Advertisers and agencies often ask me about the difference between programmatic display advertising with the GDN (Google Display Network) and a DSP (Demand Side Platform). Although both are used to run display campaigns, they differ vastly in their capabilities. So what are the differences? And why does a DSP beat Google’s ad network if you ask me? Four reasons.
DSP vs Google Display Network
Let’s start with a simple explanation of the two programmatic display advertising tools. GDN is effectively Google’s ad network of AdSense publishers who have signed up, which allows you to bid on Google’s display inventory. You can use Google’s data to target your audience.
A DSP is a platform that allows you to bid and buy ad inventory from multiple ad exchanges or from publishers directly. It allows you to use data from different parties to target your audience. A few examples of DSPs are Adform, Platform161, Turn, DBM and Mediamath.
So which option is best for whom? In general, display advertising within Google Display Network is a good starting point for advertisers. Display advertising through a DSP on the other hand is for advertisers and media agencies who are looking for more advanced advertising and on a larger scale. The following advantages illustrate this.
1. Magnitude of reach
The most obvious advantage is the magnitude of reach. GDN reaches only the Google Display Network (i.e. sites owned by Google or its partners) – which is estimated to be 70% of the web. DSPs on the other hand have access to GDN’s ad inventory as well as all the ad exchanges outside of Google, such as Rubicon, AppNexus, Improve Digital and AdScale. This comes down to an estimated 95% of the web. This means you can reach all the premium websites including high-end newspapers through a DSP.
2. The queue to buy ads from publishers
Having access to more ad exchanges also means you can bargain a better price per spot on a website. This does not necessarily mean it’s cheaper, but with a DSP you’ll jump the queue for ad spots. Another distinction when it comes to media buying is the option to cut the line completely and make direct deals with publishers. This is possible with ‘programmatic direct’ or through ‘private marketplaces’. This way you assure a certain spot on a premium website, instead of bidding for a spot against other advertisers at the RTB auction.
2. Detailed targeting options
The level of granularity in overall campaign targeting through a DSP is extremely advanced. First, second and third party data targeting are only possible through a DSP. This can be very useful if you’re looking to run highly refined targeted campaigns. For example targeting “Vodafone users using broadband speed on iOS Devices and Chrome browsers” or targeting browser settings such as language in the city center, to target tourists for example.
3. Enhance relevancy with creative ad options
GDN and a DSP both support all types of creatives (HTML5, image, video, etc.). Only GDN supports text-ads out of the box, with its Adwords background. However, for advanced rich media options, you’ll need a DSP. A DSP supports customization to rich media and has a huge inventory of formats from publishers. This means you can enhance the relevancy of your banners by involving your audience with your ads. Think of fishtanks, lightboxes and homepage take-overs on premium websites or including multiple levels of content in a single ad placement, such as in-banner video, games, tweets, etc. You are far more flexible in a DSP because you can use a different adserver, where you have the ability to change the content of your creatives.
A downside of programmatic advertising through a DSP is the minimum spend. DSPs require a fee to access it. With the Adcombi Suite you don’t have this problem, because you can join our shared DSP. You have the advantages of a DSP and share the costs with other advertisers. And, like GDN, you can pay for your campaigns as-you-go. No monthly fees, you are charged only when you run a campaign.
Any questions? Please feel free to contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diederick van den Berg is CTO at Adcombi. He has a lot of programmatic experience in the advertising industry. He started with running campaigns on multiple DSPs, and is now responsible for the product development of Adcombi and the Adcombi Suite.