What is an SSP?
A supply-side platform, or SSP, is automated technology that allows publishers to sell their available ad spaces (“ad inventory”), typically via auction on digital marketplaces. Similar to the demand-side platforms (DSPs) used by advertisers, SSPs allow publishers to engage in programmatic advertising. Since SSPs are designed for publisher use, however, their main goal is to sell ad inventory for the highest possible price. That’s why SSPs are also known as yield optimization or sell-side platforms.
Like DSPs, a supply-side platform offers publishers enhanced efficiency and speed at relatively little cost. These advantages are especially important in the sprawling, fast-paced world of digital advertising, where multiple distinct advertising marketplaces conduct transactions at split-second speeds.
Here are some of the major supply-side platforms:
- Right Media
How do SSPs work?
As with DSPs, which are built on similar technology, the technical details of SSPs can prove overwhelming for the layperson — or even the new advertising professional. Simply put, SSPs do the same thing for publishers as DSPs do for advertisers: provide a centralized tool for connecting with multiple ad exchanges, networks, and even individual DSPs in order to sell ad inventory for the highest possible price.
[image: SSP DSP diagram]
SSPs typically peddle ad inventory in the form of impressions. Each time a visitor drops by a publisher’s site, stream, or other platform, there’s an opportunity to fill the available ad spots with relevant ads. That’s the opportunity that advertisers bid to get.
Usually, SSPs make those opportunities available to as broad a market of potential buyers as possible. How? By integrating with ad exchanges or networks, which are the digital marketplaces where advertisers and publishers link up to buy and sell ad space. Like DSPs, SSPs minimize human involvement in these transactions, leaving the necessary decisions, analysis, and adjustments to automated systems.
[image: DSP SSP diagram]
This doesn’t mean that suppliers lose control over how their ad inventory gets sold, though. In fact, some industry members talk about how SSPs give publishers more control over their ad inventory. That’s based on the many functions that SSPs place in publishers’ hands: publishers can set minimum prices for their ad inventory, for example; these preset values are aptly called “price floors.” In addition, SSPs give publishers the ability to choose which channels their ad sales go through, which advertisers can browse and purchase their available ad inventory, and so on.
Currently, SSPs coexist with human ad sales teams: many publishers use programmatic advertising to divest ad inventory that their human teams fail to sell, and those transactions get handled by SSPs. However, as programmatic advertising gains more of a foothold in the main transactional operations of digital advertising, SSPs look set to take on a bigger share of publishers’ ad inventory processes.
What can SSPs do for you?
As an advertiser, you don’t engage in much direct interaction with a publisher’s supply-side platform. However, publishers’ use of SSP still brings notable benefits to the publisher-advertiser transactional relationship as a whole.
First, like DSPs, SSPs make for more efficient transactions overall. As an advertiser, you won’t have to negotiate with actual salespeople to secure an advertising deal — instead, you and your publisher prospect can leave the details and operations to preconfigured computer systems.
Second, SSPs offer greater capacities for data collection and segmentation, audience analysis, and so on. This means publishers can offer you much more detailed slices of their available audiences, allowing for more precise viewer targeting for your ad campaigns.
Third, SSPs also broaden the range of ad impressions that are available for you to bid on in the first place. SSPs try to make impressions available to as many potential buyers as possible, drastically increasing the size of the market.