What Are All Of The Functions Of A Demand Side Platform (DSP)

What Are All Of The Functions Of A Demand Side Platform (DSP)

A Demand Side Platform (DSP) is a sophisticated piece of advertising technology that automates the purchase and management of digital ad campaigns across multiple sources of inventory. DSPs are designed to streamline the digital advertising process for advertisers, agencies, and media buyers. Here are the core functions of a demand side platform:


Centralized Ad Buying

DSPs connect to various ad exchanges, networks, and supply-side platforms (SSPs), allowing buyers to purchase from a large pool of inventory through a single interface.


Real-Time Bidding (RTB)

DSPs facilitate RTB, which allows advertisers to bid on ad inventory in real-time, often within milliseconds, as a webpage or app is loading.



– Audience Targeting: Advertisers can target specific audience segments based on demographics, interests, behaviors, geolocation, device type, and more.

– Contextual Targeting: Allows targeting based on the content of the website or app where the ad will be displayed.

– Retargeting: Enables advertisers to target users who have previously interacted with their brand but did not convert.


Data Integration

– First-Party Data: DSPs can integrate with an advertiser’s first-party data for more personalized targeting.

– Third-Party Data: They often provide access to third-party data providers for additional targeting capabilities (be sure to vet these 3rd parties before use). 


Campaign Management

– Ad Scheduling: Advertisers can schedule when ads will appear (dayparting).

– Frequency Capping: Limits how often a specific user sees an ad over a set period.

– Budget Management: Control over campaign budgets and the ability to set bid prices.


Creative Management

– Ad Creative Upload: Upload and manage different ad creatives directly within the platform.

– Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO): Customizes creative elements in real-time based on the viewer’s profile.


Optimization and Automation

– Performance Optimization: Algorithms optimize bidding and placement for the best possible outcomes based on the campaign’s objectives.

– Machine Learning: Many DSPs use machine learning to improve campaign performance over time.


Analytics and Reporting

– Performance Tracking: DSPs provide detailed analytics on various aspects of campaign performance, such as impressions, clicks, conversions, and more.

– Custom Reporting: Advertisers can create customized reports to track specific KPIs.


Inventory and Pricing Transparency

– Clear Inventory Sources: Visibility into where ads could potentially run.

– Pricing Visibility: Understanding the cost associated with each impression or click.


Brand Safety and Fraud Prevention

– Brand Safety Tools: Options to prevent ads from appearing on inappropriate or low-quality sites.

– Fraud Detection: Measures to detect and prevent fraudulent impressions and clicks.


Integration with Other Platforms

– Cross-Platform Buying: Ability to buy ads across different types of digital media, including mobile, video, social media, and connected TV (CTV).

– APIs: Integration with external systems and third-party services via APIs.


Compliance and Privacy

– Regulatory Compliance: Features to ensure compliance with privacy laws like GDPR and CCPA.

– Consent Management: Tools to manage user consent for data usage and cookies.


Customer Support and Education

– Support Services: Assistance with campaign setup, optimization, and troubleshooting.

– Educational Resources: Training materials and best practices for using the platform effectively.


While most DSPs offer these functions, the depth and sophistication of these features can vary widely from platform to platform. It’s essential for advertisers to evaluate DSPs based on how well they meet their specific needs, budget, and technical capacity. If you want to read more about DSPs and Supply Side Platforms or SSPs, check out this article: https://populationscience.com/demand-side-platforms-and-supply-side-platforms-for-dummies/.

Demand Side Platform for Small Businesses

Demand Side Platform for Small Businesses

For small businesses looking to leverage a Demand Side Platform (DSP), the focus is typically on finding a solution that is cost-effective, user-friendly, and suitable for the scale of their operations. Here are some key factors that small businesses should consider when choosing a DSP:


Minimum Spend Requirements

Some DSPs have high minimum ad spend requirements, which can be a barrier for small businesses. Look for platforms with low or no minimum spends. If you are set on using a DSP with high miniums you might want to consider an agency that has a seat at the DSP of your choice. They will generally be more flexible on minimum spend requirements, but they will take an additional margin. 


