When working with clients, a common question that might be brought up is: When are display ads more appropriate on the Google Display Ad Network, and when does it make more sense to move to Programmatic Ads?

Before diving into the detailed answer, a major fact that is worth emphasizing is that you have to consider your budget. Most programmatic networks won’t even let you join unless there is an ad spend of about thirty-thousand dollars or more per month. At that level of spend, you likely have a trusted team who knows what they’re doing and can run with it. And if you currently don’t have that team … you should.

However, clients may still want to try out Programmatic ads at a lower spend level, so it is worth it to look over your options. We will discuss two primary ways to do this. 

The first is, many Programmatic networks have existing partnerships with ad agencies. This is so that these agencies can run ads for their clients via the ad networks. If you’re working with a midsize or large ad agency, it is worth it to ask them if they have any of these partnerships. This is a good strategy, especially if your display spend is in the range of ten-thousand to thirty-thousand dollars per month. 

If the ad spend falls below the level of ten-thousand dollars a month, there are a few other options worth exploring. You might want to look into platforms, such as Choozle, that resell a programmatic partner’s network in smaller bits. These companies do charge monthly or other fees, so you have to take into consideration that this will likely be more expensive on the CPC level. But they give you access to the major platforms at smaller levels. 

But, below the ten-thousand-dollar level, it may make more sense to stick to AdWords. Bigger networks do have a lot of firepower; thus, it only makes sense to make use of those networks if you use the firepower too. If there is a choice between using a pistol and a nuclear bomb to kill the enemy, it makes sense to use the nuclear bomb. But only if you’ve trained yourself for years, know how to fly a plane, and can handle nuclear bombs. Otherwise, you may end up doing more harm to yourself rather than the enemy. 

This metaphor is only a slight exaggeration—hopefully, no one dies! Yet, almost all programmatic initiatives fail because that is the default. Programmatic initiatives entail dealing with a lot of complexity (subtle configuration options that make all the difference, advanced fraud detection measure, and many other options) to survive. It is important to note that all of this requires so much sophistication and focus that it’s rarely worth it on display budgets below ten-thousand dollars a month. 

Let us know about your own experiences with the optimal display platforms for different budget levels!