The online advertising industry is fast-paced and always changing, filled with different options and features that can sometimes get confusing. It is very important to get to know the different tools we have at our disposal, this is the only way we can choose what is best for our campaigns and the tactics that we navigate better overall. 

Today, we are going to discuss the difference between Display Network Advertising and Programmatic Advertising, let’s dive right in. 

First, let’s discuss the Display network. Display ads show up as banners of different sizes, given to audiences through different networks. The Google Display Network (GDN) is one of the most well-known, but certainly not the only one. Advertisers can also work with Yahoo, Bing, and dozens of other options. However, it is reported that the GDN includes over two million websites, which are used by about ninety percent of global internet users. Since Google owns so many sites, you have the option of showcasing your ads on a number of websites, including the likes of YouTube. 

Programmatic advertising, on the other hand, is not an ad network,  it involves buying and selling advertising through an automated bidding process. There are two sides to this process, the demand side platform (DSP) and the supply side platform (SSP). DSPs function as the ad buyers and bid on placements provided by the SSPs, the sellers. 

Even though this is essentially the same process the Google Display Network uses, using programmatic advertising removes Google as a middleman. You can still decide to access Google’s ad network. Basically, programmatic advertising is more like a method of purchasing ads that involves exchanges, while display takes place on a closed network. 

Here is a visual from our friends at utbrain that shows an overview of the differences in the process of using either Programmatic or Display. 

Display Network vs. Programmatic Advertising

The main differences we will be discussing today are the types of ads, audience reach, and costs that come with Display vs. Programmatic. 

First off, a major difference is in the types of ads that can be used. Even though both platforms give advertisers a variety of options for their ads, programmatic is unique in that native programmatic ads don’t look like ads, while display ads do. What does this mean? We’ve discussed in past articles that people these days are tired of receiving daily doses of ads while they’re surfing the web, people now don’t even pay attention to ads most of the time. Native advertising, however, blends ads into the design of a webpage so they don’t look like ads. This solves the problem of banner blindness and can lead to greater engagement with the ad. 

When thinking about audience reach, it is important to consider that display ads involve the use of a closed network. Even though they are huge, considering the information we read about Google earlier in this article, it is limited to the websites that are part of the network. Since programmatic advertising is not limited to a specific network, it opens the option of using multiple ad exchanges, expanding reach. 

Finally, it is always important to think about cost. Talking about the Google Display Network specifically, advertisers can make use of different bidding strategies, including Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM), Cost Per Acquisition, and Cost Per Click. On the other hand, programmatic advertising only makes use of CPM, and as our friends at noblestudios mention, “most third-party audience lists will have a mark up on the CPM to use their lists.” This can lead to an increased minimum spend per month. 

Even though we discussed some key points involving the differences between display and programmatic, this is by no means comprehensive. We encourage you to look into the features that will dictate what works best for your campaign’s needs. Remember, as always, the most important thing is to try things out and see what works best for you! Do you have any thoughts on the differences between display and programmatic? We’d love to hear them!