In high demand: Dissecting today’s DSP landscape and up-leveling your ad inventory

September 10, 2019

Tags: 2019, Industry Perspectives, Publishers, DSPs

Franklin Ramirez
Sara Penchina


See all blog articles

As a mobile app publisher today, you may have asked yourself how you can optimize your inventory to make it more attractive for demand-side platforms (DSPs). If you’re curious to learn more about the state of the DSP landscape today, what the primary types of DSPs are and how they’re differentiated, and what you can do to make your ad inventory more attractive to them, read on for a crash course on the current DSP landscape for the mobile app world. 

Why DSPs? 

First, let’s clarify what a DSP is. DSP stands for demand-side platform, which is a technology platform used to buy ad inventory in an automated way (i.e. programmatically), based on real-time pricing. DSPs can serve as valuable partners for app publishers because of the competitive real-time pricing and the transparency that they offer. For mobile publishers offering their ad inventory at auction via real-time bidding (RTB), DSPs provide streamlined programmatic demand from a variety of advertisers. Ultimately, understanding DSPs can help publishers optimize how their ad inventory is sold and how it performs. Publishers can enlist a supply-side platform (SSP) such as MoPub to help connect them to the DSPs that are best suited for their business and help them to maximize the value of their ad inventory.  

What do DSPs care about? 

To make their ad inventory attractive to DSPs, app publishers need to first understand the current DSP landscape and what these buyers are looking for. Today, there are two primary DSP categories: “omni-channel” (or cross-channel) and “performance” DSPs. Here’s the lowdown on both types: 

Omni-channel DSPs 

Omni-channel DSPs work primarily with larger brands that buy ad inventory via agencies. When looking to allocate their programmatic budgets, they care most about: 

  • Reaching a target audience
  • Brand safety
  • Transparency
  • Viewability
  • Traffic quality 

To accommodate this style of buying, these DSPs often provide a self-serve platform that allows marketers control and transparency over their media spend. 

Performance DSPs

Alternatively, performance DSPs’ core customers in the mobile space are app developers and transaction-focused marketers. These DSPs often utilize performance metrics such as return on ad spend (ROAS) or life-time value (LTV) to focus on retargeting, user acquisition (UA), or both. These buyers are focused on successfully getting a user to complete a specific action within the app (e.g. purchase, completion of a specific level). They care most about: 

  • Accessing top-of-the-waterfall inventory
  • Creative strategy
  • Driving the performance metrics that matter to their advertisers 

How can you make your mobile app inventory stand out? 

As a mobile app publisher, what can you do to help make your inventory more attractive to DSPs? 

  • Diversification of ad formats is key: The more formats you offer, the more ad real estate that DSPs can tap into, making you a valuable partner for them (hint: check out the wide variety of ad formats MoPub offers, to help you get started). 

  • Give rewarded video ads a try: mobile app publishers (gaming apps in particular) should consider trying out rewarded video ads. Rewarded video ads allow users to opt-in to view a video ad in exchange for something valuable in relation to that app (which could include in-app currency or other such in-app rewards), which exposes those users to your in-app economy. The high engagement from this format is valuable for performance DSPs to maximize the opportunity to drive the right performance metrics.

  • Test out ad placements within your app UI: another way to amplify the quality of your ad supply is to test and iterate your ad units and placements to find the most engaging structure. For example, let’s say you’re exploring native ad formats. The MoPub team can help walk you through the ways that different ad formats and placements might display within your app and make recommendations to help optimize your app’s user experience. 

  • Consider partnerships with third-party vendors to ensure quality, viewability, and measurement: Many DSPs care about measurement, viewability, and brand safety, especially when it comes to omni-channel DSPs. For that reason, it’s important when considering your monetization platform that you also consider your access to third-party vendors, by extension. Third-party vendors can help ensure that your inventory is measurable, that your creatives are rendering correctly, and that the creatives are brand-safe. MoPub, for example, currently has viewability partnerships with Moat and Integral Ad Science (IAS) and traffic quality partnerships with Pixalate and DoubleVerify. When DSPs (especially omni-channel) are considering what supply is most valuable to them, that level of accountability goes a long way.   

How can MoPub help? 

We know a thing or two about creative ways to work with DSPs to maximize spend for our publishers. 

  • Full-platform solution: with MoPub’s monetization platform, you can access and manage global advertising demand from over 180 real-time bidding DSPs. Combine that with your direct sold deals and any ad networks you choose to ensure you monetize your app with maximum competition — your inventory will be filled by the highest-paying demand source. 

  • Transparency: MoPub provides an open platform that is transparent and empowers publishers to work with over 150 demand partners in one place. As a publisher, you can trust that the highest net bid always wins, and we offer detailed reporting to back this up. 

  • Quality: MoPub’s platform empowers app publishers to enable real-time competition from the top demand sources worldwide (including unique demand from Twitter). Competition from these high quality demand sources ensures maximum yield for publishers. Additionally, we've taken steps to foster a healthy exchange by building direct integrations with the industry's leading MRC-accredited mobile traffic quality management vendors.

  • Inventory packages: If you’re working with MoPub, you have an opportunity to participate in existing inventory packages (collections of inventory with shared characteristics, which buyers can target on our exchange) when available, if your inventory aligns with particular characteristics. Inventory packages help buyers target inventory to reach their mobile in-app audience more easily and accurately. To learn more about the benefits of these packages and how you can get involved, contact your MoPub representative. You might also be eligible to access our Private Marketplace (PMP) catalog via MoPub’s Deal Connect Program (please reach out to your MoPub representative to see if you’re eligible). 

  • Innovation: We can also help you take advantage of offerings like impression-level revenue data so you can better understand where your highest value users are, and Advanced Bidding, designed to help publishers more efficiently monetize their inventory by replacing the traditional ad waterfall with simultaneous real-time bidding. Your MoPub representative is happy to walk you through any of the above offerings, if you have questions.

  • Client service: MoPub’s expert client service team can work with you to understand how to better set up ads in your UI so you can learn firsthand how to enhance the user experience and understand what their current experience with ads looks like within your app.  

  • Analytics: DSPs today rely on their supply partners to be able to provide analysis, reporting, market intelligence and product innovation to help them achieve their performance goals. At MoPub, we know that analytics and reporting are crucial to both supply and demand partners. That’s why we recently launched MoPub Analytics. We can help connect you to the insights you need to stay ahead of the trends. 

Interested in getting your ad inventory to stand out to DSPs? Reach out to us today. We can help. 


Contact us

Contact us

Ready to maximize your mobile revenue?

Girl with phone