Home Business The Plain English Guide to Demand-Side Platforms

The Plain English Guide to Demand-Side Platforms


What is a demand-side platform (DSP)? The Digital Marketing Institute has its own succinct definition: “A system that allows buyers of digital advertising inventory to manage multiple ad exchanges and data exchange accounts through one interface.”

Of course, that’s not exactly the world’s most-beginner friendly introduction to DSPs, so the subject will require some further elaboration. Put simply, though, DSPs can help you as a marketer to get your brand’s advertising into many different places especially time-effectively.

What is the rationale for using a DSP?

Over time, the range of advertising opportunities has significantly broadened. Even just online, your brand’s ads can take various forms: banner ads on other brands’ websites, sponsored listings in Google search results, PPC (pay per click) ads on social media sites… and so on.

However, manually approaching one website after another to request spots for your advertising can undoubtedly be slow, cumbersome and boring. Fortunately, thanks to DSPs, it’s not a process you would strictly have to put yourself through in the modern age.

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That’s because a DSP is itself connected to multiple ad inventory supply sources, enabling you to reach them through the DSP. You can save yourself a significant amount of time by giving yourself just one point of contact – the DSP – through which to push your advertising to various publishers.

For you, then, it’s all (relatively) simple. However, there’s a lot of clockwork happening under the hood of the DSP’s machinery, so to say, in order to ensure that your ads end up in places where they can be of particularly strong use. So, what gears are in motion when you do use a DSP?

How a demand-side platform works

Advertisers using the platform are given access to a dashboard where they can upload their creative, specify targets and set a budget. The DSP will subsequently peruse publishers’ networks in search of sites and mobile apps satisfying the advertisers’ expressed needs.

A TechFunnel article explains: “Within milliseconds, the DSP places the ad, manages the payment, and resolves the bid.” Examples of advertising platforms a DSP can access on the advertiser’s behalf include those of Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and, yes, Google.

Practical benefits of using demand-side platforms

Since utilizing a DSP platform would save you from having to manually approach and deal with publishers individually, you can hugely streamline the more technical side of the ad-placing process and so free up more time to spend on other aspects of your digital marketing.

This could include devoting more time to targeting people at various phases of the marketing funnel. Some people might simply be aware of your brand, while others might be interested in it or even want to buy from it – and you can now more easily roll out tailored ads for all of these segments.

It’s also now easier to secure ads in formats you want. For example, DSP advertising is available as TV content – enabling you to treat your target audience to especially immersive experiences before you even convert members of this audience into buyers.