Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs) and Their Role in Programmatic Advertising

Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs) and Their Role in Programmatic Advertising
Key Takeaways
Programmatic advertising has revolutionized the way ads are bought and sold, and SSPs play a vital role in this ecosystem.
SSPs provide numerous features beneficial for publishers, including ad network optimization, price floors, and control over advertising.
SSPs and DSPs work together, forming a harmonious relationship in the online advertising ecosystem.
There are a number of leading SSPs, such as Google Ad Manager and Amazon, each with unique offerings.
Monetizing through SSPs can be a highly effective strategy for publishers looking to maximize their ad revenue.

Introduction to Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic advertising might sound a bit like you’re enrolling in a coding bootcamp, but it’s not nearly as daunting as it may seem at first glance. Simply put, it’s a game-changer in the world of digital marketing that’s here to make advertisers’ lives easier. Let’s jump in!

What is Programmatic Advertising?

Think of programmatic advertising as the matchmaker of the advertising world, but instead of bringing together lovelorn singles, it’s pairing advertisers with the perfect audience.

Programmatic advertising is the use of automated technology for media buying, as opposed to traditional (and time-consuming) manual bookings.

Now, let’s get a little technical but don’t worry, I promise to be gentle. Programmatic advertising involves buying digital advertising space automatically, with computer algorithms deciding which ads to buy and how much to pay for them, in real time. It’s like eBay, but for ads! These algorithms take into account a variety of factors like the site content, the user’s behavior, and more, to determine where an ad will have the most impact.

What is the Difference Between DSP and SSP?

In the programmatic advertising world, you might come across terms like Demand Side Platform (DSP) and Supply Side Platform (SSP). They’re like two sides of the same coin, working together to make the ad buying process seamless.

A DSP is the technology that advertisers use to buy ads in an automated way, think of it as their secret weapon. It scans the market for the most cost-effective and impactful ad spaces that match the advertiser’s criteria. It’s like having a personal shopper, but for ad spaces.

On the other hand, an SSP is used by online publishers to sell their ad space in an automated fashion. It’s like their auctioneer, showcasing their ad spaces to potential buyers (advertisers) on the market.

So, the DSP and SSP work together, with the DSP representing the demand (advertisers wanting to buy ad space) and the SSP representing the supply (publishers selling ad space). The process is all automated, hence programmatic advertising!

Real-time Bidding Transactions

So how exactly do DSPs and SSPs communicate? Enter: Real-time bidding (RTB).

RTB is a bit like an intense auction, but instead of antiques or fine art, we’re auctioning ad space and instead of lasting for hours, it happens in milliseconds. As a user loads a webpage, if the site has ad space that is sold programmatically, information about the page and the user is sent to an ad exchange. This ad exchange conducts an auction, with various advertisers’ DSPs bidding on the ad space. The highest bidder wins, their ad is served when the webpage loads, and all of this happens in the blink of an eye!

Isn’t it fascinating how much can happen behind the scenes in such a short amount of time? It’s a fine example of the combination of technology and advertising genius. If you want to dive deeper into the wonderful world of programmatic advertising, you can find more resources here.

Understanding Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs)

Just like in any industry, digital advertising has its own lingo. And understanding that lingo is key to getting ahead. One of those key phrases you may come across is SSP or Supply Side Platform. So let’s get to understanding it, shall we? Don’t worry if it seems a bit complex at first, we’ll untangle it together.

What is an SSP? Supply Side Platform Advertising Explained

In simple terms, a Supply Side Platform (SSP) is a piece of software that allows publishers to sell ad space automatically. Remember our programmatic advertising discussion from earlier? Well, SSPs are a big part of that. They help publishers maximize the prices they get for their ad space by opening up the bidding to as many potential buyers as possible. It’s all about supply and demand – the more demand for their ad space, the higher the price it can command.

In essence, SSPs are like a super-efficient auction house for digital ad space!

Supply Side Platform Definition

To put it formally, a Supply Side Platform (SSP) is a technology platform that enables web publishers and digital out-of-home (DOOH) media owners to manage their advertising inventory, fill it with ads, and receive revenue. But not just any ads, the right ads. Ads that will resonate with their audience and thus provide value to advertisers.

