A Marketer's Alphabet Soup: A Look Into DMP, DSP, SSP, and RTB

May 21, 2013

In today’s digital marketing landscape there are an infinite number of acronyms. As a marketer, you might have KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for your RoS (Run of Site) campaign with the end goal of driving new MQLs (Marketing-Qualified Leads). While I could go on for days describing all of the acronyms that you might run into, there are a handful that are tossed around quite often in digital marketing speak that are a bit more difficult to digest:Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 11.36.28 AM

DMP: Data Management Platform

The DMP enables marketers to centralize and make use of all different kinds of data sets—offline and online, first-party (your own audience data), third-party, etc.—to make more informed decisions as to how they can most effectively reach their target audiences online and realize the best ROI.

DMPs can also act as the marketer’s data distribution hub by “forwarding” first and third-party data sets to the publishers and ad networks that the marketer wants to use for digital campaigns.

Why DMPs matter:
They centralize audience data, analytics, and reporting and allow marketers to optimize their targeting efforts using multiple data sources.

DMP companies and solutions:
Bluekai, Lotame, Turn, [X+1], Adobe Audience Manager (previously Demdex), Krux, Aggregate Knowledge

DSP: Demand-Side Platform

The DSP facilitates the real-time bidding (RTB) on multiple RTB exchanges, which are brokers for ad inventory across thousands of publishers. This enables marketers to reach their target audiences through demographic, behavioral, and contextual targeting, and optimize based on the best-performing media strategies.

Why DSPs matter:
They offer marketers a scaled, transparent approach to reaching target audiences using multiple targeting strategies.

DSP companies and solutions:
MediaMath, Turn, DataXu, Google Bid Manager (formerly Invite Media), Triggit, [X+1], Lucid Media, BRANDSCREEN, Adchemy

SSP: Supply-Side Platform

The SSP is the underlying technology that makes RTB exchanges possible. Inventory from thousands of online publications are made available via the SSP so that publishers receive the highest possible “market value” for their inventory. By automating and optimizing the sale of impressions, an “auction” environment is created to allow the impression to be sold to the highest bidder.

Why SSPs matter:
Publishers who sell ad space should consider using an SSP to monetize their unsold inventory, thus gaining easy access to thousands of advertisers, DSPs, and ad exchanges that will be able to bid on their audience.

SSP companies:

AppNexus, Pubmatic, Rubicon, Google (Formerly Admeld)

RTB: Real-Time Bidding

Real-time bidding is an automated, scaled process of buying and selling display ad impressions, where marketers bid on an impression based on their interest in the web visitor (how relevant the visitor’s demographics, online behavior, etc. are to the marketer.) DMPs, DSPs, SSPs, etc. make up the ecosystem that engages in real-time bidding—a process that happens in milliseconds from start to finish.

Why RTB matters:

The advent of real-time bidding has given marketers more control of their marketing spend, allows for fast learning and optimization, and enables a more scaled approach to audience targeting.

This post was originally published on the Bizo blog. In July 2014, LinkedIn + Bizo joined forces to build the most robust B2B marketing platform available to marketers. To learn more, check out David Thacker, VP of Product at LinkedIn’s announcement blog post.