There is a clear drop-off after the big three DSPs, but that isn’t necessarily bad for the second tier players.
MediaMath’s growth, for instance, has been volatile in recent years, but in 2019, its usage and consideration for the next year grew steadily, Mannion said.
MediaMath and the Adobe Advertising Cloud, which slipped for a year or so following its acquisition of the TubeMogul DSP as it digested the tech and went to market, have steadily gained adoption in the past couple years despite the big three, Mannion said.
These second tier offerings are aided by recent consolidation. This was the first wave without Sizmek, which is now part of the Amazon Advertising Platform – bumping others up a spot in the rankings, regardless of performance.
Some long-time DSP category leaders have faded. Verizon Media has packaged AOL, Yahoo and other former standalone DSPs like Brightroll, thus removing many DSP vendors from the market without creating another must-have platform.
Advertiser Perceptions had Verizon Media tied with The Trade Desk as the third most-used DSP a year ago, and before that AOL and Yahoo were Google’s main contenders. Now Verizon has dropped to seventh, among competitors like Amobee, Tremor Video and Criteo. It has fallen behind AppNexus, MediaMath and Adobe, which have gained despite headwinds for independent DSPs, Mannion said. Though the Verizon DSP was mislabeled as Oath, the ad tech unit's former name, during the time of the survey.
The independent market is also being helped by a rise in the total number of DSPs used by brands and agencies. The average number of DSPs dropped from five to six a few years ago to three by 2018, but has ticked back up to four.
“Unlike the DMP market where we’re seeing actual shrinkage, there is an expansion of the number of DSPs being used or tested,” Mannion said.
The DSP consideration metrics from a year ago line up well with how the market has shaken out in subsequent reports, he said. “There are three DSP leaders. After that the DSP category is a real horse race for five companies.”