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illustration of a blog post: What Is a Demand-Side Platform? A Complete Mobile Ads Guide
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Paid Media 8 min read

What Is a Demand-Side Platform? A Complete Mobile Ads Guide

Sarah Edwards photo

Written by Sarah Edwards

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed

Carolyn Noel photo

Expert reviewed by Carolyn Noel

Communications Coordinator @ Galactic Fed

Published 06 Jul 2022

Not too long ago, digital advertising was sold manually. Real people were involved in the process of buying and selling ad space. The process was cumbersome, and advertisers struggled to achieve their campaign goals. Thankfully, demand-side platforms (DSPs) have since been established as the industry standard. 

Now, programmatic bidding is used to automate the ad buying process. As a result, advertising space is sold on websites and an array of other platforms at lightning speed.

What Is a Demand-Side Platform?

Bidding essentials

Source: Martech

A demand-side platform is an automated system that has been created to allow advertisers to buy and manage ad inventories. The DSP may use several ad sources. However, the advertiser interacts with all of them using one interface. This setup creates a seamless, user-friendly experience for advertisers.

Each DSP will employ software that automatically bids on ad inventories using an auction format. Ultimately, this leads to the buying and selling of mobile ads being less expensive and removes friction from the process. 

This type of bidding software has become more advanced over the past few years. Thanks to big data and machine learning, customer targeting and retargeting have been refined significantly. The result is that ads are becoming more relevant to audience members who see them.

All of this advancement falls under the umbrella of programmatic advertising. The bidding that occurs in the “auctions” happens in fractions of seconds without human intervention. This approach is known as real-time bidding (RTB).

Advertisers are on the “demand” or buying side of these transactions. However, media companies and publishers are on the supply side. The opposite of a marketing DSP is a supply-side platform (SSP). The supply side is where space is made available and sold to advertisers that win RTB auctions.

How Does a DSP Work?

A marketing DSP is a complicated mix of technologies. However, it can be distilled down to a few steps in layperson’s terms:

  • The marketing DSP connects to supply-side platforms
  • Bids are automatically registered for ad placements
  • The winning bids have their ads placed on websites and in mobile apps 

Modern DSPs don’t just connect to ad networks and exchanges. They also allow advertisers to engage in cross-channel media buying. Here are just a few of the platforms that users can engage with on a DSP:

  • Social media sites
  • Over-the-top streaming services
  • Connected TVs
  • Google
  • Ad inventories from foreign markets 

Direct publishers also sell ads on DSPs.

The sophisticated functionality behind these modern demand-side platforms allows media buyers to run entire ad campaigns while engaging people at every stage of the sales funnel. 

Here’s an example of that process: 

A media buyer (advertiser) can start to target a potential customer based on a keyword search on Google. Later, the buyer can get in front of that same customer with a retargeted ad on social media. 

The prospective customer will see that media buyer’s ads across a variety of platforms. Some DSPs offer services that go beyond programmatic advertising. They offer help with campaign management, creatives, and optimization.

Compare this to the recent past when ad campaigns had to be managed separately across each social media platform or search engine. The process now includes much more than simply buying and selling media. Advertisers can use a DSP to create, analyze, and optimize campaigns that involve multiple channels.

Are there any downsides to using a mobile DSP? There are, and this mostly boils down to cost. If your ad budget isn’t large enough, you are probably better off looking into other paid advertising methods. 

There’s also the matter of complexity. There can be a steep learning curve with DSPs. Not all advertisers find that the cost-benefit analysis of overcoming this curve is worthwhile. 

If you plan to spread your advertising across multiple channels and want to leverage retargeting, a DSP may be a viable solution for your brand. However, if you only plan on advertising on a limited selection of platforms, there may be simpler options to consider.

Top 7 Mobile Advertising Platforms

A mobile advertising platform is a type of DSP. As mobile internet use continues to dominate, it is these platforms that are getting the attention of advertisers and sellers. Media buyers work with mobile ad DSPs to acquire new users through apps, mobile websites, and social media.

While mobile advertising platforms are all on the rise, a few have really grown in popularity. These are the top seven mobile ad platforms:

Re-engagement logo

Source: Bidease

1. BidEase

BidEase is marketed as a fully transparent mobile DSP. It provides advertisers with access to popular ad exchanges and mobile publishers. BidEase offers customer retargeting, brand awareness, and user acquisition. It is driven by artificial intelligence and real-time data analysis.

2. MAAS by Affle

MAAS is a mobile acquisition platform. It is used by brands like Canva, HSN, Udemy, and Boost mobile. Advertisers using the platform can acquire new users through a variety of mobile apps, direct publishers, and programmatic platforms.

The company’s mobile DSP tool uses both predictive and lookalike algorithms to help identify the ideal target audiences for media buyers.

3. Huawei Ads

Huawei DSP Solution is a DSP for Huawei partners. It offers paid advertisers the chance to reach Huawei users with various advertisements. This opportunity includes a range of advertising formats that can be used to reach millions of Huawei users. 

The platform is a proprietary ad exchange. It allows media companies to trade in ad impressions in real-time. Advertisers can reach Huawei device users, third-party app users, and people using Huawei apps.

4. Liftoff

Liftoff is specifically marketed to app creators who are interested in monetizing their products by selling advertising space. The platform uses programmatic advertising to match buyers with users through a real-time bidding process.

5. Moloco

Moloco is a cloud-based DSP. The platform uses the power of machine learning and accesses both first-party and contextual data to assist advertisers in reaching their mobile ad objectives.

Advertisers can create campaigns via the platform to achieve a range of goals. These include return on ad spend, clicks, installs, and in-app events. This platform provides a largely turnkey solution for media buyers as the company offers data-driven, automated campaign optimization.

6. Persona.Ly

Persona.Ly uses advanced technology to drive the mobile user acquisition process. It also offers customer retargeting and trades in global advertising for app developers and brands.

The company has developed a proprietary bidder and uses machine learning to offer companies highly-targeted user acquisition campaigns. Additionally, Persona.Ly offers retargeting ads.

This platform’s proprietary bidder is integrated with all of the most popular ad exchanges. The auction process applies user-level targeting to ensure that media buyers’ ads end up in front of a highly-targeted audience.

7. Galactic Fed Paid Media

No, Galactic Fed is not a mobile advertising platform. However, your choice to partner with us can definitely help you achieve your mobile ad campaign goals no matter which DSP you choose. When you outsource your paid media campaigns, you gain the following benefits:

  • Insights and automation from a variety of premium tools
  • Access to a skilled team adept in developing advertising creatives
  • A better understanding of competitor strategies
  • Cost savings and increased revenue
  • A fresh perspective on your paid advertising campaigns
  • The ability to access emerging paid ad trends
  • More time to focus on the mission-critical aspects of your business

Galactic Fed can place ads on Google, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and other popular platforms.

Final Thoughts

The latest generation of demand-side platforms helps advertisers reach their audiences through websites, mobile apps, social media, television, and direct publishers. This process has been refined and automated so that advertising transactions occur in real-time without human intervention, thanks to the real-time bidding process.

Media buyers have multiple options when it comes to choosing the right mobile advertising platform. They should focus on learning the details of each, then finding partners that can ensure their campaigns are even more successful.

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Sarah Edwards photo

Sarah Edwards

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed