What is the difference between an SSP and a DSP?

Here’s everything you need to know.

Amazon DSP illustration

If you’re just beginning to explore the world of programmatic advertising, it’s important to understand key terms, concepts, and ad tech involved in the buying and selling of digital media. Some of the most essential components at the heart of this industry include the demand side platform (DSP) and the supply side platform (SSP). It’s important to understand the differences between a DSP and SSP, how they work together to facilitate programmatic media buying, and how they play into the greater digital advertising supply chain.

Here, we’ll take you through exactly what a DSP and SSP are and how they work inside the greater programmatic advertising landscape:

What is a Demand Side Platform (DSP)?

A demand side platform is programmatic software for advertisers that provides automated, centralized media buying from multiple sources. As its name implies, a DSP is driven by the demand side of the advertising equation: Advertisers seek inventory that will help them reach the right audiences at the right time, within a defined budget.

For example, with a demand side platform like Amazon DSP, advertisers are able to programmatically buy display ads, video ads, and audio ads wherever they spend time. It is available to advertisers who sell on Amazon and those who don’t. Brands can reach new and engaged audiences through high-quality, brand-safe inventory that includes Amazon-owned sites, such as IMDb or Twitch, and leading publishers’ sites.

What is a Supply Side Platform (SSP)?

A supply side platform (SSP) is programmatic software for publishers to facilitate sales of their advertising impressions. By connecting publishers with multiple ad exchanges, demand side platforms, and ad networks at once, SSPs allow publishers (aka suppliers) to sell impressions to a greater pool of potential buyers, and allows suppliers to set the bidding range to maximize their revenue. Through Amazon Publisher Services, Amazon offers advertisers buying through Amazon DSP, direct access to high-quality, curated supply, with better viewability, lower CPM (cost per mille), and higher return on ad spend (ROAS).

How do DSPs and SSPs work together?

A demand side platform (DSP) is programmatic software for advertisers. A DSP helps facilitate media buying from numerous publishers through SSPs, ad exchanges, ad networks, and direct integrations. DSPs help brands and agencies (the demand side) determine which impressions to buy and at what price (the supply side). Advertisers choose to reach audiences based on demographics and shopping and browsing signals through a DMP. SSPs provide similar functionality and technology, but are used by publishers to help optimize and get the best offer for their inventory (aka maximize yield).

What is a Data Management Platform (DMP)?

A data management platform (DMP) is software that gives advertisers, marketers, brands, and agencies a place to store collected insights in order to use it to inform ad campaigns. Amazon DSP allows for advertisers to use their own DMP audiences when creating programmatic buying campaigns.

What is Real Time Bidding (RTB)?

Real Time Bidding (RTB) is a way to buy ads programmatically. With RTB, advertisers can participate in an auction when an impression becomes available. If their bid wins the auction, their ad is displayed on the publisher’s site. RTB is not only efficient, but it helps advertisers focus on the most relevant inventory. Through RTB, publishers and advertisers are able to sell and buy ads facilitated by an SSP.

Understanding the digital advertising supply chain

The digital advertising supply chain is made up of networks, exchanges, and demand and supply side platforms buying and selling media through real time bidding transactions. Programmatic buying lets advertisers purchase programmatic display ads directly or through auction. With programmatic buying, advertisers work with demand side platforms like Amazon DSP to purchase ads at a fixed price. DSPs facilitate the process of buying ad inventory, and help advertisers discover and reach relevant audiences.