Supply-Side Platform Explained

Supply-Side Platform Explained

Maybe you’ve been reading our blog for quite some time now and you know all there is to know about DSPs. How about SSPs though? If you still haven’t quite got a handle on what it is and how it works –  you’re in luck! To put it simple: Supply-Side Platforms are for publishers what Demand-Side Platforms are for advertisers. But, as you probably suspected, it’s not all there is to know. So let’s dive in! 

What Is an SSP?

So my analogy didn’t cut it for you? Fine, we’ll do it the hard way. 

Supply-Side Platform provides publishers with a place to sell and optimize their inventory. Just as DSP Platforms allow advertisers to see which placements are performing well for them, SSPs allow publishers to maximize the prices of the inventory they’re going to sell.

So, you might be asking isn’t that what Ad Networks do? Not exactly. Ad networks sell publishers inventory to their direct advertisers, which means the pool of demand is rather narrow. While some SSPs can also be DSPs, SSPs have reached to multiple DSPs and pools of advertisers. This brings publishers way more demand than they could get from working with a single Ad Network. 

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Now, I should probably warn you that Ad Networks are slowly adopting features of DSP Platforms, so this comparison may change in the near future.

How Do SSPs Fit Into Programmatic Advertising?

That’s the big question. So we know SSPs help publishers, but how do they fit into the bigger picture? 

Well, SSPs don’t just fiddle with publishers and stop there. They also connect with Ad Exchanges, DSPs, and Data Management Platforms (DMPs). Basically, without SSPs advertisers couldn’t take advantage of the wide inventory selection offered by DSPs.

SSPs have a hand in a few processes like:

  1. Real-time bidding: SSPs sell traffic programmatically with demand partners in real time so that publishers don’t have to make any deals in advance.
  2. Frequency capping: SSPs sync with DSPs to identify non-unique users in order to optimize ad performance and avoid things like banner blindness
  3. Demographic targeting: SSPs collect information about the user visit from the publisher and send it to DSPs. This way advertisers only buy the inventory that fits their marketing requirements.

SSPs and Native Advertising

Native advertising is one of the fastest growing ad formats. They are more efficient and are better received by website and application users. For publishers,  adding native advertising on their website is a home run. 

SSP Supply-Side Platform fit into the puzzle by giving publishers the tools they need to add native advertising on their sites seamlessly. Content websites like Refinery29 or BuzzFeed can even benefit from adding relevant featured posts in-between original content to enhance user experience and monetize at the same time.

With the help of SSPs publishers can monetize different ad types simultaneously to discover which brings them the best combination of site engagement and advertising revenue.

How Do SSPs Work?

SSPs can use various methods to sell publisher inventory like directly to Ad Networks, deals with DSPs, or RTB auctions.

The graphic shows how the SSP works.

While ad networks and DSP deals seem pretty self-explanatory, RTB auction might require some explaining. For them, the sale from an SSP looks like this:

  1. A publisher signs up to an SSP and makes their inventory available there.
  2. The publisher puts a code on their website or app that takes care of the SSP ad buying.
  3. When a user visits the publisher’s website, the code fires and the user’s browser sends a request to demand partners through their SSP
  4. The demand partners respond to the request with a bid and the winning bid is sent to the publisher through the SSP
  5. The winner then displays their ad on the publisher’s site or app.

How Do SSPs Help Publishers?

Publishers benefit from SSPs in various ways, here are some of them:

Automated Inventory Sales

Publishers no longer have to manage selling their traffic to several different advertisers or Ad Networks and make unique price deals with each entity. Thanks to SSPs the process is streamlined as the manual work is completely removed.

Revenue Reporting

Publishers have insight into which advertisers buy their traffic, how much they are buying and at what price. This gives them deeper understanding about the advertiser’s impact on the publisher’s site quality and value of their inventory.

Demand Reach

SSPs connect publishers to multiple Ad Networks, Ad Exchanges, and DSPs. They get access to much higher demand than they could get on their own. What’s more, SSPs help to combat the issue of driving the value of inventory down, when the number of bidders coming from a single Ad Exchange or Network is low.

Transparency and Security

SSPs and DSPs manage what exactly advertisers are allowed to run and where. They have full time compliance teams that police advertisements to make sure a publisher’s site performance is not affected and site quality is on point.

Bid Floors

SSPs not only allow publishers to offer their inventory to more buyers, but also give them better control over the prices. Publishers can set up dynamic bid floors so that their inventory cannot be sold for anything less than their minimum set bid.


SSPs are a godsend for publishers who want to spend more time on improving the user experience on their site rather than dabble in the intricacies of making deals on how to sell their ad space.

The connection between DSPs and SSPs also means that advertisers are winning too! They have access to publishers’ inventory that they may never have found on their own. So, it’s no wonder Supply-Side Platform is a common route for publishers to sell their inventory hassle-free. 

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