December 11, 2017

GDN vs. Traditional Media Buying Campaigns?

GDN vs. media buying

Lately we have been receiving the following response from our clients: “We have no need to launch a media buying campaign since we just launched a GDN campaign”.

In this blog we will address the above, present features of both activities and explain why running a traditional media buying campaign parallel to GDN campaigns will complement the latter, increase your reach and brand awareness and improve your results.

First thing’s first… Let’s start with a bit of terminology:

What are we referring to when we say, “traditional media buying campaign”?

Buying display media on any traffic channel that is not connected to Google, Facebook or any other social network. There are a few main traffic channels in the industry:

  • RTBs – Exchanges that are connected to thousands of sites, in which the highest bidder wins the desired placements.
  • DSPs/SPPs – Companies that implement their SDK into numerous ads, thus gaining access to their in-app advertising space.
  • Networks – Also referred to as Connectors, they are connected to RTBs, DSPs and SSPs and act as mediators between the client and the direct display placement.

In many cases, networks have their own trackers and traffic inventory in addition to mediation.

What is a GDN campaign?

GDN campaigns are, in fact, Media Buying campaigns as well. What media are you buying? It can be every channel that is connected to the Google Display Network: web, mobile web and in-app traffic. Google offers sites/app developers a payment for them to implement a short code line into their app/site, thus connecting them to Google’s network and making them a profitable inventory.

Why are we even talking about this subject?

Many app developers and advertisers lack the understanding as to why, if they are running a GDN campaign, should they run an additional media buying activity.

We will provide our answer hereinafter, including the pros and cons for each campaign type:

Media Buying Campaigns

  • Traditional media buying campaigns support different pricing models that may be riskier, such as CPM and CPC, or less risky models such as CPI, CPA and CPL. When you run a CPI campaign, decreasing costs and driving up ROI is easier than other models, since you know the cost of your media in advance (there’s no need to optimize the CPI).
  • Optimizing media buying campaigns is much faster than GDN and could be done after two to three days, so underperforming placements could be eliminated quickly.
  • Targeting abilities are limited to GEO/city targeting, OS version, carrier, connection type, frequency, etc. The limited targeting abilities work also to our advantage, since it makes our reach almost limitless. Usually for the utility vertical, results will be very good within a short period of time with quite a low CPI.
  • In addition, RTBs, DSPs and SSPs keep improving their targeting abilities and, in some cases, even provide extremely advanced targeting features, such as: Gender, Age, Interests, Verticals, Placements, etc.
  • Traffic channels are limitless, since you are not working only with traffic channels that are connected to Google, but rather you can buy from every RTB/DSP/SSP/Network out there.
  • In terms of creatives, the size limitation is not as strict as Google’s and it supports many ad formats and customization, so you can use impressive and interactive creatives.

Media buying really shines when you’re looking for maximum reach and wide audiences. In addition, reaching a high number of users will increase your retargeting options for future campaigns. Finding valuable users is priceless.

GDN Campaigns

  • GDN campaigns work on a CPC/CPM pricing model. There is a variety of targeting options, which allows you to reach the exact audiences you are interested in (examples for targeting types: Interests, Placements, Gender, Age, Keywords, etc.).
  • In addition, you are running through Google’s system, so the chances of receiving fraudulent traffic significantly decreases.
  • You can also set a frequency cap, so that the same user won’t see your ad too many times, and set a schedule plan for when you want to be more aggressive with your bid (these features also exist in traditional media buying campaigns).
  • That being said, there are a few down points as well. Since payment is on a CPC/CPM basis, the campaign might be costly at the beginning. Google’s algorithm will take somewhere from one to two weeks to learn, optimize and approximately reach your CPA goal.
  • In terms of creative, GDN supports standard banners and texts, so there are size restrictions which could be a limitation as well.

The bottom line is that, regardless of the downsides, GDN campaigns are considered reliable and generally deliver great results, but have a limited reach so, if volumes and massive brand awareness are what you are after, it will be difficult to reach full exposure using only GDN campaigns.

In conclusion…

From our vast experience in running Media Buying campaigns as well as GDN campaigns, we can confidently say – if you are running a GDN campaign, starting a direct media buying campaign will complement your GDN activity and extend your reach.

Media buying is not only characterized by vast exposure and low costs, but its targeting abilities are also constantly improving. These parameters make it easier to reach positive ROI and other KPIs, and in a shorter period of time. On top of this, it’s important to recall that traffic sources are different from GDN, so by launching a direct media buying campaign, you can scale up your activity and expand your UA reach.

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