What is a Supply Side Platform?

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Supply-side platforms (SSPs) are valuable tools that publishers can use to sell programmatic advertising inventory and drive revenue at scale.

Now that publishers are being even more challenged to diversify their revenue streams and build more sustainable monetization strategies, programmatic advertising can help. SSPs play an important part in that.

So, what is a supply-side platform? It’s a type of software that allows publishers to automate the ad selling process. For example, a publisher might sell Native, Video, Banner or Display spots on their website or app. Without an SSP, they might have to manually broker each deal — eating up a great deal of time and resources. With an SSP, they can open up their inventory to a large pool of interested advertisers and automatically find the most relevant ads for each placement.

SSPs also connect publishers to a whole network of essential programmatic technologies like demand-side platforms (DSPs), data management platforms (DMPs), real-time bidding (RTB), and ad exchanges.

That’s why — whether publishers are just getting started with programmatic advertising or looking to level up their strategies — it’s important to understand the ins and outs of SSP platforms.

This guide will help you do just that by answering the following questions:

  • How does an SSP work?
  • What is a Demand-Side Platform?
  • How do SSPs help publishers?
  • How do you choose a Supply-Side Platform?

Ready to learn how SSPs can help you monetize your content, build brand partnerships, and reach your revenue goals?

Here’s what you need to know.

How does an SSP work?

Publishers use SSP ad tech to get their ad inventory in front of advertisers, inviting them to bid on certain placements and impressions.

That basically works like this:

  • The publisher connects its available ad inventory to the Supply Side Platform
  • When a user visits a page on the publisher’s website, the SSP sends a request to fill the ad inventory on that page
  • Advertisers bid on that inventory in real time via their demand-side platform (DSP)
  • The ad with the winning bid is sent to the SSP and delivered on the publisher’s site

Of course, the SSP isn’t the only tech platform involved in those transactions. A whole ecosystem of tools is required to make SSP advertising happen and ensure a seamless programmatic process.

Specifically, here are four more terms publishers need to know when it comes to programmatic advertising:

Ad Exchange

The ad exchange is the technology that connects the SSP and DSP — or the publisher data with the advertiser data. This is the platform on which the actual programmatic transaction takes place.

Taboola, for example, is an ad exchange that integrates with a range of industry-leading DSPs and SSPs. That means both publishers and advertisers can use our content discovery platform to drive engagement and meet their business goals through programmatic advertising.

Private Marketplace (PMP)

Private marketplaces (PMPs) are exclusive, invite-only RTB auctions. So they still use a bidding format but they’re only open to certain buyers.

Publishers might use PMPs to narrow down their advertiser pool to just preferred or high-quality brands. Since PMPs are exclusive, publishers can also use them to charge higher CPMs and generate more revenue.

Taboola, for example, facilitates several types of PMP deals, such as for luxury native display ads and placements with 100% viewability.

Programmatic Direct

With programmatic direct, publishers sell ads to advertisers on a one-to-one basis. It’s not a form of traditional ad selling, though, because the deals are still made through SSPs and DSPs. The difference is that the publisher and advertiser agree on a fixed, guaranteed CPM in advance.

What is a Demand-Side Platform?

Now let’s take a closer look at the advertiser’s go-to platform: the DSP programmatic software. What is the difference between a Demand Side Platform and Supply Side Platform? Just as publishers use SSPs to sell ad inventory, advertisers use DSPs to buy ad inventory. And just as publishers use SSPs to save time, automate transactions, and serve audiences at scale, advertisers use DSPs to do the same.

How does it work? Advertisers will load their campaign assets onto the DSP, set their budgets, and identify their target audiences. When it’s time to make an ad placement, the ad exchange will match the data between the SSP and DSP, finding just the right fit for each piece of inventory.

When advertisers work with a DSP, they can also select a platform like Taboola to be one of their channels. As the world’s largest content discovery platform, Taboola works with a network of top-tier publishers to run engaging ads that reach over 500M daily active users. And advertisers can tap into that exclusive inventory to build brand awareness and drive traffic and conversions back to their sites.

How do SSPs help publishers?

SSPs offer many benefits to publishers. With the right SSP, publishers can:

  • Manage and organize ad inventory on one comprehensive platform
  • Automate the process of selling ads to brands across channels, optimizing yield and revenue
  • Deliver more engaging audience experiences with real-time, relevant ad placements
  • Gather in-depth ad reporting to help gauge the true value of their inventory
  • Create a secure advertising ecosystem that upholds brand safety for both parties

How do you choose a Supply-Side Platform?

Choosing the right SSP can be tough. There are many different platforms available to publishers, each with their own unique features and tools.

To start, publishers can ask themselves these questions when considering an SSP:

  • Is the platform easy to use and set up?
  • Does it have integrations with preferred ad exchanges or data platforms?
  • Does it allow for, PMP, and/or programmatic direct, programmatic guaranteed, curated market places?
  • Can I customize the analytics and reporting to my business goals?
  • Are there built-in tools to help me optimize campaigns and real-time sales?

Publishers might also take a look at popular SSP examples on the market, such as:

Google Ad Manager

Publishers can use Google Ad Manager (GAM) to sell ad inventory for their websites, apps, games, and videos. GAM is integrated with a range of different ad exchanges and ad networks, and is also suitable for making direct deals with advertisers.

Magnite

Magnite, formerly Rubicon, is the world’s largest independent SSP, specializing in programmatic CTV and digital video placements. In fact, since Magnite acquired video advertising platforms Telaria and SpotX, it’s almost like three SSPs in one. Magnite offers a range of PMP and programmatic guaranteed packages for publishers looking to sell premium inventory.

Xandr

Xandr, formerly AppNexus, supports the exchange of programmatic desktop, mobile, native, and video ads, including CTV placements. Publishers can also tap into Xandr’s pre-bid header bidding technology, allowing them to sell inventory across numerous ad exchanges at once.

Conclusion

For publishers, SSPs play a key role in the programmatic ad selling process. These platforms are basically their entry point into the programmatic ecosystem, opening up valuable opportunities to drive revenue and connect with relevant advertisers.

So, now that you understand the basics of SSPs, it’s time to expand your knowledge even further. For more helpful information, check out our tools for monetizing your website using content discovery as well as a rundown 2022 publisher trends and insights. Or, for a look at the other side of programmatic advertising, read our case studies of how advertisers successfully delivered ads across publisher sites.

And if you’re ready to sell your own inventory, Taboola can help. Over 9,000 digital properties already use our platform to increase engagement and revenue. Want to join them? Contact us to get started.

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