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

Updated on: February 22, 2024
Step into the world of SSPs as we demystify the process and walk you through it, ensuring a rewarding partnership awaits.

You’ve probably experienced that pivotal moment when the demand from direct deals and ad networks like Adsense just doesn’t cut it anymore. This is a common hurdle for many publishers, especially as most ad networks are designed for publishers with a few million page views. But what happens when your traffic surpasses these numbers, and you need a larger demand source to fill your entire ad inventory at substantial rates?

Navigating the world of digital publishing can be a thrilling journey. You’ve built your site, built an audience, and signed up with an SSP partner, but now you are in a holding pattern, waiting to hear back. Or perhaps you’re in the contemplation stage, trying to understand if partnering with an SSP is your next strategic move. We’re here to light the way wherever you are on this journey.

This is where Supply-side Platforms (SSPs) come into play. With their vast connections to multiple ad networks and exchanges, they can efficiently monetize your ad impressions. It’s an important step, but it can seem daunting, right? How do you get the nod from an SSP? What should you prepare for? We’re here to demystify all these questions and more!

Whether you’re a seasoned publisher or a newcomer, we invite you to join us on this journey as we delve into the world of SSPs.

Choosing the Right SSP Partner for You

You might wonder, “How do I choose the right SSP?” It’s a bit like finding the perfect dance partner – you want someone who can keep up with your moves and complement your style. The same applies to SSPs. Not every SSP is going to be the right fit for you. You need one to meet your unique needs and help you maximize your revenue.

Big names like OpenX, Pubmatic, Magnite, Xandr, and Index Exchange might already be on your radar. Each of these industry titans has its unique offerings that might be a good fit for you. But how do you decide which one to go with?

We’ve taken some of the guesswork out of the process by compiling a list of the best SSPs for publishers. This list can be a helpful starting point in your search for the perfect SSP.

So, look at what each of these SSPs offers, weigh their pros and cons, and see which one resonates with you. Remember, the goal is to find an SSP that will help you unlock your site’s full earning potential.

Why SSPs Are a Publisher’s Best Friend

By now, you’re probably aware that partnering with an SSP can help you monetize your ad inventory more effectively. But let’s dig a bit deeper into why SSPs can be such game-changers for publishers like you.

  1. The Power of Real-time Bidding: It’s like having a personal auctioneer for your ad inventory. Instead of selling your inventory in bulk, as some ad networks do, SSPs facilitate real-time bidding, selling each ad impression to the highest bidder. It’s a strategy that can significantly boost the value of your inventory.
  2. A Wealth of Combined Demand: Imagine combining the demand from ad networks and ad exchanges. Well, that’s exactly what many SSPs do. This strategy increases competition for your ad space, potentially leading to higher rates.
  3. Increased Reach: Picture an SSP as a bustling marketplace filled with potential buyers from multiple ad exchanges and networks. This increased reach can enhance your chances of attracting premium buyers willing to pay top dollar for your inventory.
  4. Access to Premium Demand: Who wouldn’t want access to big spenders? With SSPs, you can tap into a pool of buyers who, unlike smaller advertisers using platforms like Google Ads, have sizeable marketing budgets and are willing to pay a premium for the right inventory.
  5. Brand Safety Measures: Let’s face it, the digital world can be a risky place. That’s why SSPs work hard to ensure that the demand is brand-safe. They have dedicated teams and tools and even form partnerships with third parties to protect you from the likes of malvertising.

How to Connect with SSPs?

Alright! Moving on to connecting with these Supply-side Platforms (SSPs). If you’ve ever tried online dating or job hunting, this process will feel quite familiar to you. Much like those scenarios, you’re trying to present your best self and match with the right party.

You start by contacting them, typically through a contact form on their website. You’ll find this in the section specifically designed for publishers like you. Fill out the form, provide your website details, and then wait. They will analyze your website, checking if it fits their criteria and preferences.

Now, here’s a dose of reality. You may not always hear back from them. Yes, it’s similar to sending out your resume to many companies without getting a response. The approval process can be rather stringent with most SSPs, so don’t take it personally if you don’t get a reply.

