What Is a Demand Side Platform

Smart AD Buying – What Is a Demand Side Platform?

These days, it is no wonder that almost every company in the world is focusing on building a healthy and extensive digital advertising strategy. In 2022, worldwide digital ad spending almost reached $600 billion, and 2023 may be an even better year.    

And when it comes to digital, programmatic advertising has won the spotlight over the past years. With plenty of platforms to use and valuable features built to optimize campaigns, programmatic advertising is the way to go.   

In this article, we will dive into demand side platforms, a part of programmatic advertising that has proved essential for worldwide marketers. Thus, what is a demand side platform?   

What Is a Demand Side Platform? 

Basically, a demand side platform (DSP) is a programmatic advertising platform that helps advertisers buy ad inventory. Advertisers can set up, run, manage, and optimize campaigns on publishers’ available ad space on a demand side platform.  

Usually, demand side platforms contribute to the advertising process along with ad exchanges, ad networks, and supply side platforms. And even if this process takes only a few milliseconds, it is pretty complex at its core. 

How Do DSPs Work? 


When an advertiser wants to run a campaign, the DSP is triggered and starts storing information about that ad, such as the audience it aims to reach, the ad format, and the ad size. Once it has the data it needs to operate, the DSP communicates with ad inventory sources, such as ad exchanges and SSPs (Supply Side Platforms), to find the best proposals. The supply side platforms and ad exchanges also offer information about the ad space they offer, such as the users who might be delivered to, the specific ad, and the ad format available.   

The DSP bids for the ad inventory that matches its requirements, and the highest bid wins a specific ad slot. The demand side platform entirely automates the decision-making process of how to bid for an ad space.     

Why Is a Demand Side Platform Important? 

Demand side platforms significantly contribute to streamlining the buying and selling of ad inventory, making it more efficient and reducing costs, surprisingly.    

If there were no such programmatic advertising platforms, the whole process would imply hundreds, if not thousands, of advertising agents who would negotiate with publishers to deliver their ads online (and would also need to be paid).    

This would take longer and affect both publishers and advertisers, as tremendous numbers of potential customers would be lost during the process, and advertisers’ lack of success would lead to lower bids for publishers’ ad inventories.   

Furthermore, demand side platforms allow advertisers to optimize, analyze and track the results of their campaigns. DSPs usually offer detailed dashboards with insights that can increase ads’ relevancy, shape the audience to have better results, and use the advertising budget efficiently.    



Strictly referring to the relationship between SSPs to DSPs, these platforms act rather similarly but on opposite sides of the RTB process. So, while DSPs help advertisers and ad networks buy ad inventory efficiently, SSPs help publishers and even ad networks sell their ad spaces as efficiently as possible for the best price.

What Is an SSP? 

Supply side platforms consist of software that helps publishers sell their free ad inventory automatically. SSPs usually work with DSPs, ad exchanges, and ad networks to streamline the RTB (real-time bidding) process. Through these programmatic advertising platforms, publishers and various types of advertising platforms manage to sell available slots as fast as possible and monetize their unsold inventory.

Demand Side Platform vs Supply Side Platform 

There may be some similarities between DSPs and SSPs, but the two concepts differ regarding their main features and goals. However, they are developed to work together.  

First, the two platforms contribute to the same process: ad space buying and selling. However, DSPs are developed for the “buying” side of the advertising process, while SSPs deal with the “selling” part. Thus, the purpose of DSPs and SSPs is different, and so are their end users: the former is developed for advertisers, while the latter’s users are mostly publishers, though, in some situations, SSPs may come in handy for ad networks, too.  

Then, the features provided by DSPs and SSPs differ from one platform to another, too. DSPs usually offer users insights about their campaigns and even let them optimize them based on those results. On the other hand, SSPs are developed to bring together free advertising space from several channels and various advertisers that can fill that space.    

Who is a DSP for? 

We mentioned before that demand side platforms deal with the “buying” part of the advertising process. This means that they are constantly looking for available ad inventory to bid on.  

