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Demand-Side Platform (DSP) definition

Demand-Side Platform (© chombosan /

Demand-Side Platform (© chombosan /

The demand-side platform is a relatively new method of buying digital advertising, but it has become extremely popular and is in widespread use right now. In this article, we will be discussing the demand-side platform in-depth, including how they work and why people use them. Understanding why this is such an important feature in the advertising world will help those in the industry and anyone interested in marketing and advertising.


What is a Demand-Side Platform?

A demand-side platform, abbreviated DSP, is an advertising system that allows digital advertising buyers to manage multiple accounts that are used for ad exchanges and data exchanges through a single interface. In order to understand this better, you first have to understand the ad exchange.

An ad exchange is a type of digital marketplace that allows for the auctioning of ad space. It is a place for buyers and sellers to come together and trade ad space through real-time auctions. An ad exchange is a place where advertising space can be purchased by a single agency for multiple clients or uses and it has become one of the top ways to buy advertising online.

So, the demand-side platform is a dashboard that is used by advertising buyers (which is why the term “demand” is used) to get the advertising that they want. But why is this platform so important? In order to understand that better, we need to get into the specifics of a demand-side platform.

Breaking Down the Demand-Side Platform

The demand-side platform allows buyers to manage multiple ad buys through various ad exchanges. It displays online advertising with real-time bidding so that buyers can make instant decisions on the advertising that they want. They are able to manage bids for the banner ads that they are looking at and the pricing for the data that they are using to target specific audiences. In some ways, the demand-side platform works very much the same as the Google Adwords Program, where buyers bid for specific keywords to end up at the top of the search engine results on the advertising side for that specific keyword.

The reason that demand-side platforms have become so useful for advertisers is that they incorporate many of the same features that you could only get with an advertising network previously. For example, advertisers can get a huge assortment of options when it comes to advertising, including options on lateral and vertical targeting as well as inventory. The DSP allows them to serve ads, to bid on ads in real time and to see an overview of exactly what is going on. They are also able to track any advertising that they do and optimize their ads so that they are as effective as possible for the advertiser. This is all done through a single interface.

The demand-side platform is simply one of the most useful tools that buyers have when it comes to online advertising. These platforms include a level of detail that is unmatched by any other platform and it has truly changed the advertising world.

The Supply-Side Platform

The corollary of the demand-side platform is the supply-side platform, a dashboard that is very similar but it intended for those who are actually selling advertising space online. The supply-side platform performs the same basic functions as the demand-side one, but from the other perspective. It allows publishers to manage the available ad space that they have, fill it with ads from the buyer platforms, and receive the money from selling the advertising. The ad exchange or ad network is the intermediary between the demand-side platform and the supply-side platform in many cases.

The way that this system works is that it allows advertisers to place their inventory before a widespread target audience, transmit potential ad impressions to the exchange and allow demand-side platforms to purchase them on behalf of the marketer. The main thing that makes this so useful is how targeted the supply-side platform can be; which means that the advertisers can get the available ad space to the right people.

Current Demand-Side Platforms

Let’s take a look at a few of the demand-side platforms that are out there right now. This is a decent-sized list of them, but by no means is it a comprehensive one. There are many more DSP’s out there that are not included on this list.

  • Adobe Media Optimizer
  • Adform
  • Amobee
  • AppNexus
  • AdAdapt
  • Brightroll
  • Choozle
  • DataXu
  • DBM
  • Centro
  • Fiksu
  • OwnerIQ
  • Rocket Fuel
  • Remerge
  • Rubicon
  • Simpli
  • Tapad
  • TubeMogul
  • Zemanta

Evaluating a Demand-Side Platform

A demand-side platform can best be identified by its features. We will go over some of the features that you might find with a demand-side platform as well as an explanation of each one.

Budget Pricing & Pacing

This is a feature that is inherent with demand-side platforms, and it allows you to open yourself up to a wide variety of advertising, but only when the cost is low. This allows the buyer to get seen without spending too much money.


By providing capability between devices, buyers can look at their dashboard from any of the devices that they normally use and perform all of the actions that they could with the computer or web interface, no matter where they happen to be.

Estimates & Projections

By providing advertisers with estimates and projections, they are able to get a much better idea of what something is going to cost, as well as how it is going to perform.

In-App Ads

In-App ads allow advertisers to get seen through the major medium that people use today – actual apps instead of websites; most people, no matter what they are doing online, access banking, maps and all of the other functions of their mobile devices through an apps rather than a website.

Contextually Targeted Ads

Ad placement is important. If you place an ad for dog food on a site selling kitchen appliances, the odds are reduced that you will have any clicks. But if you place it on a relevant site, your advertising is much more effective.

Geographic Targeting

Geo-targeting allows advertisers to create local ads that are only relevant to the portion of people that visit that site, who are based in that geographical area. This is very useful if the ad is for a local retail store, or a corporate business that only has local stores in certain cities and towns.

Fraud Protection

Finally, you definitely want to make sure that your demand-side platform incorporates fraud protection. When it comes to advertising online, fraud is definitely something that you have to be careful of. But with demand-side platforms that incorporate fraud protection, you are covered. Of course, you still should take precautions, such as not working with a company that you haven’t personally checked out and being cautious of advertising companies with very little history.


When it comes to a demand-side platform, there are a lot of things to consider. But the bottom line is that there is a great deal of value is the DSP and if you learn how to use it effectively as an advertiser, you can save a lot of money and get a great deal of value from the money that you do spend. As a marketing professional, you should know how the demand-side platform works and be able to look at things from the point of view of your customer. If you can understand the demand-side platform, you will be able to understand the advertiser better, and that results in a better relationship.

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DSP (Demand-Side Platform) is a system that allows buyers of digital advertising inventory to manage multiple ad exchange and data exchange accounts through one interface. Real-time bidding for displaying online advertising takes place within the ad exchanges, and by utilizing a DSP, marketers can manage their bids for the banners