Programmatic Video #WotW: What Is An SSP?

Programmatic video is the fastest-growing category of programmatic buying, but a lot of marketers are still struggling to get to grips with the basics.

A recent study by the Association of National Advertisers and Forrester showed only 23% of marketers said they understood programmatic and were using it to execute their campaigns. This is despite the fact that more than half of US publishers reported selling their premium video ad inventory programmatically in August 2014 (Adap.tv), while mega-brands like American Express and P&G vowed to shift the majority of their ad spend to programmatic by the end of 2014.

There’s clearly a knowledge gap between the programmatic front lines and everyday marketers, making 2015 a key year for programmatic education. As with any burgeoning new trend, one of the main causes of confusion is vocabulary.

Any discussion of the topic produces a web of jargon and acronyms that’s enough to send anyone running to Google. But fear not, this is easily solved.

Each week we’ll be serving up handy guides to the most important programmatic terms, courtesy of Unruly co-founder and CTO, Matthew Cooke. This week, Matt explains Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs).

Stick around and see how quickly you can master the art of programmatic video.

What is a Supply-Side Platform?

Supply-Side Platforms, as the name handily suggests, service the supply side – the publishers. SSPs are often a combination of technology platform and managed service designed to help publishers maximize their ad sales. They usually have strong relationships with large publishers who don’t want to deal with the complicated and shifting landscape of exchanges, advertisers and DSPs (we’ll get there!).

SSPs have a technology platform that helps connect publishers’ sites to the widest range of advertiser demand such as ad exchange, ad networks and private marketplaces. Some SSPs will help publishers manage direct sold campaigns and modern SSPs will often support Real Time Buying (RTB). SSPs typically have higher gross margins than ad exchanges and provide many more features for publishers. As a result, SSPs do also have higher fixed costs than ad exchanges.

SSPs often charge no fee on the demand side (to advertisers, exchanges, DSPs etc) instead working on a fixed margin with the publisher, taking a cut of all advertising revenue that flows through their platform.

It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between an ad network, an SSP and a DSP. If a company only offers a fully managed service and no self serve UI or RTB connection then it’s not what many would consider a fully-fledged DSP or SSP.Examples of true video SSPs with full RTB support are Adap.TV, Liverail and Brightroll, which specialise in desktop in-stream video inventory, and, of course, Unruly’s own UnrulyX, which specialises in outstream native/mobile inventory.