How to choose your programmatic buy side platform (DSP)?
Once you have made the decision to give programmatic media buying a go (congratulations!), you need to choose a DSP partner. There are a number of players out there with different features, support, and cost structure, so how do you decide? Having worked with a DSP, I would recommend to ask the following ten questions from your potential partner:
1. Algorithm track record/ performance history
When did you first launch your algorithm – ie. what’s the length of time of the accumulated algorithmic learnings?
What version is your algorithm up to?
2. Online inventory (reach)
Which exchanges, publishers, SSPs are you integrated with? (Ideally want to see some of the largest ones such as AdX, PubMatic, Rubicon, as well as some who are more specialised, such as SpotExchange and LiveRail (video), Smaato and InMobi (mobile).)
3. Platform features
What in-built targeting options are available within the platform? (As a minimum you’d expect geo, vertical, time/date, website level targeting, device, position and the ability to retarget.)Can you provide a demonstration of the platform to evaluate ease of use of both setting a new campaign up as well as ongoing optimisation? (Such as ease of changing budgets, revising campaign end dates, pausing activity, new creative upload and approval process.)
What reports are available and how easy it is to run these? (as a minimum you’d expect date, impression, click, ctr%, cpc, cpm, conversions, cpa, website)Which 3rd party data providers are you integrated with? (You’d expect to hear Eyeota, Execlate, BlueKai, or DMPs such as Lotame, Krux, etc.)
4. Pricing goals
What campaign goals can I set? (As a minimum you’d expect to be able to set specific CPM, CPC, or CPA goals, depending on campaign objective. It has its own is not a platform feature, or in other words a ‘nice to have’, but a core ability.)
5. Private MarketPlace deals (PMPs)
Do you support PMPs?How good is your matching and response rate? (This is something the DSP can find out from its Inventory partners and is a metric that can directly impact the performance of a campaign that is set up under a PMP.)
6. What type of media can I buy programmatically through the platform?
Ideally you’d like to see the platform being able to handle all approved IAB sizes for display, as well as mobile. You’d also like them to be video certified (currently VAST 2.0) for both display and mobile networks.Some platforms also offer other types of media such as Out of Home, or Programmatic TV and radio.
7. What fraud filtering and brand protection tools do you have?
Do you offer an in-built, proprietary technology which monitors and filters fraudulent clicks?
Which 3rd parties have you integrated into the platform who offer fraud filtering and brand protection? (For example Integral Ad Science offers this at an additional fee.)
8. Available support & upfront training
Do you offer training as part of the on-boarding process?
What ongoing support do you provide and at what fee?
How can I contact you if I get stuck? (You would expect to have a support button in the platform or an email alias where you can log questions and issues. Make sure to check how soon are these emails attended to. The last thing you want is getting stuck, meanwhile the tech team’s response time is 1-2 days, when you have an urgent campaign to push live, which only runs for 24 hours!)
9. Platform fee
Are there any upfront costs?
Do you offer diy and managed service as well?
What’s the ongoing cost of using the platform and what is the pricing model? (Could be a flat fee, or percentage based, or a combination of the two, etc. You have to work out your estimated spend on the platform and what model works best for you. In any case, a DSP should only ever charge for impressions that they have bought on your behalf, which is why probably a percentage based fee is the most fair.)
10. Testimonials, recommendations, case studies
Who have you worked with, and what do they say about you?Have you participated in any head-to-head tests against other DSPs, and if so, are you able to share results?