Why You Need to Be Testing Your Demand Side Platforms

Matt Donahue - March 22, 2018

More than 70% of publishers use programmatic tools like Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) for their media buying. Programmatic’s popularity stems from its ability to offer better ad buying efficiency and ad targeting; however, programmatic isn’t perfect. Despite its benefits, it isn’t immune to the effects of ad fraud.

Ad fraud is a big problem. It drains your budget, undercuts your bottom line, and harms your brand safety. Given the negative impact ad fraud has, one would assume most publishers would be testing their DSPs to look for potential signs of fraud, right?

Wrong.

Publishers aren’t testing, and that’s a big problem.

How DSPs Work

DSPs are designed to automate the digital ad buying process. By having access to digital ad space, they place bids in real-time across ad exchanges, helping advertisers to purchase display, video, search, and mobile ads.

Related Post: 4 Tips to Protect Your Agency and Clients From Click Fraud

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Source: Mobidea

The main benefits of DSPs (besides efficiency) is their ability to determine which impressions generate the most value. By helping you find the most cost-efficient ad impressions for your target audience, you’ll not only be saving money, but generating ROI, too.

What Happens When You Don’t Test DSPs

Failure to test can lead to a slew of problems. With no benchmark, how will publishers know if they’re really getting the impressions that generate the most value, or the ones that are the most cost-efficient? More importantly, are publishers sure those ad impressions even real?

Related Post: 5 Ad Fraud Questions All Media Buyers Need to Ask

It’s been proven that fraudsters can beat viewability, so there’s real cause for concern here. Yet, publishers still aren’t testing their DSPs.    

Why Publishers Aren't Testing

The billion dollar question: why aren’t publishers testing? Well, it boils down to two things: time and money. It takes time to test and time to integrate changes. And if you make changes, naturally it will cost you money. Let’s say, you weren’t having any complaints before, but you decide to test. Suddenly your volume is decreasing by 20% because you’ve found fraud, and that’s cutting into your bottom line.

It all goes back to the philosophy “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” If you aren’t getting any complaints, why would you rock the boat? But publishers need to realize these are short-term pain points. They need to look at the big picture: Ad fraud will cost them more in the long run. It’s anticipated that ad fraud will cost advertisers an estimated $19 billion in 2018.

Isn’t it worth fixing the problem now to stop the bleeding of ad dollars?

Why You Should Test Multiple DSPs

It’s cliche, but you should never put all of your eggs in one basket. With only one DSP, you’re potentially limiting the growth of your campaign. But by using more than one DSP, you’ll be able to conduct testing to see how your campaign performs across multiple platforms and look for potential signs of fraud.

Related Post: Adios Ad Fraud: 4 Ways to Knock It Out of the Programmatic Funnel

There are two types of testing publishers can use: A/B Testing and Multivariate Testing. A/B testing compares two different versions (A and B) of the same thing to see which performs better. Multivariate testing is similar, but compares a larger number of variables at one time.

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Source: Optimizely

Potential variables publishers can test for include geographic location and time.

Conclusion

Programmatic is designed to make life easier, but the downside is it makes it easier for fraudsters, too. Don’t let fraudsters slip through the programmatic cracks. Stay on top of your DSP testing.   

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Matt Donahue

Matt Donahue is the former Sales Manager for the ad fraud management platform, Anura, as well as the digital advertising firm eZanga. With a decade of experience in internet technology and digital advertising, Matt has amassed record results for clients and agencies looking to expand their digital marketing efforts. He emphasizes digital media integration and has a deep understanding of the effect digital ad quality has on a client's advertising campaign. In his spare time, he enjoys rooting on the San Francisco 49ers and is the father to two young children.