Can You Customize a DSP?

Can You Customize a DSP?

Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) often offer various levels of customization to better meet the specific needs of advertisers and marketers. The extent and nature of these customizations can vary significantly from one DSP to another, but here are some common areas where you may be able to customize a DSP: 


  1. Targeting Options

Advertisers can set up custom targeting parameters to reach specific audience segments based on demographics, interests, behaviors, location, and more. This can also include creating lookalike audiences or retargeting users based on their interactions with your brand.


  1. Bid Strategies

DSPs usually allow for customized bid strategies where advertisers can set their bidding rules based on the campaign goals. This can involve manual bid adjustments or setting up algorithmic bidding that automatically optimizes towards certain KPIs.


  1. Creative Optimization

Some DSPs offer dynamic creative optimization (DCO), which allows advertisers to customize and test different creative elements in real-time based on the audience or performance data.


  1. Data Integration

Many DSPs can integrate with external data sources, such as Data Management Platforms (DMPs), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, and third-party data providers. This allows for the use of proprietary data for targeting and personalization.


  1. Reporting and Analytics

DSPs often provide customizable reporting dashboards where advertisers can choose which metrics to monitor and how they want to visualize their campaign performance data.


  1. Inventory and Exchange Access

Advertisers can generally choose which ad exchanges and inventory sources they want to utilize or exclude, which can be important for brand safety and quality control.


  1. API Access

For advanced customization, some DSPs offer API (Application Programming Interface) access, allowing advertisers to programmatically interact with the platform, automate processes, or integrate with in-house systems.


  1. Algorithm Customization

Another more advanced feature offered by some DSPs is the ability to customize the machine learning algorithms or attribution models to better suit their unique campaign goals and conversion paths.



Customization capabilities are a significant factor when selecting a DSP, as they can greatly enhance the effectiveness of digital advertising campaigns. However, the level of customization needed will depend on the complexity of the advertiser’s campaigns, their technical expertise, and specific marketing goals. It’s also essential to balance customization with usability—highly customizable platforms can become complex and may require more advanced knowledge to manage effectively.

What is the Difference Between a Demand Side Platform and a Data Management Platform?

What is the Difference Between a Demand Side Platform and a Data Management Platform?

Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) and Data Management Platforms (DMPs) are both critical components of the digital advertising ecosystem, but they serve different functions. There is a difference between a demand side platform and a data management platform: 


Demand Side Platforms (DSPs)


A DSP is a system that allows buyers of digital advertising inventory to manage multiple ad exchanges and data exchange accounts through one interface. The primary function of a DSP is to enable advertisers to buy ad placements, in real time, across a wide range of websites.


Key Functions of DSPs:

– Media Buying: Automates the purchase of digital advertising.

– Campaign Management: Enables advertisers to create, launch, and manage ad campaigns.

– Targeting: Allows precise targeting based on various criteria like demographics, behavior, location, etc.

– Real-Time Bidding (RTB): Buys ad space in real-time auctions as a user loads a webpage.

– Analytics and Optimization: Offers tools for measuring ad performance and optimizing based on various metrics.


Data Management Platforms (DMPs)


A DMP is a tool used for storing and analyzing data. It acts as a centralized platform that aggregates and manages data from various sources including first-party data (from your own sources), second-party data (from partners), and third-party data (from outside sources).


Key Functions of DMPs:

– Data Collection: Gather data from various sources.

– Data Segmentation: Organizes data into segments for targeted marketing.

– Data Analysis: Analyzes data to provide insights into audience behavior.

– Data Activation: Makes data actionable by integrating with other platforms (like DSPs) to enable targeted advertising based on the data collected.


The Difference


The fundamental difference between a DSP and a DMP lies in their core functions: DSPs are focused on the buying of advertising based on the targeting criteria, whereas DMPs are focused on managing and analyzing data to understand audiences better.


In practice, the lines between DSPs and DMPs can sometimes blur:

– Integration: Often, DSPs integrate with DMPs to enhance their targeting capabilities. The DMP provides the data that informs the DSP’s buying decisions.

– Data-Driven Decisions: A DMP might inform an advertiser which audience segments are most valuable, and then the DSP would be used to actually buy media that targets those segments.

– Consolidation: Some platforms offer both DSP and DMP functionality in a single platform to provide an end-to-end advertising solution.


In summary, while a DSP executes advertising transactions and delivers ads to audiences, a DMP is used to store and analyze data about those audiences to inform strategy. Together, they empower advertisers to make data-driven decisions and purchase digital advertising more efficiently and effectively.

