Google Ads or Display & Video 360 – Which is a better buying platform for you?

Contributor, October 10, 2020

Google Ads or Display & Video 360?

That is the question.

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 the most correct strategy for your company’s current programmatic media buying activities and goals.


Google Ads (Google AdWords)

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.

      • Google owns the world’s largest online display advertising network. (comScore).
      • Google display campaigns reach 80% of global internet users. (Google Benchmarks and Insights).
      • Consumers exposed to display ads are, on average, 155% more likely to search for brand-and segment-specific terms. (Specific Media).
      • Businesses make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on AdWords. (Google Economic Impact Report)
      • 72% of AdWords marketers plan to increase their PPC budgets (Search Engine Watch).This is a strong indication that those businesses were generating positive ROI, because if they were not, then they wouldn’t increase their budgets.

    Display & Video 360 (DoubleClick Bid Manager)

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

    Key features comparing Google Ads to Display & Video 360

    Creative options

    Google Ads

      • Text, Image, HTML5 (only available for accounts with more than $1,000 total lifetime spend and requires 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

    Google Ads is limited to buying only on the Google Display Network (GDN).

        • Location and language targeting
        • Keyword targeting
        • Device targeting
        • Remarketing

      Display & Video 360

        • The ability to find the users who could be the ones most interested in your solutions and most likely to convert or purchase.
        • Display & Video 360 provides marketers access to 35 third-party data 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.

      Device Targeting / Reach

      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 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. Audience frequency caps for excluding users based on the number of impressions they have been served (across media, channels, and identity spaces).
      • 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.
      • 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 data sets you have access to).
      • 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).
      • 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.


      Private Marketplaces (PMPs) & Programmatic Guaranteed (PG)

      Private Marketplaces (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.

      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 and programmatic guaranteed buying opportunities.
      • 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 or decrease bids based on a set percentage.

      Display & Video 360

      Fixed Bid – Flat CPM, no automation used

      • How it Works: Use “Fixed Bidding” to have Bid Manager place the same bid on every impression inputted by the user, regardless of the impression value.

      Minimize CPC/Minimize CPA – While spending budget in full, minimize action cost based on set goal

      • How it Works: Use “While spending full budget, Minimize CPC/Minimize CPA” to have Bid Manager automatically change your line item’s bid to get the best CPC or CPA performance possible, given the amount you have to spend to exhaust your budget

      Meet or Beat a Goal of CPC/CPA –  Priorities Performance over Spend

      • How it Works: Use “Meet or beat goal of CPC/CPA” to have Bid Manager automatically change your line items bid to meet or beat a specific performance goal. If Bid Manager can’t both hit your performance goal and spend all of your line items budget, Bid Manager won’t spend all of your line items budget. If your line items goal is overly aggressive, your line item may not be able to spend its entire budget.

      Display & Video 360

      Viewability – Maximize the number of viewable impressions

      • How it Works: Use “Optimize for viewable CPM bid” to have Bid Manager automatically change your line item’s bid based on the probability that each available impression will be viewable.
      • For example, if you set a viewable CPM goal of $2 and an impression is 40% likely to be viewable based on Active View’s prediction model, Bid Manager’s automated bidding will bid $0.80 CPM (which is 40% of $2).

      For mobile app install line item:

      • By default, it’s set to automated bidding to minimize cost per action (CPA). Because the action in this case is typically an app install, the default bid strategy is designed to minimize the cost per install (CPI).

      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.
      • 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

      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?

      Display & Video 360 will expand and benefit your current abilities to reach your intended audiences. 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 eBook 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 fact that 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 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 and combine it with Google Ads. 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.