In the world of programmatic advertising, SSPs represent the ‘supply’ side (the publishers who have ad space to sell), while DSPs represent the ‘demand’ side (the advertisers who want to buy that ad space). And trust me, in the world of digital advertising, there’s plenty of both!

What is a Supply Side Platform (SSP)?

So we’ve talked a bit about what SSPs do, but how do they work? Well, let’s dive a bit deeper.

A Supply Side Platform (SSP) essentially connects publishers with a wide range of potential ad buyers including DSPs, ad networks, and ad agencies. It’s like a big marketplace where publishers can showcase their ad space and the buyers can bid on it.

But SSPs are more than just a marketplace. They’re also equipped with tools that allow publishers to manage their ad inventory, set minimum bids, and provide detailed analytics about the performance of their ads. In a nutshell, SSPs are here to make sure publishers get the most from their ad space, in the most efficient way possible.

Okay, take a deep breath, we’ve covered a lot. But trust me, understanding the world of SSPs is definitely worth it. It’s a big part of the digital advertising ecosystem and can be a huge asset to both publishers and advertisers.

Key Features of Supply Side Platforms (SSPs)

Have you ever purchased a device or a piece of software, only to find out it does way more than you initially thought? It’s like when you bought your first smartphone and realized it could also be your camera, your map, your music player, your personal assistant… Well, SSPs are a bit like that for publishers. They’re packed with features that make managing digital ad space easier, more efficient, and potentially more profitable. So let’s dive in!

What Are The Main Features and Components of an SSP?

SSPs are the multitaskers of the programmatic advertising world. They manage a range of tasks, from connecting publishers to potential buyers, to optimizing ad placement and pricing, to providing detailed analytics. They’re like the Swiss Army knives of ad tech.

But the main feature of an SSP is its ability to connect to multiple DSPs and ad networks at once. This allows publishers to offer their inventory to a large number of potential buyers, creating competition and driving up the price of the ad space. Imagine being able to auction your product to a room full of interested buyers instead of just one or two. That’s the power an SSP brings to a publisher.

Ad Network Optimization

One of the key features of an SSP is ad network optimization. This means that an SSP can automatically select the ad network that will bring in the highest revenue for each ad space. It’s like having an AI-powered negotiator working tirelessly to get you the best deal from a variety of potential buyers.

Price Floors

Price floors are another important feature of SSPs. This allows publishers to set a minimum price for their ad inventory, ensuring that their valuable ad space isn’t sold for less than it’s worth. It’s like having a reserve price at an auction, protecting your interests and giving you peace of mind.

Control Over Who Advertises

With an SSP, publishers are not just passive sellers. They also get to decide who gets to advertise on their platform. This is crucial because it allows publishers to ensure that the ads shown on their site align with their brand and audience. After all, the wrong type of ad can potentially alienate users and harm a publisher’s reputation.


SSPs provide detailed analytics and reporting, allowing publishers to monitor the performance of their ad inventory and make informed decisions. These reports can provide insights into things like click-through rates, revenue, ad impressions, and more. It’s like having a personal business analyst, helping you understand the numbers and what they mean for your business.

Real-time Bidding

One of the most exhilarating features of SSPs is the Real-time Bidding (RTB) process. Just picture a high-stakes auction in a glamorous ballroom. Now, replace the vintage art pieces with digital ad spaces and compress the entire auction into milliseconds. That’s the kind of high-octane action we’re talking about with RTB. It’s a dynamic way to sell ad space, with each ad impression being sold to the highest bidder in real-time. So, while you’re sipping your coffee, an intense bidding war could be taking place in the digital world!

Ad Exchange

SSPs also connect publishers to an Ad Exchange, which is a digital marketplace where buyers and sellers trade ad inventory. Think of it as a bustling bazaar where DSPs and SSPs haggle over the price of ad spaces. The ad exchange is where the RTB process occurs, ensuring the ad spaces reach those who value them most.

