Understanding YouTube Buying Across Google’s Tech Stack

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YouTube is a highly leveraged platform for consumers looking for entertainment and media buyers looking to reach those 2.49 billion monthly active users. It has various format possibilities, such as specialized online video content, cable-free YouTube TV content, audio and podcasts, Shorts and more. You can purchase its ad-supported offerings in multiple Google platforms, so it’s important to understand where you can buy them and why you would pick one Google-owned platform over another. Let’s dive into just that!


Let’s start by going over the background of each platform so we can understand how YouTube fits in.


Search Ads 360 (SA360) is a search management platform built on top of Google Ads and linked to other search engines that help you efficiently manage your search marketing campaigns. SA360 can access Google O&O inventory like Search, YouTube and Google Display Network (GDN). This allows SA360 to be a brand’s one-stop shop for best-in-class search campaigns, with some room to venture into non-search inventory.

  • Main Purposes:
    • Search campaign management and buying hub
    • Bid strategies and management across multiple search engines.
  • SA360’s Positioning:
    • SA360 specializes in search inventory, offering a suite of tools and features tailored specifically for search advertising. While it has access to Google Ad’s inventory for display, OLV, audio, YouTube, native or CTV inventory, it doesn’t offer an extensive amount of this inventory. It exists to — and excels in — delivering targeted search campaigns. For advertisers prioritizing search advertising and seeking some advanced optimization capabilities all in one place, SA360 remains a top choice.


Display & Video 360 (DV360) is Google’s Demand-Side Platform (DSP). It combines Google’s proprietary audiences, inventory and machine learning with the rest of the non-Google O&O programmatic landscape to reach your desired audiences at scale. DV360 lets you fully manage open marketplace and deal campaigns across Display, Video, YouTube, CTV, Audio, Native and Digital-Out-of-Home (DOOH), all in one place. This ecosystem allows DV360 to be a brand’s hub for seamless, consolidated digital media buying sans search and social inventory.

  • Main Purposes:
    • Consolidated, customized media buying across Display, Video, YouTube, CTV, Audio, Native and DOOH.
    • Audience targeting reach for all campaigns and audience types:
      • 1pd, 3pd, GA4, Adobe, Google Audience Catalog, etc.
  • DV360’s Positioning:
    • DV360 is home to best-in-class multi-channel campaigns. No other DSP allows you to implement all of the campaign types available in DV360, connect to the Google Marketing Platform (GMP) and leverage Google’s performance-driven algorithms. Buyers can target the majority of the internet with maximum targeting control opportunities, but DV360 doesn’t have access to search or social inventory, making it one (major) piece of the ad-buying puzzle buyers need to complete.

Google Ads

Google Ads is home to Google’s entire O&O inventory for simple and quick campaign buying. It offers buyers access to the digital ecosystem’s baseline ad opportunities (outside of social inventory), with strong, Google-driven algorithms and performance-based campaign types. Many users new to media buying appreciate these features.

  • Main Purposes:
    • Media-consolidated ad buying strictly within Google’s ecosystem
    • Access to easy-to-launch-and-manage digital ad inventory
  • Google Ads Positioning:
    • Google Ads is a starting point for many buyers. It’s an easy access point, offering Google’s swath of O&O inventory with built-in automation controls that function well within its own attribution system. Google Ads doesn’t offer the level of opportunity and control that many buyers ultimately seek, so it’s best for buyers interested in Google’s control over bidding, attribution, creatives, inventory designation and budget allocations.


Now that we’ve covered the platform basics, let’s discuss when it makes sense to buy YouTube on each platform, knowing it’s available in all of them.


  • As a part of a larger Performance Max (PMax) or Demand Gen campaign type
  • To tap into YouTube inventory when you don’t need  decision-making control and/or YouTube-specific targeting is unnecessary
  • If the inability to frequency cap across display, YouTube and other channel strategies isn’t a limiting factor for you


Note: YouTube opportunities are nearly identical in DV360 and Google Ads, but DV360 has some advantages associated with being in — and connected to — the GMP.

  • Your YouTube strategy includes a deeper level of control for targeting, inventory, exclusions and budgeting
  • You intend to use CM360 for trafficking/attribution and floodlight data for optimizations
  • You’re Interested in frequency capping across display, CTV, and other channel strategies
  • You plan to remarket to YouTube video viewers
  • Your business goals include adopting the GMP and its full benefits, including unified reporting


Note: While YouTube is available in both Google Ads and DV360, Google Ads has limitations as it pertains to cross-channel frequency capping, supporting advanced use cases of your ad-serving and ad ops strategies and lack of robust reporting and bidding capabilities.

  • To take advantage of the latest YouTube betas and alphas, as they’re often first released in Google Ads
  • If the inability to frequency cap across display, YouTube and other channel strategies isn’t a limiting factor for you
  • If you purchase all of your display media in Google Ads
  • If CM360 isn’t a tool in your ad tech stack
  • If basic reporting and bidding deliver the results you need


We can help you take advantage of all YouTube offers with our consulting and management services. Take a look.

Media Consulting in Google Ads and DV360

We provide expert advice, strategic insights, guidance and education rooted in experience from activation.

  • Google Ads to DV360 Implementation Parity
  • YouTube and YouTube TV: Set Up QA to Reporting Analysis
  • YouTube Audience and Budget Strategy
  • CTV Strategies Inclusive of YouTube
  • New YouTube Buyer Education for 101, Best Practices and Pro-Tips
  • GA4 Audience Implementation on YouTube
  • YouTube Beta Recommendations

Managed Media Services

We’ll help you establish architecture, plan, strategize, activate, and optimize your media campaigns across channels.

  • YouTube Campaign Strategy and Planning
  • YouTube Campaign Setup
  • Ongoing Optimizations
  • Budget Management
  • Performance Analytics and Reporting
  • Ad Compliance and Policy Management
  • Audience Insights

We’re ready to help! Reach out for more information.