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Google Display Network (GDN) and DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM) are both Google platforms used to run display campaigns. Discover the key differences between the two to help you identify the right one for you.

Google offers two ways of running your display activity – through the Google Display Network (GDN) and programmatically using the DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM) platform. Although these two platforms both run display campaigns, they differ vastly in their capabilities. Ultimately, the platform you decide to use will greatly depend on your needs and budget.

The GDN is a way to run display campaigns through AdWords which makes it perfect for small to mid-size advertisers who may not be ready to fully invest into programmatic display.  DBM on the other hand is a demand side platform (DSP) that allows you to purchase inventory using Real Time Bidding (RTB).

Here are a few things you need to consider when deciding on which platform to use:


DBM is superior when it comes to reach as it has access to 81 exchanges whilst the GDN is limited to just the Google AdSense network. With DBM, you can reach more users across a wider range of sites which means that you can ensure you are appearing on the most relevant content.

Third Party Data

Targeting third party audiences allows you to find the right people, those who are most likely to be interested in your products/services. There are 35 third party providers accessible via DBM which enables you to drill down your audience targeting. DBM also provides the capability of finding people that are similar to your previous site visitors, those in-market for particular products/services, particular demographic or affinity segments. Although the GDN doesn’t have third party audience targeting capability, it does also allow you to target people based on demographics, affinity segments, categories, topics and those in market for a particular product or service.

Creative Options for Ads

Creative options vary across the two platforms as the GDN allows both text, image and video ads. DBM does not offer the capability for text ads as it solely works with image, rich media and video ads.

You may have heard about the latest buzz in the industry – dynamic creative. This allows you to show extremely tailored ads based on user behavior, location or context. The DoubleClick platforms allow for dynamic remarketing and/or prospecting using either customizable XML or Google Doc feeds so that you can tailor your messaging, image and ensure you are showing the most up to date product information from your website.

If you do use the GDN, do not despair, you are able to integrate your Google Merchant Center shopping feed into your dynamic creatives, although unfortunately you can’t make use of everything that dynamic creatives have to offer.

Private Market Place (PMPs) & Programmatic Guaranteed (PG)

One of the benefits of DBM is the ability to target premium inventory from a wide range of reputable publishers such as & The Telegraph. PMP deals are private auctions for a select number of buyers on premium sites. Programmatic guaranteed on the other hand allows you to reserve a guaranteed number of impressions on a publisher’s site but via the DoubleClick platform instead of the traditional method of contacting publishers directly.

The newly introduced DoubleClick Marketplace has brought publishers and advertisers even closer and has made the process of setting up PMP and programmatic guaranteed deals simpler.

Bidding Options 

DBM offers two different bidding options depending on your needs (manual and automated bidding). Automated bidding will automatically adjust bids depending on the performance goals set. It relies on Google’s [top secret] algorithm that can allow you to gain efficiency by reducing manual optimization tasks as well as allowing you to customize performance goals for your different campaigns

The GDN has three different ways of setting bids (Automated bidding, custom bids & bid adjustments). Custom bids allow you to set bids for individual targeting methods within your ad group. Otherwise bid adjustments can be enabled, allowing you to increase/decrease your bids by a certain percentage (from -90% to +900%).

Video Exchanges

GDN & DBM both allow you to run video ads on YouTube in the following formats – in-stream, in-search & in-display on AdWords and in-stream & In-display on DBM. In addition to TrueView, DBM allows for video advertising on more than 35 exchanges with very low CPMs as well as video advertising with more premium brands.

Device Targeting

DBM allows you to target specific devices (desktop, smartphone, tablet & smart TV) or the environment where your ad will appear (desktop/mobile web, mobile app or mobile interstitial). Targeting these specific devices or environments on DBM is very simple as it requires you to simply segment your targeting by device/environment. GDN on the other hand requires you to use bid modifiers to reduce spend by a certain percentage on a particular device making it much less flexible.

Data Management Platform (DMP) Integration

For those that want to go a step further with your audience targeting, DBM offers DMP integration. DMPs essentially combines first and third party data to help you identify audience segments among your customers so that you can ensure you provide the most tailored customer experience.

Campaign Budget

If your budget is likely to be less than $2K per month, then the GDN is perfect for running smaller display campaigns.  However, based on our experience, we would consider using DBM if you have a budget that is above that threshold.

Conclusion: What’s best for you? 

The decision is up to you but we have dedicated teams in both Programmatic display and Search that can help you decide what platform is best for you. Contact our  MGR Team today to decide what platform your business should use to run your display activity.

Source: – Pamela Taiwo