Demand side platforms in 2021 aren’t what they used to be just a couple of years ago - the evolution of digital advertising constantly brings in new functionalities, ad formats, and capacities to the table. These are the drivers that DSP demand side platforms are using in order to compete. By improving and updating their technological power top DSPs also actively compete with multiple ad exchanges and other platforms that have plenty of perks to offer.

What's happening with the automated display ad buying market? What ad tech trends define the market now? What problems and what trends of automatic media-buying advertisers and agencies should know in order to choose between top DSPs in 2021? It’s time to deconstruct the notion of a modern demand side platform DSP and take a brief look at everything it can do. Then, we’ll make a list of demand-side platforms to compare the most popular options. Buckle up, we’re about to start reviewing demand side platforms.

DSP companies: how do they serve advertisers and agencies?

In case you aren’t quite aware of what is DSP - demand side platform is a technological platform that links advertisers and agencies to the publishers who are willing to sell their inventory for ad serving, typically on a per-click or per-impression basis. Without going deep into the mechanics of ad serving it will be right, to sum up, that the key point of DSP is to simplify and automate the media-buying process for demand side partners of the programmatic ecosystem. The real-time bidding algorithm is what typically fuels the automation on DSP demand side platforms, by supporting online auctions.

On the other side of the spectrum is supply side offering their ad inventory through SSP. If we simplify the whole algorithmic media trading process to the core here’s how demand side platforms DSPs interact with supply side platforms in order to buy impressions from publishers in real-time.

  1. The user visits the website/app while their cookies are automatically collected by the source and passed to the SSP (that sends a request to demand side platforms DSPs).
  2. The demand side platform DSP analyzes information about the user and matches it with targeting criteria that advertisers brands and agencies set up on DSP demand side platforms (the geolocation of the user, their IP, age or/and gender, OS, device type, brand, etc.) If it’s a match, then the demand side platform takes part in the auction and competes for this particular impression with the rest of the DSP demand side platforms. If the user is outside of the relevant target audience, DSP demand side platforms do not join the bidding.
  3. The advertiser whose demand side platform offered the highest bid wins and the impression is served to this particular user. The whole real time bidding RTB process takes no more than a few milliseconds (while the page is loading). This way the ad finds the viewer at the right time and place.

how DSP works

How demand side platforms are different from ad exchanges and ad networks

Let’s see how DSP demand side platforms are different from multiple ad exchanges represented on the market today. Typically a key function of ad networks and ad exchanges is to aggregate the digital advertising inventory from publishers and align it with the advertiser's demand. Publishers of blogs, news sites, mobile apps, and websites collect their ad slots that advertisers can buy. Some ad networks have a particular traffic specialization. For instance, last time in the article we’ve reviewed the best push network options for advertisers and affiliates.

The other options may work specifically with display video, display mobile, native advertising, or CTV ad campaigns, and so forth. Some think there’s an ongoing battle called DSP vs ad network. The only difference is that the DSP demand side platforms are designed only for the demand side. The network may also have real time bidding RTB functionality, however, it can be joined by both demand and supply side.

What is an ad exchange and how it is different from DSP demand side platforms? Ad exchanges are open marketplaces designed for both supply and demand side partners. Along with ad networks, they were the first advertising software platforms that popped into the scene (before demand side platforms DSP). Just like DSP demand side platforms, exchanges can also function based on real time bidding and perform media-buying for advertisers.

The key difference here is that ad exchange is used by everyone - advertisers and publishers, while DSP demand side platforms serve the interests of advertisers. Since demand side platform DSP is an advertising platform designed for advertisers only, it leaves room for DSP companies to compete through more refined dashboard customization and a broader set of useful demand side functionalities. As well, advertisers can serve marketing and advertising campaigns on DSP demand side platforms through trading desks.

2 types of demand side platforms to look for:

There are two types of demand side platforms DSPs available on the market. One type belongs to the managed service category and the other one is completely suitable for self service. Both types of demand side platforms have their pros and cons. Worth mentioning that top DSP companies usually offer both options to satisfy the needs of both categories of advertisers. Here's a quick look at each type of these demand side platforms.

