Demand side platforms, or DSPs, are an important part of programmatic advertising. This technology allows advertisers and agencies to buy ads across multiple ad exchanges in multiple sources through one interface. However, each DSP has its own strengths, inventory sources, and characteristics. How do you know which DSP is right for your campaign? 

To help you on your quest, we have identified six key areas to focus on when choosing the right DSP for your campaigns. (And if that doesn’t work, we also have an algorithmic solution to help you identify which DSP is right for your campaign. Find out which DSP is right for your campaign.)

1. Inventory

Contrary to popular belief, not all DSPs have access to the same inventory. Some platforms focus on desktop, whereas others are more focused on mobile. In addition to the channel focus, each DSP has a unique global footprint, which will affect overall inventory as well. 

To make sure the DSP is right for your campaign’s goals, request a list of countries and the available inventory in each to find out what the coverage is for the areas your campaigns will be targeting. 

As your campaign’s size and scale grows, it becomes more important for the DSP to have the capacity and scale to support those requirements. One of the key indicators of capacity is queries per second, or QPS. If your campaigns are larger, you may also want to find out how their QPS compares to the competition. As an example, Forrester’s DSP evaluation criteria previously required vendors to support at least 1 million QPS.

2. Technology

Beyond the available inventory of a particular DSP, you also need to understand the technology it is relying on. The first question is whether their technology is built in-house, or if it is white-labeled from another platform. Believe it or not, there are quite a few companies who claim to be DSPs, and are actually just white-labeling someone else’s. 

In addition to the question of proprietary or white-labeled technology, other technological factors to consider include capacity and scale, technical caliber, and the availability of an API. Asking how many developers the company employs is a quick way to learn more about the company’s commitment to actually building technology. And if you’re still suspicious, you can verify this number by researching the company on LinkedIn. 

3. Media Buying Methods 

The availability of different media buying methods and creative support is another category of consideration, and refers to the options available for procuring inventory. Can inventory be purchased in a real-time fashion (via RTB)? What about guaranteed direct deals that allow advertisers to reserve inventory in advance (i.e., futures-based buying)? Or are the buys blind, as is common among ad networks?

4. Creative 

What formats of creative does the DSP support beyond standard static banners? You may also be looking to include formats like rich media ad units, video, native, and audio, or example. 

Video support is in high demand and growing quickly, but video ad serving has unique technical requirements, especially on mobile.

Some DSPs also offer creative design services, to help building ads and/or landing pages. If that is something you are looking for, make sure to ask and see what their creative offerings are. 

5. Targeting Options

How sophisticated are the targeting options, and do they match your particular goals? Can you target specific websites or mobile apps? Can you target by specific first- or third-party audiences? 

Language? Location? OS? Device type?  The list of targeting options can vary greatly, so make sure it works for you. 

6. Reporting & Analytics

What reporting options are available? Can you access reports in real-time? Are you looking for a specific report to receive every so often? Make sure you understand what reports are available to you out of the box vs what will require custom dev work from the DSP (at an additional price). 

Looking for More Help Choosing a DSP?

Looking for some more guidance? tdX is the leading independent programmatic trading desk that assesses each platform on a 250 point evaluation to recommend the best platform and channel mix to align with your campaign’s unique requirements.

Because each platform has its own unique strengths, we present 12 industry-leading DSPs in one place, without limitations. Curious which platform is best for your campaign? Find out which platform is right for your campaign.