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Programmatic Video #WotW: What Is A DSP?

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 found that 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 video terms, courtesy of Unruly co-founder and CTO, Matthew Cooke. This week, Matthew explains Demand Side Platforms (DSP).

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


What is a Demand-Side Platform?

A demand side platform allows allows advertisers to launch and manage online ad campaigns across exchanges or Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) and enabled buyers to perform audience targeting and optimisation.

Whilst SSPs are focused on the supply side and the needs of publishers, DSPs are focused on the demand side and the needs of advertisers. Just as SSPs tend to charge only the publisher, DSPs usually charge only the advertiser.

Once a video campaign is set up on a DSP, the DSP bids on appropriate ad impression at auction from exchanges and SSPs. You can think of an SSP or exchange as an auction house, selling ad impressions and the DSP as a company that bids on ad impressions for its clients all day long. The DSP company will naturally have bidders at every major auction house.

DSPs are used by companies wanting to purchase ads. This includes media agencies such as Agency Trading Desks (ATDs), ad networks, specialist media buying firms and, increasingly, big brands in the form of Client Trading Desks (CTDs).

Examples of major video DSPs with a clear focus on the demand side is TubeMogul and Videology,although most major display DSPs such as Turn, Invite and DBM are busy connecting to video supply and improving their support for video buying, reporting and optimisation.