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A Publisher’s Guide to Working with Supply-side Platforms

Partner with SSP
Signed up to work with an SSP, but haven't heard back yet? Or Are you looking to understand what it takes to partner with SSPs directly? We've got you covered.

For every publisher, there comes a time when the demand from direct deals and ad networks like Adsense isn’t enough. Most ad networks are only built for publishers with a few million page views. 

But, when the traffic on your site crosses a certain level, you need a larger demand source that can fill your entire inventory at substantial rates. Here comes the need for an SSP that is connected with multiple ad networks and exchanges and has enough demand to monetize your ad impressions efficiently. Do you think you should partner with an SSP too? Are you not sure about how to get approved by an SSP? Here’s everything that you need to know.

Table of Contents:

Finding the best SSPs

Before you start approaching SSPs to work with you, it is important to know whether you are going to the right SSP or not. An SSP without the right demand wouldn’t prove to be of any help. It is best to work with an SSP that is renowned in the industry. OpenX, Pubmatic, Rubicon Project, AppNexus, and Index Exchange are some of the biggest names in the industry.

You have to check out their offerings to decide which one of them is the best fit for you. To help you with the search, we have compiled the list of best SSPs for publishers, you can go through it to find the best match.

Benefits of Working with an SSP

While you already know that an SSP can provide you enough demand to monetize your inventory at the right price, there are many other hosts of benefits that an SSP provides, here are some of them:

Real-time Bidding: This is the biggest advantage for a publisher who has worked only with an ad network so far. While the ad networks like Adsense sell your inventory at bulk with pre-set targeting criteria, RTB sells your inventory on an impression-by-impression basis (of course, in real-time). It increases the value of your inventory at a significant rate.

Combined Demand: Many SSPs combine the demand from ad networks and ad exchanges together. In this way, the RTB demand competes with the demand from ad networks. Again, it increases the rate that you used to get from ad networks. OpenX is an example of many such SSPs.

OpenX Fusion

Source: OpenX

Increased Reach: The demand from direct deals is limited to a single advertiser, the demand from ad networks and ad exchanges sometimes consists of a limited pool of advertisers and  DSPs. But an SSP can be connected to multiple ad exchanges and ad networks. Due to the increased reach, you have higher chance of reaching the buyers who are ready to pay a premium for your inventory.

Premium Demand: The buyers transacting via SSPs are way bigger than the advertisers using platforms like Google Ads. They have huge marketing budgets and are ready to pay more if the inventory is right for them.

Brand Safety: SSPs take strict measures to make sure that the demand is brand-safe. They also have dedicated teams, tools, and third-party partnerships to work only to ensure brand safety. Owing to the resources, you can bank upon SSPs that they’ll protect you from malvertising.

How to Connect with SSPs?

The procedure will always be the same, you’ll contact them, they’ll review your site, after approval, they’ll start working with you. The method of contacting will also be the same. You’ll go to their site, reach the section for publishers, and fill out the contact form. They’ll analyze your site and if it’s a good fit then they’ll contact you for further steps.

Don’t be surprised if you never receive any response, the approval process is very stringent with most of the SSPs.

Our sales team collects publisher credentials like their geography, audience reach, traffic source, years in business, quality of content plus domains and apps to be monetized for the ops team. The ops team then performs additional checks on these static attributes before greenlighting the publisher on our platform


Sidenote: Top SSPs normally have very high traffic requirements. If you get rejected by an SSP due to your traffic volume then don’t worry, you just need a header bidding wrapper provider like Automatad. A wrapper provider will connect you with all the major SSPs in one shot, given that you have good quality traffic with a minimum of 1 million page views.

How to Get Approved by an SSP?

An SSP will only work with you if you fulfill their requirements. Every SSP has more or less the same kind of requirements. Here is what they’ll be focusing on:

Minimum Traffic: You should have the minimum amount of traffic they expect from a publisher to work directly with them. Most of the time the SSPs will not specify the amount but you should expect it in tens of millions. For instance, the Rubicon Project works with publishers like Business Insider, Financial Times, GANNETT, Los Angeles Times, Hearst, etc.

Such publishers have many properties with millions of traffic. So you can form an idea of what kind of traffic they are looking for. They wouldn’t specify the traffic requirements because the decision of working with a publisher is not based on traffic alone.

