Advantages of Demand Side Platform (DSP) and How To Pick One

Programmatic buying is currently prevalent. The most significant advantage is the near limitless amount of scale. Technology had significantly improved as compared to before when programmatic was challenging to do on mobile phones. The landscape was challenging; the quality was a bit dubious. The prices that appeared were distorted, not to mention technological restrictions, which made real-time bidding arduous. Thankfully, times have changed, and there are now billions of devices available through hundreds of exchanges and Supply Side Platforms (SSPs). Still, with Demand Side Platform (DFP), it would be much easier for brands to get noticed by their target market. 

What is DSP and What Does It Do?

Demand Side Platforms is a software used by brands to run their online campaign; it allows brands to buy impressions across different publisher sites. What makes it advantageous is that it is targeted to specific users based on their location or browser history. The ad impressions are made available by publishers through marketplaces. DSPs automatically decide which of those impressions will best suit the buyer through an auction done in real-time. 

There are many DSPs out there. All of which seem to be offering the same thing. However, there are still some factors to consider before adding a DSP to your channel portfolio. 

Is it the right time to purchase programmatic?

The commonness of waterfall mediation suggests that programmatic purchasers had lower quality traffic due to publishers not giving exchanges/SSPs priority. The fall of the waterfall has been a bit slow on mobile but has heated up since 2018. Despite the fact that there’s no real ‘header bidding’ on mobile, efforts are being made towards more unified auctions, paving the way for programmatic buyers to access the same impressions as networks. While there is still a long way to go before it happens, the shift has already begun. 

The fact that networks are now making their stock readily available programmatically insinuates that DSPs can access network stock by influencing their own bidding model and algorithm. This generally suggests that the industry is beginning to convene, and the supply path is being more transparent. 

Pick a partner and a design that works for you.

Choosing a partner would depend on your personal preference since most of them can provide buying on CPC, CPM, CPA, or CPI. If you decide to purchase on CPM, it offers the most versatility and transparency on programmatic. However, due to RTB’s volatility, it can be quite risky unless you have a concrete optimization approach. Furthermore, it often takes longer to see CPA and CPI results. Another thing to note is that some partners may offer a CPM Plus design wherein you have to pay a fixed charge in addition to your investment.

Meanwhile, some partners may urge a non-transparent margin of CPM buys, similar to that of CPI. While purchasing on CPA and CPI may put you out of harm’s way in the short run. DSPs also need to de-risk themselves by taking a considerable, non-transparent margin from the expected CPMs from your CPIs.

To put it another way, for CPIs to work for both parties, a certain level of arbitrage happens. The charges for ad serving or creative services may vary depending on the DSP that you choose. In choosing one, determine whether the expense structure is feasible for your UA tactic and risk. 

Ensure that your DSP is getting you access to the right traffic.

Let’s be honest. Almost all DSPs say that they have access to the big mobile exchanges like MoPub and Doubleclick Exchange (Google AdX). However, those with access to transactions and SSPs might better suit your UA needs( like network stock or more gaming-specific stock. When choosing a DSP, you must understand the kinds of traffic that you’re trying to obtain. Know what percentage of your budget you’re willing to allot towards sustainable and proven methods of development compared to risky ones. Not all DSPs are similar. Some DSPs are eager to purchase more banner and native traffic compared to others. Some offer in-app purchases only. At the same time, some prefer rich media, payables, or other emerging advertisement system types, i.e., native video. 

Since DSPs are constantly releasing brand-new products and functions. It’s imperative to be always up-to-date with their item roadmap, which will help you think of testability plans. 

Your DSP should be transparent.

If you buy DSPs from open auctions, they can share some of the standard information points offered from OpenRTB demands, like the name of the publisher, exchange name, app shop ID, and bundle. This information will help you assess whether the DSP is obtaining inventory from the best sources, minimize some types of fraud, and, more importantly, help ensure that the DSP’s offer is real, anticipated traffic, and not unforeseen affiliate traffic. However, look out for DSPs that claim that certain information from OpenRTB or the programmatic ecosystem is “proprietary information”. 

Evaluate the bidding model and optimization strategies of your DSP. 

If you look at it from an algorithm standpoint, social channels and networks have an ‘invisible hand’ in their markets. The need and supply-side are covered by their algorithm, and the market inclines towards bringing the most exceptional possible yields. However, it’s different for programmatic since the DSPs enhance only the demand side due to the algorithm and bidding designs. Put merely, DSPs are only one part of the process, which is determining what impressions to bid on and how much. Furthermore, this indicates that if you are improving your CPI/CPA, DSPs require you to take margins in between the actual CPMs you can manage with your CPI bid and the CPMs they pay in the market.