Self serve demand side platforms

With self serve DSP, advertisers can manage their campaigns individually through the dashboard. Benefits include complete control over your campaigns and the fact that you don’t need to spend money on campaign management. Still, this approach involves a lot of effort and time for campaign and ad management.

With self serve demand side platforms DSP, advertisers must make campaign optimization decisions themselves: such as bids, budgets, and targeting. In order to be successful with this type of advertising platform, an advertiser needs a skilled team of media buyers or sufficient expertise in programmatic advertising.

Managed demand side platforms

To use this type of account, an advertiser has to commission control of their campaigns to the service team which is usually hired and assembled by a certain DSP technology company. It can be used both by newbies in programmatic advertising and by advertisers who just don’t have time and resources for managing ad campaigns on their own.

In this case, the DSP technology company provides an experienced account manager to the client to manage the ad spend, targeting, optimization, and everything that comes with a campaign. In some cases, companies commission it to trading desks. Trade desk professionals can also configure and run campaigns on demand side platforms on behalf of advertisers who don’t have time or experience for self service.

When it comes to top DSPs 2020 and 2021 we can pinpoint the general trend: these are mostly marketing platform providers that became popular relatively recently. Some of them were popular for quite a long time already and there is a fraction of award winning demand side platforms that recently strengthened their presence in the market thanks to the innovations.

For instance, the Google marketing platform was among the first companies that pioneered the niche. Then joined Facebook, Amazon advertising platform (Amazon DSP), and the rest. Together these platforms with Google marketing platform account for 70% of advertising traffic. Indeed, advertising giants are here to offer very strong demand side capabilities as their advertising software is reliable and time-proven.

Alternative demand side platforms as market drivers. What’s happening behind the curtains is, smaller DSP companies are catching up with such giants as Google marketing platform very quickly. Alternatives that appear on the market every new year have serious competitive advantages, they compete with giants through innovations, the ability to adjust to the rapidly changing ecosystem, flexibility, and individual approach to clients. In the very core, these demand side platforms can be very similar to Google marketing platform and the rest of the giants, still, each of those best demand-side platforms we have on the list has its own unique characteristics, the number of clients, ad formats, pricing models they function according to.

Demand side platforms may specialize in self serve mobile campaigns, desktop, CTV campaigns, or else. The price per impression or click will normally be dependent on many factors such as geo, resolution of the chosen ad format, traffic type, placement details, advertising vertical (business, IT, finance, health, lifestyle, news, sport, and so on). Alternative demand side platforms also effectively compete by offering lower prices or traffic across multiple ad verticals (that are restricted on most programmatic advertising platforms.)

More is yet to come. In 2021 the global market of demand side platform DSP solutions is booming and is expected to boost with a CAGR of 30.0% (29680 million) by 2025 as featured in the GlobeNewswire report. For the record, the market accounted for 10410 million back in 2019. Google marketing platform, Facebook, and Amazon advertising solutions are still here and will be popular in the years to come. Nevertheless, the list of demand-side platforms is getting updated non-stop. Solid alternative demand side platforms that serve programmatic ads pose serious competition. Before we start to review the top DSPs of the year, let’s see which important features and technologies a demand side platform DSP has to have to be called best these days.

4 features of the best DSP

Each demand side platform DSP company may have plenty of features and useful functionalities on board. A single platform can also leverage a great variety of technological advancements. At the same time, few things remain solid and universal for all demand side platforms if we judge them according to what the majority of functions demand side platforms have today. We also tried to analyze and find out what advertisers look for in the demand side platform in 2021, here’s what we found:

Cross-platform and cross device digital advertising capabilities

  • Ability to embrace multiple channels at once and several device types - this is what mobile marketers will pursue on the quest for the best ad ROI in 2021. One person typically has several devices each of which can function on different OS - mobile phone, laptop, PC. As CTV and OTT enormously grow, advertisers also strive to capture previously unexplored Smart TV audiences on demand side platforms. Media buying on any marketing platform today should utilize artificial intelligence, machine learning, and first/third party data driven advanced attribution algorithms that run cross-platform and cross-device advertising campaigns.

