

How to Create Ad Units in Google Ad Manager?

To create and set up new ad units you, follow the below step-by-step instructions:

Step 1: Navigate to Inventory > Click New Ad Unit
An ad unit can be created at a parent level or lower level (under parent-level). To initiate the creation of a new ad unit, select the blue “New ad unit” button. This action prompts a form to appear where you can input the necessary details for your ad unit.

Step 2: Enter Ad Unit Details

Within the New ad unit form, provide the following information:

Name and Description: Enter a descriptive name and a few lines in the description, which will help to identify the ad unit later

Placement: You can skip placement, if you have already created placements, you can use the ad unit in any of the placement created

Target Window: Choose whether ads should open in the same or a new window upon clicking.

Refresh Rate : If applicable, set the refresh rate for dynamic ad units.

Step 6: Save the Ad Unit

Once all necessary details are entered, click the blue “Save” button to create your new ad unit. This action finalizes the creation process, and you can now utilize this ad unit to traffic ads and generate revenue.

By following these steps, publishers can create ad units in Google Ad Manager efficiently, enabling effective management of ad inventory to maximize revenue and deliver targeted ads to their audience.

How Do Ad Units Work?

Understanding how ad units work requires a closer look at the intricate ecosystem of digital advertising, which involves multiple stakeholders, technologies, and processes working together seamlessly. Here’s a step-by-step overview of how ad units come into play:

  • Advertisers Create Ads: It all starts with the advertisers, who design and create advertisements tailored to their target audience and marketing objectives. Depending on the platform and the desired impact, these ads can include text, images, videos, or interactive elements.
  • Publishers Offer Ad Space: On the other side of the equation are the publishers, who own or operate digital properties such as websites, mobile apps, or social media platforms. Publishers offer space within their digital properties for advertisers to display their ads, either through direct sales or by partnering with ad networks or ad exchanges.
  • Ad Networks Connect Advertisers and Publishers: Ad networks play a crucial role in connecting advertisers with publishers looking to monetize their digital properties. These intermediaries facilitate the buying and selling of ad inventory across a vast network of websites, apps, and other digital platforms, using sophisticated algorithms to match ads with relevant audiences in real-time.
  • Ads Are Displayed to Users: When a user visits a webpage or app containing ad units, the ad server springs into action, selecting relevant ads to display based on factors such as the user’s demographics, browsing history, and geographic location. These ads are then served within the designated ad units, seamlessly integrated into the surrounding content to enhance the user experience.
  • Users Interact with Ads: Once the ads are displayed, users have the opportunity to interact with them in various ways. This interaction can take the form of clicking on an ad to learn more about a product or service, watching a video ad to completion, or engaging with an interactive ad unit such as a game or a quiz.
  • Publishers Earn Revenue: As users interact with the ads displayed on their platform, publishers earn revenue either through a pay-per-click (PPC) or pay-per-impression (CPM) model. In a PPC model, publishers receive payment for each click generated by the ads, while in a CPM model, they receive payment for every thousand impressions (views) of the ads, regardless of whether users click on them or not.

The Role of Ad Units in Digital Advertising

Ad units play a pivotal role in the broader ecosystem of digital advertising, serving as the conduit through which advertisers reach their target audience and publishers monetize their online content. By providing advertisers with highly targeted, contextually relevant ad placements, ad units enable brands to engage users at the right time and in the right place, driving brand awareness, consideration, and conversion.

For publishers, ad units represent a valuable source of revenue, allowing them to monetize their digital properties and offset the costs associated with content creation and distribution. Whether it’s a news website, a mobile app, or a social media platform, publishers rely on ad units to generate income and sustain their operations in an increasingly competitive market.

Challenges and Opportunities

While ad units offer numerous benefits to advertisers and publishers alike, they also pose several challenges and opportunities in the ever-evolving landscape of digital advertising. Some of the key challenges include ad fraud, ad blocking, and consumer privacy concerns, which can undermine the effectiveness of ad units and erode trust among users.

At the same time, technological advancements such as programmatic advertising, artificial intelligence, and machine learning present exciting opportunities to enhance the targeting, relevance, and performance of ad units. By leveraging data-driven insights and automation tools, advertisers and publishers can optimize their ad campaigns, improve user engagement, and maximize return on investment.


In conclusion, ad units play a central role in the dynamic and fast-paced world of digital advertising, shaping the way brands connect with consumers online. From banner ads and interstitials to native ads and video ads, the diverse array of ad units available today offers advertisers and publishers endless possibilities to engage audiences, drive conversions, and achieve their marketing objectives.

As technology continues to evolve and consumer behaviors evolve, the role of ad units in digital advertising will undoubtedly continue to evolve as well. By staying abreast of emerging trends, embracing innovation, and prioritizing user experience and privacy, advertisers and publishers can harness the power of ad units to create meaningful connections with their target audience and drive sustainable growth in the digital age.