Analytics Reports

Remember when you were a kid and loved getting report cards? No? Well, with SSPs, report cards are something to look forward to. SSPs provide detailed analytics reports, giving publishers insights into their ad performance. This data is crucial for making informed decisions and strategies. It’s like having a personal tutor who helps you understand where you’re doing great and where you need a bit of work.

Ad Inventory Management

Managing ad inventory can be quite a juggling act. But with an SSP, it becomes a piece of cake (and who doesn’t love cake?). SSPs allow publishers to efficiently manage their ad inventory, control how, when, and where ads are displayed, and even automate the process to maximize revenue. It’s like having a personal assistant who takes care of all the details while you focus on the big picture.


In today’s interconnected world, no software platform is an island, and SSPs are no exception. SSPs offer integrations with various other systems such as Content Management Systems (CMS), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms, and more. This allows publishers to streamline their operations and make their lives a lot easier. It’s like having a universal remote control for all your systems!

Header Bidding

Header Bidding is an advanced programmatic technique wherein publishers offer ad inventory to multiple ad exchanges simultaneously before making calls to their ad servers. This approach ensures publishers get the highest possible price for their ad space. Imagine hosting a party where all your friends bring their best gifts and compete to be your favorite. That’s header bidding for you!

Frequency Capping

Ever been annoyed by the same ad popping up over and over again? SSPs prevent that by using Frequency Capping. This feature allows publishers to limit the number of times a specific ad is shown to a user. It not only enhances user experience but also improves ad performance.

Supply Path Optimization

Here’s where SSPs really shine. They employ a technique called Supply Path Optimization (SPO) to simplify the transaction process. SPO is like a GPS for programmatic advertising, finding the most efficient route for advertisers to reach their audience. It not only reduces complexity but also saves time and resources.

As we’ve seen, SSPs are packed with powerful features designed to help publishers succeed in the programmatic advertising ecosystem. So there you have it, the key features of SSPs. They’re more than just platforms; they’re powerful tools that can give publishers an edge in the competitive world of digital advertising. But we’re not done yet, there’s still a lot more to explore.

The Role of SSPs in the Advertising Ecosystem

Alright, we’ve made it this far, and I know it might feel like you’ve learned a new language (and in some ways, you have!). But now we’re going to put all those new words and concepts into context. We’re going to see how SSPs fit into the larger world of digital advertising. Ready to dive in? Let’s go!

Where Do SSPs Sit in the Online Advertising Ecosystem?

Picture a bustling city with roads, buildings, people, cars – each component plays its role, and together, they form a functioning ecosystem. The online advertising world is similar. It’s a complex system with various components like publishers, advertisers, users, ad networks, and ad exchanges.

In this ecosystem, SSPs are like real estate agents for publishers. They help publishers sell their digital real estate (ad space) to advertisers who want to display their ads to users. They ensure that this process is efficient, profitable, and tailored to the publisher’s needs.

How Does a Supply-Side Platform (SSP) Work?

Okay, let’s roll up our sleeves and get a bit technical. An SSP starts working its magic when a user visits a web page. It sends information about the page and the user to an ad exchange. Advertisers then bid on this ad space through a process called real-time bidding, which we’ve already chatted about. The highest bidder gets to display their ad, and voila, the user sees an ad that’s relevant to them.

How Do SSPs Fit Into the Programmatic Advertising Ecosystem?

In the grand scheme of programmatic advertising, SSPs play a critical role. They’re the bridge between publishers and advertisers. They ensure that the ad buying process is as smooth and efficient as possible. And thanks to real-time bidding, they also make sure that publishers get the best possible price for their ad space.

How Does a Supply Side Platform Support the Ad Selling Process?

An SSP not only sells ad space but also supports the process in multiple ways. It optimizes the selling strategy based on the publisher’s goals and the market’s demand and supply. It manages ad inventory, making sure that the right ad is displayed at the right time and the right place. And with detailed reporting, it provides insights that publishers can use to refine their strategies.

SSPs vs Other Platforms

Are you ready to dive into the nitty-gritty of the ad tech world? Good! Now, I know we’ve spent a lot of time talking about SSPs, but they’re not the only players in the game. There are also Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) and Ad Exchanges. But what exactly are these, and how do they differ from SSPs? That’s what we’re about to find out. So buckle up, and let’s jump in!

Supply Side Platform vs. Demand Side Platform

Imagine you’re in a bustling market. On one side, you have sellers showing off their wares, eager to make a sale. On the other side, you have buyers, looking for the best products at the best prices. In the world of programmatic advertising, SSPs represent the sellers (the publishers), while DSPs represent the buyers (the advertisers).

SSPs help publishers sell their ad space to the highest bidder, while DSPs help advertisers find and buy the most suitable ad space for their needs. They’re like two sides of the same coin, each playing a crucial role in the buying and selling process. While they have different roles, they work together seamlessly to facilitate programmatic advertising.

Supply Side Platform vs. Ad Exchange

If SSPs are the sellers and DSPs are the buyers, then what’s an Ad Exchange? Well, think of an Ad Exchange as the bustling marketplace where the buyers and sellers meet.

SSPs list the ad spaces on the Ad Exchange, and DSPs bid on these spaces. The Ad Exchange is where the real-time bidding process takes place. It’s like the auction house of the digital advertising world.

So, SSPs, DSPs, and Ad Exchanges, each have unique roles, but together, they form an efficient, automated system that is the backbone of programmatic advertising. They’re like a well-rehearsed orchestra, each playing their part to create a harmonious symphony of advertising transactions.

Leading SSP Companies and Platforms

Congratulations on making it this far! You’ve learned a lot about the world of programmatic advertising and SSPs. But enough with the theory, let’s get practical. Let’s look at some examples of real-world SSPs. Ready to meet the big players in the ad tech industry? Let’s dive in!

What Are Examples of Supply-Side Platforms?

There are quite a few SSPs out there, each with its unique strengths and specialties. Some of the big names in the industry include Google Ad Manager, Xandr (formerly AppNexus), Magnite (formerly Rubicon Project), OpenX, and Pubmatic. But these are just a few examples. There are many more SSPs, each offering a unique set of features and services.

Is Google a Supply Side Platform?

Yes, indeed! Google offers an SSP called Google Ad Manager. It’s one of the most widely used platforms in the industry. But don’t let the name fool you, Google Ad Manager is not just an SSP. It’s a unified platform that combines the features of an SSP, an Ad Server, and an Ad Exchange. It’s like the Swiss Army Knife of the ad tech world, offering a wide range of tools and features for publishers.

Does Amazon have an SSP?

Absolutely! Amazon offers an SSP known as Amazon Publisher Services (APS). It provides publishers with tools to manage, sell and optimize their ad inventory. And, of course, it has the added advantage of being backed by one of the biggest names in the digital industry. So, if you’re a publisher looking for an SSP, Amazon Publisher Services is definitely worth checking out.

Google Ad Manager

Since we’ve already mentioned it, let’s talk a bit more about Google Ad Manager. It’s a powerful platform that helps publishers manage their ad inventory, connect with a wide range of advertisers, and maximize their ad revenue. Plus, it offers a variety of features like advanced forecasting, granular controls, and detailed analytics. It’s like having a supercharged engine under the hood of your digital advertising strategy.


Let’s kick things off with OpenX. OpenX is a leading SSP that focuses on maximizing ad revenue for publishers while delivering high-quality and relevant ads for users. It offers features such as quality control, real-time reporting, and support for different ad formats. Plus, it has a global reach, connecting publishers with advertisers from all over the world. OpenX strives for an open web, where all users, advertisers, and publishers can benefit from digital advertising. 

Xandr (formerly AppNexus)

Next up is Xandr. You might know it by its former name, AppNexus. Xandr offers a comprehensive suite of tools for both publishers and advertisers. It includes features for ad serving, forecasting, and yield management. Plus, it offers a platform for programmatic buying. With a focus on data-driven insights and high-quality ad inventory, Xandr helps publishers maximize their ad revenue while providing advertisers with valuable ad spaces.

Magnite (formerly Rubicon Project)

Meet Magnite, formerly known as the Rubicon Project. Magnite is one of the largest independent sell-side advertising platforms. It offers a range of features including programmatic infrastructure, marketplace automation, and ad serving capabilities. With a focus on transparency and efficiency, Magnite aims to streamline the ad buying process and help publishers unlock the full potential of their ad space.


