Google Ads or Display & Video 360 – Which is a Better Buying Platform for You?

Contributor, October 15, 2018

Google offers marketers two excellent platforms for buying programmatic inventory, Google Ads (via the Google Display Network) and Display & Video 360 (via the Google Marketing Platform)

Despite both having equally effective programmatic capabilities for marketers looking to buy digital advertising, the two platforms are entirely different from each other based on the available features and capabilities each uniquely offers digital marketers.

To bring clarity to the uniqueness of both platforms, we will be analyzing the precise differences between Google Ads and Display & Video 360 and then identifying which buying platform, or whether both used in parallel, would perhaps be most correct strategy for your company’s current programmatic media buying activities and goals.


Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) is Google’s most used advertising service for marketers for search & display ads on Google and its advertising network. The Google Ads program enables businesses to set a budget for advertising and only charges when users click (CPC model) the ads.  

Display & Video 360 (formerly known as DoubleClick Bid Manager) is Google’s demand-side platform (DSP) that offers agencies, trading desks, and advertisers access to the world’s most exclusive collection of display, video, native and mobile inventory available in real-time.  Display & Video 360 is the evolution and consolidation of DoubleClick Bid Manager, Campaign Manager, Studio, and Audience Center. It offers a single tool for planning campaigns, designing and managing creatives, organizing and applying audience data, finding and buying inventory, and measuring and optimizing campaigns.

Display & Video 360 also offers keywords targeting similar to Google Ads but instead of targeting specific search keywords, Display & Video 360 is about contextual keywords.

Display & Video 360’s presents five areas of campaign management which work together to simplify the end-to-end process: Campaigns, Audiences, Creatives, Inventory (Direct Deals with Publishers), and Insights.

Often claimed to be the most premium solution in a marketer’s programmatic advertising portfolio, Display & Video 360 ensures media buyers the best opportunity to reach the highest level of bidding, targeting and optimization available for launching programmatic ad campaigns.  

As we will discuss below, advertisers can organize and align all of their programmatic buying options within Display & Video 360.

Key Features – Google Ads vs. Display & Video 360

Creative Options

Google Ads

  • Text, Image, HTML5 (only available for accounts with more than $1000 total lifetime spend and request sending an application to Google), Dynamic Creatives and Video Ads
  • Build and manage creatives in “Ads & Extensions”

Display & Video 360

  • Image, Rich Media (with Campaign Manager), HTML5, Native, Video Ads and Dynamic Creatives (only available with Campaign Manager and a Google Merchant Center account linked to a Google Ads account).
  • Display & Video 360 features a format gallery, an area offering descriptions about each format alongside with example ads for reference.
  • Build and manage creatives with Ad Canvas, Display & Video 360’s visual editor to build and edit creatives in real time.
  • Use data-driven creatives to personalize your creative’s look and feel for different customer segments – Panorama, Cue Cards, Blank Slate.

Third Party Data

Google Ads

  • The Google Ads Display Network (GDN) does not have third-party targeting capabilities, meaning that you are reaching relevant users on the GDN.  Within the network, you can target based on keywords, demographics, interests and topics.


Display & Video 360

  • The ability to find the users who could be the ones most interested in your solutions by to target those most likely to convert or purchase.
  • Display & Video 360 provides marketers access to 35 third-party providers, which allows you to find users that are similar to your current website visitors, i.e., the types of people who are currently searching for the products/solutions that you offer, and specific demographics or affinity segments.  In addition to third-party providers, marketers will also benefit from third-party verification services, which is commonly called third-party data.


Google Ads GDN

  • Google Ads is limited to buying only on the Google Display Network (GDN).
  • Location and language targeting.
  • Keyword targeting.
  • Device targeting.
  • Remarketing users who have previously visited your website.


