Media buying is not a new concept in the industry but it can provide organisations with a number of different benefits when it comes to utilising digital media. Importantly, the way in which you and your organisation does its media buying reflects a core element of its Digital Marketing Maturity.

In this article, we explore what media buying is, the benefits and the 5 types of media buying available in Display & Video 360 (DV360).

What is media buying?

According to Hubspot, media buying is the process of purchasing ad space and time on digital and offline platforms, including websites, YouTube, radio, and TV. Media buying is typically done one of two ways:

  • Direct buy – where media buyers forge relationships with publishers to negotiate ad inventory, e.g. working with an online publisher to have an ad placed in the upcoming issue of their digital magazine.
  • Programmatic buy – The buying process is done using automated technology such as Display & Video 360 (DV360)
5 types of media buying available in Display & Video 360 (DV360) - steps in media buying

Benefits of using media buying

  • It saves time and improves efficiency
  • Get the best deal
  • Plan campaigns with best practices
  • Highly targeted opportunities
  • Speed In implementation & adjustments

5 types of media buying available in Display & Video 360 (DV360)

5 types of media buying available in Display & Video 360 (DV360) - types of media buying

Non-Guaranteed buying

Open Auction

Open auction, or real time bidding, is the most traditional form of programmatic auctions and is when a publisher offers their inventory at a specific minimum price while advertisers bid for the available inventory with the highest bid winning.

Private Auction

A private auction is a one-publisher-to-multiple-advertisers relationship. Private auctions give publishers more control over how they sell their inventory, while giving buyers an advantage in auction buys. With a private auction, the seller invites buyers to participate and make a portion of their non-guaranteed inventory available for purchase at negotiated prices for each buyer. The inventory goes to the highest bid from among the buyers, provided the winning bid is above the minimum CPM.

Preferred Deals

Preferred deals are an exclusive, advertiser-to-publisher relationship for programmatically purchasing inventory in brand-safe environments. Additionally, it provides advertisers with first-look access to custom, non-guaranteed inventory at a fixed CPM. 

If a preferred deal’s terms are met (which generally refers to CPM, targeting, ad-related requirements), the impression goes to the preferred deal advertiser first. If the deal terms are not met, the impression goes to the open auction or a private auction (if the publisher is participating in one). 

The benefits of preferred deals over open auction include:

  • Get first-look access to unique inventory not available to buy on open exchange
  • Improve yield for publishers by capturing incremental spends at higher rates
  • Get a holistic view of inventory and publisher partnerships

Guaranteed buying

Programmatic Guaranteed

Programmatic Guaranteed deals provide an automated buying solution with tagless trafficking, advanced targeting and consolidated reporting and billing. Programmatic Guaranteed deals allow you to execute direct one to one buys with publishers, while eliminating manual processes such as exchanging tags, troubleshooting discrepancies and handling multiple invoices. In addition, the use of audience targeting helps narrow who your ad is shown to.

Learn more about programmatic guaranteed buying >

Tag-based IOs

Tag Guaranteed (TG) deals enable advertisers to consolidate their guaranteed buys within Display & Video 360 through the use of tags that can be used by any publisher and tag guaranteed deals use two kinds of tags – display tags and video tags. Tag guaranteed deals let you deliver the right ad to the right user across all media, so you can target reserved inventory with line items that use Display & Video 360’s powerful set of targeting features.

To target TG deals on line items:

  1. Click Advertisers in the left menu and select the advertiser you want to target.
  2. Create a new Campaign or select an existing one.
  3. Create a new Insertion Order or select an existing one.
  4. Click New line item and follow the on-screen instructions to create a line item within the insertion order.
  5. After you've finished creating a new line item, click the Default Targeting tab.
  6. Then click Add Targeting > Inventory Source > Private Deals > [Publisher].
  7. Finally click Done > Save.
Learn more about tag guaranteed deals >

Where does media buying & deals fit within Digital Marketing Maturity

Yes, media buying  & deals do impact an organisation’s Digital Marketing Maturity and for those looking to achieve more advanced levels of maturity they should be looking at a variety of different, consolidated buy types. 

Organisations that are nascent in their media buying have a siloed and fragmented online buying strategy, with no single view it means they are not consolidating their buying in one DSP like DV360 resulting in simultaneously buying via many different avenues and no user frequency strategy.

For emerging organisations, there is some technology consolidation underway to achieve a single view of users with a consolidated integrated tech stack such as DV360, however, there are still multiple buying methods meaning there is basic frequency management strategy but it is hard to enforce across the different buying methods.

Connected organisations are using a single tech stack such as DV360 with some reservation deals but are moving towards Programmatic Guaranteed & Tag Guaranteed deals guaranteeing a certain number of impressions and/or clicks from their digital ads.

For organisations that are multi-moment in their media buying processes, there is full programmatic consolidation, meaning all display media purchased through a single DSP (DV360), and includes a variety of consolidated media buying across programmatic reservation, preferred deals and open auction. Importantly, with this in place there is also advanced frequency management in place across channels.

What kind of media buying is right for your business?

Importantly, you need to honestly ask the question of ‘how mature is our organisation’s media buying and usage?’ and ‘which buy types yield the best financial outcome’ based on whether you’re an advertiser selling inventory or a buyer purchasing inventory. For simplicity purposes, open auction is always a viable option as the most traditional form of programmatic buying, however, programmatic guaranteed has its own set of benefits, including a guarantee that you will see a particular volume of impressions or clicks from your ad(s).

While it can be tempting to use all the different types of media buying available in DV360 to look like you are a mature organisation, it is important that you have sufficient spend (as an advertiser) and business reasoning to reflect the different media buying that you are conducting.


Media buying provides a platform for organisations to save time and improve efficiency, get the best deal, plan campaigns with best practices, create highly targeted opportunities and allow for speed in implementation & adjustments of their media. 

There are 5 different types of media buying & deals available in DV360 including, open auction, private auctions, preferred deals, programmatic guaranteed and tag-based IOs, all of which have different use cases and contribute to the digital marketing maturity of an organisation’s media buying strategy

For more information on digital media buying in Display & Video 360 (DV360) and the Google Marketing Platform, please get in touch with your local FiveStones team today.