What is a supply-side platform, and what does it do?

Glossary Supply-Side Platform

The definition of supply-side platform

Here is a simple supply-side platform (SSP) definition: An SSP is an advertising technology used by publishers to automate the selling of display, video, and native ad space on websites and apps based on impressions.

The SSP’s meaning lies in its work of connecting publishers to ad networks, data management platforms, ad exchanges, and demand-side platforms to sell ad inventory for publishers.

How does an SSP work?

In the past, human sales teams were employed to manually allocate ads to spaces. However, with the rapid rise of digital technology, the competition for the same ad space has also grown exponentially, rendering manual placement inefficient.

Today, supply-side platforms work with demand-side platforms (DSPs) using programmatic advertising technology to review advertisers, the publishers’ total ad space, determine the bidding range, and then offer recommendations for the best match for each advertising space. SSPs typically require a set volume of traffic before accepting a publisher.

Within the SSP, advertisers can set filters such as an advertiser, ad format, target audience, rates for ad spaces, and more to sell their ad inventory.

What processes does SSP take care of?

A supply-side platform can be entrusted to automate several processes for a publisher. We’ve detailed the most common processes below:

  • Ad network optimization: As each ad network might have different requirements, an SSP will utilize historical data to determine which network to use when impressions are made available on a publisher’s website. For example, one network will pay $3.00 CPM, but only fill ads 20% of the time while another one will pay $1.50 and fill 70% of the time. Publishers, therefore, have more control over their inventory as they can see which networks are paying for their inventory on the impression level and optimize accordingly.
  • Real-time bidding transactions: Using an ad exchange, an SSP automates the selling of a publisher’s inventory to DSPs.
  • Relevancy: Using an SSP, a publisher can ensure that only relevant ad networks are considered for the available ad space. For example, a publisher can use an SPP to only accept impressions from specific geographical locations.
  • Frequency capping: To make sure an app user doesn’t see the same ad too many times, SSPs and DSPs partner together for frequency capping. This is the process of recording the number of times a particular ad is shown to a specific visitor and then limiting the number of times that ad is shown to the visitor.

Why use a supply-side platform: 5 benefits

There are many advantages to utilizing an SSP. Let’s review the top five below:

  1. Automated ad selling
    The obvious advantage is the automation of selling ad inventory. SSP advertising removes the manual work from the process, increasing efficiency.

  2. Reporting capabilities
    Another benefit of an SSP is the reporting available to publishers. SSPs provide publishers insights on the value of their inventory for different advertisers as they can see who is bidding, how much has been paid for their inventory, and the amount of space particular advertisers are buying. Publishers can utilize these granular insights to optimize for maximum profits.

  3. Aggregating multiple networks
    SSPs also connect publishers to multiple networks, ad exchanges, and DSPs, letting more buyers participate in the real-time bidding process. Doing so increases the chances of the publishers’ ad space being sold.

  4. Dynamic price floor
    Today, a standard SSP should let publishers set soft and hard price floors at a minimum

    Cost per mille (CPM). These prices floors ensure that inventory isn’t sold below a set price. This allows for dynamic auctioning between first and second-price auctions.

  5. Campaign and inventory management
    SSP advertising allows publishers to manage a variety of inventory—display, video, native ads, etc.—by blacklisting and whitelisting advertisers, setting IAB categories or specific channels or buyers, and blocking certain ad types.

Adjust and supply-side platforms

Adjust is a dynamic platform that provides mobile attribution, campaign automation, and data privacy and protection for app marketers. Adjust is owned by the app monetization company AppLovin. Applovin offers a top supply-side software, AppLovin MAX for developers of all sizes to maximize their revenue with in-app bidding.

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