What is the difference between a Google display network (GDN) vs a DSP?

Updated: Mar 18, 2019


Digital advertising can be a real mine field for many business owners in terms of measuring an accurate ROI. The small business community often has to rely on in-house expertise, which can be time consuming and expensive or rely external agencies whereas larger organisations often equally outsource or have a full-time person within their marketing team. For many business owners especially with a non-tech background the notion of handing over your money to a 'trusted' organisation or platform that just goes off and 'does its thing' and promises results is often a scary prospect.


John Wanamaker (1838-1922) a very successful United States merchant, religious leader and political figure, considered by some to be a "pioneer in marketing”, famously coined the phrase: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” Fast forward to the digital age and this quote could not be more accurate. So lets decipher digital advertising and in particular we thought we would dissect the difference between a Google advertising platform i.e a Google Display Network (GDN) vs a Demand-side Platform (DSP).



Google display network (GDN)

Google goes with its tagline "Right place, right time. That's the power of the Google Display Network" to give you a taster of what is possible and continues by saying that display advertising will give you:

  • Create all types of ads – text, image, interactive and video ads.

  • Place those ads on websites that are relevant to what you’re selling.

  • Show those ads to the people who are likely to be most interested.

  • Manage and track your budget, campaigns and results as you go.

The Google Display Network therefore lets you place ads on a variety of news sites, blogs and other niche sites across the Internet to reach more potential customers. The GDN is an important part of Google Adwords and just like creating Adwords campaigns with keywords and text ads, Google display network is all about using the power of Google outside of the search engine. What does this mean? According to Virtual Snipers this means that by using the Google Adwords campaign console, you can target websites based on keywords in their content or topics and/or place ads by site names. GDN is a network of websites which run Google ads. GDN sites comprise of YouTube, Gmail and more than a million Google web display partners, which includes all AdSense and DoubleClick Ad Exchange partner sites that allow text and display ads on their site pages.


The Google Display Network is a powerful tool if used properly. Success on GDN calls for a different approach from regular search strategy. The ability to choose the right keywords and topics or Google partner sites with an effective creative strategy will define success. Victor Wong, CEO of Thunder states that a GDN allows you to use Google's data on its users to target them with ads that Google thinks will appeal to that audience therefore maximising the potential for business rather than blanket advertising.



So what's a DSP then?A demand-side platform (DSP) is a system that allows buyers of digital advertising to manage multiple ad exchange and data exchange accounts through one interface. DSPs are unique because they incorporate many of the facets previously offered by advertising networks, such as wide access to inventory and vertical and lateral targeting, with the ability to serve ads, real-time bid on ads, track the ads, and optimize them. This is all kept within one interface which creates a unique opportunity for advertisers to truly control and maximize the impact of their ads.


Wong goes on to say that a DSP is a platform that allows you to bid and buy ad inventory from ad exchanges or from publishers directly. DSPs access multiple sources of inventory including GDN, so they actually have a greater reach. They allow you to bring on your data or 3rd party data to target the ads too.



So what's the difference then?


A demand-side platform is software used by advertisers to buy mobile, search, and video ads from a marketplace on which publishers list advertising inventory. These platforms allow for the management of advertising across many real-time bidding networks, as opposed to just one, like Google Ads. Demand-side platforms are independent of individual networks. If you’re managing ads through Google Display Network manager, you’re buying impressions on Google publishers only. If you’re using the Facebook Ads Manager to buy ads, you’re buying impressions on Facebook or Instagram specifically. "Demand-side platforms are independent of these networks. They are third-party software that allow you to purchase, analyze, manage ads across many networks from a single place." Ted Vrountas in Advertising. Lead Generation. The advantage of a DSP according to Wong really shines when you're looking for maximum reach especially when you're targeting a narrow audience. For example, a re-targeting campaign is a good case where you want to find as many of your site's visitors as possible since they are so valuable (as they have shown intent) but there is inherently a small population relatively speaking. Another example is local or hyperlocal advertising where there is a very small true population to reach and they may be spread across a lot of sites, many not in GDN but may be available through other exchanges.


So there you have it? Whilst we have ciphered through the jargonese the simple explanation is that GDN = 1 channel with lots of outlets and a DSP = lots of channels with even more advertising outlets? Simple right? So the main benefit of a DSP is more reach and all managed from one place.


Make sense? Then why not give us a call to see how we can propel your ads to the right audience with adalytix. US: +1 (302) 763 3740. UK: 0800 368 7658.


#dsp #displayadvertising #googledisplaynetwork #gdn #demandsideplatform #digitaladvertising #adalytix

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