What are Google Ads?
Google ads are any digital display ad (i.e. banner) served through the google platform, which comes in several flavours: Adwords or DFP (DoubleClick for Publishers), DCM (DoubleClick Campaign Manager) and DCS (DoubleClick Studio – now rebranded as Studio). Since Google has about 80% of the market share when it comes to ad serving, it is fairly likely that you will encounter a Google ad at some point on your digital display journey.
Each arm of the Google giant deals with different parts of the ad serving process. DFP, and DCM are platforms that help publishers and media agencies traffick your ads. DCS, or Studio, is a developer interface that helps your production team build cool features into your ads, such as weather feeds, location targeting and good old fashion video banners. To make things even more convoluted, the DCS or Studio interface plugs into the DCM interface for trafficking (sorry, we don’t make the rules, we just enforce them!).
Obviously, with all these twists and turns of the Google-verse, it is no surprise that our clients are often confused about which part of Google they should be working with. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a bit about the technicalities, specifications, and the benefits of each system to help you navigate.
DCM (Standard Media)
Short for DoubleClick Campaign Manager, DCM is one of the products offered from Google’s DoubleClick Suite. It can host ad creative and record all metrics and performance indicators.
If you are working directly with the DCM system (and not with any DCS plugin) you are working with what is referred to as “standard” builds. The most importanting thing to remember about standard builds is that they cannot include video, and they cannot be connected with any kind of live, data feed. File size is also a good marker for a standard unit. Whereas rich media units will almost always have a 2.2Mb file size limit, a standard build can range from 150KB to 300KB and can only go up to 2.2MB in some very rare cases if polite loading options available to you/your client. Polite loading sees a unit have a baseline of animation and assets to load in with the initial site load, and then loads the rest when the page has finished loading completely.
To host creatives on DoubleClick, you media agency will be responsible for uploading as a ZIP files that contains the ad unit, relevant JPGs, PNGs, CSS, JS, and any other files relevant to the creative. This is important for two reasons. Firstly, you need to be sure that your media agency has access to the appropriate DCM accounts to traffick your units. Production agencies (like TBM) do not have access to these portals, so you will need to make sure the correct avenues are in place. Secondly, when you are working with the DCS system (as we will discuss), you will deliver a link to your media agency, not a ZIP file. When delivering your ZIP file, ensure that nothing external is being used or referenced with the exception of Google Fonts, Google-hosted jQuery, Google-hosted Greensock, and Google-hosted CreateJS.
Google has also developed a useful tool to double check your DCM creatives once they’ve been built in the form of their HTML Validator. Once you upload the ZIP file of your developed creatives to this platform, it runs a quality check of the HTML, click tags, assets, and anything else that could potentially cause issues or delays with your creatives down the road so you can address them right away.
DC Studio (Rich Media)
The DCS or Studio interface is a system that helps advertisers deal with more robust creatives. These builds are dynamic or rich builds—or both!—and usually start at 200KB and can go up to around 2.2MB. For DCS builds that are not dynamic, but are rich media, the build and upload process doesn’t differ an exceptional amount from the DCM process, though there is no self-validation tool for DCS. Instead, these units pass through a system called DC QA which takes place after the units have been uploaded and any dynamic work has been done. QA then lets you know if there are any flags or concerns with your units.
The major difference of DCS builds shows when working with a dynamic campaign. A dynamic campaign is an entire campaign, often made up of hundreds of ads, based on one master unit and animation style that then generates different variations of copy, imagery, clickthrough, CTA, and other elements the client would like to include. Assets of the proper size and configuration are then uploaded into the Studio profile of the advertiser, and the Google sheets meant to control and hold other campaign information are setup and connected. Because of this difference, the components of a dynamic creative differ slightly from that of DCM or a non-dynamic DCS build. For a dynamic creative, you’ll need to have all the necessary assets, including a master HTML file that frames the functionality of the ad, and a Studio profile. Depending on the campaign and the elements to be changed or updated, you may also need a Profile field to update creative elements on the fly, or a Dynamic feed, which is often a spreadsheet or API feed that contains all variations for your creatives to display.
Here are some of our favourite DCS, dynamic units.
How Google Ads can benefit your business?
From what you know now, it is pretty easy to see that Google ads are almost (80%) synonymous with any digital display advertising. Presently, Google is such a large player in the digital display scene that they can demand top dollar, which does drive some advertisers to make deals with the lesser known platforms such as Celtra. Recently, another big player has entered the ad serving platform arena with Amazon buying a smaller platform called Sizmek in 2018. It will be interesting to see where ad serving goes with these two goliaths fighting it out for your marketing dollars.