Display & Video 360

  • Integrated with inventory from more than 90 Ad Exchanges and includes approx. 1 billion websites.
  • Advertise across all screens – Desktop, Smartphones, Tablets, Connected TVs (Tablet, Smart TV).
  • Advanced Targeting capabilities – Locate and target your current and desired customers based on specific demographics, interests and their purchase intent by using Google’s data.
  • A DSP like Display & Video 360 can reach high-value audiences at unmatched speed and scope.
  • Display & Video 360 offers buyers the ability to use Data Management Platforms (DMP) integration by combining first and third party data to enable buyers to seek out audiences who have either visited or not visited your website.  DMP integration is used to utilize audience lists of a third-party data provider for free if the marketer is working directly with the DMP.
  • Display & Video 360 features audience profile analysis which allows marketers to understand the composition of your selected audience (either first-party or combined audiences) based on its overlap with all other audiences in Display & Video 360 (e.g., Google data, first and third party segments, combined audiences and other datasets you have access to). Discover similar audiences with both the right amount of user overlap and unique users that you can use to extend the reach of your campaigns.
  • Use your cookies and pixels to reach and monitor your target users across the Google Marketing Platform (only with linked accounts with products in the Google Marketing Platform).
  • Data created from Display & Video 360 can be used and monitored throughout the Google Marketing Platform (only with linked accounts with products in the Google Marketing Platform).
  • Audience frequency caps for excluding users based on the number of impressions they have been served (across media, channels, and identity spaces).
  • Campaign activity features the option to create an audience based on the number of clicks, conversions, and impressions (which are based on first-party remarketing lists or lead to conversions). Once established, you can target the new audience list in multiple line items, both current and future.
  • Data created from Display & Video 360 can be used and monitored throughout the Google Marketing Platform on the buy-side.
  • You can use device targeting to target people based on Connected TV, which includes all devices that fit into the following descriptions:
  • Connected devices: Devices that connect to a TV screen to display video streams (Roku, Apple TV, Android TV). 
  • This is a new feature for extending your reach even more by using device targeting to reach people on connected TV.
  • Smart TV: TVs with integrated Internet connections.
  • Gaming consoles: Internet-connected gaming consoles (Xbox, PlayStation, Wii)
  • Set-top boxes: Devices delivering traditional cable and video on demand content.


Private Marketplaces (PMPs) & Programmatic Guaranteed (PG)

Google Ads

  • Limited to real-time bidding (RTB), buying ads through computer-run, real-time auctions.
  • Google Ads buyers do not have access to private auctions and direct buying opportunities.

Display & Video 360

  • Distinguishes itself from Google Ads by giving marketers the ability to target premium inventory available from high trafficked websites across the world via direct deals with publishers and PMPs.
  • Private Marketplace (PMP) – An invitation-only RTB auction where one publisher or a group of select publishers invite specific buyers to bid on inventory. The buyer/advertiser knows precisely which sites and ad placements their advertisements will appear on.
  • Programmatic Direct – Method for advertisers to automate direct ad buys for premium campaigns.  Programmatic direct incorporates both programmatic guaranteed deals and preferred non-guaranteed deals. Programmatic direct differs from real-time bidding in that it is a guaranteed-buy rather than an auction like RTB.  Publishers and advertisers are adopting programmatic direct because it allows for premium purchases to be conducted programmatically rather than through the traditional method of direct ad buys.
  • Premium inventory is made available to every partner using Display & Video 360. Buyers can also purchase a set amount of impressions to a particular website’s inventory through Display & Video 360.


Bidding Strategies

Google Ads

  • Automated Bidding based on marketing goals.
  • Manual Bidding for specific keywords & ad groups.
  • Bid Adjustments – Gives the user the ability to increase/decrease bids based on a set percentage.


Display & Video 360

  • All-in-one Solution – Marketers can buy programmatically through private auctions.
  • Enhanced Bidding Technology – manage multiple bidding strategies.
  • Automatic bidding – Automatically adjusts bids based on the performance goals set.
  • Display & Video 360’s interface allows marketers to plan, seek and purchase premium media within the platform interface.
  • Simplified Buying Process – Display & Video 360 allows marketers to build, execute and measure campaigns across desktop, mobile and video all within the platform.
  • Display & Video 360 allows buyers to exclude inventory from non-participating Publishers. Display & Video 360 continues to buy non-participating inventory by default, but with the Authorized Seller targeting option, you can now exclude non-participating inventory at the Campaign, Insertion Order or Line Item level.

Video Exchanges

Both Google Ads and Display & Video 360 allow marketers to purchase video ads on YouTube.

Specifically, the core difference between the two platforms is Google Ads is connected to the AdX exchange as well as any website serving video through the GDN whereas Display & Video 360’s power lies in its ability access to high-traffiked, premium websites from over 35 video exchanges.

