Best Practices: Google Display/Audience Network, or Traditional Programmatic Display?

In digital performance media, brand advertisers have several options to share image and/or video ads with online audiences.  These options include:

  1. Direct Partnerships: The brand partners with a specific publisher website and places its image/banner ads on that site, generating visibility to all site traffic
  2. Programmatically through a DSP:  The brand creates an audience segment within a DSP where it can tap into any inventory that eligible users are consuming online.  Or, the brand creates a contextual segment within a DSP where it can tap into any inventory that matches the context and the users consuming it.
  3. A Partner Network:  The brand develops an audience or contextual segment where it can show into sites within a specific partner network to users consuming it

The Challenge

Often, advertisers are managing their display campaigns through a DSP or a Partner Network. More often, advertisers that are new to display or have smaller budgets are unsure where to start. A Partner Network commonly used is the Google Display or Google Audience Network. These networks are used because they are accessible to advertisers who already have a Paid Search account with Google, thus requiring less work to set up the campaigns. Meanwhile, advertisers that are managing their display buys through a DSP spend more time setting up campaigns but have more controls over what they can do and where they can show. So how do you know what to do?

Best Practice for Brands

We have consolidated a few pros and cons to the Google Display Network and DSPs, as well as a recommendation of how to move forward:

Google Display Network

Why You Should Consider It

  • Advertisers can easily set up within their Google Ads account and launch quickly
  • Calculated CPMs (it is charged on a CPC) tend to be lower

Why It May Not Be a Fit

  • Ads are limited to show on Google-owned properties
  • Advertisers cannot select websites in which ads are shown in a PMP format
  • Targeting is limited to Google’s data (moving to FLoC upon cookie deprecation being more broad in nature)
  • When pulling reports to see where an ad shown, top listings are labeled “anonymous”
  • Allowing third-party ad verification and brand safety is new and not built out
  • Sold on a CPC-basis whereas the format is designed for visibility (impressions) not clicks

Running on a DSP

Why You Should Consider It

  • Ads are eligible to show on nearly all website inventory by selection of multiple Supply Side Platforms (SSPs)
  • Advertisers can build private marketplace (PMP) deals to hyper-target specific websites
  • Advertisers get more visibility into where ads are appearing and corresponding costs
  • Advertisers can apply partner-agnostic brand safety/ad verification
  • Sold on a CPM-basis as it is designed for visibility while also avoiding paying for accidental clicks, etc.

Why It May Not Be a Fit

  • Requires hands-on keyboard experience in ad trafficking to properly launch
  • CPMs tend to be slightly higher than GDN

Decisioning Process

We’ve provided a flow chart to help guide your decision around using the Google Display Network or a DSP: