What Is A Supply-Side Platform (SSP)?

A supply-side platform (SSP) is a critical component of the programmatic advertising ecosystem. It enables publishers to manage, sell, and optimize their ad inventory across multiple ad exchanges in real-time. In this article, we’ll explore the role of SSPs, how they fit into the overall marketing stack, and the problems they help publishers solve.

To understand what an SSP is and how it fits into the programmatic ad-buying process, one must understand the entire ecosystem. This diagram from Moloco illustrates it perfectly:

Credit: Moloco: DSP vs SSP

The diagram outlines the process of programmatic advertising and real-time bidding (RTB), illustrating the relationships between different elements in the ecosystem, such as advertisers, publishers, ad exchanges, demand-side platforms (DSPs), and SSPs.

How Does Real-Time Bidding and Programmatic Advertising Work?

Publisher

  1. The publisher has their ad space inventory published and sets any constraints on pricing.
  2. When a user visits the publisher’s website or app, the SSP initiates a real-time auction for the available ad space.
  3. Advertisers and DSPs submit their bids based on the targeting criteria, ad formats, and floor prices set by the publisher.
  4. The SSP selects the highest bidder and serves their ad to the user.
  5. The user sees the ad, and if they find it relevant or interesting, they may click on it, resulting in a visit to the advertiser’s website or landing page.
  6. The Publisher is compensated for the click and/or conversion.

Advertiser

  1. The advertiser sets up a campaign in their chosen DSP, including targeting criteria, budget, and creatives.
  2. When a user visits a publisher’s website or app, the publisher sends an ad request to the ad exchange via their SSP, including details about the user and the available ad space.
  3. The ad exchange matches the ad request with relevant advertiser campaigns in real-time.
  4. Advertisers, through their DSPs, bid on the ad impression based on the targeting criteria and their bidding strategy.
  5. The highest bidder wins the auction, and their ad is served on the publisher’s website or app.

A DSP fits into an overall publishing stack to maximize monetization through programmatic advertising.

Why Do Publishers Implement An SSP?

There are several reasons why publishers implement an SSP:

  1. Maximize revenue: By connecting to multiple demand sources, SSPs increase competition for ad inventory, driving up prices and maximizing revenue for publishers.
  2. Automate selling process: SSPs automate the process of selling ad inventory, reducing manual efforts and streamlining operations for publishers.
  3. Optimize fill rates: SSPs help publishers optimize their fill rates by matching their ad inventory with relevant demand sources and advertisers.
  4. Access to real-time reporting and analytics: Publishers can use the real-time reporting and analytics tools provided by SSPs to track inventory performance and make data-driven decisions.
  5. Yield optimization: SSPs use advanced algorithms to determine the best price for each ad impression, ensuring that publishers get the most value from their inventory.
  6. Improve inventory control: Publishers can maintain better control over their ad inventory by defining floor prices, ad formats, and placements within the SSP.
  7. Brand safety and control: SSPs give publishers control over which ads are displayed on their websites, helping to maintain brand safety and a positive user experience.
  8. Simplify inventory management: SSPs provide a centralized platform for managing and optimizing ad inventory across multiple channels and demand sources.

What Is The DSP Implementation Process?

There are quite a variety of features, functionality, targets, and integrations available for every SSP, so the selection and implementation of the platform within your publishing stack should be a careful process.

  1. Integration: The publisher first integrates the SSP with their website or app, either directly or through an ad server. This integration allows the SSP to access and manage the publisher’s ad inventory.
  2. Configuration: The publisher configures their ad inventory settings within the SSP, defining the ad placements, ad formats, and floor prices. Floor prices are the minimum amount that the publisher is willing to accept for an ad impression. This step ensures that the publisher maintains control over their inventory and monetization strategy.
  3. Inventory Management: The SSP connects the publisher’s ad inventory to multiple demand sources, including ad exchanges, Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs), and advertisers. This connection allows the publisher to sell their inventory programmatically, maximizing revenue and fill rates by increasing competition among buyers.
  4. Real-time Auction: When a user visits the publisher’s website or app, the SSP initiates a real-time auction for the available ad space. Advertisers and DSPs submit their bids based on the targeting criteria, ad formats, and floor prices set by the publisher. The SSP selects the highest bidder and serves their ad to the user.
  5. Reporting and Analytics: The publisher can access real-time reporting and analytics tools provided by the SSP to track the performance of their ad inventory. These insights help the publisher understand which ad placements, formats, and demand sources are generating the most revenue, allowing them to make data-driven decisions and optimize their monetization strategy.
  6. Optimization: Based on the insights and performance data, the publisher can adjust their inventory settings, floor prices, and targeting criteria within the SSP to maximize revenue and fill rates. They can also experiment with different ad formats, placements, and demand sources to find the most effective combinations

This process allows publishers to connect their ad inventory to multiple demand sources, participate in real-time auctions, access reporting, and analytics tools, and optimize their monetization strategy based on data-driven insights.

How To Evaluate Your SSP Effectiveness

To evaluate the effectiveness of your SSP, you can monitor the following Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

  1. Revenue: The total revenue generated from your ad inventory. An effective SSP should help increase your revenue by connecting you to high-quality demand sources and optimizing your inventory.
  2. Fill Rate: The percentage of ad impressions that are successfully sold and filled with ads. A higher fill rate indicates that your SSP is effectively connecting your inventory to relevant demand sources and maximizing your ad space utilization.
  3. Effective Cost Per Mille (eCPM): The average revenue earned per thousand ad impressions. A higher eCPM indicates that your SSP is optimizing the value of your ad inventory and driving better results for your monetization efforts.
  4. Cost Per Mille (CPM): The average price paid by advertisers per thousand ad impressions. A higher CPM indicates that your SSP is effectively driving competition for your ad inventory and maximizing revenue.
  5. Ad Inventory Quality: The quality of the ad inventory available on your website or app, including viewability, brand safety, and ad placement. A higher quality inventory attracts premium advertisers and generates better revenue.
  6. Demand Source Diversity: The number of different demand sources, such as DSPs, ad exchanges, and advertisers, connected to your SSP. A diverse range of demand sources increases competition for your ad inventory and helps maximize revenue.
  7. Reporting and Analytics: The quality and granularity of reporting and analytics provided by the SSP. Comprehensive reporting tools enable publishers to make data-driven decisions and optimize their monetization strategies.
  8. Platform Features and Capabilities: The features and capabilities of the SSP, such as header bidding support, advanced targeting options, and real-time auction technology. An effective SSP should provide a range of tools and features that help publishers maximize the value of their ad inventory.

By monitoring these KPIs, you can evaluate the effectiveness of your SSP and ensure that it is driving the best possible results for your ad inventory monetization.

A List of Leading SSPs

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