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SSP versus DSP. What’s The Difference?

SSP (Supply-Side Platforms) and DSP (Demand-Side Platforms) are two sides of the same traffic coin. Both deal with the supply and delivery of traffic, and both are used for programmatic advertising. While both are all about traffic delivery, the route taken differs. The platform you decide to use will depend on your own particular needs, specifications, and goals.

SSP – Supply-Side Platforms

The Supply-Side Platform is the seller side of the traffic equation, where publishers and webmasters make their traffic inventory available to advertisers, based, of course, on specific guidelines. For example, publishers may choose to exclude finance or gambling offers from their inventory, while others may choose to exclude dating or adult offers.

Supply-Side Platforms simplify the traffic selling process immensely for publishers and web admins. Ads are displayed on publisher websites programmatically, so there is no need to add advertising to sites manually. Publishers submit their websites to the SSP, and once approved, they install a piece of code on their pages which automatically displays ads from approved advertisers.

We’ve all seen AdSense ads, for example. AdSense is one of the oldest ad networks and one of the easiest to join, making it reasonably simple for publishers to earn from their website traffic, similarly to an SSP. AdSense works programmatically, and ads are displayed on partner websites without the publishers having to add these to their sites manually. Install the code on your sites, and ads will start to appear. AdSense is notoriously fickle, though, and even the faintest hint of breaking any of their TOS will result in an account ban and loss of any earned revenues. Stick to their TOS, though, and AdSense can make a ton of money for high-traffic websites.

Supply-Side Platforms

Some examples of Supply-Side Platforms include:

  • Google Ad Manager (formerly DoubleClick for Publishers)
  • AppNexus
  • AdMixer
  • MGid
  • Pubmatic

Supply-Side Platform give publishers a lot more control over what ads are displayed where on their sites. If a particular zone (ad placement) gets more traffic and better metrics, then with SSPs, publishers can offer this specific inventory at a higher price. Publishers retain much more control over the ads they display and their payouts. That’s the primary goal of an SSP – help publishers make the most from their traffic.

DSP – Demand-Side Platforms

The flip-side is DSPs, Demand-Side Platforms. Advertisers, including affiliate marketers, need traffic, and they need a way to buy traffic based on their precise requirements. There’s no point running affiliate marketing campaigns in Germany, for example, if the offer you’re promoting is only available for signups in Australia.

Demand-Side Platforms offer advertisers a programmatic way to buy traffic based on specific requirements that best match their target demographics. The filtering options available in Demand-Side Platforms have evolved into highly complex algorithms and can include targeting options for advertisers such as:

  • Geos, including Country, State, and Town
  • Day-Parting (time of day the ads are displayed)
  • Device (mobile, tablet, desktop)
  • OS (Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone)
  • Categories
  • Keyword
  • Adult or Mainstream

The filtering options available allow advertisers to focus down on the traffic segments most likely to convert for their offers. DSPs also include Whitelisting and Blacklisting options. If you run a particular DSP campaign and find a zone that performs exceptionally well, you can choose to Whitelist it and run campaigns only there. Conversely, if you find zones that are not performing, you can exclude them by Blacklisting them to prevent any further ad spend on these.

Demand-Side Platforms

Some examples of Demand-Side Platforms include:

  • Google Marketing Platform (formerly DoubleClick for Advertisers)
  • Acuity
  • cash
  • Admedo
  • Adobe Advertising Cloud

The two types of platforms work hand in hand to achieve two things.

  1. The best possible price for a publisher’s traffic
  2. The lowest possible spend for an advertiser’s campaigns

So how does this happen?

Advertisers set up their campaigns with maximum bids they are willing to pay for any given traffic segment, either on a CPC (Cost Per Click) or CPM (Cost Per Impression) basis. Let’s take an example here with an advertiser willing to pay a maximum of $0.02 for a specific ad space. That ad space becomes available, and the DSP steps in with a bid. If the highest bid for that spot is $0.01, the DSP will place a bid of $0.011, just incrementally enough to be the highest bidder, despite the advertiser being willing to pay up to $0.02.

The SSP ensures the publisher gets the maximum available price for his traffic, and the DSP ensures the advertiser pays the lowest possible for that traffic.

So which type to use as an affiliate?

Given the media buying parameters of affiliate marketing, the answer to that particular question will be to use a DSP. Demand-Side Platforms let you drill down to the specific traffic segments with the best conversion potential for your offers. That’s where the beauty of traffic filtering comes in.

Still unsure about SSPs and DSPs? Get in touch with one of our traffic experts, and we’ll help you set your campaigns for maximum effect!

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