Supply-side platform (SSP) – what is supply-side platform and what is it used for?

Supply-side platform (SSP) – what is supply-side platform and what is it used for?

SSPs (Supply Side Platforms) are technology platforms or software that efficiently manage a publisher’s ad impression inventory across various ad exchanges. These platforms serve as powerful marketing tools by automating and optimizing the sales of a publisher’s media space. By effectively filling the inventory with relevant ads, SSPs enable publishers to generate revenue from their advertising efforts.

What are supply-side platforms (SSPs)?

Supply-side platforms (SSPs) are technology platforms that assist publishers in automating the selling, management, and optimization of their ad inventory across web and mobile devices.

Prior to the introduction of SSPs, publishers had to manually handle and sell their ad space, limiting their ability to scale the selling process and ensure optimal utilization of ad spaces.

Initially, SSPs were primarily used to fill leftover inventory at lower prices. However, today, SSPs play a crucial role in the programmatic selling of all ad inventory.

How do supply-side platforms (SSPs) work?

Have you ever wondered how Google serves you personalized ads?

Although it may seem like Google knows you a little too well, the truth is that it shares your user behavior with both advertisers (DSP) and publishers (SSP) to deliver relevant ads in real time.

SSPs act as intermediaries between publishers and advertisers, enabling them to efficiently connect and exchange information. They distribute available ad impressions to multiple potential buyers, aiming to sell the publisher’s inventory at the most favorable price.

Using the publisher’s content and visitor data, advertisers bid to display their ads on specific sites. This process occurs as the publisher’s SSP offers its available impressions, which are then analyzed in real time by the advertiser’s DSP. The outcome is precisely targeted ads delivered to the right users, based on their key online identifiers and behaviors.

SSPs and DSPs: Supply-side platforms versus demand-side platforms

Supply-side platforms (SSPs) and demand-side platforms (DSPs) operate in opposite roles within the digital advertising ecosystem. DSPs are utilized by advertisers seeking to purchase ad inventory (representing the demand), while SSPs are employed by publishers who have ad space to sell (representing the supply).

SSPs and DSPs establish connections through ad exchanges, where DSPs engage in automated auction-style bidding for ad inventory. SSPs enable publishers to sell their ad inventory across multiple ad exchanges, while DSPs allow advertisers to make purchases across various ad exchanges simultaneously.

Mobile SSPs

Mobile SSPs are an integral part of the existing SSP ecosystem and are typically not standalone programs. Therefore, when referring to mobile SSPs, it primarily indicates the functionality within a standard SSP that handles mobile inventory.

Mobile SSPs are linked to mobile ad exchanges, which serve as platforms where app publishers and developers offer their available mobile impressions to advertisers.

Main advantages of using SSPs

SSPs offer numerous benefits, starting with the automation of previously manual and labor-intensive processes. While the specific advantages may vary depending on the chosen platform, here are three universal benefits of utilizing SSPs:

  1. Enhanced ad fill rates One of the primary benefits of employing a supply-side platform is the ability to significantly increase your ad fill rate. The ad fill rate measures the percentage of available ad spaces that are filled with ads. Since filling rates directly impact revenue generation, it is crucial to prioritize boosting this rate. SSPs ensure that your available ad spaces are efficiently sold to the highest bidder, maximizing revenue potential for each space. By encouraging greater advertiser participation, SSPs facilitate optimized space utilization and drive increased revenue.
  1. Improved revenue generation Utilizing an SSP can have a direct impact on revenue generation. By optimizing the selling process and increasing competition among advertisers, SSPs enable publishers to command higher prices for their ad inventory. This results in improved monetization and revenue streams. Furthermore, SSPs streamline the transaction process, reducing operational inefficiencies and administrative burdens. This allows publishers to focus on creating quality content while the SSP manages the sale of their ad space, ultimately leading to improved revenue generation.
  1. Access to a broader range of advertisers SSPs provide publishers with access to a diverse pool of advertisers, including both direct buyers and programmatic demand sources. This broader range of advertisers translates to increased competition for ad inventory, driving up demand and potentially securing higher bids. By connecting with multiple ad exchanges, SSPs enable publishers to reach a larger audience and target their inventory to specific advertiser segments. This expanded reach and targeting capabilities create new opportunities for revenue growth and maximize the value of their ad space.