Healthy traffic and safe advertising ecosystem

  • Best DSP platforms always deliver maximum reach meaning that advertisers have plenty of options to choose from and run campaigns across multiple mobile apps and websites. Working with more traffic sources means more opportunities for demand side platforms. However, working with more traffic sources also entails more risks of advertising fraud unless a demand side platform DSP has traffic protection scanners and filters in place. If demand side platforms have proper anti-fraud control it will directly affect the effectiveness of advertising campaigns as impressions will only be seen by real people (not bots).

Lots of ad formats and profound analytics

  • It is a must for a demand side platform DSP these days to support all formats, at least those that are very popular, such as native, display mobile ad, video, rich media, social media, etc. The more ad formats an online advertising platform can serve, the more opportunities are here to effectively embrace various channels. The reporting on demand side platforms should be generated on-demand and include details of all primary variables used for targeting.

Compliance with international and local privacy regulations

  • In the light of the recent transformations related to privacy and user data protection, it becomes necessary for the demand side platform to be compliant with regulations and laws. Demand side platforms use cookies and third party data management platforms that can be restricted by international regulations - GDPR and CCPA and the local ones. Thus, media buyers have no other choice but to adapt and revise their third party data management mechanisms The best way is to ask your technology company whether it is compliant and what mechanisms they use to ensure this compliance.

10 Best demand-side platforms of 2021

The list of top demand side platforms in 2021 can be arranged according to various criteria - targeting capabilities, reach, ad formats, analytics, data management, and more. We’ve selected the most popular demand side platforms, those that operate according to cost per impression models (in both self service and managed service categories). While analyzing and comparing demand side platforms we also used builtwith.com and similartech.com to fetch the freshest results and traffic info (dated 18 February 2021).

Best demand-side platforms comparison table

DSP Ad types supported Payment model Top verticals Targeting options Top countries
1. SmartyAds

Push (including in-page push), Video, Banner, Native, Rich Media, CTV, Rewarded video, Playable, Pop-up, Pop-under

CPM Business, Financial, Software, Employment, Consumer Electronics, Travel, Sports, Lifestyle and hobby, Media and entertainment

GEO, OS, Device & Connection types, Mobile carrier, Browser & Language, Dayparting, Frequency capping, Retargeting

United States, India, Israel, United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, France, Spain, UK

 
2. Criteo

Display mobile, tablet, desktop, display video, social, native, in-app ad formats, tablet formats, CTV

CPM

Science & Education, Arts & Entertainment, Computers Electronics, Games

 

IP, OS, geo, device type, traffic type, time of day, connection type, and more

USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Australia, Brazil, Poland, Netherlands, Mexico, India
3. Centro's Basis

Display, mobile, in-app, native, video, CTV, audio programmatic

 
CPM Sports, Vehicles, Science & Education, Finance

Language, geo, Apps, Content, contextual targeting, retargeting

US, UK, Canada, China, Mexico, Australia
4. Xandr's Invest

Display mobile, display video, in-app, OTT, CTV, programmatic audio, mobile web, native

 
CPM

Arts & Entertainment, Computers Electronics, Technology, Science & Education, Games, others


 

Geo, Browser, Operating System, Language, contextual

US, UK, Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, Australia, Italy, Netherlands, Spain

5. Adelphic

Display mobile, display video, programmatic audio, digital out of home, CTV, in-app, mobile, web formats

CPM

Food & Drink, Health, Finance, Science & Education, Others

 
Household IP address, unified cross channel user ID

US, Canada, UK, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, France

6. Adform

video, display mobile web and in-app, OTT and CTV

CPM

 

E-commerce & Shopping, Vehicles, Computers Electronics, Sports

 
Geo, browser, device OS, cookie ID, IP, interaction data

US, Denmark, Spain, Poland, Sweden, Italy, Netherlands, Finland

7. The trade desk

Display, mobile, in-app, native, video, audio

CPM

Arts & Entertainment, Games, Vehicles, Travel & Tourism

 

Geo, browser, device OS, cookie ID, behavioral data

 

US, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Brazil,  France, Italy

 
8. StackAdapt Display , video, native, desktop, talet, CTV, and mobile

CPM

b2b, finance, government, healthcare, retail, and travel

Geo, Device ID, IP, browser, cookie ID 

 

US, Canada, UK, Brazil, Italy, Indonesia, Vietnam

9. AcuityAds display, mobile, in-app, video CPM  

Arts & Entertainment, Science & Education, Games, Computers Electronics

 

IP, OS, geo, device type, traffic type, time of day, connection type

 

US, Canada, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, Brazil, Australia

 
10. Mediamath's TerminalOne Display mobile, video, connected TV, programmatic audio, mobile formats, DOOH, native

CPM

 
Vehicles, E-commerce & Shopping, Lifestyle, Computers Electronics

Geo, site list, cookies, your own gathered first party data, day part, technology category

US, Brazil, Spain, UK, Canada, South Korea, Germany, France, Australia, Italy

SmartyAds DSP

smartyAds DSPSmartyAds DSP is a leading full-stack programmatic advertising solution that has all essential functionalities for managing and raising profitable ad campaigns (founded in 2013, headquarters: New York City, New York). This software platform has been gradually augmenting the number of traffic sources so that it now serves 366 847 impressions daily. The average CTR indicator is 5,48%, and the CPM is around $1,01. This platform also has strong traffic protection mechanisms and is GDPR/CCPA compliant.

Main features

  • Cross device omnichannel delivery. SmartyAds DSP supports ad formats that suit all popular ad mediums: mobile, in-app, mobile, and CTV ecosystems. The ad formats specifically suited for all device types.
  • Abundance of ad formats. The number of digital ad formats that SmartyAds DSP supports is overwhelming: native, push, rich media, display mobile, video, banner, CTV, custom, and IAB format sizes and resolutions are also supported.
  • Real time bidding, direct, and PMP deals available. Real time bidding enables the broadest reach across countries. Advertisers who want to fetch exclusive and premium advertising inventory can tap into direct deals with publishers or private marketplace auctions.
  • 30+ targeting options. Advertisers can address audiences according to their geolocation, language, age range, gender, OS, device type, and other conditions to make ad serving relevant and personalized. Top verticals are Arts & Entertainment, Technology & Computing, Hobbies & Interests, Society, Business, News, Edu, Health & Fitness.
  • Automated reporting. The stats regarding campaign performance can be generated on-demand in convenient reports.

Is it right for you?

We’ve attributed SmartyAds to the top DSP platforms because it really has plenty of things on offer for advertisers. It will be a great choice for the advertisers and agencies that look for a great global advertising reach, yet it is also good for those who want their options open for PMP and direct deals. Their traffic comes from top-tier countries like the United States, India, Israel, United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, France, Spain, UK, and so on. It has a people-based approach meaning that apart from a self-served platform it can offer managed service.

Criteo

criterio DSPCriteo belongs to the top DSP platforms because of its popular service called Criteo dynamic retargeting. This industry-leading solution serves ads across the globe and offers a platform for CPC, CPM-based campaigns. Yearly this marketing platform serves more than 1,2 billion ads. Mostly this marketing platform is renowned for its strong display mobile, tablet, desktop, and display video capabilities, right now it is used by 18,000 marketers around the world.

Main features

  • Lots of ad formats. Criteo specializes in display mobile, tablet, desktop, and display video campaigns but also has such additional ad formats on offer, those include social, native, in-app ad formats, tablet formats, CTV.
  • Omnichannel reach. The single platform can deliver the ads across the most popular channels, including desktop, mobile, in-app, web mobile, and CTV ecosystems. The ads are dynamically optimized and suited to the platform and screen of the gadget.
  • Strong and precise targeting. Dynamic retargeting demand side platform DSP enables you to re-engage your customers on various devices and channels with various targeting options (IP, OS, geo, device type, traffic type, time of day, connection type, and more).
  • Real time reporting. You can generate on-demand reports according to the campaign performance criteria you choose.
  • Premium publishers. Criteo's open Commerce Marketing Ecosystem connects to myriads of premium class publishers across the globe (with RTB and non-RTB deals).

Is it right for you?