Traffic Sources: Organic is the most preferred source of traffic for SSPs. Some SSPs wouldn’t work with you if you do not have enough organic traffic. Sovrn, for instance, explicitly says that organic should be the primary source of traffic for your domain. Direct traffic is another important source. If users are coming directly to your site then it means you have a loyal audience and a good brand image. Social traffic can be considered the third most important source.

So make sure that most of your visitors are coming to your site organically before applying for an SSP.

Original Content: Each and every SSP will require you to have original content. None of the SSP would want to spoil its image by monetizing a site that uses content that has been unethically taken from other publishers. It’s a matter of credibility.

The SSPs will have all the necessary arrangements to find out whether the content is original or not. Do not apply if you don’t have original content.

User Engagement: All SSPs will look into your engagement metrics. If the audience wouldn’t be engaged then it’ll be difficult to get approval from a good SSP. Make sure you have a good average session duration, low bounce rate, and all the other metrics that can show a high engagement on your site.

Better Ads Standards: Most of the SSPs can also look into whether or not you are following the Better Ads Standards. The Standards set by the Coalition of Better Ads are followed throughout the industry. Companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, are some of the members of this Coalition. The objective of the coalition is to improve user experience with online ads.

Go to the website and check whether you are violating any of the standards. Use the Google Ad Experience report as well. Fix all the issues that you find before applying.

Viewability: Every SSP will ask for good viewability metrics. Without viewability, there’ll be lesser revenue and it’ll be a loss for the publisher as well as the SSP. So work on your viewability metrics, improve the layout and performance of your site.

Download our Ad Viewability Guide to know about the acceptable viewability numbers and ways to improve them.

What to Avoid during an SSP Approval?

It is not limited to what they look for, but you have to make sure that you avoid everything that’s not acceptable by the SSPs. Here are some of the major practices to avoid:

Buying Traffic: Purchasing traffic may not be bad but it’s better to be avoided. It shows that your site does not have good quality content. Paid traffic can also be spammy. SSPs like Pubmatic can suspend your account if more than 50% of your traffic is from paid sources. Avoid it.

Less Content and More Ads: It shows that showing ads and earning money is your only motive. But the first priority of your site should be to provide value to your visitors. Many publishers present their content in slideshows to increase the number of pageviews, such pages ideally, shouldn’t have more than three ads.

Restricted and Banned Category Content: Every SSP will have a list of restricted and banned categories of content. Go through the list and make sure you do not have any content around those categories.

Copyright Issues: Your site shouldn’t be distributing any kind of copyrighted content illegally. So torrent sites, music, and movie piracy sites do not get approval from SSPs.

Pop-ups, Pop-unders, and Redirects: Pop-ups are annoying, pop-unders inflate the number of ads without viewability, redirects mess up user experience even further. So SSPs strictly say no to such practices.

Malpractices: Automatic app installation, buying invalid traffic, encouraging or tricking users to click on ads are some of the many malpractices that you should avoid. SSPs would never approve your account if they found doing any such unethical work.

What if You do not Get Approved?

If you’re still facing difficulties with SSP approval then you can contact a wrapper provider like us. The SSPs need supply on a large scale. A wrapper provider works with multiple publishers to create the needed pool of large supplies. In this way, the publisher connects to the SSP and the SSP gets the volume it needs without increasing the number of accounts to maintain, it’s a win-win.

This is not the only benefit, a wrapper provider will connect you with multiple SSPs, provide you its own tech stack, bring the adops expertise to the table, and offer additional products that can increase your revenue substantially. 

What’s Next?

First, make sure that your website has everything that we discussed above. Also, ensure that your site doesn’t have anything that’s usually unacceptable. Then find out the best SSP for you. Go through its policies to check if you need any more changes on your site. Then apply for approval through the SSP’s site and wait for the response. Do not expect a quick response, check if the SSP’s website tells you how much time it typically takes to respond. If it doesn’t work out then explore the options with wrapper providers.

Automatad Team

At Automatad, we help publishers to monetize better without hampering the user experience. Our products are live across hundreds of publishers, earning them incremental ad revenue with every passing second. You can request a free audit to get an estimated revenue uplift today.

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