  • Premium video inventory – Buy brand-safe video inventory for YouTube and TV programmatically through Google Partner Select, Display & Video 360’s premium video marketplace.
  • It is important to mention that Display & Video 360’s immense strength for video is a massive reason for adding Display & Video 360.  Since Google Ads is limited to the YouTube network and a smaller pool of websites offering video, Display & Video 360’s ability to offer 35 additional exchanges provides a considerable advantage for a marketer looking to launch video campaigns and would like to diversify and expand out the campaigns as far and wide as possible.

Reporting and Optimization

Both Google Ads and Display & Video 360 offer:

    • Instant Reporting – Allows you to see data immediately, instead of waiting for a report to run and then downloading the file for offline viewing. Instant Reporting is excellent for quick performance checks, ad-hoc reports, and routine analysis of standard dimensions and metrics. Instant reports can be single-use or saved for later, and also made into visualizations like bar and pie charts.
    • Funnel Analytics Measurement – Deep dive into all of your real-time analytics data to investigate whether your campaigns are reaching the right audiences and converting into leads.
    • Precise Campaign Management – Develop and manage your campaigns using Google’s advanced algorithms to adjust and optimize your bids, budgets and optimization strategies to reach your specific campaign goals.
    • Day of week, creative size, campaign duration, environment, time of day, website targeting, frequencies, device type, exchange)
    • Display & Video 360 allows marketers to view the number of impressions, ad clicks and specific website conversions that originated from the ad campaign.

Google Ads Reports

      • Google Ads offers marketers reports which highlight post-click performance and essential metrics about the users.
      • Google Ads Reports Cover: Acquisition-Behavior-Conversion (ABC) cycle:
      • User acquisition paths.
      • User behavior on site.
      • Conversion patterns.
      • Google Ads reports show essential metrics from both Google Ads (Clicks) and Google Analytics (Bounce Rate).

Display & Video 360

      • Display & Video 360’s reporting system helps you to analyze performance across Display & Video 360 and take action based on those results, including instant reporting that allows you to quickly access data within Display & Video 360 without waiting for reports to export.
      • Full reporting of more than 66 dimensions and 145 metrics for viewing the essential metrics of a campaign.
      • Manual adjustments – Going through the ads one by one and adjusting the bid.

Should you add Display & Video 360?

Yes. Display & Video 360 will expand and benefit your current abilities to reach your intended audiences. Though you may be asking, “Why to switch things up when Google Ads is working well?” We’re confident that if you’re asking this question, then your Google Ads campaigns are probably experiencing positive ROI at a low cost. We want to congratulate you, well done.

However, the central thesis of this article isn’t to try to persuade your company to ditch your Google Ads account in favor of a shiny, new Display & Video 360 account.

Instead, as a Google Certified Marketing Partner (GCMP), we would be remiss to ignore the massive benefits Google Ads yields and the success it is potentially already bringing to your company from running ads on the GDN.  We recommend that you should add Display & Video 360 and keep your Google Ads account.  The core caveat here is that despite having both platforms you should run the same campaigns on both platforms because you would be essentially bidding against yourself in Google AdX, which as a result would artificially raise the bid.

The fact that perhaps you are opening a discussion about Display & Video 360 within your marketing plans reflects the advanced nature of where your company’s digital marketing progress is in general.  More specifically, if you’re looking to conquer the next digital frontier with your campaigns, Display & Video 360 is indeed the next building block after Google Ads for digital marketers aiming to perhaps take on online video advertising and higher budgets for display advertising on premium websites.

Google Ads is great for video campaigns for reaching audiences in YouTube. Though if you’re serious about running video ad campaigns, Google Display & Video 360 is immensely more suited for your goals since you can reach YouTube in addition to 96 ad exchanges which support video ad formats.

Our perspective is that advertisers should segment Display & Video 360 and Google Ads to each run specific campaigns in parallel to challenge each other and test each platform’s ability to achieve positive ROI. We believe that it is a positive approach to reach new audiences and earn better results. If your company is beginning to feel as though it needs to diversify itself into new exchanges, we can assist you in the decision to start using Display & Video 360 in order to progress forward with Google Ads and Display & Video 360.

At Oraki, we have an abundance of experience working with premium advertisers seeking to maximize their ROI through Google Ads and Display & Video 360.  If you would like to begin using Display & Video 360 and are not sure how to start or how to best use Display & Video 360, we can help you with everything along the way.

Feel free to sign up for Display & Video 360 below or contact us if you have any questions.