Google Ads vs. DV360: Where’s best to buy YouTube media?

The power of YouTube advertising is well-known among today’s circle of digital marketers. The world’s most popular online video platform boasts over two billion monthly users, all of whom contribute to an eye-watering one billion hours worth of content consumed every single day.

The success of YouTube from both a performance and brand marketing perspective is validated by the rapid rise in ad spend going through the platform in recent years, up 86% from 2017 to 2019 to just over $15 billion.

Today, the debate among both agencies and in-house teams has evolved: it’s no longer a question of why advertisers should invest marketing dollars into YouTube, but how advertisers should invest, with both Google Ads and Display and Video 360 (DV360) offering the capabilities to purchase YouTube inventory at scale. However, the differences between the platforms remains somewhat unclear, with Google appearing hesitant to draw the lines of distinction between the two.

In the following article, Croud outlines some of the benefits of running YouTube out of both Google Ads and DV360, as well as highlighting some of the key considerations advertisers should be aware of when enlisting one of the two platforms for YouTube activity.

Google Ads Benefits


A key advantage of running YouTube campaigns out of Google Ads is the ease of set-up. If advertisers don’t have any pre-existing activity in DV360, Google Ads enables a way to quickly launch YouTube campaigns without having to set-up or gain access to a DV360 seat, which can often be a lengthy and time-consuming process.


Google Ads generally receives access to new platform features and betas long before they’re rolled out to DV360 (often up to a year in advance). At a broader level, the development roadmap for YouTube in Google Ads feels quicker and more prioritised, and this may be a key consideration for advertisers looking to use YouTube as a playground for testing.


Google Ads, unlike DV360, doesn’t carry any platform fees, meaning it’s often more cost effective for advertisers to employ this platform as a means to buy YouTube inventory. However, this might not be as pertinent for advertisers who already have activity running in DV360 and are therefore already paying the relevant platform fees.

DV360 benefits


A key advantage of running YouTube campaigns out of DV360 is the ability to manage ad frequency across various creative formats and media buys—be it display, video, audio or YouTube—due to the platform’s ability to manage frequency at the insertion order level. Google Ads, however, only allows advertisers to control frequency at the more granular campaign level, meaning frequency cannot be as easily managed across multiple media buys.


An obvious benefit of running YouTube campaigns out of DV360 is the ability to deliver all media activity, cross-exchange, out a single platform and user interface, ultimately resulting in increased consolidation across buying, reporting and campaign management. DV360 also remains the only platform that enables advertisers to measure YouTube with other forms of media, including inventory purchased via Google AdX.


A further advantage of running YouTube via DV360 is the ability to buy via programmatic guaranteed deals through the platform, giving advertisers access to YouTube’s highest quality inventory via Google Preferred (recently renamed YouTube Select) which are not always available via open auction buys on Google Ads.

The platform benefits listed above are by no means exhaustive, but they do serve as key considerations for advertisers looking to expand their digital marketing efforts to incorporate YouTube.

In summary, if an advertiser is already running paid media activity via DV360, YouTube campaigns are best sitting here due to the platform’s ability to manage frequency and consolidate alongside other media buys. However, for advertisers looking to make their first foray into YouTube activity, Google Ads is likely the better option due to the ease of set-up and ultimately cheaper platform costs.

To find out more about our programmatic services, or about Croud, get in touch.

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