Enhance marketing intelligence with AI-integrated data
AI-fueled marketing dashboards
Take full control of all your marketing data

How to Use Insertion Orders (IOs) for Effective Ad Campaigns

Insertion orders are fundamental documents that outline the terms and conditions of an advertising agreement between an advertiser and a media provider. Marketers need to understand these contracts to manage expectations, deliverables, and the legal aspects of ad placements. This includes knowing how to automate purchases, utilize real-time bidding effectively, and integrate various advertising platforms to maximize efficiency.

This article explores the definition and purpose of insertion orders, why they matter in advertising campaigns, their benefits and drawbacks, and best practices for using them effectively.

What Is an Insertion Order (IO)?

An insertion order (IO) is a critical document in the advertising industry, serving as a formal agreement between an advertiser and a publisher or an ad service provider. It outlines the specific details and terms of an advertising campaign, ensuring both parties are aligned on expectations and deliverables before the campaign goes live.

An IO is essentially a contract that specifies how an advertising campaign should be executed. It is typically the final step in securing a direct ad deal, confirming the commitment from both the advertiser and the publisher. 

This document includes crucial information such as:

  • Campaign details (start and end dates, ad formats, and placements),
  • Target audience,
  • Number of impressions,
  • Pricing structure and total cost,
  • Contact information for both parties.

The primary purpose of an insertion order is to provide clarity and prevent misunderstandings, ensuring that both parties have a clear understanding of the campaign's parameters and their respective responsibilities.

Control Every Bit of Complex Ad Campaigns
Automatically validate campaign targeting, naming conventions, brand safety, metric pacing, and more with Cerebro. It’s an AI-powered campaign data management and data governance solution. Set up operational and business rules like UTM naming standards and target metrics and receive alerts of any issues and drops in metrics.

What Is a DV360 Insertion Order? 

A DV360 insertion order is a specific type of contract used within Google's Display & Video 360 (DV360) platform, which is part of the broader Google Marketing Platform. It serves as a formal agreement between advertisers and publishers, but it's specifically tailored for managing programmatic ad buys on DV360. 

An IO acts like a sub-campaign or a folder organizing a group of related line items. It helps manage budgets, pacing, and objectives at a more granular level than the campaign. You can think of an IO as a commitment to spend a certain budget for a specific purpose within the campaign.

Why Insertion Orders Matter in Ad Campaign Management?

Insertion orders are significant in the advertising ecosystem for several reasons:

  • Clear agreements: Insertion orders outline all critical aspects of an advertising campaign, including budgets, timelines, ad placements, targeting, and performance metrics. This clarity helps prevent misunderstandings and ensures both parties are aligned on expectations.
  • Legal protection: IOs serve as legally binding contracts that protect both the advertiser and the publisher. They detail the obligations of each party, providing a recourse in case of non-compliance or disputes.
  • Financial planning: By specifying the financial terms, IOs help advertisers manage their budgets more effectively. They provide a detailed cost breakdown, allowing for better financial planning and allocation of marketing funds.
  • Campaign structuring: IOs help in structuring campaigns systematically, defining the scope, reach, and methodology. This structured approach aids in achieving targeted outcomes and ensures that all campaign elements are properly executed.

Disadvantages of Insertion Orders

Despite their benefits, IOs are not without drawbacks:

  • Administrative burden: Managing IOs, especially for large campaigns or multiple publishers, can be administratively intensive. It requires significant effort to draft, negotiate, and monitor compliance with the terms set out in the IOs.
  • Delay in execution: The process of creating, negotiating, and finalizing an insertion order can be time-consuming. This delay can be a disadvantage in a fast-paced digital marketing environment where opportunities can emerge and change rapidly.
  • Cost overruns: If not managed carefully, IOs can lead to cost overruns. Advertisers might commit to certain spending without accounting for additional costs like ad serving fees, creative changes, or unexpected campaign adjustments.
  • Limited flexibility in pricing: IOs often lock in pricing, which can prevent advertisers from taking advantage of falling market rates or special deals that may arise after the IO is signed.

Best Practices for Using Insertion Orders

Implementing best practices for using insertion orders ensures that both advertisers and publishers can achieve optimal results and maintain a smooth, efficient workflow throughout the campaign.

Clear Communication

Ensure all details are discussed and agreed upon before drafting the IO. Clear communication helps avoid misunderstandings and ensures that both parties are aligned on the campaign goals.

Comprehensive Documentation

Include all relevant information in the IO to provide a complete picture of the campaign. This should cover everything from ad formats to payment terms.

