Blog

January 26, 2017

Agency Insider Series: Lesson Three

Your 5 Step Plan for Finding the Right Demand Partner

By: Nicole Scaglione, Director of Buyer Development, OpenX

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If you think of programmatic buying as a gourmet dinner, DSPs are the restaurants delivering those delicious meals. There is hardly a more critical partnership than the one agency buyers build with their DSP to ensure they’re getting the most out of their programmatic campaigns.

Like restaurants, DSPs come in many different flavors – meaning there are plenty to choose from. Are you working with the platform that’s best for you? With insight from my colleague, Ian Davidson, VP of global demand, who has nearly seven years of programmatic experience (all at OpenX!), here are five steps to help build relationships with the right DSPs:

1. Know what you want

Know what you need first; that will help you determine the best partner. DSPs offer varying degrees of targeting capabilities, formats, buying models, reporting and service. Determining what partnership you build based on your client and campaign needs is your critical step one.

  • Are your needs brand or performance-based?
  • How important is scale on a regional or global level?
  • Do you need mobile and video inventory alongside desktop?
  • Do your campaigns call for private marketplaces, guarantees?
  • Are you going to need reports on a regular basis?
  • How much do you rely on account management?

2. Research the inventory

Take the answers from the questions above and then determine what inventory you need, before considering which DSPs to start talking to first. Vegetarians don’t pick a restaurant at random without exploring the menu first. Same with DSPs – if you need native inventory, look into native exchanges first, and then determine which of those can meet your clients’ needs.

Talk to exchanges and SSPs to learn as much about them as you can. Make a decision on what inventory you want. Then start the process of deciding which tool you need to get that inventory to you.

3. Understand how DSPs think about themselves

It’s not only important to understand which inventory sources DSPs are integrated with but also get to know the “why” behind those integrations.

A DSP may decide to build the largest pool of inventory for all buyers and integrate with every supply source available. In that case, the value from that DSP may be scale. That said, all buyers might not need access to that much inventory. Focusing on everything may mean an inability to hone in on anything, potentially leaving a buyer’s unique needs unmet.

Exposure to a vast supply source could lead to a heightened risk of fraud or viewability concerns depending on the protections in place. Too much inventory might make it difficult for a DSP to do what is necessary on the front end to protect against fraud — adding more work for buyer later.

Separately, a DSP with a specific focus on regional clients or on certain formats may not be flexible enough for your ever-changing client base. Align with partners whose business objectives match your needs today and your needs tomorrow.

4. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of new comers and veterans

It can take years of relationship building to optimize integrations. DSPs who have been in the industry a long time may have tighter connections to inventory sources than newer platforms. For example, at OpenX we have worked very closely with our DSP partners for the last several years, constantly reevaluating our relationships to ensure everyone is operating optimally. Each time new formats and buying models pop up, we get back to work and begin the process again. This process helps us understand and anticipate the needs of our DSPs to give them the best service.

Alternatively, platforms new to the space, who may focus on a certain type of inventory (mobile, native, video) or buying model (private marketplace, guaranteed deals), could have advantages in these specific areas that veteran DSPs don’t have right away. In each case, you have to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of working with both.

5. Consider multiple partners

You may need to establish multiple DSP relationships to stay on top your client’s every need – especially if you have a wide-ranging portfolio of clients. Go through this process for each partner, your needs may indicate that working with multiple providers is the best solution.

Working with multiple platforms is not uncommon. Or, working with a managed service provider who has access to multiple DSPs and can utilize different tools as your campaign needs evolve may be the most cost-effective choice.

As you continue to learn more about programmatic, keep asking questions and keep evaluating (and re-evaluating) the value each partner brings to the table. Marrying all of that information to your own needs is the best way to build the right partnerships.