Last but not least, we have Pubmatic. Pubmatic offers an SSP that aims to empower publishers by providing them with tools to manage their ad inventory, optimize ad performance, and maximize ad revenue. It offers features like ad quality management, real-time analytics, and support for different ad formats. Plus, with its unique cloud infrastructure, Pubmatic offers scalability and reliability.

Building and Customizing SSPs

Whoa, look at you! You’re not just looking to use an SSP, you’re thinking of building one? That’s ambitious, and I love it! In this section, we’re going to talk about what it takes to build an SSP or Ad Exchange, and how you might go about creating a custom Supply Side Platform. It’s a big undertaking, but if you’re ready for it, let’s dive in!

Building an SSP or Ad Exchange?

Let’s address the elephant in the room: building an SSP or an Ad Exchange is no small feat. It requires a deep understanding of the programmatic advertising ecosystem, a skilled development team, and a significant investment of time and resources.

Think of it like building a car from scratch. You’ll need a team of engineers, a factory, a whole bunch of parts, and a good understanding of how cars work. It’s a big project, but it’s not impossible.

Before you decide to build an SSP or Ad Exchange, it’s essential to consider the technical challenges involved. These platforms require complex algorithms to manage real-time bidding, sophisticated data analytics capabilities, and robust security measures to protect sensitive data.

Custom Supply Side Platforms

If building an SSP or Ad Exchange from scratch sounds daunting, don’t worry. There’s another way to get a platform that’s tailored to your needs: custom SSPs.

A custom SSP is like a made-to-measure suit. It’s designed to fit your unique requirements perfectly. It gives you the flexibility to focus on the features that matter most to you, whether that’s real-time bidding, sophisticated targeting capabilities, or advanced analytics.

Many SSP providers offer customization options that allow you to adapt their platforms to your specific needs. This can be a great way to get a platform that’s tailored to your needs, without the hassle and expense of building one from scratch.

However, remember that customizing an SSP still requires a good understanding of the programmatic advertising ecosystem and your specific requirements. It’s also important to choose a provider who can support your needs and work with you to create the best possible solution.

The Benefits of Using SSPs

Okay, by this point, we’ve thrown a lot of information at you. You might be feeling a little overwhelmed. So, let’s take a moment to step back and look at the big picture. Why are we talking about Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs) in the first place? Well, it’s because they offer some fantastic benefits for publishers. Let’s dive into some of them.

What Advantages Do SSPs Provide Publishers?

SSPs bring a whole lot of advantages to the table for publishers. To name a few, they help streamline ad operations, maximize revenue, and provide access to a wider pool of advertisers. But let’s break it down a bit further.

Efficiency: First off, SSPs streamline the process of selling ad space. They automate a lot of the manual work involved in managing and selling ad inventory, saving publishers a whole lot of time and effort.

Revenue maximization: SSPs use real-time bidding (RTB) to sell ad space to the highest bidder, helping publishers maximize their ad revenue.

Access to advertisers: SSPs connect publishers with a large pool of advertisers, giving publishers access to more potential buyers for their ad space.

Why Use a Supply-Side Platform: 5 Benefits

Let’s drill down into five key benefits of using an SSP.

  1. Greater control: SSPs give publishers greater control over their ad inventory. They can set minimum prices, choose which advertisers they want to work with, and decide which ads to display.
  2. Better targeting: SSPs use data to help advertisers target their ads more effectively. This means that publishers can deliver more relevant ads to their audience, improving the user experience and increasing the value of their ad space.
  3. Real-time analytics: SSPs provide real-time analytics, giving publishers insights into how their ad space is performing and how they can optimize their ad operations.
  4. Scalability: SSPs make it easy for publishers to manage and sell ad space across multiple websites, apps, and other digital properties. This means they can scale their ad operations as their business grows.
  5. Increased transparency: SSPs provide transparency into the ad selling process. Publishers can see who is buying their ad space, how much they’re paying, and how their ads are performing.

And there you have it! Those are just some of the many benefits of using an SSP. So if you’re a publisher looking to streamline your ad operations, maximize your revenue, and get more control over your ad space, an SSP might just be the solution you’re looking for.

