SSPs Need to Evolve to Meet Digital Advertising’s New Demands

3 capabilities required as supply paths become more streamlined

Supply-side platforms (SSPs) were synonymous with ad exchanges 10 years ago; but today, an SSP is often a sum of working parts made up of tools such as an ad exchange, a programmatic marketplace, and, in some cases, an ad server. While most SSPs contain one or two of these capabilities, only some possess all three. However, macro trends are making it so that for SSPs to continue adding value, it’s increasingly clear that they need to innovate in all those areas.

SSPs play a more critical role in today’s market. As the buying and selling of digital media has become more direct and data-driven, the SSP assumes more responsibility for providing the pipes, infrastructure and yield management necessary to help publishers maximize fill while maintaining quality control. An SSP also provides complex traffic shaping that builds an efficient, quality and scalable path to premium supply, enabling media owners to prioritize the bids that result in better yields.

Hitting the SSP trifecta

The majority of publishers pull from the same SSP bullpen of players. Because the same SSPs are routinely used, these players have a greater hand in shaping pricing models and best practices. However, not all SSPs are created equal.

Some SSPs are merely glorified exchanges, focusing on facilitating bidding competition, not necessarily on maximizing yield for publishers. Others are differentiated SSPs and include value beyond just connecting buyers and sellers. Some key components include:

The ad exchange: Ad exchanges have advanced to configure and optimize every aspect of real-time bidding with intuitive user interfaces and real-time analytics, working across deal types.

Programmatic tools: Features like advanced deal management, advanced competition and optimizations, curated marketplaces, and traffic shaping are key to optimizing yield and monetization. For instance, Magnite SpringServe and Streaming’s advanced integrations can be combined to offer real-time revenue optimization, dynamic pod filling, competitive separation and frequency capping. This empowers media owners to have granular control over deals and prioritization strategies.

The ad server: SSPs with an ad server help publishers intelligently integrate programmatic demand, enabling competition between traditional direct and programmatic campaigns. Features like smart ad routing can cut ad clutter and fine-tune ad breaks for better creative impact and user satisfaction.

Together, these capabilities can be combined to create unparalleled enterprise solutions in the fast-advancing market.

A greater role in a more SPO-focused world

The role of the SSP will expand as the supply paths become more streamlined. The industry wants more transparent and efficient ways of bringing advertisers and publishers together for mutual benefit. Buyers want to work closely with publishers and the SSPs that support them.

Only differentiated SSPs will have a role to play in this more streamlined supply path. Pure-play exchanges won’t have a place in this new supply path optimization (SPO) model. In a perfect world, buyers won’t have to work with dozens of SSPs to optimize results. Instead, they can choose a few differentiated SSPs and achieve reach with optimal control and flexibility.

Looking ahead, whether buyers seek to optimize campaigns with an exchange or perform direct DSP integrations, publishers will need enterprise-grade technology to support those integrations. Holistic yield and inventory management tools across demand sources are critical to optimizing revenue and user experience.

By combining the powers of an exchange, programmatic platform and ad server, SSPs are shaping the future of audience attribution and yield monetization while streamlining the supply path to produce better working media.

Mike Laband is the SVP of platform revenue at Magnite. His team is focused on cultivating relationships and partnerships with media owners to leverage Magnite’s DV+, Streaming and SpringServe platforms for ad serving, programmatic yield optimization and data enablement.