Criteo is a solid data driven solution for advertisers who want to run CPC and CPM-based campaigns alike. It was founded in 2005 and by this time has accumulated a lot of valuable traffic. It is specifically good if you are looking for great display advertising capabilities and traffic sources. Aside from Criteo's dynamic retargeting platform they also have Criteo Direct. The countries that they work with include top-tier areas like the USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Australia. As well they serve ads in Brazil, Poland, Netherlands, Mexico, India, and so on.

Centro (Basis)

basis DSPCentro’s Basis is a largest SaaS-based DSP advertising software that designed a self-serve platform for advertisers who strive to buy digital inventory through real time bidding RTB and programmatic direct deals. Basis was founded in 2001 (Headquarters: New York City, New York), and to these days it has a strong focus on omnichannel campaign delivery. This marketing platform is pretty much universal in its ability to serve all kinds of ad campaigns, plus, it counted over 2000+ active private deals. Rated as #1 solution on G2.

Main features

  • Direct deals and RTB. A single interface opens a gateway to over 2000+ active private deals and real time bidding RTB opportunities: advertisers can target audiences across all supply sources within the real time bidding RTB ecosystem.
  • Smart workflow automation. Artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms at the core of the software platform automatically measure and optimize campaigns: from bid formation to prices and ad delivery.
  • Variety of available ad formats. Social media, native advertising formats, video advertising, display mobile, display video, CTV, audio programmatic. Served in all resolutions (size, width, etc).
  • Data driven smart targeting. This marketing platform has 25,000+ audience segments that become available for targeting thanks to integration with the best third party data providers.
  • Smart analytics. The in-built reporting system analyzes campaign performance according to the most important indicators in real time. As well, the reports can be saved and downloaded for further use.

Is it right for you?

Centro’s Basis is one of those demand side platforms that will suit you if you strive to buy ad inventory in both RTB and direct, avoiding auctions. Aside from all the features listed above the platform also has traffic safety guarantees and protection mechanisms in place. It functions according to the CPM pricing model and thus, will better suit those advertisers that plan to run branding campaigns. Their top verticals according to similartech.com include Sports, Vehicles, Science & Education, Finance. Top countries: US, UK, Canada, China, Mexico, Australia, and others.

Xandr Invest

xandr invest DSPXandr Invest is a popular ad buying platform that was created by AT&T in 2018. (Previously called AppNexus, a global ad tech company, headquarters: New York City, New York). This demand side platform DSP has a strong focus on desktop and mobile video and programmatic TV ad inventory (including OTT and CTV). With this platform, advertisers can reach up to 85% of Smart TV households. The platform is positioned as a premium class software that enables advertisers to achieve great advertising outcomes through access to exclusive inventory, data management, powerful statistics, and precise targeting.

Main features

  • Data driven strong targeting. Whilst targeting advertisers can count on extensive 2,500+ audience segments that have been accumulated by Xandr based on their gathered top class first party data (as opposed to third party data management solutions).
  • Abundance of cross channel ad formats. Display mobile, display video 360, in-app, OTT, CTV, programmatic audio, mobile, native. All these formats are impeccably rendered in all necessary environments and can be served in all suitable resolutions.
  • Real time attribution for campaigns. This platform has a strong reporting system that generates stats in digestible and visualized bites so that performance is delivered at glance.
  • Targeted ads across segments. Xandr is one of the top demand side platforms because it operates based on valuable proprietary first party data. You can find audiences based on geo, Browser, Operating System, Language, contextual targeting, retargeting, etc.
  • Brand safety and protection. Xandr’s traffic is thoroughly monitored and scanned to prevent ad fraud and invalid traffic. All impressions are 100% viewable thanks to integration with traffic safety providers.

Is it right for you?

Xandr’s Invest is one of those demand side platforms that will be a perfect choice in case you look for top-notch quality traffic as it works with global reputable publishers worldwide and uses its own first party data audience segments. Their support has a people-based approach as they can guide advertisers through all stages of campaign management. With this capability, this online advertising platform can offer unique target audience targeting options. As well it will be a great choice for desktop, mobile video, and CTV advertisers as the platform have enough traffic in these segments.

