A demand side platform (DSP) is a software tool that enables brands involved in digital advertising inventory buying to manage multiple data exchange and ad-exchange accounts through a single interface. DSPs are necessary for businesses in the programmatic ad buying process as they interact with the supply-side platforms (publishers) via the real-time bidding, purchasing, and selling of ads. To choose a DSP, brands need to consider and understand the targets they wish to achieve with the help of a demand-side platform. This step is of utmost importance as it will guide brands to the kind of demand-side platform they require. While some professionals may not comprehend the importance of this initial step, it is mandatory to go through this step. This helps brands realize their needs and whether a particular DSP can fulfil those needs. DSPs have changed the way brands advertise by redefining targeting, pricing, reach, and accuracy. However, there is no such thing as a perfect demand-side platform. Each brand is unique, and its campaigns even more so. Brands must consider the end goal of their marketing campaign efforts, the budgets, organizational constraints, and resources, among many such factors that directly influence the purchasing of a DSP. Demand-side platforms work by allowing advertisers to bid for display space (inventory) across multiple exchanges. This means advertisers need to understand which platform will provide the best value for money before purchasing. Due to the availability of an ocean of demand-side platforms and providers, decision-makers need to take the following points into account.
Demand-side platforms can be customized to a certain extent to suit the needs of different companies. Each company may want something different from their tool or might require a certain method of the functioning or even the following of a process. While the generic DSP available on the market may not fulfil these specific and detailed requirements for brands, there are some that can be customized to do so. Certain Demand-side platforms provide modified iterations of their tools, which makes for a tailored experience for the advertiser. While the company incurs additional costs for these customizations, the efficiency of such demand-side platforms is much higher. Platform efficiency plays a significant role in the programmatic ad buying space.
The main selling point of Demand-side platforms is the reach they provide to inventory. A broader reach is beneficial as it opens avenues to spaces that weren’t previously available. These new spaces provide companies with new target audiences to market and advertise their products or services to. Demand-side platforms ease the process of digital ad space transactions and their reach is a major consideration factor during the purchasing decision. An increased reach directly relates to companies reaching out to their potential customers more efficiently than before. These customers bring serious sales revenue and drive company success. In terms of reach, most demand-side products perform similarly, unless something specific is required.
One of the most important factors in the process leading up to the purchase of a demand-side platform is the support that vendors provide to companies post-sale. Vendor support is required from the get-go. Once the purchase is made, companies sometimes need help in the implementation of the tool and its integration with their other existing systems. Other than the initial support, businesses also may require vendor support in case of any problems they face down the line. Business owners are advised to have a good understanding of the kind of support that is provided post-sale. Also, vendors sometimes levy charges for the additional support that they provide. The pricing of such support scenarios varies from vendor to vendor.
Personalized and effective marketing requires the targeting of specific individuals and audiences. Targeting is a method of nurturing a prospective customer via relevant advertisements and quality content until the individual is ready to make a purchase. Some demand-side platforms provide cookie-level targeting. Cookie-level targeting involves the marketing of products based on the profile of the individual. Cookies keep a track of the preferences, interests, and help display relevant advertisements to individuals. Another DSP characteristic that is sought is retargeting. Retargeting is the process of repeat advertising to individuals based on their profile. It gets back individuals that didn’t convert into customers back to your site by showing relevant ads. Some demand-side platforms provide the ability to retarget, whereas some do not.
Most business owners already know that different vendors provide different pricing structures for demand-side platforms. These pricing models are primarily based on the type of tool that a company opts for. The types generally are on-premise and SaaS offerings, each coming with different pricing models. Before making the purchase, it is extremely important to know if the pricing model is based on secondary factors other than the product type. Whether the pricing is based on expenditure, performance, or something else. The pricing models sometimes even work on metrics such as CPM (Cost Per Mille), CPI (Cost Per Install), and CPA (Cost Per Action), among others.
A lesser-known fact about demand-side platforms is that they come with in-built inclinations toward business models. Demand-side platforms can be based on business models that are aligned with sellers, or buyers of ad inventory, or both. Demand-side platforms that are inclined toward selling will not perform as efficiently while purchasing ad inventory and DSPs that are inclined toward buying will not perform as efficiently while selling ad inventory. There are tools in the market that have a good mix of buying and selling and aren’t inclined to any one side in particular. Such products are preferred by companies that partake in the dual nature of the programmatic ad purchasing and selling business. Owners are advised to choose the type that best suits their business.
Companies possess various systems and large amounts of data even before they purchase a DSP. It is vital for companies to be able to integrate their customer data from existing sources into a prospective tool. The data that companies possess may also follow certain formats, which must be acceptable by their prospective DSP. Customer data is extremely valuable and existing customer data cannot be made to sit out when new systems are being implemented. New systems integrate existing data seamlessly if they are efficient enough. Brands implementing new Demand-side platforms will want their own existing campaign data and audiences to be integrated and utilized and access third-party data as well.
Along with the primary, necessary features of a DSP, there are other important features that business owners may want to consider in the DSP they purchase. These comprise frequency capping, daily budget control capabilities, and easy scaling of large campaigns with respect to multiple predefined goals, among others. Frequency capping helps companies in limiting the number of times a particular advertisement is shown to a visitor on a particular website. Budget control capability of a DSP is its ability to set a budget for each day. This budget prevents the DSP from spending too much on ad inventory or other processes.
A demand-side platform is utilized by brands to automate and ease the process of programmatic advertisement buying and scale marketing campaigns. Business owners need to be careful before making a DSP purchase as these tools directly handle purchases, which is a monetary outflow. Put simply, there is no point in purchasing the best DSP if it does not provide the best results for your brand. Purchase the demand-side platform that provides the best results for your brand to reach the goals you set and grow the brand.
Hamzah specializes in tech-based marketing and writes about marketing hacks targeted at marketers looking to enhance their businesses. He has an academic background in International Business, from which he draws his ambition as a market analyst. Hamzah is also an avid football fan, and that’s what you’d find him engrossed in, in his free time.