DSPs: Still Not Enough

A colleague brought up some comments that I made two years ago about the weakness of DSPs and how they were just not cutting it for marketers. He now wondered if things had changed any: Had DSPSs closed that gap? It was a valid question – it wasn’t that long ago that all anyone could talk about were DSPs. However, times have changed and DSPs are no longer the hot new technology; in fact, they are far from the only game in town. It was true then and it’s true now: DSPs are not enough.

While programmatic media buying didn’t even have a name two years ago, everything seems to be real-time bidding (RTB) now. The old story was, you had to use a DSP to centralize your efforts, but the truth is that they could never scale to meet marketers’ needs. This still stands true, but for a different reason.

What has changed is the incredible amount of data available, and that the market’s emphasis has now been centralized around this fire hose of data. To this end, marketers are exploring all options for effectively leveraging this data across all marketing tactics.



It was this shift in attention that created an opening for DMPs.  These data platforms have benefited from changes in the ad tech marketplace, but the new challenge is connecting the dots between all of these tools, the data they collect and resources with the knowledge to leverage it all.  There is a very important human aspect and skill set needed for optimization and integrating all the data points together that gets lost in the focus on pure technology and self-service solutions. 

So now, DSPs are trying to pivot to DMPs to keep a toehold, but DMPs have their own flaws.

What marketers need to strive toward is an integrated approach: a truly data-driven media strategy. To achieve this, marketers need not only to understand the value of their own data (first party) but also to figure out how to incorporate the immense amount of third-party data to complement it in a media setting.

Where does this leave stand-alone DSPs?

It’s clear that spending your display media budget in a single place didn’t work two years ago, and it doesn’t work now.  There are just too many data variables, inventory options, and media partners available to centralize display efforts to one partner.  It’s impossible to cover all bases, and the potential loss of opportunity is too large. 

Marketers need to stay current by testing new technologies and DSPs, which should be a part of their strategy, but not the only part. Even after all this time, DSPs lack finesse and tactical expertise.  They may be a good vehicle to get scale (up to a point) and avoid duplication, but they clearly fall flat with more sophisticated marketing techniques. And, in the end, those sophisticated techniques are impossible to achieve when focusing on a single channel. Marketers need not only to look beyond DSPs, but beyond single-channel solutions. It is not until you bring together all of your media touchpoints (and their data) that you can begin to leverage the magic of cross-channel attribution.

1 comment about "DSPs: Still Not Enough".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. William Sears from [x+1], July 5, 2013 at 10:24 a.m.

    Great article, could not agree more about the shortcomings of the stand-alone DSP, and the need for truly integrated Digital platforms that can make decisions across channels. The only thing I don't get is, why bother testing stand-alone DSPs? The integrated platform options available have scale today, and when unique needs exist a solid platform can provide audience and direction to a secondary DSP. Tear off the stand-alone DSP bandage and move on.

Next story loading loading..