What Is a DSP in Internet Marketing: Everything You Need to Know

Getting started with digital marketing for your business? If you want to run advertising for your business and get results, you need to be using a DSP.

DSPs are platforms for advertisers (or future advertisers), who really want to take their marketing to the next level by expanding their reach, improving their engagement, and increasing revenue and sales.

Confused by DSPs, SSPs, DMPs, and more? In the digital marketing and media lumascape, there’s a lot of jargon. 

So what is DSP in internet marketing? In this article, we break down exactly what programmatic advertising is, what a DSP is, and how to choose the right one for your business. Let’s dive in.

Understanding Programmatic

When online advertising first started, if a publisher wanted to have ads on their website, the process was very manual. Advertisers and publishers had to communicate directly and set up direct deals with manual insertion orders and tracking.

As the number of publishers online increased, this manual system didn’t work well for either side. This led to the creation of digital platforms like ad networks, exchanges, trading desks, and more. 

All of these platforms automate the buying process. Everything is now simple and digital. Publishers and advertisers now rarely need to speak directly anymore. But how does it all work?

What is Programmatic Advertising?

Programmatic advertising means buying digital ad space in real-time. The term real-time bidding (RTB) refers to automated ad buys that occur in an instant auction within milliseconds.

This works by the publishers sharing their available inventory, creative formats, and floor prices. Then the advertisers will share their audience and/or site targeting, and their bid price. If these align, the ad with the highest bid is shown to shown to the user.

This means more efficient and targeted buying for advertisers, and better-optimized revenue and fill rates for publishers. So programmatic is a win win for both sides involved.

What is a DSP in Internet Marketing?

DSP stands for demand-side platform, and it’s a platform used by advertisers and agencies to facilitate programmatic ad buying. Within a demand-side platform, advertisers are able to set precise targeting. This includes the types of websites and users they want to target, and much more.

Typically, these platforms allow for the programmatic buying of many different types of media. These include display ads, video/Youtube, audio/radio, and connected TV, among other new creative options that continue to become available over time.

The reporting functionality allows advertisers to understand and optimize their campaign results in a high level of detail, which allows them to better understand their audience and plan future campaigns moving forward.

As the technology improves over time, DSPs continue to add many unique and advanced features such as automatic campaign optimization, cross-device user attribution, and omnichannel reach and frequency capping.

Understanding SSPs

On the other side, supply-side platforms, (known as SSPs) are what publishers and media owners use to advertise and sell their display, video, and in-app digital inventory.

On these platforms, they let advertisers know what their website and the categories/subpages are about, as well as the specific ad sizes and formats they have available on site.

Publishers also set brand safety, which determines which advertiser categories and creatives they’ll allow on their site. Advertisers can then see all this information and choose whether or not they’d like to place a bid.

Ad Exchanges

Ad exchanges are the meeting place for demand-side and sell-side platforms. They receive information from SSPs and create a bid request that is then sent to all the DSPs that are connected to the exchange.

DSPs then analyze the information in the bid request and can choose if they want to return a bid. It’s the ad exchange that then determines which DSP and advertiser won the auction. 

The best part is that all of this happens while web pages are loading.

Data and DMPs

A DMP is a data management platform. These platforms collect and process data from first, second, and third-party data sources so that they can make it available to platforms like SSPs and DSPs for targeting and content management.

Some DSPs have DMPs as part of the platform, while others allow you to integrate with third-party data platforms for campaigns. 

Compiling unique data segments help advertisers to better reach their target audience, and ultimately have better performing campaigns.

Using DSPs: What to Expect

So now you understand programmatic and exactly what is DSP in internet marketing, let’s take a deeper dive into what you can expect from using a DSP, some of the key features, and why you should use one.

If you’ve never used a DSP before, the structure and setup can sometimes be overwhelming. 

Keep reading as we help you to understand how to choose the right DSP for you, and all the next steps you need to take to get started.

DSP Features

While every DSP has its own unique capabilities and features, here are a few things you can expect from any DSP you use.

Inventory Availability

DSPs have a wide variety of inventory available, covering every website category from arts to sports. Premium inventory on quality household name publishers is also available via PMP and direct deals, which boosts performance, and allows you to get your ads seen by your audience in all the right places.

Targeting and Audience Building

Within a DSP you can target your audience in a multitude of different ways including targeting behavioral, lifestyle, and demographic targeting to really narrow down your audience. You can also target users based on the device or operating system their using.

Data Capabilities

Integrate first, second, and third-party data using a demand-side platform. With first party data, you can use lookalike modeling to find users that look similar to your existing audience, allowing you to significantly increase your reach and relevance. You can also leverage pixels to retarget your audience with relevant messaging.

Engaging Creative Options

Leverage a variety of unique creative formats including interactives, expandables, carousels, takeovers, and many other forms of rich-media buys. These high-impact formats make your brand memorable and help to increase visibility and awareness.

Reporting and Analytics

Advanced reporting features are one of the key benefits of using a DSP. You can learn to understand the full customer journey through attribution modeling and find out the optimal ad frequency with reach and frequency reporting.

Why use a DSP?

So now you understand the main features, why should you use one? Let’s break down the benefits of DSPs


Unlike traditional fixed deals, DSPs make it easy to amend, optimize, and change your campaigns at any time. It’s also a lot faster to set up new campaigns because no third parties are involved in any setups or changes that are required. This allows you to keep your campaign running optimally. Activate and pause at any time of day or night and avoid any over or underspends and other potential issues.


Using a DSP is the most cost-effective way to run digital ads. This is because it of the variety of buying options available such as cost per click buying, allowing you to only pay for ads that users engage with. The precise targeting options also prevent wasted ad spend.

Large reach and scale

The scale a DSP provides will allow you to expand your reach to users all over the world with precision. No matter what your ideal audience is, they are accessible at scale through the use of a DSP.

Choosing the Right DSP

Ready to choose the right DSP for you? One of the key considerations is whether you would like to go self-serve or full service.

With self-serve, the advertiser or agency would be the ones to manage the campaigns. However, with a full-service offering, you would have a team of people or a dedicated account manager either running your campaigns or supporting you with the process along the way.

At Mobinner, we can support you with the level of professional help you need to reach your goals.

Starting with a DSP: The Next Steps

So what is DSP in internet marketing? A demand-side platform is a platform you need to elevate your digital marketing for your business. 

If you are a medium-large-sized business, investing in programmatic will help you to precisely target your audience, use beautiful and engaging creative formats, and understand and analyze data and trends.

At Mobinner, we offer a one-stop digital advertising service for our clients. We can support you with a variety of media channels and pricing models.

If you want to have all of the benefits of programmatic, with none of the hassle of figuring everything out and setting it up yourself, give us a call for a consultation.

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