The evolution of the supply side platform
In its most basic form, a supply side platform is a software that helps publishers make money selling ads.
That said, the way in which supply side platforms have made publishers money has greatly evolved over the years. What started as manual ad network optimisation has transformed into full-stack software solutions continuing to disrupt a $150bn industry.
Here’s how it all began.
Phase 1: Ad Network Mediation
The original supply side platforms Admeld (founded 2007), Rubicon Project (founded 2007) and Pubmatic (founded 2006) first gained steam with publishers through ad network optimisation.
Before real-time bidding became a reality, these companies were taking multiple ad network tags and optimising impression allocation based on historical performance.
At the time, people were predominantly consuming content on desktop devices, traditional tag-based guaranteed sales were a lucrative source of revenue and publishers were throwing their remnant impressions to whichever ad network was willing to offer them the highest CPM.
With the entrance of Admeld, Rubicon Project and Pubmatic, publishers could maximise their remnant revenue by working with multiple ad networks at once without having to manually optimise each network’s performance — the SSPs would do it for them.
Despite having automated pricing algorithms, early SSPs had an entire yield management team dedicated to manually adjusting various network tags based on historical performance on an individual publisher basis. This was the original SSP model.
Phase 2: The Rise Of RTB
2007 was a big year for SSPs. In addition to the establishment of Admeld and Rubicon Project, a number of today’s leading DSPs were founded: Invite Media (now Google DoubleClick Bid Manager), DataXu, and MediaMath.
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