Demand-Side Platforms - What they bring to digital marketers

By Biren Kalaria – Guest Author | 04 Aug 2012

60 seconds with Biren Kalaria, Head of invite media UK, Google

1. What is a demand-side platform, what does it bring?

A demand-side platform (DSP) is a technology platform that allows buyers to use dynamic bidding and optimisation to scale media buying across the various ad exchanges that are out there.

DSPs offer a single user interface to access billions of ad-impressions across a number of ad-exchanges in real-time. The DSP provides the decisioning engine that generates the right bid for the right impression at the right time - this bid price is based on the perceived value or performance of that impression.

You can also manage your remarketing lists and link to 3rd party data providers via the DSP so it really is a very sophisticated piece of kit. The DSP is part of the wider media buying "stack" which includes ad-serving, rich media, dynamic creative, social & search bid management and analytics technologies that agencies and clients need to be thinking about now. We believe that there will be huge performance and efficiency gains to be had from systems such as those mentioned above when they can operate seamlessly together.

2. How does it work?

It is pretty straight-forward and not too dissimilar to search advertising. The DSP gives you the connections to all of the exchanges that you need as well as the ability to manage your remarketing, 3rd party data purchasing and private inventory deals. Based on your campaign objectives and audience, you would log in to the DSP and setup your campaign. The key buckets to consider are targeting, bids/budgets and creative.

Once you have got your initial setup, you're ready to go and can launch your campaign. Everything is very transparent and you can see the stats coming back very quickly - up to every 10 minutes. Of course, that is not to say you need to optimise every 10 minutes but it shows you that the data comes back in very quickly so that you can make buying and optimising decisions on the fly.

3. Why has the industry moved over to DSPs? What are the benefits?

All the stars have aligned. A combination of the availability of technology, data and liquidity of inventory via exchanges has meant that the process of buying display has been completely democratised. Anyone with the will to buy their own display, mobile and video can do it today.

The benefits are really around efficiency, performance and differentiation. The DSP gives you the ability to connect directly with the inventory you want to buy, evaluate it all on an impression-by-impression basis and manage all of this activity via one user interface. You can also centralise and control all of your retargeting efforts in one place at huge scale.

If you are a performance advertiser and using ad-networks, a lot of what you are doing today can be bought via a DSP. This means more efficient buying, optimisation and reporting. It is easy to setup and optimise campaigns and then push budgets in to the areas that deliver performance within a few clicks via a user interface.

Finally, you can get a lot of insight into what you do when you work with a DSP. No longer are you just spending a budget reporting can show you how the campaign is working at every stage. Having access to all of the learnings is critical for the ongoing effectiveness of your buying and creating differentiation in what you do.

4. What growth have you seen in the space? Geographically, sector and device.

Well, the US is of course a huge market with a lot of budgets going into programmatic buying. We see clients in the US moving quickly into video, mobile and significant numbers of private deals being transacted through Invite now. Outside of the US, EMEA is quickly becoming a significant region in this space, with the UK leading the way and markets such as Germany, France, Spain, Italy and even Dubai coming through very quickly.

In terms of advertisers, we see a good mix of clients from Auto through to Entertainment. Right now the most common activity we see deployed on our platform are performance campaigns but that is changing as video, mobile and private exchanges bring different inventory to the ecosystem.

5. How does a DSP differ from a network?

As described earlier, a DSP connects you directly to the inventory yourself rather than going via a network. So for those agencies and clients who wish to pull the levers and push the buttons themselves a DSP allows you to do this.

6. What will Invite Media bring to the table?

A lot we hope! We bring a wealth of experience in the programmatic buying space as well as technology solutions that are backed by Google. We have some great people who are all on hand to help agencies and clients take the step into programmatic buying and start to evolve the way in which they buy media.

7. Who owns this space right now? i.e. Media Agencies, Specialists etc

I don't think anyone "owns" the space as such. There are a few people that have been in the space for a while but given the rapid pace of development of technology, inventory and data there is room for everyone to get involved without feeling behind the market. At Google, we believe that the online display-advertising market could top $200 billion over the next several years which represents an enormous opportunity to all of the companies in the display ecosystem.

8. What does the future hold for DSPs? What does that mean for Invite Media?

DSP technology itself is not that mature so expect to see some really exciting features and integrations that allow you to deliver even better performance. Also we expect to see more and more publishers making their inventory available via exchanges and different types too.

We're already seeing video and mobile coming through so who knows, any media that is accessible via an IP address should be addressable via a DSP. For Invite Media and Google that will mean constantly developing our product to meet the needs of our customers in an industry that is moving rapidly - something that we have invested a lot of time and people to do.

9. Why should an advertiser be thinking of including a DSP strategy into their digital strategy?

For all of the reasons above! When done well, programmatic buying will deliver phenomenal results for you. By using the right technology and having fantastic people you really have the potential to deliver better media buying efficiency, performance and differentiation.