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.

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Learn how we can take your omni-channel programmatic campaigns to the next level.