How To Implement A Demand Side Platform (DSP)

How To Implement A Demand Side Platform (DSP)

Planning how to implement a Demand Side Platform (DSP) into your digital advertising strategy involves a multi-faceted approach, including technical setup, team training, data integration, and strategic planning. Here’s a high-level overview of how a business might implement a DSP:


  1. Needs Assessment

Define Objectives: Establish what you want to achieve with programmatic advertising (e.g., increased reach, improved targeting, cost efficiency, new channels).

Assess Current Digital Media Strategy: Evaluate your current media strategy and how a DSP can complement or enhance what you’re currently doing. 


  1. Technical Integration

Data Management: Integrate your first-party data (from your CRM, website analytics, etc.) with the DSP for improved targeting.

Tag Implementation: Place ad tags on your website to track conversions and for retargeting purposes.

APIs: If necessary, integrate the DSP with other systems via APIs for automated data exchange. This can help integrate reporting and attribution with your other marketing channels to understand the value of your programmatic media buy. 


  1. Compliance and Privacy

Data Privacy: Ensure that your use of a DSP complies with all relevant data privacy regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, etc.

User Consent: Implement mechanisms for obtaining and managing user consent for data collection and targeting.


  1. Team Training

Skill Development: Train your team on how to use the DSP, including media planners, buyers, and analysts. DSPs are far more complex buying ecosystems than closed platforms/walled gardens like Meta, Google Ads, etc. Programmatic buyers need to have a deep understanding of not only buying media and reporting, but also a myriad of 3rd party vendors and supply partners. 

Knowledge Sharing: Establish best practices for using the DSP and create a knowledge base for your team.


  1. Campaign Planning and Activation

Strategy Development: Plan your campaigns, including targeting, budget allocation, bid strategy, creative rotation, and flight dates.

Inventory and Data Sources: Identify and select the data sources and inventory types that align with your campaign goals.

Testing: Test the campaign setup to ensure everything is tracking and operating as expected.

Go Live: Launch your campaigns.


  1. Monitoring and Optimization

Real-Time Adjustments: Use the DSP’s tools to monitor performance and make real-time adjustments as needed.

Optimization: Continuously optimize for better performance based on data insights.


  1. Analysis and Reporting

Performance Tracking: Track campaign performance against KPIs and generate regular reports.

Data-Driven Insights: Use the DSP’s analytics tools to gain insights and inform future campaigns.


  1. Continuous Learning

Stay Updated: Keep up with DSP updates and industry trends to ensure you’re using the platform to its fullest potential. The programmatic ecosystem evolves very quickly. It is vital that you stay on top of the latest trends and developments. 

Feedback Loop: Establish a feedback loop with your DSP provider to suggest improvements and get support.


Implementing a DSP effectively requires a good understanding of both your own advertising goals and the technical capabilities of the platform. It’s a balance of strategic planning, technical setup, data integration, and ongoing optimization and analysis. Each business may have unique needs, so the implementation process can vary greatly depending on the size of the company, the complexity of the campaigns, and the resources available.


Are you still looking for the right DSP? We have a guide to help with your selection process:

Demand Side Platform Buyer Guide

Demand Side Platform Buyer Guide

You are ready to take your digital marketing program to the next level with programmatic media buying via a DSP. Congratulations! The first step in your process is finding the right DSP for your organization. Unfortunately, it is a very time-consuming process of research and reviewing platforms. When researching DSPs, consider the following criteria from our Demand Side Platform Buyer Guide:


Self-Service vs. Managed Service: 


Budget: Most DSPs (especially the bigger, more established players) have high monthly minimum spend requirements. Know what you’re realistically willing to invest in programmatic 


Cost Structure: Understand the fee structure, including any hidden costs. Most DSPs charge on a percent spent model where they take a cut of the media spend each month on their platform. Many also have markups on any 3rd party service such as data onboarding, premium inventory, attribution, etc. These markups may not even be clearly stated in a contract so ask questions. 


Inventory and Reach: Ensure the DSP has access to high-quality inventory and a wide range of publishers. You need to go into this process knowing exactly what is most important to you. Is it a specific inventory like connected TV or streaming audio? Ask about their supply partnerships in those channels because not all DSPs are created equal. If it’s access to owned and operated (O&O) inventory like YouTube or Amazon you will need to buy that through Google’s DV 360 and Amazon DSP respectively. 


Targeting Capabilities: Look for advanced targeting options such as geo-targeting, behavioral targeting, retargeting, and look-alike targeting. More DSPs are adding the capability to upload audience lists directly without onboarding through a 3rd party. This is a really nice feature that saves time and money. Find out if the DSP you’re considering offers this. 


User Interface and Ease of Use: The platform should be user-friendly and intuitive. At this point, the UI/UX of most DSPs are very similar so this likely should not be a sticking point.  


