When a marketer or agency begins researching ad tech vendors for third-party digital media buying, one of the first questions to ask is, “what is the campaign’s objective?” That objective should drive you toward, "what digital service(s) or capabilities will best help me execute the campaign or reach that goal?"
In the Digital Networks & Tech database at SRDS.com, we provide users with key data about more than 150 ad tech vendors, including the services they offer:
In this post, we’ll review each service to give you a deeper understanding around why each may be of use to marketers and agencies.
The purpose of an online ad network is to serve as an added-value intermediary between advertisers and publishers. Many advertisers don’t have time or resources to find the right sites to run their ads on and similarly, many publishers don’t have time to market themselves as a possible space for those ads. That’s where the ad network comes in. Using an ad network allows media buyers to coordinate efficient campaigns across a multitude of sites by aggregating ad space from publishers, segmenting audiences and selling impressions to advertisers. Networks offer advertisers access to inventory across many publishers with less effort than buying direct and, sometimes, lower rates. Plus, publishers can earn revenue from inventory that might otherwise have been unsold. The drawbacks are that there is sometimes limited control around where the ads are placed.
Online ad exchanges provide real-time bidding (RTB) technology platforms that expedite, facilitate and simplify the buying and selling of ad inventory from multiple ad networks and advertisers. Ad exchanges were created to alleviate the complexity of online advertising by auctioning each impression in “real-time” between multiple advertisers, and selling it to the highest paying bidder. The benefits of buying from an exchange are efficiency, inexpensive inventory and the ability to purchase very specific audiences. Some of the potential drawbacks are that there is no guarantee of the inventory’s quality (since a lot of it is unsold ad space) and the RTB process can be complex to navigate.
A demand-side platform (DSP) allows digital media buyers and marketers to manage several ad exchanges, ad networks and data exchanges through one centralized user interface. The platform identifies advertising opportunities across multiple networks, finding the best prices for the most views in the target demographic, and then buys those advertising spaces. DSPs provide access to many ad opportunities in one place, and often have employees to handle any manual tracking or bidding on clients' behalf. The benefits of using a DSP are access to multiple inventory sources through a single interface, the ability to import data and use it to guide the buying process and sophisticated reporting.
A supply-side platform or sell-side platform (SSP) is a technology platform used by web publishers that offers outsourced media selling and ad network management services. Many large web publishers use a SSP to automate and optimize the selling of their digital media space. SSPs have become more popular among publishers as an attempt to stave off the price dilution that occurs as agencies and brands increasingly allocate ad spend to demand-side networks and ad networks. A SSP on the publisher side interfaces to an ad exchange, which then interfaces to a DSP on the advertiser side.
A data-management platform (DMP) aggregates different kinds of data from online, offline and mobile sources. It allows the collection of audience intelligence by advertisers, thus allowing for enhanced ad targeting in future campaigns.
Real-time bidding (RTB) is a form of programmatic buying where display ad inventory is bought by buyers (advertisers) and sold by sellers (publishers) within an auction environment (online media exchanges) in real-time, one ad impression at a time. The potential advantages of RTB compared to manual media buying are impression-by-impression buying and valuation, cost efficiency, transparency and greater granularity with targeting and metrics.
One last note, always keep in mind that ad tech vendors can and often do offer many of the above services as part of their business model. Within SRDS.com, many of the listed companies provide at least two services.