According to our latest research, digital ad spending continues to shift from direct to publishers and toward programmatic. In the fourth wave of our annual DSP Report, advertisers now expect to spend over 50% of their budgets via programmatic channels. However, while growth is happening, it is perhaps not happening as quickly as previously thought. By comparison, in a study conducted three years ago, advertisers expected programmatic to account for two-thirds of their spend.

What Agencies and Marketers Want from a DSP

In this report, decision makers rated DSPs on 23 selection criteria, across data, technology, user experience, analytics and sales relationships. All 23 criteria are important, however, analysis of the criteria on the likelihood to use a specific DSP reveals the most critical selection drivers. Using this methodology, our analysis shows audience, targeting and reporting are the most critical drivers for selecting a DSP.

Analytics and insights are also very important. Three of four related criteria significantly impact DSP use. In a KPI-driven world, campaign insights are critical for advertisers to understand what’s working and how to improve upon campaign performance. Training and Application QA has also been consistently important wave-over-wave.

Looking at the reasons advertisers turn toward programmatic – efficiencies in spend, and opportunities to leverage data for better targeting – the programmatic shift is understandable. But why is programmatic not growing as fast as advertisers expected? Our study points to the obstacles still facing all digital advertisers: fraud, brand safety, and verification.

Regardless of the pace of spend shifts, demand-side platforms (DSPs) have a critical role in programmatic buying. For marketers with in-house buying capabilities, common ways to execute buys are via DSPs alone or DSPs in tandem with agencies. DSPs will only grow in importance as the trend to move capabilities in-house continues.

Which DSPs Are Considered Leaders?

The DSP landscape is a cluttered one. In our report, we measured 22 of the leading DSPs to assess which ones are breaking out from the pack. We surveyed 395 marketing and agency decision makers involved in the purchase of programmatic advertising, who use or work specifically with DSPs. The report indicates that Google’s DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM) continues to hold a leading position. And for the third wave in a row, Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP) has appeared as a viable contender to DBM in advertisers’ consideration and intention to spend.

What Makes a DSP a Preferred Partner

In this competitive environment, how can DSPs separate themselves from the rest of the pack? To provide guidance, we received 275 written responses from agencies and marketers on what their DSP does or offers for it to be preferred. Much of the feedback centered on data quality, analytics and service.

Download the report Executive Summary HERE…