The Definitive Guide to Demand Side Platforms

Demand-Side Platforms

Ask any brand that has run successful ad campaigns, and they will tell you that paid advertising is just as important as organic traffic.

Over time, advertising has evolved beyond running television, print, or radio campaigns into what it is today. Now, with DSP advertising, publishers have a chance to expand their reach, advertisers enjoy lower advertising costs, and viewers have an enjoyable ad experience.

What is A Demand Side Platform

In the past, buying ads used to be much more of a hassle. Now, online marketing has evolved into an automated process where buying and optimizing ad spaces is much easier and more organized. Today, publishers can reach a larger audience with the right DSP tools and keep track of campaign results.

A DSP is an automated programmatic advertising platform that allows advertisers to buy advertising. A demand side platform has its many benefits, but perhaps the most impressive one is that advertisers can buy traffic at a low cost, and manage digital ads across various networks on one interface.

With a DSP, advertisers can easily buy mobile ads on search engines, apps, and even on social media platforms. For example, instead of buying Google ads and then YouTube ads, brands can simply purchase both ads and more in one place using DSP.

What is Programmatic Advertising?

To fully understand the demand-side platform and the role it plays in advertising, one must understand programmatic media buying. Programmatic advertising is the buying and selling of ads in real-time without the hassle of placing bids or communicating with the sellers. With programmatic advertising, if a brand wanted to buy advertising space, the process is simpler and more efficient.

Programmatic advertising uses intelligent software to trade advertisements, and the algorithms optimize the quality of ads for both the businesses and the viewers. Traditionally, brands prepare the ad tags, insertion order and other details manually, but with programmatic advertising, marketers have more time to spend on ads optimization.

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Programmatic advertising is gaining popularity for its efficiency and scalability, and in fact, a study on Statista shows just how important and popular programmatic advertising is, with the US spending an estimated $70 billion in 2020 alone.

Difference between Demand-Side Platforms and Ad Exchanges

DSPs and ad exchanges are similar in a lot of ways because both services revolve around programmatic advertising, but demand-side platforms integrate more advanced elements into their service, allowing audience targeting and real-time bidding.

Ad networks, on the other hand, are restricted in terms of audience segments and don’t allow the targeting opportunities present with demand-side platforms.

These days, ad exchanges are integrating more of the advanced features that elevate DSPs, and it is getting more difficult to tell the two apart.

Importance of Demand-Side Platforms

Demand-side platforms have eliminated the need for advertisers to spend hours negotiating with hundreds of publishers to find a good advertising deal. Now, the automated platform allows marketers to set up campaigns faster, and put their hours to good use managing these campaigns.

Automated Bidding

With DSPs there is real-time bidding; a process that streamlines the negotiation process between sellers and media buyers. While the user is loading the page, the entire analyzing, bidding, and budget consideration process is completed in mere milliseconds.


Using a DSP, advertisers don’t need to worry about reaching a wide range of publishers from different providers; they can now use one provider for all their ad needs. The dashboard on a DSP platform provides easy access to all your campaigns across different networks. This easy access means that you can efficiently manage multiple campaigns with easy access to all settings.


Businesses can enjoy more accurate targeting with the data they have. Good targeting helps brands achieve better post-click landing pages, and increase conversion rates.

Optimization and Analytics

Advertisers using a DSP enjoy many benefits, but one of the greater benefits is the opportunity to monitor their ad performance in a consolidated dashboard. This will give the advertiser more information on how the ad is performing, and which areas they can improve their marketing strategies to be more relevant to their target audience.

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Brand Integrity

Marketers get to choose the inventory type they prefer when using a demand-side platform. This translates into in-app ads creating better engagement than desktop or mobile ads.

Main Components of a DSP


The bidder is perhaps the most important aspect of the DSP.  In real-time bidding, the bidder must be as quick as possible, since the bid is executed in a matter of milliseconds. Most DSPs use data centers to avoid dormancy, and demand-side platforms provide data on impression bids.

Ad Server

The DSP ad servers deliver the publishers’ advertising constituents to their websites, and take their jobs one step further by keeping track of the campaign’s performance, conversion rates, impressions, and optimization. Ad servers can also detect and prevent fake ads.

Budget Supervisor

The banker in charge of a demand-side platform is referred to as the budget supervisor. The budget supervisor’s job is to define a campaign’s maximum and minimum budget and set rules on how the budget can be spent.


Ad spaces are integrated through advertising exchanges and demand-side platforms. They can also use other platforms such as data management platforms, brand safety solutions, or payment gateways to enhance their functionality.

Factors to Consider in Selecting a DSP

A multitude of factors should influence your decision on the DSP to use. Is the platform right for your business strategy, will it deliver your unique needs, and many more questions.

  • Desirable targeting options
  • Access to ad inventory
  • Ease of use
  • Setup
  • Integrations
  • Reporting
  • Control
  • Stability
  • Support
  • Billing management

Demand-side platforms have introduced vital innovations to the world of advertising and the relationship between media buyers. DSPs are best suited for some businesses as it provides a more efficient ad exchange process. However, advertisers who do not advertise on multiple platforms might not be best suited for DSP.

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About the Author: Nicky Bella

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