The MadTech Sketch: DSP vs SSP: When Two Tribes Go To War

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In this week’s Madtech Sketch, Ciarán O'Kane outlines a looming battle between SSPs and DSPs.

There was a lot of drama around the first anniversary of The Trade Desk’s (TTD) supply path optimisation (SPO) product, OpenPath. OpenPath has been positioned as a more efficient way to buy media.  

The DSP has been at pains to talk up its industry-wide benefits. One of its key executives in the UK even went onto a 1000-person chat group to extol the virtues of OpenPath.  

That conversation thread was subsequently leaked by an insider to a journalist in a dark Soho pub a few weeks back, ending up as a key anchor for an expose. That ad tech mole is still at large.

The paranoia about OpenPath is justified. What we are seeing is a redrawing of the programmatic landscape.

A change in the supply chain

TTD is making a logical strategic shift, given its focus on CTV and online video. Unlike open web display advertising, inventory is finite. Direct integration was always going to be a feature of the space. This puts the SSP model in real trouble, especially if one of the biggest demand partners in the business is actively cutting them out of the supply chain.  

This week’s Madtech Sketch outlines a looming battle between SSPs and DSPs as efficiency, cost-cutting and sustainability (weaponised for SPO) drives change in the market.

There are a few possible first order and second order effects:

  • SSPs morph into DSPs, competing head-to-head
  • SSPs get even cosier with the holding groups, cutting attractive globe trading deals and offering media owners unique supply
  • SSPs differentiate by addressing the no-data zone (NDZ), eschewing a broken ID-matching model and surfacing contextual signals via SDA to buyers
  • SSPs go deeper on the supply side (only really an option if Google spins GAM)
MadTech Sketch: DSP vs SSP

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