In summary, SSPs offer benefits such as enhanced ad fill rates, improved revenue generation, and access to a wider range of advertisers. These advantages contribute to the optimization of ad inventory monetization and overall profitability for publishers.

Limited impression fatigue

In today’s crowded digital marketplace, it’s increasingly common for users to encounter the same ad content repeatedly. This repetition can lead to ad impression fatigue, diminishing the impact of these impressions. We’ve all experienced frustration with advertisers who continue to serve us ads we’ve already seen.

To combat this issue, supply-side platforms (SSPs) collaborate with demand-side platforms (DSPs) to establish frequency caps on ad impressions. This means publishers can control the number of similar or identical ad impressions shown to users on their site. By implementing frequency caps, SSPs help publishers avoid ad impression fatigue, ensuring the effectiveness of their impressions and maximizing their revenue-generating potential.

Empowering publishers with pricing control

SSPs grant publishers the ability to set price floors for their impressions, liberating them from the necessity of filling ad space at any price (typically low). This means publishers can establish their own pricing standards, ensuring that their ad inventory is filled while being compensated fairly for each impression. By giving publishers greater control over pricing, SSPs enable them to monetize their ad space effectively and optimize their revenue streams.

The ecosystem of programmatic advertising

Programmatic advertising revolutionizes the buying and selling of digital advertising space through automation. This dynamic ecosystem seamlessly connects publishers with ad exchanges, facilitating the efficient placement of valuable ads. Key components of the programmatic advertising ecosystem include real-time bidding (RTB), supply-side platforms (SSPs), and demand-side platforms (DSPs).

Real-time bidding (RTB)

RTB plays a pivotal role in programmatic advertising by enabling advertisers to automatically bid for ad impressions via a DSP. These bids are made through an SSP, which acts as a bridge between the publisher and the advertiser.

The entire RTB process occurs within milliseconds, starting when a prospect lands on a webpage that is in the process of loading. During this brief timeframe, the SSP orchestrates the bidding process, evaluating bids based on predefined budgets and demographic criteria. Ultimately, the winning bid is selected, and the corresponding ad is served to the user on the publisher’s site, ensuring a relevant and personalized advertising experience.

Programmatic Direct: A Non-Auction Model in Programmatic Advertising

In programmatic advertising, Programmatic Direct represents a distinct approach that differs from real-time bidding (RTB). With Programmatic Direct, publishers have the ability to sell their ad space directly to advertisers, establishing a negotiated price and fixed duration for the advertising placement.

One significant advantage of Programmatic Direct is that publishers are assured of displaying premium ads on their web pages. In this model, both the publisher and advertiser engage in negotiations to establish a fair cost per mille (CPM) or cost per thousand impressions.

For instance, let’s consider a popular mommy blog that decides to sell ad space to a high-end stroller company. In this scenario, the publisher’s ad space aligns perfectly with the advertiser’s target audience. Through Programmatic Direct, the advertiser secures a specified number of impressions while the publisher benefits from the partnership. This mutually beneficial arrangement exemplifies the advantages of Programmatic Direct over real-time bidding, providing a win-win situation for both parties involved.

Choosing the right SSP: Things to take into account

When selecting a supply-side platform (SSP) for your programmatic advertising needs, it’s crucial to ask the right questions. Here are four considerations to guide you in finding the ideal SSP:

