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  • Writer's pictureDani Stewart

The Future of the DSP

Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) have evolved greatly over the past 10+ years, establishing themselves as a media buying necessity for advertisers. Over this time, leading DSPs have formed very strong foundational offerings, and now, in this significant period of change in advertising, they’re setting their sights on remaining relevant and future proofed. In this piece, we will look back at historic points of differentiation across DSPs and look forwards at some predictions of areas of focus in the future.

Historic DSP Differentiation

Back in the day, a DSP product release could be quite disruptive. Front-end updates were regular, and these would easily challenge existing workflows and internal Trading Desk processes. DSPs were still finding their way, and product roadmaps were still factoring in tonnes of product feedback and requests from users. The ways in which the platforms differentiated was much more feature led and tangible in platform. For example:

  • Unique supply sources – not all DSPs had access to the same Exchanges or channels we see today, this was less uniform and pending integrations.

  • Unique data partnerships – new integrations with data partners were wheeled out as new product features, the data cost could also vary greatly across DSPs depending on their contracts.

  • User interface – processes were generally more manual, a DSP could differentiate with as little as a creative bulk upload feature or line item duplication which others lacked.

  • Unique commercials – DSPs had more flexibility and often bent to advertisers’ commercial needs more so than we see today as partners were less established.

DSPs Future Focus

Product features today are far less unique, after years of product feedback and understanding what does and doesn’t work for their users, leading DSPs have all established a solid baseline to meet the market's needs. Moving forwards, DSPs continue to focus on much broader developments to cement themselves into buying automation – for example positioning themselves as omnichannel or automating the planning to activation process.

After reflecting on the journey that DSPs have taken, these are 3 areas of focus DSPs could begin to show differentiation and focus in 2023:

  • Sustainability – how will DSPs tackle the demands for reduction in emissions as understanding picks up traction? This will inevitably have an impact on supply sources and bid requests management.

  • Data Interoperability – will DSP acquisitions increase or limit data interoperability within independent AdTech ecosystems? Will we lean into unique data access once again?

  • Connected Platforms - will we see omnichannel offerings develop into wider connected platform offerings? A shift away from algorithmic focus and towards marketplace functionality and API based buying.

DSPs are facing much bigger challenges than bulk edit features in 2023, and how they approach each of the above could really set them apart and determine their strategic direction. Looking forwards, advertisers must consider how these developments affect their partnerships and how their own priorities align.

Download the first in ‘what’s the future of...?’ series here.

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