Google Ad Manager campaign postponed? Change your Start Time while your line item is still Inactive

4 November 2019

You're using Google Ad Manager (formerly DoubleClick for Publishers) to traffic ads, and one of your campaigns suffers a delay. The advertiser is only able to supply the creative two weeks after the originally agreed start date. That's no big issue - you can just push back the line item End Time by a couple of weeks. But before you add the creative, remember to change the Start Time too. Here's why!

  1. Let's take a simple campaign consisting of one order with one line item. The line item is due to start on 1 December and run for a month, until 31 December. It has a Goal of 60,000 impressions.
  2. The advertiser does not provide creative until 15 December. Until then, the line item remains in 'Inactive' (or 'Draft' if the Order is not yet approved). No impressions are delivered - and no problem yet.
  3. On 15 December, you add the creative and approve the order if necessary. The line item moves into 'Ready', then 'Delivering'. You push the End Time back a couple of weeks to 15 January, so the advertiser still gets their 60,000 impressions over the course of a full month.
  4. The line item now has a Start Time of 1 December, an End Time of 15 January, and a Goal of 60,000 impressions. It's 15 December. What will Google Ad Manager make of this?
  5. Of course, Ad Manager will think the line item has been hugely under-delivering - a third of the time period has elapsed, so the line item should have delivered at least 20,000 impressions by now! It will rush to catch up rather than delivering the 60,000 impressions evenly over the life of the line item. That might affect the campaign's CTR, or disappoint the advertiser if they become aware.
  6. Realising your mistake, you go to change the Start Time - but you can't, because the line item has already started delivering. (You seem to be able to change the Start Time only if it is in the future, or if is in the past but the line item has not started delivering.)

There's not much you can do at this point, apart from either acceptance - or starting again with a new line item (you can take a copy of the misbehaving one). So remember to check that Start Time whenever you have a postponed campaign... and change it while the line item is still Inactive!
Start Time for line item

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