What is a Supply Side Platform (SSP)?
A Supply Side Platform, or SSP, plays a pivotal role within the world of programmatic advertising- the automated buying and selling of ad space across various ad types including display, mobile and digital out of home. Defined simply, it is a computer based platform and a piece of ad technology through which media owners/ ad networks make their inventory available and set criteria on the type of buyer they want to make deals with; the ad exchange will then connect them to these buyers who use the Demand Side Platform, or DSP, to set their own criteria. This automated selling process that the Supply Side Platform facilitates is set up as an auction; due to the demand from media buyers, the use of an SSP in this way ensures that minimal inventory is wasted.
How is SSP different from DSP?
To understand the difference between the SSP and DSP within programmatic advertising, it helps to remember that the Demand Side Platform is designed for media buyers and advertisers whilst the Supply Side Platform is used by media owners/publishers.
While a DSP allows buyers to purchase from multiple ad exchanges according to what best suits their needs, a Supply Side Platform allows media owners to make their inventory available to multiple buyers at the same time. This allows both parties to maximise their revenue and find the best deal to suit them. Increasingly, media buyers and owners are also able to engage with multiple platforms (such as mobile, online and digital out of home) alongside each other on the SSP and DSP for an omnichannel marketing approach.
Where do SSPs sit in the pDOOH ecosystem?
The programmatic digital out of home ecosystem is comprised of five major players.
The first is a brand who are looking to achieve a marketing goal such as brand awareness, increased sales or even foot traffic to a store. They will use an OOH agency, or occasionally work in house with a media buyer, to set themselves up on the DSP. The criteria they will input on there includes CPM (cost per thousand impressions) and what type of ad inventory they are looking for. Within this, they can specify a particular demographic they want to target- for example, specifying that they are looking to gain impressions from women of a certain age.
On the SSP side, ad inventory details such as these demographic insights are inputted as well as other criteria including availability and floor price. The ad exchange acts as an automatic communication between these two platforms and once a match is made, content that has been uploaded plays automatically.
The main components of an SSP:
An SSP includes three main components:
- The backend, hosted on infrastructure such as Amazon Web Services, which will carry out all the technical processes needed.
- Trackers which collect information about the publisher’s ad space and their audience.
- The reporting database which provides insights and campaign analytics to publishers
It also integrates with other AdTech platforms so as to accelerate the selling of ad inventory. For example, some will connect with data management platforms to allow publishers to understand user behaviour and other elements that relate to the optimization of campaigns. Through audience intelligence software such as Sightcorp, media owners can gain a more accurate understanding of the ad space they provide through demographic insights based on the impressions acquired. For example, Sightcorp’s software uses facial analysis to accurately determine the age and gender of someone viewing a DOOH screen. This information is fed back to publishers who can then optimize their information on the SSP and more accurately provide value to media buyers.
Programmatic DOOH Sell Side Technology
Other side technology to the Supply Side Platform includes the screen/panel or site where out of home content is displayed, the content management system used by media suppliers to create a loop of content that the SSP feeds into and the adserver.
The adserver is where all the ads are stored. When a screen has an available slot, the most relevant advertisement for it is requested from the ad server and then displayed in real-time once conditions are met on both the DSP and SSP side.
What are the benefits of using a SSP for Media Owners?
A Supply Side Platform offers a number of clear benefits for media owners and ad networks.
Firstly, it is efficient. The automation and management of ad inventory speeds up what would take thousands of man hours to achieve manually.
The other obvious benefit is that it allows media buyers to connect to a larger source of demand (including across different geographical regions and different platforms) and to sell more ad inventory. With minimal input, media owners can reach a wide range of buyers and assign space automatically and with higher yields.
Programmatic advertising technology also allows media owners to segment their target audiences and pinpoint which ad space is suitable for which buyers. By doing so they can prove value and increase revenue even further.
SSP’s and AI Audience Analytics Data
Through AI-based audience analytics data, such as that provided by Sightcorp, media owners and ad networks can verify these segments and prove the value of their advertising space. By connecting to a camera on the digital screen, Sightcorp’s software anonymously analyses facial features to determine demographic and impression data.
Impression data indicates how many people are viewing the content and enables media buyers to trust the ad space they are purchasing on a CPM basis. This data is often based around OTS, opportunity to see, which indicates how many people could glance at a screen based on timings and other data; we also incorporate likelihood to see, or LTS, to give a more accurate insight into how many people are likely to truly take in the content. We can also then track engagement with head pose tracking and attention time measurements.
Through demographic analysis, we provide insights on age and gender all while protecting anonymity completely. This helps media owners get matched up with media buyers more efficiently and ensures data transparency in a non-intrusive way.