What to Look For in a DSP

Published on March 01, 2021

The Beeswax Team

Programmatic has been steadily gaining traction for over a decade now, and even though we’ve seen a steady stream of acquisitions and mergers, it still feels like the market’s as crowded as it’s ever been. However, given the needs of the market, this should be expected. Each DSP (Demand Side Platform) provides a slightly different value prop, and most frequently the best DSP will vary depending on any client’s given goals.

As a result, we put together a quick guide on what we feel are the most crucial consideration points when choosing the right DSP for your business:

1. Optimization

Optimization is a huge feature in programmatic today and DSP offerings can largely be broken into two camps: standard optimization and custom optimization. Both can be algorithmically driven; the major differentiator between the two is frequently the amount of control and transparency offered.

Standard optimization tends to be more of a black box—you set your campaign’s designated goal, and the DSP’s algorithm will automatically do the heavy lifting in terms of balancing performance and scale. Standard optimization is typically used for generic KPIs like completed view or clicks.

Custom optimization is more hands on, and typically involves leveraging a data science resource to analyze past campaign performance to identify what drove performance in the past to create standout performance specific to a business. Custom optimization works best for more complex KPIs, but can still drive performance for standard ones as well.

2. Data Access and Reporting

Data access and reporting go hand in hand. DSPs need to provide both to become a market leader. Reporting should be nuanced enough to get a pulse on campaign performance and enable easy-to-pull insights from a dashboard or similar utility.

However, sometimes what’s available in the platform isn’t enough. For businesses interested in rolling up their sleeves and diving into what really drives performance, access to granular log-level data can make a huge difference. Businesses with established or growing data science teams willing to sift through the data can make a huge impact by analyzing logs and translating that into targeting and optimization.

3. Workflow Automation

Workflow automation is the key to scaling up an organization without necessarily having to scale up on manpower. API availability (and for the sake of your coders, how well documented they are), can make a huge difference into how well a DSP fits into an organization. If a DSP has APIs that can automate campaign trafficking, there’s huge potential to save not only on overhead costs from hiring, but also from reducing probability of mistakes coming from human error.

4. Data and Inventory Exclusivity

Access to exclusive data and inventory can be a huge differentiating feature in a DSP, especially if the only way to certain pockets of inventory is through a specific DSP. Any time a business is investigating whether a new DSP is worth adding to the mix, they should always consider what they can get that they can’t get anywhere else.

5. Support

The human element can’t be understated when it comes to working with any piece of technology. Support levels vary by company and it’s always worth looking into what your support structure will be like and if that’s what your organization needs. If you’re using a low-touch DSP for automatic optimization, your needs will probably be very different compared to a company that’s trying to build its own algorithm. Be sure your potential partners are able and willing to support you in your endeavors.

6. Pricing Transparency

Advertising is a massive industry and there are billions upon billions of dollars on the line. And where the money goes, bad actors follow. It’s no surprise that programmatic has gotten a bad rap in the past. As a result, it’s key to work with partners who are willing to be upfront with you about how much the technology costs and why.

To learn more about what to look for in a DSP, check out this short video from Todd Keats, our Sr. Director of Strategic Accounts. Alternatively, check out our breakdown of how Beeswax stacks up against the following DSPs:

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


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