Determine how your partner combats scams.

Scams are prevalent in programmatic, and every DSP will claim to have an ironclad fraud solution. Even though it’s not as dubious as network traffic, you may still be at risk, depending on the stock resources you buy or are buying from. You must have an open conversation with potential partners on how they combat fraud, their guarantees, and solutions. If they accept anti-fraud incentives in your arrangement, such as minimum click-to-install time. As stated before, transparency on what supply you’re buying and how it is very important. Cooperate with your MMP to ascertain whether the traffic you’re seeing is dubious. 

Examine your retargeting strategy.

For most DSPs, re-engagement and retargeting are their mainstays. If you think about it, retargeting is actually a tremendous use for programmatic. In the UA, quite a few are attempting to discover who are the important users within billions of devices. In contrast, it is the exact opposite when it comes to retargeting. In the latter, since you already have the users that you desire, then it is more natural and more inexpensive to find them throughout matching bid demands. The same can be said for leveraging 2nd or 3rd party audiences that you’ve got or want to obtain programmatically for UA functions. If you’re determined about re-engagement, know how your DSP can help you find the audiences you want. 

Uphold your partner’s integrations.

There must be a good relationship between your DSP and your attribution partner. While there are constantly new DSPs popping up, it might not be fully incorporated. Nevertheless, a full combination allows for scams detection, smooth post-install information intake, sending non-attributed information, real-time suppression, etc.

Examine what cross-device options your DSP is leveraging if you’re interested in taking a look at users across devices. Likewise, it’s crucial that you know and understand what tools your DSP has at its disposal if identity resolution is vital to your marketing tactic. If you have data that is perfect for your strategy and use a data management platform (DMP), there will always be a link between your DMP and DSP.

Ensure that you’re getting the attention you deserve

Obviously, in choosing a DSP, pick one with good customer success teams. Your account supervisor must be just as committed to your success and give you all the resources, tools, and suggestions that you will need to flourish. Equally useful is to have an account manager that has a more specialized understanding of the DSP’s bidding design. If you choose a DSP that promotes strong cross-functional relationships between product/data groups and account management, they would be able to offer you a higher level of knowledge and plan of action than account managers who are more withdrawn from the technical side. 

Know how much control you will have.

On one side of the spectrum are DSPs that are totally self-serve. You are simply given raw access to the exchange stock. Although these are the most versatile, it is also the most difficult as you will need a lot of resources, cash, and work to establish. On the other side of the spectrum are handled services, which work by utilizing a DSPs private information and biffing models, are tasked with most of the campaign optimization, and hide a lot of transactional and stock data from the buyer.

The middle of the spectrum is where most of the DSPs fall. Buyers are given some control and personalization; however, it is still essential to inspect your programmatic needs.

The middle of the spectrum is where most of the DSPs fall. Buyers are given some control and personalization; however, it is still essential that you inspect your programmatic needs and run the risk in both short and the long run. It’s crucial to have a truthful conversation with your DSP. After all, can you cope if you suffer substantial losses and huge risks if you choose to experiment towards a more personalized model for yourself? Or wouldn’t things be better if you take advantage of a handled service’s reliable user graph for your campaign optimization? If you plan on dealing with several DSPs, you might want to consider stabilizing self-serve and handled offerings.

Work with numerous DSP partners.

In a perfect world where there are information and equal stock access, you will find one DSP whose design is ideal for you, and you will give all your resources behind it. Unfortunately, in the real world, there are different aspects of DSPs. It would be better to deal with a portfolio of DSPs. Ponder on how you want to expand your portfolio based on the strength of each DSP.

When you’re allocating budget plans, consider different factors such as managed versus self serve, inventory sources, customer-base, and creative types compared to what your marketing requires. Equally important is to make sure that you can strike the right balance between sustainable growth and marketing and R & D experimentation ratio. Do not just air the types of campaigns you have been using all the time.

Remember that the more data it consumes, the more a DSP’s design. Once you’re fully equipped with multiple DSPs, you should check what you can do to strike KPIs.


There are a lot of factors to take into consideration when you work with a new DSP partner. However, before you begin purchasing, do not be afraid to ask them questions, which could help you decide if that DSP is the right one for you.

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