Demand-side platforms or DSPs have become an essential part of the affiliate ecosystem because it allows media buyers and other stakeholders to acquire and monetize traffic easily. However, DSPs come in a huge variety of metaphorical shapes and sizes, so you need to choose the best alternative in order to increase your chances of success.
Instead of choosing a DSP based on reputation or arbitrary elements, you should consider all variables and pick a platform that fulfills all of your requirements. ActiveRevenue is among the top DSPs available today, so our team is familiar with the distinct variables you should consider before choosing a demand-side platform.
In this article, we will discuss the definitions of full-service and self-service DSPs, plus we’ll also explore the differences between the two to help you make the best decision.
Before delving any further, let’s take a moment to define full-service and self-service DSPs.
A full-service DSP is a traffic acquisition platform that provides assistance to users in the form of account managers that take care of all the different steps required to develop affiliate campaigns. Account managers don’t only implement changes, but these specialists also advise affiliates on how to distribute their budget, what areas to target, and other important topics.
Self-serve DSPs, on the other hand, consist of platforms where users can purchase or place ads without the need for help from a company representative. In simple terms, self-serve DSPs allow for more flexibility while empowering affiliates to take full control of their targeting, bidding, budgeting, and other parts of their campaigns.
Full-service DSPs and self-serve platforms are inherently different because they are designed for distinct types of marketers. Full-service DSPs are usually more suited to rookie affiliates that are learning the ropes and still need a lot of hand-holding to make the right decisions. These platforms also tend to be more expensive, which makes sense due to the level of support they provide.
Self-serve DSPs are ideal for more advanced marketers that don’t need assistance and value efficiency above everything else. These platforms usually help reduce costs plus affiliates can make changes without requesting assistance or receiving pushback, which allows them to choose the direction of the campaign without any friction.
Remember, there are many platforms that employ a hybrid model, so they give affiliates the choice of how they want to manage their account. But, for the purpose of this article, we will omit hybrid platforms and simply compare self-serve and full-service platforms head-to-head.
Here are some of the ways that full-service and self-serve DSPs stack up against each other.
When using full-service platforms, affiliates don’t need to learn how to use the platform. They simply submit a request through the account manager and wait for the agent’s confirmation. Self-serve platforms do require some learning, but affiliates will be able to take full control of the campaign setup process and make sure that all settings are adjusted properly.
With full-service DSPs, affiliates don’t have to monitor or manage the ads, but simply choose a strategy and receive updates from the account manager. Self-serve platforms require manual monitoring and management, but it gives marketers the ability to identify trends in real-time and make adjustments that improve campaign performance.
Self-serve platforms give affiliates the ability to set intricate targeting settings and see first-hand how these work. Full-service DSPs take care of the audience targeting settings, so affiliates can specify which areas and demographics they want to target but they never get to actually make the changes themselves.
Many full-service DSPs use in-house optimization software to adjust the campaigns they manage. While this may be cost-effective, most automated optimization tools haven’t been properly developed, which translates to adjustments to don’t always produce the right results.
In this sense, self-serve platforms offer a better alternative as it allows affiliates to optimize their campaigns manually after taking metrics and industry trends into consideration.
Self-serve DSPs require a more hands-on approach, but there is no doubt that these platforms provide the highest chances of success. If you’re looking for a reliable demand-side platform to launch your next affiliate campaign, contact our team at ActiveRevenue and we’ll be glad to help.