What is a Supply-Side Platform?
A supply-side platform is a software or tool used by publishers to monetize their website by managing and selling the available inventories (ad space) to the advertisers. With the use of supply-side platforms, web owners can sell their ad spaces in an automated fashion. As opposed to DSPs, i.e, demand-side platforms, SSPs allow the publishers to sell ad impressions at a maximum CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions).
How does a Supply-Side Platform Work?
SSPs work in a similar manner as their analogue – DSPs. The process begins as the publisher makes its inventory available through an SSP which then gets communicated to a DSP via an ad exchange.
As soon as the SSPs make their unsold inventory available for advertisers, the DSPs start analysing the publisher data and this may include – user demographics, preferences, history, etc.
This entire process is automated and happens in real-time. After having analysed the data, advertisers whose targeting criteria matches the kind of inventory available start to bid. The highest bidder wins and gets to display the ad on the said inventory.
This, in nutshell, is how the SSPs work. This whole process takes about 100 milliseconds.
Suggested Read – What is a Demand Side Platform & How Does it Work?
Difference Between Supply-Side Platform and Ad Exchange
A supply-side platform is a software or tool used by publishers to trade their inventories programmatically. They use this platform to peddle the available ad spaces via an ad exchange where the bidding request is sent for the relevant inventory and gets communicated to the DSP.
An ad exchange, on the other hand, is a platform where the actual trading takes place. Ad Exchange enables publishers to decide a price they would like to sell their inventories for and help DSPs to identify their potential customers and relevant inventories to target them at.
To conclude, SSP is where all the publishers come together to sell their inventories and an ad exchange is a place where both, SSPs and DSPs get connected to buy and sell the ad inventories. A bidding request for the ad inventory is processed via an SSP and the actual bidding process takes place at an ad exchange in the real-time.
Features of a Supply-Side Platform
1. Wide Access
SSPs enable publishers to get connected with a pool of DSPs, ad networks and ad exchanges to proffer inventories across various channels. This also facilitates SSPs to label their inventories as premium, if relevant and set a comparatively higher floor price.
2. Header Bidding
Header bidding is a process that allows the inflow of bids from various demand platforms before the sale. This lets SSPs notice which demand-side platforms are placing the bids and their value enabling them to receive the highest cost per mile.
3. UI, Analytics & Reporting
The user interface is the screen that users see to navigate the entire process, eg. view reports, manage campaigns, etc. Analytics and reporting help SSPs to track the performance of their inventories based on the number of impressions, clicks, etc.
4. Inventory Management
Inventory management lets SSP take a charge and keep their inventories away from the unwanted ads and decide which demand platforms they want to do business with. This also lets publishers whitelist, blocklist, manage inventories, etc.
5. Yield Optimization
This feature helps to stabilize the revenue stream for publishers by letting them set the floor price, better their fill rates, managing first and second-price auctions. Having dynamic floor pricing also enables the selling of remaining inventory at a decent price.
Advantages of a Supply-Side Platform
1. Easy to manage
Supply-side platforms make it easier for publishers to manage their whole process and strategies via one platform. They can track performance, optimize and view everything in one dashboard with easy navigation options.
2. Elaborate Analysis and Reporting
Analytics play a huge role in understanding which of their ad spaces are working well over others in real-time. This enables publishers to decide fair prices for their inventories based on various metrics like click-through rates, fill rates, impressions, etc.
3. Automated Process
SSPs enable automation of the whole process of selling the ad inventories which saves time, reduces efforts and brings efficiency. Automation also allows SSPs to connect to a vast pool of advertisers to whom they can sell their inventories at a favourable price.
4. Better Control & Transparency
With the help of SSPs, publishers can control what type of ads can be placed on their inventories and who can display ads. This ensures transparency and brand safety which is of primary importance. Publishers can also choose to make their inventories available for specific buyers through invite-only auctions.
5. Vast Exposure
SSP allows publishers to get exposed to a large number of potential buyers who’d be looking for the kind of inventories made available by them. This helps publishers with options to sell their inventories to the buyers they choose and also at a price they set.
Suggested Read – An Advertiser’s Guide To Programmatic Brand Safety
How to choose the best supply-side platform?
While there are many SSP providers now, features may vary from company to company. However, when you go about choosing one for yourself, make sure it offers some of the basic features like transparency, integration with multiple DSPs, brand safety and dynamic price floor.
Transparency ensures that you have full exposure to the performance of your inventories. An exhaustive analysis depicting what is working for you and what isn’t, so you can optimize the under-performing inventories and yield fair returns.
When an SSP is integrated in such a way that it has access to multiple demand platforms, it gives you options to make your unsold inventories available to various DSPs. This means that premium inventories can be sold to premium advertisers at a comparatively higher price.
Brand safety makes sure that you have full control over your display and you can decide what kind of ads can be displayed on your inventories. This way you have an option of blacklist and whitelist to prevent unwanted ads from appearing on your website.
Last but not least, having dynamic floor pricing allows publishers to have hard and soft pricing and an option to set a minimum acceptable price for your inventory and it won’t be sold at a price lesser than that. This ensures that you can set your left-out inventories at a fairly decent price.