Analytics and Reporting: Check for real-time reporting and the ability to extract actionable insights. This is especially important if you use a 3rd party data visualization tool. Make sure the DSP you’re looking at has an integration and if you have to pay an additional fee for the integration. 


When choosing a DSP, it’s crucial to align the platform’s strengths with your campaign’s goals and the type of inventory that is most valuable to you. Always request a demo, take advantage of trial periods if available, and consider starting with a smaller budget to test the platform’s effectiveness for your specific needs.


For more information on selecting DSPs read a past blog we wrote that goes in-depth on some of the aspects you need to consider when selecting a DSP:

Ads.txt: The Lowdown

Ads.txt: The Lowdown

Ads.txt, which stands for “Authorized Digital Sellers,” is an IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) initiative aimed at improving transparency and combating ad fraud in programmatic advertising. It is a text file that publishers and website owners can create and upload to their web servers. The purpose of ads.txt is to declare which companies or entities are authorized to sell the publisher’s or app developer’s digital ad inventory. 


By referencing ads.txt files, ad buyers can verify that they are purchasing ad inventory from legitimate and authorized sellers. This helps reduce the risk of ad fraud, domain spoofing, and unauthorized reselling of inventory. If a publisher does not have an ads.txt file or if the file is inaccurate, it can lead to issues with ad delivery, reduced demand for their inventory, and potential revenue loss.


Here’s how ads.txt works:


  1. Publisher’s Declaration: Publishers (website owners or app developers) create a text file named “ads.txt” and upload it to their web server. This file is typically placed in the root directory of the website.


  1. List of Authorized Sellers: Within the ads.txt file, publishers list the authorized sellers, such as ad networks, exchanges, and supply-side platforms (SSPs), that are permitted to sell their ad inventory. Each authorized seller is identified by their “exchange domain” and a unique publisher identifier.


  1. Format: The ads.txt file format consists of lines with fields separated by commas. Each line includes four fields: the domain of the advertising system, the publisher’s ID on that system, a tag indicating the relationship between the publisher and the seller (such as “DIRECT” or “RESELLER”), and an ID specific to the seller.


Example Line in ads.txt:

“`, 12345, DIRECT, abcde



In this example:

– “” is the domain of the advertising system.

– “12345” is the publisher’s identifier.

– “DIRECT” indicates a direct relationship with the seller.

– “abcde” is a unique ID for the seller.


  1. Crawling and Verification: Ad exchanges and buyers’ demand-side platforms (DSPs) crawl websites to find and read the ads.txt files. They verify that the sellers listed in the ads.txt files match the actual domains and IDs of authorized sellers.


While Ads.txt (Authorized Digital Sellers) is a valuable tool for increasing transparency and combating ad fraud in programmatic advertising, it does have some limitations and challenges:


Manual Implementation: Ads.txt requires publishers to manually create and maintain the text file on their web servers. This can be time-consuming and prone to errors, especially for large websites with dynamic inventory. Also, files are static and do not support real-time updates. This means that changes, such as adding or removing authorized sellers, may not be immediately reflected in the ads.txt file.


Limited Enforcement: Ads.txt is a self-regulatory initiative, and its effectiveness depends on industry-wide adoption and compliance. Not all publishers and advertising platforms adhere to Ads.txt, which means some fraudulent activity can still occur.


Variability in Implementation: The way publishers and advertising platforms interpret and implement Ads.txt can vary. This variability can make it more complex for DSPs and ad exchanges to consistently enforce it.


Non-Human Traffic: Ads.txt is effective at reducing domain spoofing, but it may be less effective at detecting non-human (bot) traffic, which can still generate invalid impressions and ad fraud.


Adoption Challenges: Ads.txt was primarily designed for websites, and its application in mobile apps is less straightforward. While solutions for mobile apps exist, they are not as widely adopted or standardized. Also, small publishers or those with limited technical resources may face challenges in implementing and maintaining Ads.txt files. As a result, they may be more vulnerable to fraud.


Limited Effect on Header Bidding: Ads.txt may not have a significant impact on header bidding environments, where auctions occur outside the publisher’s ad server. Header bidding relies on other methods, such as app-ads.txt, to achieve transparency.


Despite these limitations, Ads.txt remains a valuable tool for enhancing transparency and reducing some forms of ad fraud in programmatic advertising. However, relying solely on Ads.txt for verification can lead to a false sense of security. Additional fraud prevention measures, such as ads.cert, supply path optimization, and third-party verification, are often necessary to address various types of ad fraud.  Looking for more tips on DSP buying, check out our best practices: