Everything Marketers Need to Know About Demand Side Platform and Supply Side Platform

The use of advertising technology platforms like DSPs (demand-side platforms) and SSPs (supply-side platforms) makes ad buying and selling more seamless than ever before. These two are the critical components used in the programmatic advertising ecosystem. Using these platforms makes supply and chain demand for digital ads consolidated through automation, making ads instantaneous.

Technically, the programmatic advertising ecosystem is a complex web of relationships that streamline buying and selling of ads. Publishers, exchanges, networks, and tech companies play critical roles in the current digital advertising supply chain. The systems can be highly complex as they constantly evolve to suit a company’s changing needs and adapt to new technologies. Also, creating an appropriate strategy is often challenging for publishers and even advertisers.

For such reasons, it’s best to invest in reliable technological advertising solutions to connect with great audiences and manage your ad campaigns and inventory at scale effectively. It is essential to distinguish between demand-side platforms and supply-side platforms technology as they work closely. They are the inextricable pieces of creating a reliable programmatic puzzle. Simply put, supply-side platforms sell ad inventory while demand-side platforms buy the ad inventory.

These two strategies make launching your advertising campaigns seamless. As a result, companies get tempted to stop relying on established creative processes and use any old banner in the programmatic campaign. It’s essential to understand the programmatic landscapes you need to create, deployments, and audience engagement. The best part is that this programmatic advertising exists for all channels you may use for ad campaigns.

Most marketers and digital advertising companies now rely on programmatic platforms to meet their needs. With the complexities surrounding the two platforms, many people consider them confusing. Let’s get into the specifics of how both DSPs and SSPs work.

What are Demand-Side Platforms and How Do They Work?

Technology has changed every corporate sector, and the advertising sector did not lag. It revolutionized the advertising world, creating new cost-effective and more straightforward options for businesses to reach out to target audiences. Today, traditional advertising is obsolete, while some require a technological touch to promote products and services effectively. The advancements in technology promotions reach millions of customers across the internet. According to Statista, online users spend an average of 155 minutes online per day, making it a world of high potential customers.  

Online advertising is now the best way to sell your brand to people on their handheld devices or TV screens at home. It will enable you to guide your prospects seamlessly down the sales funnel without the need for further input to close deals. According to a HubSpot study, US advertisers spent over $50 million for programmatic digital displays in 2018. The stats show how vital online advertising is to business in the modern era. The best way to compete effectively with such a high-end business ready to invest in the online process is to join and start your online campaign. It will ultimately raise your business brand awareness, and you can set it up in a few steps.

However, buying and selling digital ads has not always been this simple and accessible. In the past, advertisers went through various time-consuming processes by working manually and contacting websites directly to create an ad inventory. Today, they can do this simply by using demand-side platforms (DSPs) or supply-side platforms (SSPs). These programs make the process more efficient since they are time-saving and effortless to manage.

Companies use demand-side platforms to reach their target audiences regardless of the online platform they choose to use. It also allows the advertisers to understand the interaction between their customers and their ad campaigns before purchasing. Such insights are valuable for predicting customers’ future behavior by developing a customized ad campaign.

Here are the basics of demand-side platforms and examples.

What are Demand-Side Platforms?

DSP, demand-side platforms refer to software used to manage, buy, and optimize ad inventory from various ad exchanges over a single interface. You can purchase video, audio, or display ads on these platforms and manage them across multiple networks. You will go through an impression-by-impression process via the supply-side platforms to buy ad space, while ad exchanges require real-time bidding (RTB).

Advertisers can also place all real-time bids on their ad inventories using the demand-side platforms depending on the predefined criteria like audience segments, pricing models, or any other relevant data. Leveraging this technology opens a new world of opportunities to manage bids and pricing for your data.

Equally important, DSPs include several characteristics offered by most advertising networks. For example, you will have full-time access to inventory and targeting with the ability to send bids and serve ads. You’ll also get all this information stored on a single interface that’s accessible with a single click. Advertisers will have maximum control to optimize the impact of their ads.

Benefits of Using Demand-Side Platforms

DSPs are very popular because they have the necessary tools and data to create a compelling and targeted campaign. It makes the process efficient and productive in the long haul.

Also, demand-side platforms allow organizations and advertisers to manage ad campaigns in the highly competitive and dynamic market. Other benefits you will get by using the software include:


Online advertising can be cumbersome due to the cumbersome processes involved, such as launching ads, retargeting prospects, downloading reports, and more. DSPs make these processes straightforward by automating them. You will only require a few clicks to get started.

Global Reach and Integration

You can find DSPs that allow access to premium ad inventory. These connect to other international ad exchanges and partner with local publishers to boost your global reach. You will acquire and close deals with customers worldwide with increased internet use. You can also bid on inventory anywhere on the globe.

Advanced Targeting

Apart from the global reach, using DSP allows you to deliver only relevant ad campaigns to your audiences due to its advanced targeting abilities. The platform targets specific demography like gender, language, interests, devices, geolocations, etc. You will create customized ads to convert leads and close more deals with appropriate targeting.

Proper Inventory

Your inventory choice will make or break your ad campaign. Advertisers can predefine the inventory types they wish to purchase before the actual process begins when using DSPs. It makes it easier to be successful in your ad campaign. For example, when buying in-app ads for better engagements, you only need to choose the necessary inventory, and the DSP will do the rest.

Detailed Reporting

With DSPs, users have access to in-depth data important for improving advertising efforts. Advertisers can track all performances of ad campaigns in real-time. You will also get reports on website traffic, click-through rates, page views, and more.


DSP is valuable to anyone who wants to use the technology to buy ad inventory. It generally offers full support to ensure that beginners and experts use the software.

Let’s now go over programmatic advertising to understand demand-side platforms better.

What is Programmatic Advertising?

Programmatic advertising refers to automatically buying and selling digital spaces using technological platforms. It connects publishers with multiple ad inventories to advertisers and offers faster, smarter, and easily accessible digital advertising. It also allows programmatic access to various formats and channels to build their ad inventory and database.

Emarketer reports that about 85% of digital display advertising spending in the US was transacted through this programmatic technology in 2020 alone. Most advertisers now rely on programmatic technology for online advertising through real-time bidding and direct sales.

How Does a Demand-Side Platform Work?

Advertisers use demand-sized platforms to replace traditional ad buying with an automated real-time bidding platform. In summary, the process looks like this:

  • An advertiser first needs to understand their target audience and upload the ad they wish to publish.
  • Publishers create ad inventories available on DSP using ad exchanges and supply-chain platforms.
  • The platform will offer the ad impression on the DSP that decides to send a bid for buying the impressions based on the relevance of the targeting criteria.
  • The advertiser will then compete against other advertisers to get the appropriate ad impressions to place bids in real-time.
  • The DSP buys the impression, and publishers receive the ad on their website.

This whole process occurs within milliseconds when someone first visits a publisher’s site. Traditionally, media buyers went through a more lengthy process using various sources like Google, Facebook, and Twitter and followed them through different dashboards. DSP consolidates all these multiple campaigns into a single interface.

Examples of Demand Side Platforms

These DSP examples will enable you to understand the various programmatic platforms and make informed choices for your advertising strategies.    

Facebook Ads Manager

Currently, Facebook does programmatic marketing by cutting out the middleman and providing a buying platform and biddable ad space. Before this, in 2016, they canceled the plan to release ‘Atlas,’ a DSP that would rival Google at that time. The goal was to examine their privacy issues before releasing a DSP.

Therefore, Facebook Ads Manager is a DSP that can sell its inventory programmatically. It will also fit with the settings and features you can find in other DSPs. 

Facebook Ads Manager is available to users as an App. It allows them to create, edit, track, manage and analyze their campaigns from a single interface. Facebook’s active users are currently at the 2 billion mark, making the platform potential for programmatic advertisers. 

Amazon (AAP) | Amplify Your Campaign

People refer to Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP) as the dark horse of Ad Tech. Its reputation comes from being the most secretive, as Amazon keeps a tight lid on every detail surrounding this DSP.

This tool allows users to reach Amazon shoppers worldwide across all the Amazon sites, mobile apps, and the web.

However, in recent days, AAP has recently been under scrutiny as it offers little transparency for the users. According to some users, you can get new customers but don’t necessarily know how they make sales, their customers, and the conversion rates.   

On the positive side, using AAP allows users to see the behavior of millions of shoppers in real-time to leverage precise campaigns aimed at prospective customers. 

BrightRoll from Yahoo! | Smart Video Advertising

BrightRoll incorporates proprietary data from Yahoo and sophisticated targeting capabilities to create a unique position for your ad campaigns. It has various tools to help buyers and sellers get outstanding results using digital, display, native advertising, and their services cover video.

The DSP also solves the toughest challenges in driving results with over 165 billion data points per day. Advertisers will use a data-driven approach to reach their right customers across different devices and formats.

Advertisers will use the vast and deep insights to create a perfect audience with the Audience Builder feature and incredible data on the DSP. You can measure results from your ad campaigns using third-party integration to push your creativity to current viewers.     

What is a Supply-Side Platform and How Does It Work?

The current global shift from traditional advertising to digital marketing pushes advertisers to consider online channels to reach global consumers. However, considering the dynamic nature of the digital world, it is not surprising how online advertisements change so fast. Several years ago, advertisers solely relied on display advertising to reach out to websites directly for purchasing ad inventories. It changed when intermediary services popped up as supply-side platforms.

The platforms appeared as solutions to the ever-growing problem in the industry. The online realm grew so fast that fill rates became an issue with more large publishers coming into prominence. The publishers needed to find new ways to make the process reliable to sell their remaining ad inventory. It brought up the need for supply-side platforms (SSPs).

Using SSPs offers an optimal solution to most publisher issues. The platform allows publishers to sell ad inventories using some of the leading names in the industry. It will also optimize the yield by connecting the publishers with demand-side platforms and ad exchanges.

Equally important, SSPs became more indispensable after real-time bidding (RTB) became significant in online advertising. These are the platforms that serve as intermediaries between publishers and advertisers. Currently, no big online publishers are known to businesses who don’t understand the benefits of supply-side platforms.

Just like any other programmatic advertising program, understanding SSPs is complex. Here is an ultimate guide to enable you to grasp the basics behind supply-side platforms to help you select the best for your business.

What is a Supply-Side Platform?

SSP or supply-side platform refers to an advertising technology platform that helps manage and coordinate the supply and distribution of business ad inventories. They enable digital media owners and publishers to sell their ad spaces. Publishers can organize, sell, and optimize the allocation of available inventory. It is possible to monetize publisher sites and mobile apps as it is cost-efficient to use displays, video, or native ads.

SSPs often work as an automated action-based model as advertisers can bid on any publisher’s ad inventory. The website owners can optimize their ad yield as it is easy to select inventory for the highest bidder. Simply put, the publisher gets to sell any inventory they have to the most reliable ad network.

The SSPs are also part of the real-time bidding process within the programmatic advertising. These publishers can simultaneously connect their inventory to various ad exchange and demand-side platforms. Publishers can open up impressions to several potential buyers to maximize the revenue received from their inventory. For these reasons, some people refer to SSPS as a yield-optimization platform.

Benefits of Using a Supply-Side Platform

Currently, SSPs are critical to real-time bidding transactions as they act like “auction houses” of online advertising. Supply-side platforms also connect to data management platforms, ad networks, ad exchanges, and demand-side platforms. They streamline the technical side of the complete programmatic advertising processes. Other benefits include:

Real-Time Bidding

You can use SSPs to control your entire bidding process by choosing the winning advertiser. All these processes occur in real-time and automatically via various ad exchanges.

Automated Inventory Selling

Publishers can take complete control of their ad inventory to handle all the sales themselves. The platform also streamlines the processes, eliminating time-consuming manual methods.

Frequency Capping

Integrating SSPs with DSPs enables you to put a cap on the number of times your ad will show up to the same user.

Ad Yield Optimization With Price Flooring

Apart from controlling your bidding and selling processes, using SSPs also allows you to assign soft and hard price floors. It will prevent selling your ad inventories to low bidders and boost revenue in the long haul.

Detailed Reporting

With access to in-depth data for all your advertising efforts, you can optimize the process to meet your business needs and customer demands. SSPs allow publishers to access detailed reports on their eCPM, bidders, and more.

Relevancy and Brand Safety

With SSPs, publishers will get ads from the best ad networks. They can also eliminate inappropriate and blocklisted ads on your websites to safeguard your brand’s reputation.

How Does a Supply-Side Platform Work?

The primary purpose for using SSPs is to sell ad inventories to ad networks using DSPs or through real-time bidding. SSPs collaborate with DSPs to track available ad inventory, evaluate advertisers, filter bids, and set a bidding range. These processes happen after several microtransactions via various ad supply chains. They follow the following trajectory: 

  1. The publisher puts their ad inventory on SSP for an auction.
  2. If a user visits a publisher’s web page, an automatic single ad request will be sent to various ad exchanges and DSPs through the publishers’ ad server.
  3. When you have real-time bidding, DSP will bid on the particular impressions.
  4. After the platform decides a winner, the SSP will match it to an appropriate inventory and send it requests to the ad server.
  5. After the publisher submits a website as a source for an ad, it will wrap up the process. Immediately after, your ad will appear in respective slots.

Examples of Supply-Side Platform

Some of the most popular supply-side platforms include:

  • Google Ad Manager: A Google Ad Manager works as both SSP and ad exchange. Publishers have access to over five million page views with full capabilities to manage ad inventory for native, video, and custom ad formats. Also, it offers a unified first-price auction to boost transparency and fairness.
  • OpenX: SSPs include OpenX bidder that requires real-time bidding, OpenX video, and OpenX Mobile for direct access to video advertisers and quality mobile. With OpenX, you will get products for both advertisers and publishers.
  • Pubmatic: Another reliable SSP for publishers and agencies is Pubmatic. It supports private marketplaces, real-time bidding, and a premium header bidder solution. Another critical feature found in Pubmatic is the suite of ad quality tools to help publishers with the best ads placed on their properties.

Best Practices for Managing DSPs and SSPs

You can apply various best practices to help get the most out of any ad technology you use. These include:

Understand Available Inventory

When working with DSPs and SSPs, you will need to manage various inventory types. It would be best to select the right platform for the business-specific needs that require careful thought. Find the multiple platforms’ technical capabilities and access to inventory needs.

Both advertisers and publishers must consider the various ad formats to evaluate if they can handle static images, rich media, video, native ads, and full-screen interstitials. Other solutions may also help to suit your audience’s needs. 

Check for Targeting Capabilities

One critical feature of the demand-side platform is that it enables you to reach your customers swiftly at the right time. The best way to decide whether or not the DSP will work effectively and target your audience is to check your device options, geographic locations, operating systems, and more. It would also help to understand how to obtain data for analysis.

It is a good idea to start your DSP engagement by reaching out to various publishers to target your audience effectively. Every business campaign’s goal is to scale up very quickly, but the strategy may not prioritize the impressions over conversions from the start. Widen your audience for robust data that you can use to support and optimize your campaigns for an effective long-term strategy. 

Prioritize Brand Protection

DSPs and SSPs programs make the programmatic ecosystem efficient by automating some processes. Automation is valuable in the digital advertising space but can also pose some risks. It is essential to choose a program that can protect you from fraud detection to help protect your brand’s safety. For example, advertisers and publishers can optimize brand protection by blocking or allowing particular apps and app categories while partnering with DSPs and SSPs. 

Get a Reliable User Acquisition Platform With App Samurai

Learning the ropes of programmatic advertising can be challenging at first, especially for newcomers. As a publisher, it would be best to know demand-side and supply-side platforms and their roles in online advertising.

You can get started with one or more SSP or DSPs here to suit your business needs. With App Samurai, you will get a comprehensive approach for mobile growth to cover multiple stages of your application’s journey and acquire new users. This allows you to implement your processes without any risks of ad fraud to achieve retention and loyalty. Contact us today to get started or to learn more about our services.

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