  • Third-party SSPs: Third-party SSPs are ready-made software and ad technology platforms that are readily integrated into existing infrastructure, making it easy to embark on your programmatic advertising journey. The choice of a third-party SSP depends on your specific needs, strategy, budget, and target audiences. Each available SSP in the market has unique features, fees, and customer ratings, allowing you to make an informed decision. The advantage of using a third-party SSP is the ease of implementation—simply plug in and go. However, it’s important to consider that your data and intellectual property may not be fully under your control, and fees and commissions will be incurred.
  • Custom SSPs: Custom SSPs are platforms built from scratch, specifically engineered to cater to your ad space inventory needs. Opting for a custom SSP provides you with complete ownership and control over the platform, intellectual property, and data. You can create a tailored product roadmap and build unique features to optimize your inventory, eliminating any limitations on your market value. While a custom SSP can lead to long-term cost savings without third-party fees or commissions, the upfront costs of developing a custom platform tend to exceed those of third-party software.
  • Considering publisher’s users: An SSP that offers a variety of options is preferable, as user satisfaction is crucial. Unsatisfied users can present larger challenges for publishers beyond prices and rates. Many publishers like to experiment with different ad formats to determine the most suitable options for their users. Choosing an SSP with a wide range of options grants publishers the freedom to test and explore how and when to serve valuable impressions to users, increasing the likelihood of clicks and conversions.
  • Multiple demand sources: To sell ad inventory at the best possible price, publishers require buyers who are willing to compete for their space. Connecting to top-quality demand-side platforms, ad exchanges, and ad networks is essential for publishers. By seeking an SSP with access to various demand sources, publishers gain access to potential buyers who are willing to compete for their valuable ad space.
  • Analytics and reporting: An SSP with an analytics and reporting interface helps publishers understand and track the performance of their inventory, including fill rates, clicks, and impressions. By gaining insights into how their inventory operates, publishers can effectively monetize their ad impressions and scale their revenue generation.

The 8 best supply-side platforms (SSPs)

When considering programmatic platforms, it’s crucial for publishers to be aware of the top SSP options available. Here are eight of the best SSPs in the market currently:

  1. Google Ad Manager: A comprehensive SSP that offers advanced monetization tools and access to a wide range of demand sources.
  2. Rubicon Project: Known for its robust programmatic advertising capabilities and global reach, Rubicon Project provides publishers with advanced targeting and optimization features.
  3. OpenX: A leading SSP that focuses on delivering high-quality programmatic advertising solutions, offering publishers efficient revenue optimization and access to premium demand.
  4. PubMatic: PubMatic offers publishers an extensive suite of tools for managing their programmatic inventory, including real-time analytics and yield optimization features.
  5. Index Exchange: A reliable SSP that provides publishers with access to a vast pool of premium demand sources, along with advanced analytics and reporting capabilities.
  6. Sovrn: Sovrn specializes in providing independent publishers with programmatic advertising solutions, offering a user-friendly interface and a variety of monetization options.
  7. AppNexus (Now Xandr): AppNexus is a renowned SSP that offers a robust programmatic advertising platform with extensive audience targeting capabilities and a wide range of demand partners.
  8. Magnite (Formerly Rubicon Project and Telaria): Magnite combines the technologies of Rubicon Project and Telaria to provide publishers with a unified and scalable programmatic advertising solution.
  9. Verizon Media: Verizon Media’s SSP provides publishers with advanced monetization capabilities, including access to premium demand partners and comprehensive ad management tools.
  10. Adform: Adform offers a feature-rich SSP that empowers publishers with real-time bidding, advanced targeting options, and comprehensive reporting and analytics.
  11. TripleLift: TripleLift is known for its native advertising solutions, delivering visually engaging and contextually relevant ad experiences to publishers’ audiences.
  12. Smart AdServer: Smart AdServer offers a holistic SSP solution that enables publishers to maximize revenue through programmatic advertising, with features such as header bidding and audience segmentation.

By assessing your needs and considering these reputable SSP options, you can make an informed decision and leverage the right platform to optimize your programmatic advertising efforts.


Supply-side platforms and the programmatic advertising ecosystem can be filled with complex terminology and rapid changes. However, understanding the basics is key. Here are some important points to remember:

  1. SSPs are the future of digital advertising as they automate and optimize the sale of a publisher’s media space, maximizing revenue generation.
  2. SSPs play a crucial role in connecting publishers with advertisers, ensuring that ads are delivered to the right users on relevant websites.
  3. The benefits of using an SSP include increased ad fill rates, minimized ad impression fatigue, and providing publishers with greater control over pricing.
  4. When choosing an SSP, consider whether a custom or third-party solution is best for your needs. Asking the right questions will help you identify the perfect SSP for your requirements.

By keeping these key points in mind, you can navigate the world of SSPs with confidence and make informed decisions to enhance your programmatic advertising efforts.

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