DSP vs SSP DSP vs SSP What is the Difference

DSP vs SSP: What is the Difference?

Programmatic media buying has revolutionized the online ad industry. It has achieved high advertising efficiency by streamlining the buying & selling of online advertising space. DSP (demand side platform) and SSP (supply side platform) are the two essential components of programmatic media buying. With the help of these two, both advertisers and publishers can connect easily and raise their revenues. 

In this article, we will understand the key differences between a demand-side platform and a supply-side platform, how they work together and where they fit inside the programmatic advertising ecosystem. 

DSP vs SSP- Definitions

Demand Side Platform

The demand side platform (DSP) is a programmatic media-buying software designed to help advertisers & marketers buy relevant ad spaces on the internet from multiple publishers. In layman’s terms, a demand-side platform is an inventory-gathering tool that allows advertisers to buy the best ad inventory at the best possible rates.


With the help of DSP, marketers can target their audience based on parameters like gender, age, location, behavior, and income levels among others. DSPs help marketers get the ad spaces that allows them to reach their target audience at the right time, within a specified budget. Demand side platforms automate the buying process with real-time auction* from various sources of inventory making it easier, and quicker.

Some popular demand-side platforms are Xandr, MediaMath, SmartyAds, Criteo, Adobe Advertising Cloud, Adform, and Google Display & Video 360 among others. Do remember that some platforms combine DSPs and SSPs like Xander. While some platforms like Adform integrate DSPs, SSPs, and DMP’s (data management platforms) to provide full-stack solutions.

Supply Side Platform

supply-side platform is a programmatic software designed to help publishers/website owners sell their ad inventory to the right buyers at the best price possible. As the name suggests, it is a supplier platform for publishers to maximize their income and fill their empty ad spaces. 


Supply-side platforms gather multiple forms of advertising demand for website owners and connect them to ad exchanges+, networks, and demand-side platformsSupply-side platforms automate the ad inventory selling process with real-time bidding from multiple marketers, thus making the process easier, quicker, and highly profitable for publishers.

Some popular supply-side platforms are Google Ad Manager, Xandr, PubMatic, Open X, Rubicon Project, Adform, RTB House, and AppNexus among others. 

DSP vs SSP- Working Together

Here is how DSP vs SSP works together for the mutual benefit of advertisers, and publishers as well as displaying the ads that are relevant to users.


  1. User visits a website with ad space. 
  2. Information about the ad space available on the site goes up to supply-side platforms.
  3. Supply-side platformsinteract with demand-side platforms through Ad exchanges.
  4. An auction takes place in real-time where advertisers bid for the ad space. 
  5. The highest bidder wins the ad spot and their ads appear on the website for the viewer. 

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DSP vs SSP- Key Differences in Brief

Here are the key differences between a demand-side platform and a supply-side platform.

A. Users of the Tool

  1. DSP– Demand side platformsare used by marketers/advertisers.
  2. SSP– Supply-side platforms are used by website owners/publishers.

B. Primary Objectives

  1. DSP– Primary objective of a demand-side platformis to assist advertisers to purchase relevant ad inventory at the most affordable price. Demand-side platforms allow marketers to target their core audience through parameters like gender, age, income level, etc.
  2. SSP– Primary objective of a supply-side platformis to help website owners/publishers sell and control their ad inventory at the best possible price.

C. Platform Functionality

  1. DSP– A demand-side platform connects advertisers with several supply-side platforms, ad exchanges, and networks. Demand-side platforms place real-time bids on ad inventory available on behalf of marketers/advertisers. Demand side platformsoffer several buying approaches, e.g., CPM (cost per thousand), and help show customizable advertisements from marketers to viewers on publisher’s websites. 
  2. SSP– A supply-side platform connects website owners/publishers with several demand-side platforms, ad exchanges, and networks and helps them sell the ad inventory through real-time bidding. 

D. Advantages

  1. DSP- Demand side platformshelp advertisers to find the most efficient, relevant, and cheapest ad inventory available. Demand-side platformsallow marketers to do audience targeting, set ad creatives, and manage and optimize bids through a single interface.
  2. SSP– Supply-side platformsallow publishers to sell ad inventory to the marketers of their niche and get the maximum price for it. Through a single interface, supply-side platformsallow website owners to run automated real-time auctions, set the price range, evaluate the bids, and serve the ads to their site visitors.

Final Thoughts

So, these are the key differences between DSP vs SSP. Both these platforms are at the opposite end of the programmatic ad-buying spectrum. Demand-side platforms help marketers while supply-side platforms help publishers, but both of them add massive value to the digital advertising space through programmatic media buying. 

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