Managed Service vs. Self-Service

Most DSPs will provide a managed service for clients that do not have the internal resources or expertise to manage the operations of a DSP. This comes with an additional fee and varies by platform. Managed service is a good way to start out any programmatic journey, but if you’re willing to dive in and manage the DSP yourself (self-service) make sure the platform has a robust and easy to access help section. 


Customer Support

Good customer service is crucial, as small businesses might not have dedicated ad operations teams. The DSP should offer strong support and educational resources. Be up front about your budget for a DSP and realistic about your ability to scale spend. If you plan to spend small, you want to make sure the DSP you choose is okay with that. Many DSPs provide relatively poor service to small spenders. 


Targeting Capabilities

While advanced targeting features are beneficial, small businesses should ensure that the DSP offers the basic targeting options they need, such as geographic, audience, demographic, contextual, and interest-based targeting. For small local businesses geo-fencing is likely to be a critical feature you will need to ensure media is only spent on potential customers in your area. 



As the business grows, the DSP should be able to scale up with the business’s needs without requiring a platform switch.


It’s important for small business owners to diligently research and potentially test different DSPs to see which platform aligns best with their advertising goals and budget constraints. Many DSPs offer demo accounts or trial periods, which can be an excellent opportunity for businesses to experiment and learn without committing significant resources.


While these are issues that are specific to small businesses there are many more factors that can come into play when selecting the right DSP. For more on selecting the right DSP for your business check out our other resources on the topic: https://populationscience.com/demand-side-platform-buyer-guide/


Demand Side Platforms and Supply Side Platforms for Dummies

Demand Side Platforms and Supply Side Platforms for Dummies


Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) and Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) are two critical components in the programmatic advertising ecosystem, each serving opposite sides of the market.


Demand Side Platforms (DSPs)


DSPs are software platforms used by advertisers and agencies to purchase advertising space in an automated fashion. Here’s what they do:


– Automate Buying: DSPs automate the buying of online advertising, making it more efficient than traditional methods.

– Aggregate Inventory: They provide access to a vast array of digital advertising inventory from various sources, including ad exchanges, ad networks, and SSPs.

– Target and Bid: Advertisers can set detailed targeting criteria and bid for ad space in real-time based on the value of each impression.

– Optimize Campaigns: DSPs offer tools for tracking, analytics, and optimization to help advertisers improve the performance of their campaigns over time.


Supply Side Platforms (SSPs)


SSPs are the counterpart to DSPs, and they’re used by publishers to sell advertising space to advertisers. Here’s their role:


– Automate Selling: SSPs automate the sale of advertising space, maximizing revenue for publishers.

– Manage Inventory: They help publishers manage their ad inventory and fill rates.

– Maximize Revenue: Publishers can set floor prices for their inventory and use SSPs to connect to multiple ad exchanges and DSPs, ensuring they get the best possible price for each ad impression.

– Optimize Fill Rates: SSPs assist publishers in optimizing their fill rates (the percentage of ad inventory that is filled with ads) while still aiming to get the best prices.


The Difference


The fundamental difference between DSPs and SSPs lies in whom they serve and how they operate within the programmatic advertising supply chain:


– DSPs serve advertisers in their quest to find and purchase the best possible digital ad inventory at the most optimal price. They focus on the demand side of the market—those who need ad space.

– SSPs serve publishers who want to sell their digital ad space to the highest bidder. They focus on the supply side of the market—those who supply ad space.


In a programmatic advertising transaction, DSPs and SSPs interact with each other through ad exchanges, where the actual buying and selling of ad inventory take place in real-time bidding (RTB) auctions. The DSPs represent the buyers, and the SSPs represent the sellers. While they have distinct roles, both are integral to the efficiency and effectiveness of digital advertising.

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: https://populationscience.com/demand-side-platform-buyer-guide/