Programmatic Advertising: Choosing the Right DSP for Your Business

When choosing a DSP for your programmatic campaigns, it’s crucial to select a platform that meets your marketing goals. Selecting the right DSP has a variety of factors to consider once you determine your marketing goals, and choosing the wrong one can prove detrimental to your campaigns and cost your business more money long-term.

Before I jump into how to select the right DSP for your business, let’s take a step back and quickly review what DSPs and programmatic advertising are.



What is a DSP?

A DSP, short for demand-side platform, is an advertising platform advertisers use to buy programmatic media in real-time. Programmatic advertising is the process of automated bidding and buying based on targeting parameters that you set within the platform. A DSP is made up of multiple ad exchanges that have thousands of different inventory placements to target. Furthermore, a DSP has various targeting options, and can leverage 3rd party data partners to allow advertisers to target users that make up their ideal audience.

How Do You Choose the Right DSP for Your Business?

Once you know your marketing goals and what you want to achieve from programmatic advertising, it’s time to select a DSP platform. When choosing a DSP, there are a few essential things to evaluate: inventory, technology, brand-safe functionality, reporting, costs, and overall partnership.


The type of inventory available within the platform is the first step in determining if it’s a good fit for your business. Most DSPs may offer the same kind of inventory, but some charge a higher price to use it. Confirm the inventory available includes video, display, mobile, and tablet placements to allow you to use different ad creative to reach your audience. Asking what type of inventory they have available will help determine if the platform is a good fit for your business.


Evaluating how the DSP bids on inventory is another crucial factor in the evaluation process. Is the DSP leveraging its own technology? Is the DSP continually evolving its technology to improve targeting, bidding, and overall functionality? Answers to these questions will provide clarity into the platform and give you a baseline for comparison.

Brand-Safe Functionality

With thousands of inventory options available, that opens the door to your business displaying ads next to unsafe content. This kind of content can be mature content, sensitive or tragic content, or simply content that doesn’t align with your business. Since DSPs leverage targeting the user rather than a specific placement, the user may go to a website that doesn’t align with your product or values. While creating a blacklist of placements you don’t want to display on is important, brand-safe parameters within a DSP are just as critical. This kind of functionality will allow you to select the type of content you don’t want your brand to show up next to. If a platform doesn’t provide this option, it’s worth considering another to ensure you avoid unsafe content.

Reporting and Analytics

Accurate, real-time reports are essential components of a DSP. Depending on your marketing goals, you may need granular reporting to determine what optimizations to make. Custom report builders and reach estimates don’t come standard across all DSPs. Choosing a platform with both capabilities will set your campaigns up for success and allow for better, more accurate optimizations.


Cost is an obvious factor to evaluate before partnering with a DSP. Management and tech fees may be standard across the industry, but transparency into the rates is critical. Higher CPM or CPC without understanding where the budget is going can cost your business more long-term. While buying on a DSP has certain hard costs associated with it, the actual bids happen in real-time. Knowing how much of your spend is going towards tech, platform, and ad exchange fees will help you eliminate more costly options. Lastly, It’s important to ask each DSP about their minimum spends to make sure your business can afford to partner with them.

Platform Partnerships

While cost and overall platform performance should be the driving factors behind selecting a DSP, a commonly overlooked detail is the relationship between your business and the platform. Partnering with a platform and its people go hand-in-hand. Having a great relationship with the account representatives and analysts can make all the difference to your campaigns. Choosing a platform where its people are transparent and passionate about meeting your marketing goals will take your campaigns to the next level. Establishing and maintaining a partnership with a DSP along with buying programmatic media can be time-consuming. Alternatively, partnering with an agency that’s established a partnership with a DSP will save your business time and money.

Final Thoughts

There are a variety of factors to consider when selecting a DSP for your business. Evaluating the inventory, technology, brand-safe functionality, reporting and analytics, cost, and the partnership are all crucial to choosing the right DSP for your business. Evaluating a DSP may seem daunting, but it’s an essential step in setting your business up for success when launching programmatic advertising.

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