How to Choose the Best DSP for Your Programmatic Native Advertising

How to Choose the Best DSP for Your Programmatic Native Advertising

In today’s post, we’ll list down all the factors to consider when checking the offerings of all top DSPs selling native traffic. Before we get there, let’s start with some theory.

Digital advertisers can buy traffic either directly from ad networks or via Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs). Obviously, they can also do both and this is what many experienced buyers prefer to do. The beauty of any DSP is the fact that marketers can get access to traffic from multiple ad networks using a single platform. To put it simply, they are able to steer their whole media buying from one single place

Differences Between Top DSPs

Many DSPs, including mobile DSPs, market their inventory (traffic) as the best on the market. But the truth isб that differences between them are usually minimal. Apart from the inventory itself, DSPs emphasize their targeting options, tracking solutions, and optimization features. This list can go on and on, but let’s take a closer look at the most standard characteristics.

  • Inventory and Reach
  • Transparency
  • Demand-Side Platform Targeting Options
  • Tracking and Optimization
  • Account Management, Tech Support and Easy-to-Navigate Panel
  • Cost and Business Model

DSP versus Mobile DSP

A DSP is a platform used by digital advertisers for a smooth and easy management of targeted traffic flows to their ads. The inventory is bought on CPM basis (cost per thousand impressions). A mobile DSP – the same platform but designed specifically for mobile advertising – is the latest thing. You can read more about DSP technology in our previous blog post.

So what’s the fuss about mobile DSPs? According to Statista, “95 percent of respondents used a smartphone in the last day, and only one percent of respondents used the device longer than three months ago”.

Mobile devices are going to rule the world – that’s for sure!

Now let’s get down to the offerings of all native DSPs.

Inventory and Reach

As we already mentioned in our blog post, native ads come in different shapes and sizes like in-feed, in-article, promoted listing, and content recommendations. Depending on their Publishers, some DSPs sell only a certain type of native ads.

Most native DSPs offer global traffic from T1, T2, and T3 countries. Along with native, DSPs also have other types of inventory to sell, such as video, mobile, social, audio, connected TV, search, and display. The biggest DSPs like MediaMath, TTD (theTradeDesk), and AdForm have integrations with dozens of sources spanning all countries, channels, devices.

The quality itself also differs among Demand-Side platforms. Some DSPs offer premium inventory tailored specifically for the needs of brands, while others are more affiliate-friendly.

If you are looking to run more aggressive campaigns, smaller DPSs might be a better fit for you. Simply because they can specialize in gaming-, or nutra-specific inventory. Big premium Publishers often restrict categories like nutrition and gaming along with dating, trading, and gambling.


In a perfect world, a DSP should promote transparent advertising. So make sure that the platform you choose shares not only the ad exchange name but also some info on the placements to buy like bundle IDs, widget IDs, or publisher’s name.

This will help you understand if the inventory is of good quality and if the traffic you’ll be exposed to is not fraudulent. Ideally, you should be able to get some insights on the inventory and the expected volumes before you open or fund your account.

You should have an open dialogue with potential partners about how they combat fraud, ensure viewability, and whether or not they’re amenable towards certain anti-fraud incentives in your agreement, like minimum click-to-install time.

suggests Liftoff, a mobile app marketing platform

Demand-Side Platform Targeting

Let’s be honest – the better targeting, the better results – and it’s not only the case of native. It applies to digital media buying in general.

What matters in native, especially for performance-oriented campaigns, is audience. Check if your preferred DSP offers any kind of audience targeting. Why? Because, as Google mentions, “audience targeting allows you to reach people based on who they are, their interests and habits, what they’re actively researching, or how they have interacted with your business”.

If the DSP allows granular targeting where you can frame your audience, this will surely be a good choice for you!

Also, some leading DSPs allow demographic targeting which can be crucial if you are looking to build your brand awareness within a specific age range or gender.

The below are the basics of the basics. If you are not able to target with these dimensions using a Demand-Side platform, then you’ll be better off without such a DSP.

  • geo-location
  • OS and OS version
  • browser and browser version
  • device type and device model
  • placement name/ID
  • carrier
  • time of day
  • day of week
  • frequency

Tracking and Analytics

I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. A native campaign in any DSP needs to be tracked and optimized. Remember that Demand-Side Platforms enable buying ad impressions in real-time so DPSs need to make sure the stats are there for you in the dashboard and fast. Like instantly!

It doesn’t matter if you are looking for brand awareness or performance. You always need to keep an eye on your campaign results.

The more you can track, the more you can optimize. If you are buying native ads programmatically using a DSP, you already know that it all starts with impressions. Without a proper report showing your impression click-through rate, you’re basically stuck. So make sure your next DSP provides you with a decent analytics package.  

What to Pay Attention to?

When running native, your campaign funnel will most probably be more complex than just: 

click on the native ad redirection to the offer page

You might want to test different landing pages and a few offer pages to identify the winning ones. You need to be able to track impressions, visits, clicks and conversions – whether these are leads, signups, installs, purchases, or upsells.

If a DSP allows you to track these events within numerous reports – for example ad copy / OS / Browser / Site domain / App / Placement ID reports – that’s all the more reason why you should stick to such a DSP. Literally, you can steer your whole media buying from one single place. You can buy, track, optimize and REPEAT

Sometimes, it can also be confusing. If you are not sure how to use the analytics and what data is important, all your marketing efforts can go wrong. This leads to our next point, so keep on reading!

Demand-Side Platform Starter Pack

As I just mentioned, without a clear picture of your campaigns performance, you will never be able to scale your media buying. But before you can even think of scaling, you need to get fully onboard. There are the three lifesavers:

  1. Account Manager – a dedicated executive who will lead you through the whole journey. From registration, through content and campaign preparation, then opening campaigns to optimization and finally scaling.
  2. Tech Support – a team of tech wizards oriented towards your success as a customer. Always happy to help you with the setup and integrations.
  3. Easy-to-Navigate Panel – you can call it whatever you like – ease of use or fast navigation – it’s all about you being able to take action quickly. If you don’t know how a car works, you will not drive a mile. 

Cost and Business Model

DSPs can take an entrance fee or a margin. Most typically, your margin will be included in your bid price, so you’re only charged for the traffic you buy. Selected DSPs can also require you to declare your minimum monthly spend before they let you in.

Depending on a DSP, you can buy on a different business model – either CPM/CPC or CPA. With a CPM, you have more flexibility and you can be sure that a good creative set with higher iCTR won’t turn negative ROI, like in the case of a CPC model. Yet buying on the CPM can take longer to see your desired CPA results.  

To be Continued…

In the next part of our article, we’ll move on to comparing Voluum DSP to other media buying platforms and we’ll take a closer look at its characteristics. So, stay tuned!

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