How DSPs, Exchanges and SSPs have evolved?

Last week during discussions on integrations with exchanges, DSPs etc. we were curious to know about how these have evolved and what is their uniqueness in digital advertising landscape. Briefly putting below my understanding on various jargons which are being used in online advertising today.

Considering the general workflow, advertisers hire agencies (for expertise) to spend their money, these agencies have buying desks which has relationships/partnerships with different entities on the supply side. Now two things have evolved during last 3 years mostly surrounding real time bidding.

Buying Desks along with the traditional buying relationships and partnerships now have something called Automated Trading Desks which are similar to DSP but are fully owned by agencies. Most of automated trading desks are running on technology either licensed from another company or acquisition ( The video highlights the point of conflict when any technology company works as an agency or vice versa. But this conflict is not occurring till now with Google’s display network which is pretty strange.

Ad networks or publisher networks started out with simple model of combining publisher sites into verticals, but due to abundance of networks and lack of differentiation, these networks have re-branded themselves as DSP and SSP. Even now many of them don’t have technology platform but provide a combination of licensed technology with inventory they had earlier. Many of these will now evolve to private exchange (providing the benefits of real time bidding along with the inventory they bring) which seems to be the next logical step. Private exchange concept is picking up to increase the spending of direct buy through real time bidding model. Exchange was mostly used for remnant stuff not just in terms of inventory that is left out but also in terms of money that is left out after premium buy.

Some links which will bring clarity on these are provided. Most of the links are interesting to read giving slightly different perspective and argument.

DSP – Demand side platform – providing integrations with exchanges and ad networks to buy with RTB Ex: AdChemy, X+1, Media Math, DataXu
Exchange – RTB – Real Time Bidding – providing auction capability across different kinds of systems (DSP, SSP, Networks) Ex: DoubleClick, Right Media
SSP – Supply side platform – providing integrations with exchanges and ad networks to sell with RTB Ex: Rubicon, AdMeld, Pubmatic
Networks – Used to refer to ad networks which are basically publisher networks – Thousands of networks are there