With Direct Sold campaigns, an advertiser will often ask to see a test page to make sure everything is working correctly.
Do you need to create a special test page on your site? In most cases, no. 90% of the time, what you want is the Preview Creative tool in DFP. Luckily, it’s super easy to use.
Suppose the advertiser provides you with a 3rd party tag, like this:
Before starting the campaign, they want to verify that the implementation is correct, that the ad looks good, and that trackers are working properly. You can provide them with a preview url.
Now that you’ve added the creative, switch to the Preview tab.
Depending on the type of creative, you may see a preview on this screen. However, we need something we can show to the advertiser so they can verify for themselves that things are working correctly. Click the preview “On site” link and a dialog box will pop up.
Type a URL for a page on your site in this box and click “Open preview”. It’s a good idea to choose a simple page for the preview to avoid the risk of interference from other scripts. If you have a dedicated test page, you can use that URL here. However, any URL will work.
You’ll be taken to a page with a long funny looking URL. If things are working properly, you should see the ad.
Copy this URL and send it to the advertiser. They will be able to visit and verify that things are working on their end.
Sometimes you will attempt to preview a creative and it will be blank! First, double check that you have pasted the creative properly. If you did everything correctly, there are several things that could be wrong:
You might have received an incorrect piece of code or the formatting could have gotten messed up over email. Verify with the advertiser that you have the correct code.
The advertiser might have setup targeting inside their own server that accidentally prevents the creative from being seen by you. The creative could be geo-targeted or device-targeted. You may not be able to preview a creative designed for iPhones on your desktop computer. If the advertiser is targeted to Canada-only, you won’t be able to preview the creative from New York City. There are ways around these problems, such as device spoofing and geo-proxying, that we discuss in other articles.
Ads aren’t live yet
Similar to the targeting problems, the advertiser might not have set the ads live yet. If the campaign is set to run from June 1st – June 30th and you are attempting to preview it on May 20th, you may not see any ads.
What can you do?
In all of these cases, your best course of action is to generate a preview URL and send it back to the advertiser so their engineers can debug the issue. These kinds of problems happen all the time, so don’t wait until the last minute to setup new campaigns.