Moving From DFP to AdButler

Read Time: 5 minutes

Google’s DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) is the vanilla ad server. Almost anyone who works in online advertising has, at one point or another, worked with it. Chances are, you’ve worked with it too.

AdButler exists in the same space as DFP (they’re both ad servers), and although it’s a different beast, there are certain concepts that map over. Other concepts, though, don’t. This article is here to explain the differences and point out where things aren’t that different.

A quick note here on differing terminology between AdButler and DFP. Not all terms match, or mean the same thing between the two. For instance, DFP’s placements are closer to AdButler’s channels, while AdButler’s placements are similar to a line item in DFP. To help with this, I’ve written up a quick guide you can download here. Most of the terminology is covered in this article, but there are a few terms that more specialized in the guide.

The Basics

As noted above, AdButler and DFP are both ad servers, so they work on the same basic premise. You upload an ad and you get a script tag, which you use to place the ad on your website. Although the process may be the same, there are some important differences.

One of the first changes you may notice is in getting started with AdButler. There’s no approval process or wait time. AdButler is entirely cloud based, so you can be up and running within minutes. You also don’t need to specify what domains you’re working with because AdButler’s tags are domain agnostic.

Another key difference is customer support. AdButler has a full ticketing and help support line that can assist with any of your problems, which is much more convenient than trawling Google for answers to your specific question.

Mirrored Workflow

When uploading and creating ads with AdButler, you’ll find that the workflow is pretty similar to DFP, although much faster. All changes made in AdButler go into effect immediately and all stats are reported in realtime. When setting up your website on AdButler, you’ll have to understand a few differences.

Instead of DFP’s inventory, AdButler has zones, which is where your ads show up. A zone in AdButler must have a fixed size, even if you’re using the responsive option, and it needs to be nested under a publisher. Using multiple publishers allows you to separate your zones from one site to another. The other settings (like placements, override, and refresh rate) that you’re used to with inventory are all either set later or inside the ads in the zone. A zone’s size cannot be changed once it’s been created.

Ad creation differs depending upon the kind of ad you’re making (say, an HTML5 banner vs. a basic image) and who you want the parent of the ad to be (a publisher or an advertiser). What DFP calls creatives are known in AdButler as banners, and a creative is the graphic part of the banner. We recommend creating all AdButler banners under campaigns, which are groups of same sized banners under an advertiser. Advertisers are a way for you to collect all the statistics and banners under one umbrella and view them.

Now we get to one of the biggest tripping points between DFP and AdButler: line items. AdButler’s equivalents are called schedules or assignments, but they both control the same thing: when a banner should serve. Schedules allow you to set:

  • Quotas
  • Date Ranges
  • Financial Metrics
  • Targets
  • Per user limiting
  • And more…

In AdButler, a schedule is per zone, so if you’re assigned a campaign to multiple zones, you’ll need to create multiple schedules. The one exception to this is if you’re using channels, which are a bit more advanced of a feature.

Placing the tags for the zone onto your website is just as straightforward as DFP, and will vary depending on your setup. The main difference is that AdButler doesn’t require a tag in the header of the page to display banners. AdButler also gives you access to multiple types of zones tags, and which one you use depends on the website and what technology you’re using. If you’re on WordPress, AdButler has a handy plugin for placing your tags.

Little bits and other pieces

Something else that trips people up is AdButler’s use of fixed sizes. Although zones can be responsive, in general it’s best to work with absolute dimensions with both campaigns and zones.

There are other differences between AdButler and DFP, but they’re better covered by our terminology guide here. The main barrier between switching to AdButler from DFP is understanding the new interface, and the differences listed above. Luckily we also have an extensive YouTube channel, a built-up help database, and an actual phone line you can call with any questions.

I’m also really interested in keeping this article up-to-date. If there’s any misinformation in here, or a really important piece is missing, feel free to comment below.


Liam Workman

Liam is an account manager and blog king at SparkLit, the SaaS company behind AdButler and FourEyes. He loves rock climbing, hiking, coding, and being your friend.