DeepIntent Deep Dive: What Is a Demand Side Platform?

Commonly abbreviated as DSP, a demand side platform allows digital advertisers to run campaigns across various publishers and media sources. Ads are purchased — and later, optimized — through an automated process.

There are many benefits to using a demand side platform. But before we get into those, let’s review the basics of what these platforms are and what to look for when selecting one.

What Is a Demand Side Platform?

Let’s start with programmatic advertising, which is the process of buying and selling ads in real time through an automated system. These transactions take place on a demand side platform, allowing digital advertising buyers to buy and manage multiple ads across a variety of channels. These channels — also known as supply side platforms, or SSPs — are where publishers list their inventory, or how much ad space they have available at any given time.

Demand side platforms are typically connected to multiple supply side platforms, which is where their ad requests originate. They then respond with relevant ads, paying publishers in exchange for views.

These platforms enable advertisers to cherry-pick the audiences they are most interested in reaching. They also manage campaign performance. This allows advertisers to adjust and reallocate their dollars to help achieve the best delivery and performance.

When a platform has strong measurement and automated optimization capabilities, advertisers can optimize their campaigns based on set key performance indicators, such as effective cost-per-click (eCPC), which shows how much money the advertiser spent to generate a single click.

Programmatic ads are typically sold based on CPM, an acronym for “cost per mille,” which refers to the cost per 1,000 views (not 1 million; mille is French for “one thousand”). A demand side platform can also support campaigns based on other performance indicators. In cost-per-click (CPC) campaigns, for example, advertisers pay for purchased clicks rather than impressions. A real-time bidding process determines the price of impressions.

6 Things to Look for

When selecting a demand side platform, here’s what digital advertisers should consider.

  • Integrations: As cross-channel advertising campaigns increasingly become the norm, it’s important that a demand side platform has integrations with multiple sources. The number (and quality) of third-party data partnerships ultimately improves an advertiser’s reach.
  • Inventory: Demand side platforms should be able to place an ad in a variety of formats, wherever an advertiser’s audience may be. That includes websites, mobile apps, connected TV, and audio, among others.
  • Brand Safety: Is an advertiser’s data safe? Does the platform monitor for (and counter) ad fraud? Can an advertiser block their ads from appearing on certain websites? All three of these answers should be “yes.”
  • Reporting and Analytics: Detailed reporting of campaign performance is critical for digital advertisers. Understanding how campaigns are performing using real-time data helps them gain actionable insights rather than nice-to-know data months later.
  • Measurement: Does the demand side platform track and attribute various conversions? For advertisers in many verticals, critical conversions to measure include app installations, purchases, or simply clicks.
  • Optimizations: Platform-generated optimizations are key to running successful campaigns. The demand side platform you’re evaluating should have algorithms that do the heavy lifting to help advertisers generate video views and clicks, among other metrics.

DeepIntent built our demand side platform purposefully for healthcare and pharmaceutical advertisers, and their unique needs. To learn more about healthcare demand side platforms, read our CEO Chris Paquette’s insights on why 2022 is their year.

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