Bear with me. It’s another acronym – I know. But this one is important.

It is DSP or demand-side platform.

Sound scary? Let me walk you through it. All these ad tech acronyms are just like monsters in a haunted house. Remove the mask, and a normal (or at least functional) human being is revealed underneath.

Grab my hand, and let’s brave this haunted house of ad tech together.

So What is a DSP?

A demand-side platform (DSP) is software that facilitates the buying and selling of online advertising. It’s a digital tool used by advertisers and agencies to efficiently find the very best publisher inventory sorted according to specific parameters.

These parameters can be anything the advertisers (or the agencies that represent them) want.

An advertiser can sort publisher inventory by audience segment (i.e. demographics, interests, locations, etc.) or by kind of inventory (i.e. video, display, mobile, etc.).

The point is, with a DSP, all of this searching and sorting – which in the past was done by human beings and took forever – is now being done by an automated computer.

It’s faster. It’s more efficient. And it costs less.

Win. Win. And win.

What about Mobile?

Mobile DSPs are designed to address many of the specific challenges that the mobile media revolution has caused. Some of these challenges include:

  • Mobile users take their phones with them everywhere. Tracking them to deliver timely location-based advertising requires mobile-specific technology. When done properly, it provides a great opportunity for personalized engagement.
  • Ad creative. Mobile devices require ads that can run properly and look good doing it on different screen sizes.
  • Mobile apps. Most users not only consume media on their mobile phone, but do so in mobile apps. Just like varying screen sizes, mobile apps play by an entirely different set of rules which must be taken into consideration.

To find mobile inventory, mobile DSPs will integrate with digital marketplaces called ad exchanges. It’s where publishers make their inventory available. Our own mobile DSP, AdCast™, integrates with some of the top mobile ad exchanges out there.

The Process

Once integrated with an ad exchange, a DSP will have access to millions of ad impressions from all over the Internet. At that time, the actual process of finding and buying the ads takes mere milliseconds to complete.


It’s all done via real-time auctions, known in the ad tech world as real-time bidding.

In that process, the DSP will decide which inventory it makes the most sense to buy based on the advertisers parameters, and will then bid for that inventory to determine the final price.

Implications of Using a Mobile DSP

DSPs, especially mobile DSPs, stand to alter how digital media is bought and sold. DSPs make it faster, more efficient, and better optimized by utilizing the wealth of data points that are now readily available.

This does mean however that human beings will no longer be negotiating prices (at least, not very many of them).

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

DSPs allow ad buyers to instead be ad planners who strategize and optimize ad campaigns, rather than getting bogged down by those pesky transactions.

And that’s way more fun anyway, isn’t it.

Want a breakdown of DSP and 29 other mobile advertising terms?

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