Study: MediaMath, Turn Top DSP Vendors

Joanna-OConnell2011 will always be remembered as the year a million marketers asked: “What is a DSP?”

Heading into 2012 -- with demand-side platforms now established as key to buyers’ multichannel efforts -- Forrester has examined the field and picked standouts.

Based on Forrester’s 48-criteria evaluation, MediaMath, Turn, and DataXu led all DSP vendors because of the breadth of their media access, the depth of their audience management capabilities, and their expertise in algorithmic optimization.

“Invite Media by Google features an intuitive and easy-to-use self-serve offering but lacks some of the bells and whistles of our top three,” according to Joanna O’Connell, a senior analyst at Forrester and the report’s lead author. (Invite Media declined to participate fully in Forrester’s report, but was still included in its broad analysis.)

AppNexus, a well-scaled provider of real-time bidding infrastructure and tools for the sell-side, was hurt by its buy-side focus, while X Plus One -- strong in audience management and algorithmic optimization -- was deemed to be less focused on providing a self-serve platform solution. 

Meanwhile, LucidMedia Networks trailed the pack, although it brought a strong technology focus to its DSP, Forrester found. The problem? It still lacks the resources and marketer-friendly orientation of several of its rivals.

Fierce competition among these and other vendors is being stoked by big demand for better systems for managing multichannel buying and execution, coupled with a rise in RTB, O’Connell notes.

“Today’s digital media buyers … face an unprecedented level of complexity in developing, managing, optimizing, and reporting on their media programs,” O’Connell finds. As a result, more than 50% of buyers are still on the lookout for a better system to managing multichannel campaigns, Forrester reports.

After examining past research, user need assessments and vendor and expert interviews, Forrester developed what it believes to be a comprehensive set of evaluation criteria to rate DSPs.

Its evaluated vendors against 48 criteria, which we grouped into three high-level buckets, including current offering, strategy, and market presence. The bigger picture: Forrester was quick to admit that the DSP space remains nascent and rapidly evolving.

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