Adelphic

adelphic DSPAdelphic started conquering the digital marketing and advertising ecosystem in 2010 when Viant launched its demand side platform with cross channel capabilities. The platform offers features and controls that help advertisers aptly find their audiences online and address them with relevant and individualized targeted messages. What’s unique about them is that they also offer data-driven single-user ID identification for targeting (instead of cookies).

Main features

  • Portraits of real customers. You can target audiences according to their portraits that the system assembles across channels and devices and unifies into single IDs suitable for most precise targeting.
  • Omnichannel reach. Adelphic makes digital advertising available through RTB deals that span channels and all popular formats, including programmatic TV.
  • Universal ad formats. When it comes to ad formats, Adelphic supports display mobile, video, programmatic audio, digital out of home, CTV, in-app, mobile, custom, and many others.
  • Flexible and individual pricings. The platform offers to craft individual transparent pricing contracts with clients (based on their objectives and budget capacities).
  • Custom reporting. The real time reporting provides insightful attribution across channels. Custom reporting tools are available in the system.

Is it right for you?

Adelphic is a very powerful self-serve platform with a variety of functions for setting cross channel campaigns. It is also one of those demand side platforms that are very convenient for advertisers who look for cookieless targeting capabilities based on unified choss channel user IDs. This solution also stands out in the demand-side platform list as it offers relatively new programmatic advertising formats. If you search for such rare formats as audio programmatic, CTV, and digital out of home, this can be the best choice.

Adform

adform DSPFounded in 2002 in Denmark, Adform is here to offer a full ad tech stack for advertisers, agencies, and brands that look for advanced programmatic digital advertising capabilities. This DSP offers plenty of useful tools and perks, from quick campaign approval to automated campaign optimization, that makes your campaigns very profitable. As well, you can count on a pretty broad reach - find audiences across desktop, mobile, and tablet devices and top quality traffic from their third party vendors - Bid Switch, Oath Xandr, Pubmatic, OpenX, Rubicon, Teams, etc.

Main features

  • KPI-driven system. The system has 14 in-built algorithms each of which is designed to facilitate advertising KPI achievement. There is a bidding optimization which means that the bid sum is adjusted so that it singles out only relevant impressions at the optimal price.
  • Ad formats for all channels. Display and video digital advertising, mobile and in-app, OTT and CTV - there are lots to choose from if you want to enrich your media mix.
  • Real time reporting. The reports can be generated in real time and on demand: just choose the performance criteria and make a report.
  • Broad reach. RTB connection and integration with the largest traffic partners ensures that advertisers reach and buy the best inventory across the globe.
  • Only healthy traffic. The platform generates only healthy, 100% viewable traffic that is free from bots and other ad fraud threats. Top countries include the US, Denmark, Spain, Poland, Sweden, Italy, Netherlands, Finland.

Is it right for you?

The peculiar feature about Adform is that this digital advertising platform offers automatic campaign optimization as well as automatic bidding-improving. It is one of those demand side platforms that can be a good choice especially if you want to obtain good quality traffic in high volumes and across the channels. The stable traffic flow is guaranteed by connection to RTB and renowned ad tech vendors and partners.

The trade desk

the trade desk DSPThis self-serve digital advertising platform was founded in 2009 and by this time it managed to gather a strong and reliable network of 225+ partners among which are featured: Hulu, Disney, ABC, Spotify, Pandora, FOX, and ESPN. With cross channel capabilities this DSP encourages advertisers to launch ad campaigns on a multitude of devices and screens, including cord-cutting CTV.

Main features

  • RTB, PMP, guaranteed, and direct deals. Connection to RTB ensures the broadest reach and quick automated inventory purchasing. Direct and PMP and guaranteed deals are also available.
  • Great selection of ad formats. Currently, the platform has a focus on cord-cutting video advertising enabled by programmatic TV. Aside from CTV, there are native ads, display mobile, social media ads, and programmatic audio. In the dashboard, advertisers can select the right width, height, and sd resolutions.
  • Full-funnel attribution. The reporting system allows advertisers to analyze digital advertising performance from impression to conversion stages. The reports are visualized, customized, and generated in real time on demand.
  • Expert dedicated support. This platform has a people-based approach - an expert support team on board to assist advertisers and advise them regarding how to adjust their campaigns for success.
  • Top-notch quality traffic. Traffic quality monitoring systems along with proven supply side names and partners are key factors that guarantee traffic quality and great volumes.

Is it right for you?

The trade desk is a platform that can suit both programmatic advertising professionals and the newbies (since it has a people-based approach - employs the experts to the support team). It has all the necessary functionalities and tools to help advertisers achieve great media trading results: RTB, cross channel reach, and strong analytics and data management. What sets it apart from the rest of the best DSP platforms, is advanced customer support as well as a variety of deals to choose from RTB, direct, PMP, and guaranteed programmatic.

StackAdapt

stackadapt DSPStackAdapt DSP belongs to the fastest growing ad tech companies, namely - ranks 6th in Deloitte's Technology and comes 23rd in Fast 500 in North America. When it was founded (in 2013) the main purpose was to empower advertisers and agencies with a strong software that automates media purchasing and optimizes the bidding on the go. This DSP has an extensive network of partners, 500+ publishers, and 23 verticals coverage.

Main features

  • Functionality for ad campaign planning. The platform has a creative studio to test campaigns before the launch as well as a ‘planner’ to get access to the potential of data driven campaigns. The ad previewer enables advertisers to evaluate the performance beforehand.
  • Cross channel ad formats. With all available ad formats, advertisers can launch video advertising campaigns, native, desktop, tablet, CTV, and mobile ones.
  • Real-time campaign optimization. The bids are automatically adjusted by smart algorithms to hit the most valuable impressions at suitable ad slots.
  • Campaign effectiveness measurement. Real time MA and AI-powered reports can be scheduled and customized so that they deliver precise results regarding campaign performance.
  • Broadest reach of verticals. The ad platform provides traffic across more than 23 popular verticals, including b2b, finance, government, healthcare, retail, and travel.

Is it right for you?

StackAdapt is one of those demand side platforms that fall within this demand-side platform list because it has all distinctive features of well-equipped modern media buying software. It is connected to the best global supply side platforms via RTB and is integrated with worldwise traffic partners to ensure that they satisfy the needs of advertisers. This platform can be especially good for experienced advertisers and brands as this self-serve platform has advantageous tools for campaign testing, planning, and analysis.

AcuityAds

acuityads DSPAcuityAds was founded in 2009 in Toronto. This DSP is notoriously well-fitted to optimize advertiser’s budget costs while delivering holistic ad campaigns to the viewers. It operates based on machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms that made decision-making regarding each impression optimal. With advanced campaign controls, the platform allows advertisers to amplify their reach and achieve KPI results easily.

Main features

  • Intuitive dashboard. The dashboard is designed to simplify ad campaign setup and maintenance. Simple drag and drop logic turns complicated processes into simple tasks.
  • Advanced visualized experience. Aside from ad broadcasting, the platform is suited to deliver digestible insights to advertisers. How the ads are delivered regarding customer journey - it is possible to map up and create the alternate journey based on them.
  • Consumer valuing tool. The platform implemented advanced technology that evaluates each potential customer towards the business goal (to define relevance and eliminate waste).
  • Media mix assessment. How your ad investments perform, how they impact your audiences, and how they are allocated - all these things get visualized by the platform.
  • Advanced performance evaluation. Actionable performance stats can be generated on demand in real time.

Is it right for you?

AcuityAds is well adjusted to serve self service programmatic campaigns, that’s what you should remember choosing this option. The dashboard is clear and straightforward with drag and drop logic, still, it has lots of useful functions for sophisticated campaign management and navigation. This option belongs today to the top DSP platforms because it offers unparalleled reach to advertisers, as well as intelligent mechanisms that make ads relevant and adjust ad messages throughout the customer journey.

MediaMath TerminalOne

mediamath DSPMediaMath TerminalOne DSP was founded in 2007 in New York. It has one of the largest networks of supply partners and is actively used by more than 4,000 advertisers in New York and worldwide including. Overall, MediaMath is listed as a company that is trusted by two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies. The main feature that distinguishes this solution from others is that they pride themselves in brand safety and transparency.

Main features

  • Lots of cross channel ad formats on offer. Display mobile, video, connected TV, programmatic audio, mobile formats, DOOH, native. All creatives are automatically fitted to the screen and dynamically optimized with DCO technology.
  • Strong targeting. The ads can be delivered in accordance with geo, site list, your own gathered first party data, day part, technology category, video/audio targets.
  • Customer segmentation. The platform features a deep customer segmentation tool that ties together the first party data and third party data from partners of MediaMath. This functionality helps to create meaningful and relevant audiences for your programmatic campaigns.
  • Brand image protection. The platform ensures that brand image is protected during the programmatic buying: privacy, fraud controls, placement verification are in place.
  • Precise analytics and data management. The platform has an in-built analytics and data management system that delivers performance stats on demand in easy-to-understand and convenient reports.

Is it right for you?

MediaMath is one of those demand side platforms that can offer plenty of options to advertisers when it comes to formats. Like no other platform it optimizes the creatives of various sizes and formats and even serves digital out-of-home ads. Apart from this distinctive feature, it can be right to say that it will suit both experienced advertisers and the newcomers since they also have a strong support team.

What will define the best DSP platforms in the future?

Demand-side platforms list featured here counts the most popular options and the functions that may come in handy for advertisers in 2021. At the same time, the digital marketing and advertising scene are slowly leaning towards transparency and greater security.

Demand side platforms move towards transparency and accountability. The abundance of intermediaries and third party vendors and trading desks standing in between publishers and advertisers is overwhelming. A trade desk or a vendor may be valuable for advertisers, however, they define prices individually which often leads to unreasonably high commissions. RTB auctions can also result in unwanted spending: these are fully automated, so the advertiser cannot fully control the media buying processes, see all the margins and commissions on per-impression or per click level. At this level, the marketing platform has a so-called “black box problem” - operations become hard to investigate.

In-house solutions and white label demand side platforms. The massive introduction of in-house programmatic allows brands and enterprises to accumulate sufficient experience and expertise, and retain all the possibilities to control the programmatic advertising process. Still, digital marketing, advertising, and media buying require substantial resources, and bringing it in-house is something that big brands like Kellog, IBM, or Unilever can afford. To simplify independent programmatic advertising technology development ad tech brought in white-label business concept to the table.

While label DSP is the same programmatic advertising technology as regular DSP. An advertiser in this case buys the entire pre-built core of the platform, slightly customizes it, labels and gear on the market as a new solution. Plus, these platforms can be integrated with other technologies like management platform. Such a model enables brands and enterprises to make money as a reseller while running a transparent, safe, and well-controllable ad ecosystem. The coding, designing, testing, and licensing parts of the equation are solved.

how white label works

Such demand side platforms are ready to be launched in less than a month and there are no risks to end up with crude programmatic advertising solutions that fail to meet high-quality criteria. No need to rely on third party service providers. White label solutions are simple and well-suited to make digital advertising and digital marketing processes seamless. Award-winning white label solutions like SmartyAds DSP have all complex processes "under the hood" and don’t require specific tech knowledge. It has a strong RTB bidder, profound targeting capabilities, traffic navigation tools, and an intuitive easy-to-navigate purchasing interface that makes media buying efficient and profitable.

To sum up

Best DSPs of 2021 are those programmatic advertising technology pieces that provide advertisers with the broadest reach and essential functionalities for launching, managing, and analyzing their programmatic ad campaigns. Today media buying algorithms on these platforms are based on machine learning, artificial intelligence, and smart targeting data management. A DSP that has in-built advanced technologies and all the tools for effective ad personalization - a tool that will come in handy for every marketer who wants to advertise effectively in 2021. This demand-side platforms list provides only a quick glimpse into the vast world of the programmatic buying landscape. Innovations, new market needs, and challenges of media buyers will define how top DSPs will look in the future. Ready to be informed? Then keep the finger on the pulse with our next publications.

Grow your campaigns on SmartyAds DSP or contact us to deploy your own WL solution!

Written by
Irina Kovalenko, CMO of SmartyAds
February 2021