I agree with those who indicated it is way too early to lock down a narrow definition of DSP. Arguably anything that’s really a “platform” should never need a description that’s as detailed as the list offered in the first post, but regardless its definitely too soon in this particular market.
At this stage I think all are better served by a more general definition. Fundamentally, I think any entity that meets the following criteria with sufficient breadth of capabilities is a DSP:
- Technology that interfaces directly with demand-side entities
- “Interface” does not necessarily mean GUI. An API could be even more useful if it meets the customer requirements
- Demand-side entities may include agencies and/or advertisers
- Technology that adds significant value in the process of buying and/or management of media
- Value could originate from data integration, forecasting, buy automation or other operational efficiency gains, supply source integration, delivery and/or pricing risk management, increased ad effectiveness through optimization, impression filtering/categorization
- Etc., etc., etc…
- Technology that operates as directed by the demand side entity (i.e., the customer)
- The technology can be used flexibly and transparently by the customer in a way that benefits its business, with limited incentive conflicts
Obviously, technology is the common thread; DSPs will compete on the strength of their technology and networks with weak technology (essentially bucket shops, substituting people and excel for real technology) will find themselves increasingly squeezed between DSPs and exchanges.
One final point: “platform” implies broad capabilities. Many companies exist with valuable capabilities that meet the above criteria, but that couldn’t properly be called platforms. I would suggest that Demand Side “Tools” (DSTs?) is probably more appropriate for more narrow capabilities. These tools may be used directly by demand side entities and/or be packaged by DSPs.