As the online marketing space continues to evolve, Demand-Side Platforms or DSP’s are on the rise. Increasingly so, online marketers have been asking who offers these services. Some examples of DSP’s include Turn, Appnexus, Lotame, AdBuyer.com and X+1, to name a few. But what makes up a DSP?
There are many definitions of what a DSP is. The one I like the best comes from Zach Coelius, CEO of Triggit, “At its core, a DSP is software for transparent automated media buying across multiple sources using unified targeting, data, optimization and reporting”. A DSP should allow buyers to have complete control through a web-based interface – it should be a customizable, fully functional one-stop shop. To learn more about what makes up a “true DSP”, Nat Turner, CEO of Invite Media provides a great overview.
Technology will be the key differentiator when it comes to an increasingly competitive DSP marketplace. A huge theme towards the end of last year that has continued to gain momentum this year is Real-Time Bidding or RTB.
RTB allows buyers to make changes to their buys – you guessed it – in real-time. By allowing buyers to make these real-time decisions on an impression-by-impression basis, it allows for much better control. Given that we are still in a recession, and that when we fully come out of it, the marketing landscape will be forever changed, this higher level of accountability will be that much more attractive. In the past, the fragmentation in the display space made digital media buying very difficult and extremely time-consuming. Buyers had to work with multiple platforms and contacts to execute a buy. Through this DSP RTB data aggregation, media buyers are able to target that much more effectively.
Transparency, particularly for the brand-sensitive agency business, also was very difficult to come by with the older method of buying. This increased transparency and targeting is of course all very attractive to the lucrative agency business. The technology allows for marketers to find micro-segments of inventory that converts best for them in a transparent manner. DSP’s should be fully transparent and neutral, not favoring any publisher, advertiser or inventory over others.
Like the ad-network space, which some say is overcrowded with some 450+ networks, the DSP space will also become fairly congested. There is a great post that appears in today’s Cogmap Blog, Looking to start a DSP? Look no further than ten lines of code. The post describes how easy it is to start a DSP based on the technology that exists (some 10 lines of PHP). The challenge will be to provide competitive differentiation. A great way to do this is of course through technology, transparency, rates and premium inventory.
The DSP and RTB technology is not only promising, but it is here now. Furthermore, the technology helps to move the space into a more accountable and attractive landscape – a win-win for marketers and publishers…and that is why we should all care!