Below is a template that covers all the necessary elements:

  • Campaign information: Include the campaign name, advertiser details (name and contact information), publisher details (name and contact information), and the campaign start and end dates.
  • Ad details: Specify the ad formats and sizes (e.g., banner, video), ad placements (specific pages or sections), and geography targets (regions or locations where ads will be displayed).
  • Financials: Detail the budget, pricing model (e.g., CPM, CPC, CPA), cost per impression (CPM), cost per click (CPC), cost per acquisition (CPA), and the total cost.
  • Performance metrics: Outline the number of impressions, click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, interaction rate, and target CPA if applicable.
  • Terms and conditions: Describe the payment terms (due dates, payment methods), cancellation policy (notice period, penalties), liability and warranty (guarantees, limitations), and the force majeure clause (conditions under which obligations are waived).
  • Signatures: Include spaces for the advertiser and publisher signatures and the dates when each party signs.

Regular Updates

If any changes occur during the campaign, update the IO accordingly. Both parties should sign off on these updates to maintain clarity and agreement.

Best Practices for Setting Up and Managing DV360 Insertion Orders

If we're discussing digital advertising insertion orders, some best practices are unique to each platform. Let's explore best practices related to Google's DV360 insertion orders.

Structured Naming Conventions

Implement consistent and descriptive naming conventions for insertion orders. This makes it easier to organize, track, and report on campaigns. Include details such as campaign name, objective, date range, and target audience in the naming structure.

Budget Allocation

Carefully plan and allocate budgets across insertion orders based on campaign priorities and expected performance. Use pacing controls to ensure that budgets are spent evenly over the campaign duration, avoiding overspending or underspending.

Use Automated Rules

Set up automated rules within DV360 to manage insertion orders efficiently. Automated rules can adjust bids, budgets, and targeting parameters based on predefined conditions, helping to maintain optimal performance without manual intervention.

Monitor Performance and Optimize

Regularly monitor the performance of insertion orders using DV360’s comprehensive reporting tools and automated alerting tools like Cerebro. Analyze metrics such as impressions, clicks, conversions, and cost-per-conversion to identify areas for improvement. Make data-driven optimizations to enhance campaign effectiveness.

Cerebro is an AI-powered campaign data management solution. The platform monitors adherence to campaign, operational, and business data guidelines and alerts of any issues or drops in metrics. 

For instance, Cerebro monitors if advertiser accounts, insertion orders, and line items consistently meet or exceed target metrics such as average CPC, cost per conversion, target CPA, or CPM. It can also track and send alerts when advertiser accounts, insertion orders, or line items fall below a set number of impressions, clicks, and CTR.  Automating process management speeds up data analysis and generating insights. 

All rules are set with natural-language guideline input, plain English, and nothing else.


Insertion orders are a critical component of advertising campaigns, providing a clear, legally binding agreement that ensures both parties are aligned on expectations and deliverables. By understanding the benefits and drawbacks of IOs, and by following best practices, advertisers and publishers can streamline their processes and achieve optimal results. Additionally, leveraging tools like Cerebro for automated validation and compliance can further enhance the effectiveness of your advertising efforts.


What is an insertion order (IO)?

An insertion order (IO) is a formal agreement between an advertiser and a publisher that details the specifics of an advertising campaign, including start and end dates, ad formats, placements, budget, and performance metrics.

Why are insertion orders important in advertising?

Insertion orders provide clarity and precision, allowing both advertisers and publishers to understand and agree on the terms of an advertising campaign. They also offer legal assurance and help prevent ad fraud by documenting all campaign details.

What are the benefits of using insertion orders?

Benefits include detailed campaign information, customization options, legal documentation, and fraud reduction. IOs help ensure that all parties are aligned on the campaign's goals and execution details.

What are the disadvantages of insertion orders?

Disadvantages include slow preparation due to manual processes, shrinking demand in favor of programmatic advertising, and potentially complex negotiations between advertisers and publishers.

How does Cerebro help with insertion order management?

Cerebro, an AI-powered campaign governance tool, automates the monitoring of key campaign, insertion order, and line item parameters such as CPC, CPM, impressions, and CTR. Cerebro alerts you of any issues or drops in metrics. This helps ensure seamless compliance with guidelines, timely response to market changed, and reduces the risk of errors.

No items found.
Take full control of all your marketing data

500+ data sources under one roof to drive business growth. 👇

Maximize Advertising Results with Improvado

Harness data for impactful performance marketing strategies

Book a CAll
Get up to 368% ROI

Unshackling Marketing Insights With Advanced UTM Practices


No items found.
Calculate how much time your marketing team can allocate from reporting to action 👉
Your data is on the way and we’ll be processed soon by our system. Please check your email in a few minutes.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.