ssp explained

What Is A Supply Side Platform And How Does It Work? Best SSPs in 2022


Supply Side Platforms (SSP) manage the programmatic ecosystem's ever-expanding number of AdTech platforms and variables. Changing fill rates, yields, price floors, and brand safety would be impossible without these wholly automated platforms. Nowadays, there is no sizable online publisher out there who doesn't utilize the benefits of SSPs.

Like anything else in the programmatic advertising world, understanding how SSPs work and their benefits to publishers is no easy feat. Our in-depth guide will help you grasp the basics behind Supply Side Platforms and help you select the best one for your website.

Let's jump right in:

What Is A Supply Side Platform? SSP’s Explained

A supply-side platform (SSP) is an advertising technology used to manage advertising inventory and offer it to ad exchanges and demand side platforms (DSPs). In other words, SSPs assist digital media owners and publishers in automating the sale of digital ads through programmatic auctions.

SSPs improve the yield optimization of advertising inventory on websites and mobile apps to reduce unfilled ad space and increase views. SSPs, in a nutshell, allow publishers to sell their ad inventory to the most profitable ad network.

Publishers of all sizes can use SSPs to monetize their websites and apps. In theory, SSPs can sell just a handful of impressions on a small website or sell millions of impressions on a big publisher's website. However, some SSPs require publishers to have a certain number of impressions or website traffic before using their platform.

How Do Supply Side Platforms Fit Into the Online Advertising Ecosystem?

SSPs are a key component of Real-time bidding (RTB) media transactions and are one of the essential elements of the online advertising ecosystem. SSPs assist publishers in navigating the complexities of programmatic ad buying, primarily when dealing with multiple ad networks and their varying requirements and restrictions. To simplify the process of selling ad inventory for publishers, SSPs connect to ad exchanges, ad networks, data management platforms (DMPs), and demand side platforms (DSPs).

There are several processes and requirements SSPs automatically handle, including:

  • Real-time bidding auctions. SSPs use ad exchanges to sell a publisher's inventory to DSPs and ad exchanges.
  • Ad network optimization. Even if a publisher has several ad networks ready to buy their inventory, each network may have somewhat different conditions. One network will pay $2.00 CPM but only fill 20% of the time. In contrast, another will pay $1.00 CPM but fill 70% of the time. Yet, another may only offer $0.50 but fill all inventory every time. An SSP will decide which ad network to connect to when impressions become available on a publisher's website based on this historical information.
  • Frequency capping. To run frequency capping, SSPs and DSPs regularly sync and match cookies. In other words, the platforms keep track of how many times a particular visitor sees an ad and then limit how many times that visitor sees a specific ad. All websites that serve ads from a DSP are subject to this limitation.
  • Relevancy. The publisher can use an SSP to ensure that only relevant ad networks are considered during the trading process. For instance, some ad networks only accept impressions from specific geos.
  • Managing latency and discrepancies. Ad networks have varying levels of latency which can affect the overall real-time bidding process. SSPs automatically select networks that consistently offer the lowest level of latency to improve user experience and performance.

How Do Supply Side Platforms Work?

Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) use programmatic advertising solutions to sell a publisher’s inventory in various ways, such as:

  • Directly to ad networks
  • Direct deals with Demand Side Platforms (DSPs)
  • Real-Time Bidding (RTB) auctions

These different selling options are available because SSPs enable publishers to simultaneously link their inventory to several ad exchanges, DSPs, and ad networks.

Compared to traditional advertising, a wider range of potential customers can buy ad space from website owners within this programmatic advertising ecosystem. As a result, publishers can earn the best possible rate for their inventory.

DSP VS SSP

Let's break down the process step by step:

  1. A user lands on a publisher's website.
  2. The website sends the user's data to a Supply Side Platform (SSP).
  3. The SSP offers the impression to a digital marketplace, known as an ad exchange, connecting platforms and agents looking to buy and sell ad inventory.
  4. The ad exchange sends the impression to Demand Side Platforms (DSPs), which allow advertisers to buy ad space and target specific users with the help of algorithms.
  5. The ad exchange receives bids from the DSPs, and the advertiser with the highest bid wins the impression.
  6. The publisher now renders the winning advertiser's creative on their website for the user to see.

What Are The Main Features And Components Of A Supply Side Platform?

