Full-service DSP vs Self-serving DSP

Most programmatic advertising platforms or DSPs (demand-side platforms) have similar basic functionality, but still, some parameters differ one platform from another. For instance, DSPs may vary as for automation opportunities, algorithms behind its technology, targeting settings available, providing self-serving or full-service models, and other nuances. 

In this article, we’ll overview full-service DSP vs self-serving DSP differences, as well as benefits and drawbacks of each model. 

How a Demand-Side Platform works

As a brief recap, a DSP is a platform enabling advertisers to buy programmatic ads across various formats and devices. For instance: desktop, mobile web, or in-app. A good DSP provides advertisers with wide targeting options, top-performing ad formats, high-quality traffic sources, and detailed analytics. It may also ensure a brand-safe environment and gives tools and insights to plan, predict, and optimize ad spend.

Besides, DSP service aims to cut off the handiwork for most time-consuming operations and make media buying an automated and hassle-free process. It simplifies the daily routine of media buyers. Plus, with the DSP, everything goes transparent: the media buyer sets ad campaign goals, and the platform ensures these goals are achieved.

Now, while there is a common basis for DSPs, what’s the difference between full-service and self-serve DSPs? And what nuances should advertisers and agencies should consider while working with either of them?

Full service DSP

A full-service (or managed service) DSP, offers functionality for managing programmatic ad campaigns and may include the opportunity to pick ad categories, supply partners and selling models, set up numerous targeting rules, upload creatives, and optimize campaigns on-the-go. The only nuance here is that advertisers don’t have direct access to set up and manage all these features.

Everything works via a programmatic specialist on a DSP vendor side, who’s setting up, running, and optimizing campaigns on behalf of a particular advertiser. Here are the main strong and weak points of this model.

# Benefits of full-serve DSPs

+ Media buying on your behalf

With sales and account managers helping with planning and budgeting, as well as setting up and monitoring the ad campaigns, advertisers are covered. Mostly, advertisers just need to agree to a sizable budget or minimum spend to have the DSP take control of their campaigns.

+ Tech issues are on the vendor

As with managed-service DSP, an advertiser gets full support of campaign optimization and management. The same relates to any tech issues that may appear. This is where ad ops specialists to the rescue with optimization activities or solutions to address a problem.

+ Time-savvy 

With the full-service model, advertisers don’t have to spend time learning about how specific DSP works. They just need to get clear goals they want to reach with ad campaigns, knowing their audience so the DSP managers could set up targeting right and decide on a budget. Once the advertiser shares the essential information with a DSP rep, the process begins.

Now, how about limitations?

# Drawbacks of Full-serve DSPs

– Higher price

These DSPs tend to be quite expensive, which makes them accessible mostly to large-scale organizations with big budgets. 

– Low control

No need to go into DSP details and run campaigns by yourself sounds good, but it has its flip side – very limited control opportunities. Everything is on a DSP team, and an advertiser has no access to campaign settings, just ‘view’ mode.

– Lack of flexibility

Perhaps, the most significant downside while comparing full vs self DSP, is lack of flexibility when it comes to ad campaign management, and specifically – to making changes. To make the slightest change or in case of urgent situations, advertisers need to ‘activate’ the whole chain of people on a DSP side, which may include tech support, account manager, and ad ops, which, after all, can appear time-consuming.

Self-serve DSP

Alternatively to the managed-service model, a self-serving DSP puts advertisers in the driver’s seat, providing access to setting up, managing, reporting and optimizing campaigns. Ideally, the advertiser needs a skilled team of media buyers to manage their account. Yet, everything is not as overwhelming if advertiser partners with a reliable DSP provider. 

# Benefits of self-serve DSP

+ Full control

With self-serve DSP, advertisers are the ones who make decisions about campaign optimization such as bidding, budgets, and targeting reach. This provides better insight into reporting and makes it easier to replicate successes and develop their own best practices to apply to future campaigns. 

+ Easy to use interface

Normally, self-serve DSP providers make their platforms as user friendly as possible. As advertisers will need to navigate the platform and set up campaigns by themselves, the interface is typically straightforward and intuitive, allowing them to create and optimize campaigns quickly and effectively.

+ Reducing costs 

A self-serve DSP allows advertisers to reduce overhead costs and brings more transparency. Advertisers can track how their budgets are spent in real-time and fine-tune campaign’s settings to optimize the spend. 

+ Flexible and fast

Unlike the managed-service model, a self-serve DSP lets make changes and optimization on-the-fly. It’s fast, easy, and doesn’t require involving a whole bunch of people to make a tiny change.

+ Customer care

But! The self-serve model doesn’t mean you, as an advertiser, should go this way alone. Normally best self serve DSPs provide a support team or a personal manager to help you cope with issues, guide you through the platform, provide consultation on better optimization options, and provide any other assistance when you need it.

Yet, this model also has its limitations.

# Drawbacks of Self-serve DSPs

– The need to cover the basics

An advertiser will have to learn before starting work in a particular DSP, as each has its own way to display features, provide reporting and analytics, create campaigns, add creatives, and so forth. The onboarding process will require some time and a bunch of communication.

– Need to monitor everything

More freedom comes with more responsibility. In these terms, it means all ad campaigns must be monitored, changed, and improved by advertisers – or their in-house team. Customer care will be available, it’s true, but mostly as a support team on-demand, while the primary responsibility for campaign management goes to advertisers.

Managed service DSP vs self serve DSP: What to choose

Now, which DSP is best and which model to select for your programmatic advertising after all.

Running a campaign through a fully-managed platform considers that managing the campaign is entirely in the hands of that platform’s team. At the same time, managed service will require minimum fees, which may go more than tens of thousands of dollars and higher per month. This might be an option for large corporations and big brands with big ad budgets that are looking to outsourcing their media buying and do cross-checking on spend and outcomes periodically.

The self-serve model is friendly to SME companies, who would like to start their programmatic advertising with an affordable budget. Also, this model works great for agencies that provide media buying services to brands and need to have quick access to campaigns. 

We hope this overview will help you choose the best option for you. If you’re considering a self-serve model, give a try with a Markpoint DSP. Drop us a line to book a short demo.

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