What is the Difference Between DSP and Ad Network? Types of DSPs

Online advertising has created wider network to cater the advertiser and publisher needs through DSP, Ad network, Ad Exchange and other players. As we all aware that the publishers and advertisers trade using sales teams which was taking longer time and human efforts to set up the ad campaigns.

Ad Networks have helped the advertisers and publishers to exchange their business on a common platform through ad networks, however, there was a major concern raised by the advertisers on the transparency bit where they had limited information on where their ads serving.

Ad Exchange has been introduced to create greater visibility to both the advertisers and publishers to transact in a real-time and evaluate the performance by an advertiser at any given time to optimize and reach the business goals.

Introduction of Ad Network and Ad Exchanges opened new technologies to connect the publishers and advertisers effectively and meet their business goal efficiently in a real-time. Let’s look at the major differences between DSP and Ad Network.

Difference Between DSP and Ad Network

Ad network is a company which connects the advertisers and publishers through within their network and sell the ad inventory as a package or bulk. However, DSP allows the advertisers to bid for single impression at given time and have all the control over buying the impression.

Ad networks gather the remnant inventory from the publishers and create packages based on the inventory types to sell it to the relevant advertisers within their network. The advertisers have no control over serving on ads on a specific publisher pages. The DSP has allowed advertisers to bid real time using the technology Real Time Bidding (RTB) and connect with multiple publishers via ad exchanges to find out the most relevant inventory for their products to serve ads.

DSP provides a platform for the advertiser to connect with multiple ad exchanges and ad networks to source the ad inventory which is relevant to their product and services. DSP offer the similar capabilities as ad networks along with a few unique features like audience targeting, real time bidding, and optimization opportunities to run the ad campaigns.

Here are a few targeting options offered by DSP which is not available in Ad networks.

  • Geo targeting

  • Keyword targeting

  • Device targeting

  • Retargeting

  • Contextual targeting

  • Demographic targeting

DSP will also support the advertisers to setup the retargeting campaigns to reach the targeted audience. However, this option not available with ad networks as they are not able to cater the advertiser requirement in reaching the targeted audience.

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Here’s an article to understand What is Demand Side Platform (DSP)? How Does It Work, Pros and Cons

Types of DSP –  Self-Serve VS Full-Serviced DSPs

There are two types of DSPs available in the market that provides extensive support to the advertisers based on their requirement. The self-service DSP offers the platform for advertisers to manage their ad campaigns, however, the full-serviced DSP provide the service and manage ad campaigns on behalf of advertisers. The full-service DSP are expensive and may not suitable for small advertisers who are running the small budget campaigns.

The self-service DSP comes will lower platform fees where smaller advertisers can pay the fees and use the platforms to connect with multiple publishers. However, advertisers need to setup their ad campaigns and optimize to meet their business goals. The self-service DSPs provide the technical support to the advertisers in case of any challenges in setting up or managing the ad campaigns.

Self-service DSPs are suitable for the advertisers who has knowledge on managing the ad campaigns by optimizing the targeting and bidding and they are responsible for any loss of budget due to miss-use of self-service DSPs.  

Full-service DSPs provides end-to-end service by assigning a dedicated account manager to manage the ad campaigns. Account Managers are responsible to manage the ad campaigns on behalf of advertisers and optimize the campaigns in order to meet the advertiser business goals.

A full-service DSP is usually expensive and advertisers needs to have minimum budget to opt the services. Also, advertisers may not have full control over their campaign optimization as it will be managed by the dedicated account managers. There are advertisers who choose this service as they don’t want to dwell in any technical stuffs.

Conclusion: DSP is widely accepted platform by the advertisers over the ad network. The advertisers wanted to have transparency to know where their ads are serving and control on the budget they are spending to reach targeted audience.

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