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:

1. Minimum Traffic

Think of this as the size of your audience. SSP Partners won’t usually specify the exact number, but you should anticipate it to be in the tens of millions. An example to illustrate this is the Magnite, which partners with heavy hitters like Business Insider, Financial Times, GANNETT, Los Angeles Times, Hearst, and so on. They don’t detail traffic requirements because the decision to work with a publisher is not solely reliant on traffic.

2. Traffic Sources

This factor can be compared to the quality of your audience. Organic traffic is the most preferred source for SSPs, signifying a naturally engaged and interested readership. Like a loyal fan base, direct traffic is another crucial source. Lastly, social traffic is considered the third most important source.

3. Original Content

SSPs, much like art galleries, only want original work. They require content that is unique to your site and ethically produced. Just as no gallery wants to showcase copied art, no SSP wants to monetize content that has been unethically sourced from other publishers.

4. User Engagement

All SSPs will examine your site’s engagement metrics. High engagement indicates a captivated audience, which is highly desirable for SSPs.

5. Better Ads Standards

Following the Better Ads Standards is like adhering to the rules of a game. Most SSPs will verify whether you are in compliance with these standards set by the Coalition of Better Ads, an industry group that aims to improve user experience with online ads.

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

6. Viewability

Viewability is somewhat like the visibility of your performance on stage. Every SSP will require good viewability metrics, so working on your site’s layout and performance is crucial.

What to Avoid During an SSP Approval?

Here are some pitfalls you should avoid as you strive to get approval with an SSP:

1. Buying Traffic

This can be likened to artificially inflating the number of fans at your concert. While it might not be inherently bad, it could suggest that your site lacks quality content. Not to mention, paid traffic can also be spammy, a behavior that many SSPs can penalize you for.

2. Less Content and More Ads

Imagine going to a concert; instead of music, all you hear are advertisements. That’s what a site with less content and more ads feels like to your audience. It shows that your primary motivation is to monetize, not provide value. Many publishers present their content in slideshows to increase pageviews, but ideally, such pages shouldn’t have more than three ads.

3. Restricted and Banned Category Content

Every SSP has a list of restricted and banned categories of content. It’s like a setlist that a band isn’t allowed to play. Go through the list and ensure you don’t have any content related to those categories.

4. Copyright Issues

Your site shouldn’t be distributing any copyrighted content illegally. Just like a band should never play another artist’s songs without permission, your site shouldn’t host content that infringes on copyright.

5. Pop-ups, Pop-unders, and Redirects

These are like unwanted interruptions during a performance. Pop-ups are annoying, pop-unders inflate the number of ads without viewability, and redirects mess up the user experience. SSPs give a big thumbs down to such practices.

6. Malpractices

Imagine a band tricking people into buying their merchandise; it’s unethical and frowned upon. The same applies here. Practices like automatic app installation, buying invalid traffic, or tricking users into clicking on ads are a no-go. SSPs would never approve your account if you were engaging in such behavior.

What if You do not Get Approved?

If you’re finding it tough to get approved by an SSP, don’t worry – there’s always a Plan B. You can consider working with a wrapper provider, a service that facilitates the integration of multiple SSPs into your site. You see, SSPs are always looking for a broad supply. A wrapper provider collaborates with several publishers to meet this demand.

Doing so creates a conduit between the publisher and the SSP, ensuring it gets the volume it needs without the hassle of managing numerous accounts – a win-win situation for everyone involved.

But the benefits don’t stop there! A wrapper provider can connect you with multiple SSPs and provide you with its own tech stack. It also brings ad operations expertise to the table and offers additional products that can substantially boost your revenue.

Setting Your Sights on What’s Ahead

Now that you’ve made it this far let’s map out your next steps. First and foremost, double-check that your website is in good standing with all the guidelines we’ve discussed. Also, steer clear of practices that could raise red flags.

Next, it’s time to set your sights on the best SSP for you. Dig into their policies to see if there are any additional tweaks you need to make to your site.

Once you’re confident, take the plunge and apply for approval through the SSP’s site. Remember, patience is key here. These things can take time, and responses might not be immediate. Check if the SSP’s website indicates their typical response time.

And remember, if this path doesn’t work out, other avenues exist to explore, like working with wrapper providers.

There you have it! Your road map to partnering with SSPs. We hope this guide has shed some light on the process and given you the confidence to take that next step. Remember, the journey might be complex, but the rewards are well worth it.

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