7 Tips to Help Choose the Best Supply-Side Platform for You

Nov 30, 2016


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Article ImageThe ad-tech industry is becoming increasingly complex. Publishers used to have a pretty straightforward approach to programmatically selling their inventory. Now, however, they must consider a wide range of parameters in order to build equity from their biggest asset: their users. Making a decision solely according to the rates the different supply-side platforms (SSPs) provide, might result in user frustration that will weaken the publisher’s position in the market and decrease their profits.

Working with multiple platforms can be a challenge. Therefore many publishers decide to focus on one unified platform. The vast number of platforms in the market makes it hard to choose which one is the right one for them. How should publishers evaluate the different platforms? Well, it seems that the best ones out there have a few things in common.

7 Tips to Consider About SSPs

I have several considerations I would like to share that can help in your decision-making process:

  1. First and foremost, SSPs are mostly technological companies that build and own their core platform assets. In this crazy market, which includes so many players and regulations from Google, Facebook, and others, you should not settle for just anything. True, there are a lot of ad networks out there. And these days one can buy and white-label virtually anything; this is often much cheaper than hiring and training an expert team to build a proprietary solution. However, when the going gets tough and your platform has to adjust to the many market threats and opportunities, you will need them to move fast. Owning its technology enables the SSP platform to have the control and independence it needs to do just that. It will also save you from having to put your core business in the hands of other third-party companies, to whom you are not legally contracted.
  2. It is also important to choose a SSP that is heavily invested in real-time or near-real-time data. Having granular, accurate, and updated real-time data is the basis of every good decision. A SSP that is not focusing on saving its raw data, aggregating it, and utilizing it for yield optimization, cannot provide you with the prices you require in this highly competitive market. This data is the basis for building sophisticated algorithms that ensure publishers get the highest possible yield. In addition, as Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs) are increasingly interested in buying specific audience segments, the leading SSPs use this data along with data coming from Demand Management Platforms (DMPs) to better understand their user-base in order to allow publishers to make business decisions and be able to sell their inventory more efficiently and for higher prices.
  3. As demand is often fluctuating and changing hands, prominent SSPs have ad servers that are built for easy integration with new demand platforms. They are constantly on the search for new high-quality demand to add to their platform. DSPs have different methods of buying the demand, like open RTB auctions or via programmatic direct. A SSP that does not support all protocols and the ability to quickly integrate with the DSP will not enjoy the prices this DSP has to offer. When good demand comes along, they will want to be able to "plug and play" it into their system without wasting valuable R&D time.
  4. It is also very important to choose a SSP that is tightly integrated with the best ad-quality and brand-safety tools in the market. Platforms that are integrated with products like TheMediaTrust, DoubleVerify, and Forensiq declare that it is important for them to protect both their publishers and their demand platforms from the many malicious industry threats. In addition, it is also important to choose a SSP that is integrated with viewability providers like MOAT. This helps the publisher understand just how viewable each of their placements are. Placements with high viewability will receive higher rates, while placements with low viewability can be problematic as marketers are increasingly not willing to pay for them.
  5. The SSP of your choice should also prove it has the publisher’s users in mind. If the users are unsatisfied, then the publisher has a much bigger problem than prices and rates on his hands. The leading SSPs tend to offer different high-impact ad formats that can bring a 30% or more RPM increase on the one hand, and not harm user experience on the other. Native ads, interstitial ads, and in-read video are just a few examples of ads that can bring a big boost in yield. Many publishers like to experiment with the different formats to understand what is most appropriate for their users. A SSP that offers many options is preferable to one that does not.
  6. The different formats and options often make it cumbersome to integrate and manage. One must choose a SSP that makes it their priority to simplify the implementation. The SSP should supply the publisher with one generic tag to put in his DFP (DoubleClick For Publishers) that does not need to change when the publisher wants to switch between different formats. This enables publishers to control their ad type distribution easily without the need for manual work. Detailed and easy to use reporting is also very important in order to provide transparency to the publisher and allow them to make the correct business decisions.
  7. Last but not least, the chosen SSPs must provide a fast, reliable and easy-to-implement Header Bidding solution. The header bidding technique, which allows publishers to sell their inventory on a per-impression basis giving them transparency into how much their impressions are actually worth, has become a necessity as it can increase publisher yield by 10%-30%. The main downside of header bidding is the latency it introduces to the page load time, which reduces user experience. So you must work with a SSP that took that into consideration while building its header bidding solution and is able to reply to your bid requests in well under 200 milliseconds.

The options are almost endless. It is critical for publishers to consider the above criteria before choosing a SSP.  It may help provide real long-term value in a very complex world.