Components of a Supply Side Platform

  • Backend and infrastructure. For an SSP to provide its features and sell ad space, the various backend components are hosted on an infrastructure (e.g., Amazon Web Services). From there, they can carry out all the different technical processes that power the SSP's features.
  • Integrations. SSPs can integrate with other advertising technology platforms, such as header bidding companies, ad servers, DSPs, ad exchanges, and DMPs. These integrations facilitate the selling of inventory and maximize profits.
  • Ad Exchange. An ad exchange arranges the buying and selling of ads between advertisers and publishers. Many SSPs now incorporate ad-exchange functionalities, meaning publishers can directly connect to advertisers through DSPs and SSPs, rather than first connecting to external exchanges.
  • Trackers. Through trackers, publishers can collect data about the website and its users. Once the data is collected, the trackers can send the details to the reporting and user-profile databases.
  • Reporting database. The reporting database allows publishers to generate reports and view campaign analytics - these reports are generated from the trackers' data.

Features of a Supply Side Platform

  • User interface. The user interface enables publishers to take full advantage of the SSP. Publishers can use this panel to manage campaigns, examine reports, handle billing, and access other features the Supply Side Platform offers.
  • Analytics and reporting. Once publishers receive data from the reporting database, they can create and view reports about their inventory’s performance, including fill rates, clicks, and impressions.
  • Header bidding. Many SSPs incorporate header bidding functionality, allowing publishers to obtain bids from multiple DSPs before serving the winning creative. The header bidding feature of an SSP enables publishers to manage various header bidding wrappers and demand partners. If you’d like help getting started with header bidding contact our adops experts.
  • Yield optimization. The yield optimization feature of an SSP helps publishers to increase revenues by raising fill rates, introducing floor prices, and managing auction mechanics (e.g., first- and second-price auctions).
  • Inventory and campaign management. This feature allows publishers to manage different types of inventory, blacklist and whitelist advertisers, set IAB categories, and block certain types of ads.

What Advantages Do Supply Side Platforms Provide Publishers?

There are several advantages for publishers that are connected to a premium Supply Side Platform:

  • Automated inventory selling. SSPs simplify selling and buying inventory by removing manual work from the process. Publishers can sell all of their ad space to advertisers on desktop and mobile devices, regardless of the type (e.g., display, native video, or native ad space)
  • Brand safety. SSPs allow publishers to only offer inventory to specific buyers or through certain channels. They can provide better brand safety by blocking unwanted ads from showing on your website.
  • Reporting. SSPs provide publishers with information about who is bidding, how much advertisers pay for their inventory, and how frequently their ad space is filled. These details give publishers insights into the value of their inventory for specific advertisers.
  • Aggregation of multiple networks. SSPs help tackle the problem of a single ad network or ad exchange not bringing in enough bids, which drives down inventory value. SSPs enable more buyers to engage in real-time bidding by connecting to multiple networks, ad exchanges, and DSPs, resulting in a higher yield.
  • Price floors. SSPs allow publishers to offer their inventory to more buyers, giving publishers better pricing control. "Price floors" ensure that publishers do not sell their inventory below a specific price. Some SSPs should allow you to set soft and hard price floors. This flexibility enables publishers to maximize their revenue.

What Is The Difference Between DSPs And SSPs?

difference SSP and DSP

The primary difference between DSPs and SSPs is that they connect to different ends of the programmatic ecosystem. A demand-side platform (DSP) is a tool advertisers use to help organize ad-buying. In contrast, publishers use a supply-side platform to automate the sale of advertising space, which is the supply-side of the demand-side platform. While both platforms have their functionality, they must connect to one another for the bidding process to work.

SSPs enable publishers to filter ads based on specific criteria, e.g. the advertiser, and set different rates for each ad space. The DSP allows buyers of digital ad inventory to manage multiple ad exchanges through a single interface.

Supply Side Platform Examples - The Best SSP Platforms In 2022

  • Google Ad Exchange
  • Magnite
  • Xander
  • OpenX
  • Pubmatic
  • Verizon Media

The best SSP company for you will depend on your strategy, goals, budget, campaign type, and target audience. Finding the best SSP for your needs is critical to the success of your ad tech stack.

