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Meta-DSP: This year’s 'hottest term' explained

Matt Nash
Meta-DSP: This year’s 'hottest term' explained Matt Nash

The ad tech industry is renowned for its acronyms - DSP, SSP, PMP, DMP, RTB… the list is endless. As the industry has continued to transform, education has helped clarify these terms to marketers.

Programmatic has matured and so has its technology. There’s a new term that has cropped up in the last year from a number of agencies – the Meta-DSP – a super platform that promises performance and analytics. But what exactly is a Meta-DSP and what are its pros and cons?

Current State of Programmatic

Every marketer would have seen the much bandied around Display LUMAscape which is used to illustrate the programmatic ecosystem – a messy tangle of agency trading desks, data suppliers, DSPs, SSPs, and exchanges, all bucketed into sections to create relative order. There are more than 100 programmatic platforms to choose from, all largely touting the same offering; programmatic connects your brand to your consumer at the right time, in the right place.

The marketplace is cluttered. Add to the mix traditional advertising pillars such as TV, radio and Out Of Home (OOH) which are beginning to be traded programmatically, and it’s only going to get busier. It’s not only confusing to marketers, but also for many others working within the media industry. It can be confusing to many within the media industry too.

With that in mind, I’ll look to simplify the industry’s key buy and sell-side solutions, and explain what on earth a Meta-DSP is:

SSP (Supply Side Platform)

SSPs enable publishers and media owners with online inventory to plug into ad exchanges and make their inventory available. Through SSPs, publishers hope to gain the highest eCPM for their inventory, as opposed to selling it at low-cost remnant prices.

DSP (Demand Side Platform)

DSPs allow advertisers and ad agencies to access and efficiently buy ad inventory across multiple ad exchanges and SSPs through one interface. DSPs aggregate inventory from multiple ad exchanges, which simplifies the process.

ATD (Agency Trading Desk)

A centralised service based layer within an agency that accesses multiple audience buying technologies, managing its clients' and separate agencies' programmatic (or automated) advertising buying.


A Meta-DSP is an innovative trading platform that unifies the world’s leading DSPs through one single entry point, creating a holistic view of the media ecosystem. Meta-DSPs aggregate data from multiple technologies to provide clients with greater audience reach, scale, campaign insights and cost saving efficiencies.

What are the Benefits of Using a Meta-DSP?

No two DSPs are the same and each carry their own strengths. Meta-DSPs benefit from a connected view of the market through two-way application program interfaces (APIs), which means that traders are able to see pricing differences, saving clients valuable ad dollars while getting the best quality inventory. Utilising a Meta-DSP approach gives advertisers increased performance as well as greater audience reach, scale and business insights across the buying ecosystem.

When Not to Consider a Meta-DSP

Meta-DSPs are great if you’re looking to achieve scale – but scale may not be for every advertiser. It’s important to know how much your brand wants to scale and know your ceiling cap. If scale isn’t what you’re looking for, then a Meta-DSP may not be for you.

Final Note

It’s important to remember that no one provider has relationships with every publisher or SSP globally, however Meta-DSPs give marketers the best possible access and results. While fragmentation of data still exists in the industry and there is still confusion over which partners are best to work with, Meta-DSPs do the agnostic thinking for you, ensuring your campaign spend is being used in the most effective way possible and driving the best results.

Matt Nash is a speaker along with leaders from M&S, McDonald's and Samsung at the iMedia Data-Fuelled Marketing Summit on Thursday 11 February.


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