In recent years, there has been a huge emphasis on automation in digital advertising. For example, in the U.S. alone, programmatic digital display ad spending in 2022 is expected to amount to 115B dollars. Understandably, now more than ever, programmatic advertisers and publishers are vigilant about the monetization partners they choose. Our article aims to give you insight into the nature of programmatic advertising, the types of platforms, and how to choose the right one. We also provide a list of some of the best programmatic advertising platforms.
What is a programmatic advertising platform?
It facilitates the purchase, sale, and management of digital advertising through the use of automation. Such tools streamline the entire process and enable ad placement, performance analysis, campaign optimization, etc. across devices. Different types of platforms play different roles in the ecosystem so that everything works together in synergy.
Types of programmatic platforms
Generally speaking, the types of platforms are as follow:
- DSP (Demand Side Platform) – works on the advertiser side, enabling brands, agencies, and app developers to purchase advertising inventory
- SSP (Supply Side Platform) – works on the publisher side of things, allowing publishers to sell their ad inventory
- Ad Exchange – essentially serves as the marketplace where advertisers and publishers meet
- Data Provider (i.e. DMP) – used to collect, store and analyze user data, which lets advertisers target their ideal prospects, while publishers can better understand their audience.
How to choose a programmatic platform
The short answer is: by considering your particular needs and choosing a programmatic tool that fits them. However, that is easier said than done. There are many aspects to take into account, such as cost, efficiency, transparency, etc. Take a look at the list below to know what to watch out for.
1. Cost or pricing
This is perhaps one of the most important factors for most advertisers and publishers. You should carefully examine the pricing structure. For example, DSPs may charge a certain percentage on media spend or a fixed fee. SSPs may pay publishers on a Net 30, 45, or 60-day basis and operate on a revenue share basis.
This has been a hot topic in recent years, with more and more actors in the industry emphasizing on building better trust. Ensure that your preferred programmatic partner provides the level of transparency and accountability that you’re comfortable with. For publishers, this includes a clear breakdown of costs (fees vs. Net CPMs), while for advertisers it means combatting ad fraud to ensure organic traffic.
3. Technology and integration
You can investigate whether the platform is leveraging its own ad tech and whether it’s constantly working to stay at the top of its game by updating and improving functionality. Do they offer header bidding? Can they integrate other products that you may be using? All questions worth asking.
4. Targeting and inventory
For advertisers, it’s important to have advanced targeting options to reach their ideal target audience, plus access to a wide range of channels and devices. Publishers may seek a programmatic partner that can sell both desktop and mobile ad inventory, various ad formats, etc.
Check whether the platform has a strong support team. They must be helpful and available to solve any pressing issues.
Is the user interface intuitive and user-friendly? Take the time to try a demo version to make sure it’s easily accessible and there isn’t a steep learning curve.
7. Metrics and insight
Does the platform allow access to essential information, so you can evaluate your ad campaign performance or maximize bid values?
Top programmatic platforms
Instead of focusing on some of the most popular names such as Google Ad Manager and Adobe Advertising Cloud, for example, we wanted to list other top performers for you to consider. Note that many companies cannot be characterized solely as a DSP, SSP, or Ad Exchange, since the boundaries have been blurred and they offer more than one tool or service.
MediaMath is an omnichannel DSP platform that was founded in 2007. They created a transparent ecosystem called SOURCE to focus on establishing supply chain trust. Customizable components (such as DSP workflows, data integrations, reporting, measurement) provide advertisers with flexibility, and MediaMath’s Professional Services arm gives support and expertise.
AdRoll is a DSP that provides cross-channel and multi-device advertising. Their single-platform structure lets you view all your campaign results in one place, regardless of the channel. Additionally, AdRoll’s software allows a full-funnel approach, gaining customer insights and customizing ads to help brands build a better relationship with their customers.
PubMatic is another SSP worth considering. Founded in 2006, they focus on providing publishers with a customized approach and toolset. In terms of Real-Time Bidding, they offer cross-screen and cross-format reach. Their solutions also include header bidding and prebid.js integration. In addition, PubMatic offers a suite of ad quality tools to protect user experience through automated and manual scanning and review. They are a Unified ID 2.0 (UID2) partner. UID2 is a framework that publishers, advertisers, and platforms can use to establish identity without third-party cookies.
Sovrn is an SSP that offers header bidding, server-to-server bidding, and waterfall advertising. In addition to monetization, they offer a number of other tools, including Signal, which tracks how your users interact with your page and picks the best time to serve always-viewable advertisements.
Improve Digital is a holistic monetization platform, that allows you to connect to premium demand partners worldwide, in order to maximize your revenue opportunities and drive sustainable, long-term growth. Seamlessly integrate your first-party data and take full control of your offering to buyers.
OpenX is an SSP, as well as a programmatic RTB exchange. They offer a tailored approach including dedicated account management teams. Their ad exchange possesses a TAG Platinum Certification, meaning it’s certified against fraud, malware, and piracy. Just like PubMatic, OpenX is a UID2 partner.
Xandr is one of the world’s largest ad exchanges, owned by AT&T. It claims it transacts 6.7B impressions daily, connecting media buyers, owners, and distributors. In addition to the marketplace, they feature a buying platform called Xandr Invest and a selling platform called Xandr Monetize, as well as Xandr Curate, a self-serve platform for the sale of proprietary data. The company is a UID2 partner. As of Dec. 2021, Xandr is set to be sold to Microsoft Corp.
SmartyAds has an independent RTB exchange, serving over 2 billion daily impressions. Besides, it offers both a DSP and an SSP. Advertisers can benefit from an omnichannel approach with campaigns across mobile, display, native, and video ad formats. Publishers have access to features like header bidding, playable ads, and rewarded video ads.
As we mentioned above, DMPs are important as they offer valuable actionable insights by gathering, analyzing, and finding connections between first-party, second-party, and third-party data. We’re not going to go into too much detail about each company, but several names worth mentioning are Lotame, The Trade Desk, Adobe Audience Manager, and Audience Studio by Salesforce, among others.
When used wisely, programmatic platforms are a true game-changer in helping advertisers to reach target audiences and publishers to maximize digital revenue, all while providing greater transparency and efficiency. There are many great DSPs, SSPs, Ad Exchanges, and DMPs out there. By matching their strengths and weaknesses against your goals, you can determine which tool is worth testing.