The following are some examples of the most well-known companies that currently provide SSP technology:

Supply Side Platform Google AdX Logo

Google Ad Exchange

Google AdX is considered one of the best SSPs in the market. As the world's largest exchange of global inventory, AdX provides strong performance for publishers. You can access Google AdX directly in Google Ad Manager or through a Google MCM and AdX partner like Snigel.

Supply Side Platform Magnite Logo

Magnite (Rubicon Project + Telaria)

Magnite launched in 2020 through the merger of Rubicon Project's programmatic ad pioneers and Telaria's CTV experts, making Magnite the world's largest independent sell-side ad platform. Previously, leading applications and publications worldwide used Rubicon's automated advertising platform to transact with big brands, reaching over one billion people.

Supply Side Platform Xandr Logo

Xander (formerly AppNexus Marketplace)

Xandr is a seasoned veteran in the online advertising market. Over the years, this company has launched several AdTech products, including an SSP. Publishers appreciate Xanders enterprise technology the most. The platform uses cloud technologies to optimize programmatic advertising, and their SSP is a popular destination for corporate advertisers and publishers worldwide.

Supply Side Platform OpenX Logo

OpenX

OpenX is a company that develops programmatic advertising technology. The company has created a technological platform that integrates an ad server and a real-time bidding (RTB) exchange with a regular Supply Side Platform (SSP).

Supply Side Platform Pubmatic Logo

PubMatic

The PubMatic platform enables independent app developers and publishers to control and maximize the value of their digital advertising businesses. It allows marketers to drive ROI by reaching and engaging their target audiences across ad formats and devices in brand-safe, premium environments.

Supply Side Platform Verizon Media Logo

Verizon Media

Verizon Media is a fantastic SSP for publishers trying to maximize the potential of digital video advertising. The platform gives you access to out-stream video ads for your site, which have better CPMs than most other ad units. Because of its success in generating consistent ROI, this platform offers good value for money. Aside from these unique capabilities, Verizon also looks after its publishers by providing a variety of brand safety solutions to assist you in removing unwanted ads.

Snigel works with all the above SSPs, as well as many more. By integrating more SSPs with your site, you get insights from all the platforms which results in the highest possible yield during a header bidding auction.

How To Choose The Best Supply Side Platform?

It’s beneficial to consult experts in the ad tech field when deciding which platform to use. Snigel has been in the advertising technology business for over a decade. We have worked with all major SSPs throughout the years to test their performance and assess their value to our publishing partners. Based on our experience, we consider Pubmatic, Magnite, and the Google Ad Exchange the SSPs, the most consistent performers.

To help you choose which Supply Side Platforms are best for your website, we have put together a checklist of characteristics to look out for:

  • Easy integration. It must have an ad server designed to integrate new high-quality demand platforms easily. Because demand fluctuates so often and publishers receive varying offers from ad networks and agencies, it's critical to keep track of the changes.
  • Real-time. Use a platform that focuses on real-time statistics and employs detailed and up-to-date real-time data.
  • Simplicity. Unless you have an in-house developer responsible for testing and debugging your setup, you should select an SSP that offers an easy implementation process. However, this is easier said than done, considering the complexity of these high-tech environments. In general, we recommend working with ad tech experts like Snigel to implement an SSP successfully.
  • Comprehensiveness. Ideally, you should have the option of adding a header bidding solution that integrates with tags—for example, Snigel's AdEngine. Header bidding auctions result in increased competition, resulting in significantly more revenue. AdEngines' sophisticated technology allows different demand sources to simultaneously bid on the same ad inventory, yielding the highest winning bid on every ad impression.

Additionally, the best Supply Side Platforms (SSP) for publishers allow you to regulate which advertisers can and cannot display ads on your site. Further, the SSP should filter bad ads, so they do not have a chance to appear on your website. As a publisher looking to monetize your site by selling your ad inventory, we suggest you find a home with at least three SSPs to maximize your revenue.

The easiest way to grow your ad revenue sustainably and quickly is to consult with an advertising technology expert like Snigel. We’re here to share our industry experience, ad tech, and connections to help publishers grow as much as possible. Snigel's header bidding solution helps our clients get proven results. Get in touch so we can show you how.

About the Author

Ira is Snigel's Online Marketing Executive. She supports our team and publishers by creating awesome guides on the latest adtech trends. Ira has studied software development, communications, and media.

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