Thus, it is fair to say that DSPs are developed for advertisers who want to promote their businesses or ad platforms in need of more inventory. This may include companies, ad agencies, ad networks, and online and offline services.  

How Do DSPs Help Advertisers? 

DSPs catalyze the buying and selling of ad space, reducing the time from some hours to just a few milliseconds. This can help advertisers get new conversions faster and shorten or streamline the sales funnel.    

Moreover, a DSP will always bid for ad space according to an advertiser’s budget and audience, aiming to get the best ad slots with the lowest bid possible. This can lead to a more efficient way of spending the advertising budget, thus giving the advertiser more opportunities for their online campaigns. 

Best Demand Side Platform Companies 

1. Google Marketing Platform 

Google does not disappoint when it comes to the advertising platforms it offers. And it is the same with Google Marketing Platform, a unified advertising and analytics service that suits small to large businesses.  

Google Marketing Platform

Google Marketing Platform offers various products that help advertisers manage their campaigns, including GDV (Google Display & Video) 360, Campaign Manager 360, and Search Ads 360, 3 of the most popular. With a user-friendly interface, Google Marketing Platform allows advertisers to seamlessly manage, track, and optimize their ads on various channels.   

Furthermore, one of Google’s treasures is that every product can be easily integrated with other platforms the company developed, thus offering marketers a complex and valuable experience.   

2. Amazon DSP 

As the second biggest and most popular tech company in the world, Amazon could not stand aside; thus, it launched Amazon DSP. Amazon DSP is available for those aiming to advertise on Amazon or other Amazon-owned websites, regardless of whether you sell products on the platform.    

Amazon DSP has 2 options for advertisers: managed service or self-service. The self-service option is entirely free and can be used by any advertiser who decides to conduct the whole process independently. However, if somebody chooses managed service, they will have to pay at least $35,000 to be constantly guided in what concerns the ad buying process. 


3. MediaMath 

Founded in 2007, MediaMath delivers several valuable tools to help marketers manage their ads. MediaMath focuses on its clients and ensures that its customer service offers advertisers a positive user experience.   


MediaMath is integrated with several ad exchanges, thus offering advertisers numerous places to advertise. Moreso, the platform offers various data analysis tools and a customer database.   

MediaMath is in to revolutionize the field, using an advanced predictive algorithm that helps advertisers make the right bids to maintain their profitability.   

4. Basis Technologies 


Rated the first demand side platform for 16 consecutive quarters, Basis Technologies was developed to offer advertisers a complex and significantly helpful product. Its interoperability with social, search, and ad server platforms allow users to use programmatic advertising at its finest.  

To streamline the advertising process even more, Basis Technologies has developed a billing automation feature. Moreover, the platform offers thousands of premium publishers that advertisers can choose from.  

5. Smadex 

Specialized in the mobile sphere, Smadex is a demand side platform developed to assure growth for its users. The platform uses programmatic advertising, first-party data, and machine learning to offer a mobile-first DSP solution.   

Furthermore, Smadex always focuses on security, thus assuring users that their campaigns reach safe and trustworthy publishers. Currently, Smadex is ranked #1 for fraudless DSP installations by Kochava Traffic Index.   


Final Thoughts 

Digital advertising has come a long way and does not plan to stop. In the advertising process, supply side platforms and demand side platforms play a crucial role in streamlining the buying and selling of available ad space.    

Also called DSPs, demand side platforms use programmatic advertising to facilitate the buying of ad inventory, thus reducing the time needed for delivering campaigns. Buying/selling ad space usually takes up to a few milliseconds.    

Unlike SSPs (supply side platforms), DSPs focus on bidding on publishers’ available ad space and getting the best ad space for the lowest bid. DSPs are developed for businesses seeking to advertise their products or services.    

Some of the most popular and helpful demand side platform companies are Google Marketing Platform, Basis Technologies, Amazon DSP, Smadex, and MediaMath.