DSP Definition In the Life of A Brand Marketer

Published on May 06, 2021

The Beeswax Team

Digital advertising is critical for businesses, perhaps more in 2021 than ever before. As digital media consumption continues to rise, more and more eyes are on screens, ready to interact with your brand’s messages. So if you’re a brand marketer, what exactly do you need to look for in a demand-side platform?

Definition of a DSP

Let’s start at the very beginning. A demand-side platform, or DSP, is an advertising technology platform used to purchase programmatic media in real-time. With a DSP, buyers can purchase media across multiple ad exchanges, gaining access to millions of potential placements. Even better, DSPs allow the importing of first-party and third-party data, giving advertisers the ability to target their ideal audiences based on behavior, demographics, browsing history, and any number of other parameters. 

That leads to an obvious next question: What is programmatic media buying? In short, it’s the automated bidding and purchase of digital advertising media. Programmatic is data-driven, so your bids are based on targeting parameters that are preset by you, the buyer, within the DSP. 

That means that with a DSP, advertisers can automate the purchase of ads to targeted prospects at scale. There’s the potential to reach millions of in-market consumers with the right message at the right time on the right device. 

DSPs and Branding: A Checkered Past

In the early days of programmatic, a lot of brands were skeptical. The web was considered a direct-response medium, for one thing, and brand advertising wasn’t measurable in any meaningful way. Also, brand safety was a huge concern. After all, if you weren’t buying directly, how did you know exactly where your ad was appearing? How could you be sure your brands were even visible to consumers if you didn’t know exactly where they’d be appearing?

Fortunately, influential brand marketers who wanted to capitalize on the power of programmatic  were very vocal about their concerns. They spoke up, and the industry listed. To give you the “Reader’s Digest” version of the story, standards were established, and an entire industry-within-the-industry grew around ad verification and brand safety. We began tracking things like viewability and clashes (when your ad appears more than once on a page, forcing the ads to compete with each other for interactions), negative adjacencies (when an ad appears alongside inappropriate content), placements on low-quality sites, and fraud more seriously. Media quality became an important KPI. All the associations and these new industry players pitched in, and programmatic became a much safer way for brands to advertise. 

A lot changed in less than a decade. In those early days, only a handful of brands, like Proctor and Gamble, really championed programmatic. Today, most rely on it for their digital advertising, and many have brought in-house. Here’s what the DSP means to brands today.

The Obvious Benefits of DSPs for Brand Advertising

Now that the hurdles have been cleared, brands and their in-house marketing and advertising teams rely on DSPs for branding campaigns. The advantages are almost too many to count:

  • Endless reach: Data-driven advertising allows brands to reach and engage target audiences on any site or channel. It doesn’t matter where or when, or if they’re streaming media, browsing photos on Instagram, or researching a purchase on the “classic” web. Your audience knows no borders or boundaries.
  • Channels galore: With programmatic, you can reach audiences on phones, tablets, desktop computers or connected TVs, and in formats from video to audio and everything in between. That means you can reach your audience whether they’re at home, at work, at play, or somewhere in between. 
  • Efficient and effective: With the potential to have ads appear anywhere and at any time, efficiency is key. Because programmatic is data-driven, it’s so targeted that very few impressions are wasted. And it’s time-effective as well as cost-effective, because automated ad buys are a lot faster and easier than traditional insertion orders. 

DSP Definition in Brand Advertising 

Apart from the obvious, what do DSPs really mean for brand advertising? Among other things, control, transparency, and power. 

When we talk about control, controlling the budget is one important aspect. An in-house DSP means brand marketers have better visibility into where every advertising dollar goes. The marketing team will have insight into how much each interaction costs, as well as how much of a piece of the action any technology partners are taking. That gives a more accurate picture of ROI at the end of the day and empowers marketers to better optimize their spend.

But the control offered by a DSP also means that brands can set KPIs and ensure they’re meeting them. While awareness is really important for a lot of brands, advances in data and analytics allow brands to track success way beyond that. Offline sales and foot traffic can be tracked and tied back to digital ads today. Actions taken after a consumer interacts with a mobile ad or digital billboard can be measured. All of these insights allow marketers to calibrate campaigns to ensure they’re meeting their KPIs and driving meaningful, positive interactions for their brands.

Transparency factors into these benefits, as well. With all the analytics and insights a DSP offers, marketers can make quick decisions to react to changes in campaign performance. Whether ads have stopped showing in one campaign, or one channel is dramatically outperforming another, information is available immediately, 24/7, and in real-time, allowing for timely responses.

Power is an important benefit, too. With a DSP and activated data, marketers have the potential to reach a universe of consumers. It doesn’t matter where they are or what their media consumption habits look like, programmatic gives marketers the power to reach and engage. Creatives can be tested and personalized - and they can be almost any format, whether it’s traditional display, video, audio or something entirely different. The real-time audience insights that can be pulled from programmatic branding campaigns are also incredibly powerful, and can help define the direction of your next campaign. 

Ultimately, DSPs harness all the advantages of programmatic advertising for brands. An in-house DSP empowers the marketing team to create high-impact digital campaigns that keep their brand top of mind - measurably - for audiences everywhere, on any device.

Compare Beeswax: Better than a DSP & More Efficient than Building One Yourself

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