Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs) Buyer's GuideEconsultancy’s Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs) Buyer’s Guide has been published this week, which contains a detailed analysis of how real-time bidding (RTB) and DSPs are revolutionising the online advertising sector.

The 133-page report, which has a global focus and profiles of 16 DSPs, describes developments in the industry, with information about the main players and advice about how to find the right platform.

Here, I’ve tried to summarise some of the main points in the report into six key trends.

Static algorithms and transactions, bundle-purchasing of impressions and pre-negotiated prices will soon become a thing of the past. 

Much of the display advertising market growth is driven by the recent developments in auction-based media and the increasing number of platforms facilitating real-time bidding transactions.

Impression-level bidding, predictive targeting and dynamic inventory allocation are just some of the hottest buzz phrases in the display advertising ecosystem as interest in demand-side platforms has intensified.

DSPs have created a dramatic shift in how media is bought and managed by enabling advertisers to reach a specific audience at the impression level, in real time. Before diving into this rapidly evolving marketplace, you need to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve and how these platforms can help you. The guide includes several key questions and considerations that you should keep in mind when looking for the right DSP to suit your needs.

Advertising dollars are moving from ad networks to DSPs and other automated channels.

As Econsultancy’s Online Media Report shows, the “black box” approach of traditional ad networks has been heavily criticised by advertisers and publishers alike. The potential of damaging their brands through inappropriate ad placements and pricing inefficiencies are some of the reasons behind the recent shifts of advertising budgets from ad networks to ad exchanges and DSPs.

Although emerging players such as DSPs, private exchanges and trading desks have already started to capitalise on these budget shifts, ad networks are not dead. They will continue to play an important role in the new auction-based ecosystem – either through mergers and acquisitions or vertical media partnerships.

Data capability is one of the most valuable commodities in the new RTB ecosystem.

While using data to optimise campaigns and reach the right audience is not new, data are increasingly seen as the Holy Grail of the RTB ecosystem. Spending on audience targeting is expected to significantly grow in 2011 and more data-driven campaigns will tie in with other channels, such as mobile, video and social. Providers of advanced data and analytics are in a great position to benefit from this trend.

Despite the growing number of RTB-enabled impressions, some publishers remain sceptical of the returns that DSPs provide and are reluctant to make their proprietary data available. One of the major issues in 2011 will be the availability and quality of data, rather than the technology necessary to access it.

Mobile and video advertising continues to mature.

The last few months have finally confirmed the tremendous potential of mobile and video to provide new ways of reaching and engaging with users. Despite issues around standardisation of video and mobile ad delivery and reporting, they are gradually becoming an essential component of any digital advertising strategy. After a flurry of acquisitions in 2010, consolidation is expected to continue and future innovations on top of RTB capabilities will focus on the integration of display with mobile and video.

Digital media convergence is closer than you think.

The days of managing digital media campaigns in silos are numbered. As the lines between display, search, social and other digital channels continue to blur, advertisers are increasingly adopting a more holistic approach to how media are purchased and managed. They are gradually moving from the last click attribution model to a centralised technology that allows them to evaluate and attribute the impact that each channel has on overall performance.

Those that will be able to bring together RTB, dynamic creative optimisation and advanced insights to reach granular audiences will seize a significant share of advertising budgets.

Technology is not enough.

Traditionally, the display advertising market has been technology-driven and it was considered that best-of-breed technology can guarantee success. Therefore, vendors have invested vast amounts of resources to build proprietary technology platforms.

However, it has been increasingly argued that placing a service layer on top of the technical infrastructure can truly differentiate a DSP in this crowded space. Technology can go so far; having a dedicated campaign manager who understands this dynamic decisioning model and takes into account all variables is essential. Therefore, players in the RTB ecosystem will start to create new business models and define strategies that facilitate the integration of “human interfaces”.

In a recent blog post for Econsultancy, Andy Betts provided a very useful overview of the display advertising market and impact of demand-side platforms, including some interesting predictions for 2011.