Programmatic ad buying represents 78% of $31.87B display advertising ecosystem according to eMarketer, so choosing the right demand side platform for your agency is a hugely important task. The ecosystem is sophisticated, which is great because that means there is a way to craft a customized trading solution for your enterprise with existing tools. The downside is that sophistication turns into complexity, which requires specialists to sort through the details to develop a great solution that’s customized for a given enterprise. For the advertisers and agencies that have taken programmatic buying in-house this is a good moment to reflect on the goals for that programmatic buying group, and whether your current partners meet your needs. For those who are thinking about taking programmatic buying in house here are a few points to consider for your Demand Side Platform decision.
The DSP is a core component of the trading desk, and while cost is often a defining factor the decision is much more nuanced. In the decision process you’ll want to consider the channel needs, functionality, bandwidth, number of DSPs, social media and culture.
Examine Channel Allocation
Look at the media you run by channel: display, video, mobile, social and native. Ascertain which of those channels are most important to your marketing mix today, and look six to 12 months ahead. You may see a trend where your current media allocation changes to another screen or device in the future. Some DSPs are better at cross media buying, and others are better at mobile, native or social, for example. As you look for DSPs you should place more emphasis on DSPs that meet your unique channel needs.
Now that you know which channels are most important look at DSPs that meet those requirements. Look for specific features, functions and capabilities across each channel. Display ad buying is different than video, mobile and native. As you compare DSPs think about the individual use cases the DSP will be deployed for. Compare DSPs by channel if you have channel specific needs.
Bandwidth And Workload
In some cases it makes sense to onboard 2-3 DSPs, and in other cases it makes sense to onboard a single DSP. If you are a large marketer make a decision about the number of platforms your enterprise can manage. Think about the people who will staff the day to day trading roles. Think about the analysts and the account managers. Larger teams can afford to have diversified offerings like this, and smaller teams usually can’t. Smaller advertisers should be using fewer DSPs to cut back on duplicative workload.
You’ll want to become an expert on the DSP platform you choose, whether that expertise is hired from the outside, or developed in house.
Deciding on the DSP
Depending on your channel needs, your staffing requirements and your minimum spend budgets you may find that one general DSP will give you access to a large portion of your desired features and functionality. For example, you may find that native ad solutions are nice to have features, but they are not important enough to dedicate a specific DSP solution to native ad buying.
On the other hand if you buy substantial volumes of video ads you may want a video first DSP.
Layering In Social Media
Across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat your team will want to access these platforms through their own dedicated solutions. You may have an expert in house that knows these platforms, and you’ll see they operate as their own walled gardens. Each will have their own logins and workflow, and there will be some overlap in the general features they offer.
Think about the targeting, optimization and inventory access that are important to the enterprise. For one group algorithmic optimization may be a big requirement, and for another it may not be critical.
Look at the people who will do the day to day trading and ensure they have the opportunity to voice their opinions about the best platforms for them. The work flow and process has to make sense to the buyers, otherwise the best platforms will fall short if they don’t align with the traders’ needs.
Look at culture between the DSP partner and the enterprise. Does the DSP return calls and emails promptly? Do the people on your account fit the culture and DNA of your agency or advertising team? These are important; as it’s possible the wrong cultural fit will be bad for the partnership.
Once you’ve chosen the DSPs leave time to always test new capabilities. You may find a solution that offers very different capabilities than your current partners. Alternatively, you may find that a new channel altogether becomes important. For example, we’re seeing advertisers take on solutions that enable programmatic TV campaigns to be bought.
In summary, look at your enterprise’s media allocation, available resources and culture of the DSP partner when deciding how many, and which DSPs to partner with.