Monetization Through SSPs

So you’re thinking, “All of this sounds fantastic, but how does the money flow?”. Great question! In this section, we’re going to tackle exactly that – how Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs) make money, and how they can supercharge the monetization of your ad inventory. We’ll also touch on how Performance TV stacks up in the advertising ecosystem. Let’s dive in!

How Do Supply Side Platforms Make Money?

Imagine SSPs as your savvy auctioneers in the digital advertising world. They connect publishers with advertisers, automating the auctioning of ad spaces to the highest bidder in real-time. But how do they get their piece of the pie?

Here’s the deal: SSPs typically make money by taking a percentage of the ad revenue generated through their platform. This is usually calculated as a percentage of the cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) that advertisers pay for each ad.

What this means for you, the publisher, is that if an ad space on your website is sold for $10 CPM and the SSP takes a 10% cut, you’ll receive $9, and the SSP gets $1. The percentages can vary, but that’s the general idea.

Performance TV Stack Up

Performance TV, also known as Addressable TV, is making waves in the advertising industry. It refers to the ability to serve different ads to different households while they’re watching the same program. It’s like programmatic advertising but for TV. Cool, right?

The question then becomes, how does Performance TV stack up against traditional digital advertising through SSPs?

Well, they each have their strengths. Performance TV brings the precision of digital advertising to the big screen, allowing for more personalized and targeted ads, which can lead to higher engagement rates. It’s a fantastic option if your target audience is more likely to be reached via television.

On the flip side, advertising through SSPs gives you access to a wide variety of digital platforms – websites, mobile apps, digital billboards, and more. SSPs also offer benefits like real-time bidding, sophisticated targeting capabilities, and instant analytics.

In essence, choosing between Performance TV and SSPs, or even combining them, depends largely on your specific goals, your audience, and where they consume content. It’s all about finding the right tools for your unique advertising needs.

Common Questions: SSPs Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

All right, we’ve come a long way together, learning about the intricate world of Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs). But as we all know, with every great journey come questions. And let’s face it, SSPs can be a bit complex. So, to wrap up this digital extravaganza, let’s address some of the most common questions folks have about SSPs.

What are the most popular SSPs?

Well, we are living in a world abundant with choice, and SSPs are no exception. Some of the industry’s big names include Google Ad Manager, OpenX, Xandr, Magnite (formerly Rubicon Project), and PubMatic. Each has its unique strengths, so it’s worth exploring each to see which might best serve your needs.

How do I choose the right SSP for my needs?

Choosing the right SSP is like choosing the perfect pair of jeans. It needs to fit just right and complement your style (or in this case, your advertising goals). You’ll want to consider factors like the size and quality of their advertiser pool, their technology and reporting capabilities, the level of support and service they provide, and of course, their pricing structure.

How do SSPs and DSPs work together?

SSPs and DSPs (Demand Side Platforms) are like two sides of the same coin. While SSPs serve publishers, DSPs serve advertisers. An SSP will make the publisher’s ad inventory available to DSPs, which in turn will bid on behalf of advertisers in real-time auctions. Think of it as a harmonious dance, each taking their turn to lead and follow, working together to find the perfect match of ad space and ad content.

What are the different ways to monetize ad inventory?

There are several ways to monetize ad inventory. Direct sales, programmatic direct, private marketplaces (PMPs), and open auctions are a few of the more common methods. Each approach has its pros and cons, so it’s essential to understand your unique needs and capabilities when deciding which route(s) to take.

How can I track the performance of my SSP?

Just like you wouldn’t drive a car without a speedometer, you shouldn’t use an SSP without monitoring its performance. SSPs typically provide real-time analytics and reports that help you understand how your ad space is performing. You can track things like fill rate, eCPM (effective cost per mille), revenue, ad impressions, and more. These insights can help you optimize your ad operations and maximize your revenue.

And there you have it, folks! I hope that addresses some of your burning questions. Just remember, the world of digital advertising is full of opportunities, and SSPs can be an excellent tool to help you unlock them. So go forth and conquer the ad world!

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