The industry of demand-side platforms (DSPs) has become increasingly crowded. With various new DSPs cropping up in the last three years, you wonder how agencies, marketers, and advertisers get down to choosing one at all. The following are some key points to help you identify the right DSP for your campaign needs.

Understand the data that you need

Since ‘big data’ has been an Internet buzzword in digital advertising, it is important to understand the kind of data the DSP provides versus what you need to effectively run your campaign and target your audience.

Each DSP may specialize in specific types of data, like unique first-party data or third-party data that they have collected from data management platforms (DMPs). Some DSPs may even focus on CRM data or mobile data.

DSPs don’t only boast about their data reach but also the number of audience segments available for advertisers to purchase from their systems. For advertisers, it is important to identify the segments that convert well for them and how big the reach for those segments are.

Your first step is to understand your own data needs and the kind of data that works best for you. Some advertisers prefer to have access to extensive demographic data while others want behavioral data.

Know your required reach and exchange(s)

Understandably, you would want a DSP with the widest reach not only in terms of the number of geolocations they cater to, but also the number of exchanges and the traffic channels in their system.

Although most DSPs have similar reach and have relationships with the biggest and highest-quality exchanges, some connect to exchanges that are not available in other platforms, and also have better cross-channel inventory. So don’t put too much weight on the “mine is bigger than yours” concept, but focus on whether there is a specific exchange or inventory in their system that you would like access to.

Pay attention to the cost

Many DSPs have different cost models associated with their inventory, as well as monthly platform fees. Some DSPs may charge a platform fee on top of the actual cost of traffic.

Cost transparency is also another aspect to consider: does the DSP charge on a CPM or CPC basis? It is highly likely that DSPs that charge on CPM are more transparent about their cost margins.

Pay attention to the costs involved, the bases for charging, and compare each one as some platforms may have hidden costs that will add up to your overall ad spend.

The type of support that you require

While some of the key points here focus on performance and costs, a practical factor to look for when choosing a DSP is the support that you will get once you start using the platform.

While highly-skilled media buyers and those with extensive experience using DSPs can usually navigate their way through a new platform, there are those that may need hand-holding and assistance to set-up and optimize campaigns. Ask if your DSP can assist you in campaign set-up and optimization and whether there are associated costs with the type of support that they provide. One way to find out what you get in terms of support is to do a low-budget trial campaign before you give your full commitment to them.

Managed campaign options

Advertisers have different preferences in using DSPs. Some, especially those that want full control of their campaigns, prefer to launch and optimize campaigns through a self-serve DSP, while others like to go through an account manager to optimize their campaigns for them. There are also those who want a hybrid see-up, that is utilize a self-serve DSP, and work with an account manager to manage their campaigns.

Find out if the DSP offers a managed campaign option in addition to the self-serve platform service. It is important to know this on the get go for easy transition from self-serve to managed or a combination of both down the road.

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