Google Reclaims The DSP Crown In Latest Advertiser Perceptions Report

After slipping in the DSP rankings to Amazon over the past year, Google has reasserted its no. 1 status for self-serve, managed service and as advertisers’ preferred platform, according to the Q1 2020 Advertiser Perceptions DSP report released on Monday.

The data is based on a survey of 347 brand marketers and agency buyers, split about evenly between the two. The interviews were conducted through the first half of March, so any DSP market fallout since the pandemic doesn’t register in the results.

Forty-five percent of respondents said they’re spending on Google’s Display & Video 360, up from 33% six months ago. DV360 leapfrogged The Trade Desk and Amazon Advertising – which are still close behind with 43% and 41% usage, respectively – to regain the no.1 spot.

After the top three, there’s a drop-off to Verizon Media, the Adobe Advertising Cloud and MediaMath, the only other DSPs in the 20%-30% range.

Google’s DSP is poised to continue making gains over the next year or more, said Advertiser Perceptions Chief Strategy Officer Kevin Mannion.

“They lead in almost all the funnel metrics, as well as the criteria that drive DSP selection,” he said, including return on ad spend (ROAS), audience reach and targeting capabilities.

Amazon’s DSP shot up in 2017 and 2018, tracking a period of high intention and consideration scores for the platform, Mannion said. But Amazon Advertising’s Net Promoter Score, a metric used to gauge client satisfaction and likelihood to churn, didn’t follow suit. “Our view is that if those two signals are out of balance, eventually the intention numbers will drop,” he said.

In other words, many people tried Amazon Advertising, but didn’t make it part of the permanent DSP rotation, especially since advertisers have narrowed the average number of DSPs they work with from more than five two years ago to less than three now. Unsurprisingly, Mannion said Amazon is still the runaway leader for brands available on Amazon, with 62% use, but has half that level of adoption with brands not for sale on Amazon.

Verizon Media jumped about ten points for advertisers who intend to spend on the platform in the coming year, now trailing Amazon by only 5%. “It would seem that Verizon’s rebranding post Oath and the AOL and the Yahoo integration is getting traction,” he said.

Can Google be caught?

The short answer: No.

For one thing, the Advertiser Perceptions report doesn’t break out actual spend numbers, only which platforms buyers use or plan to try. Even if The Trade Desk, the clear runner-up at this point, did catch up with Google’s overall number of account seats or in agency and brand adoption, Mannion said more money would still be flowing through Google pipes.

Most brands and agencies have a hybrid approach, with a self-serve DSP and managed service vendors, but the bulk of the spend goes through self-serve, while managed service is often used for testing or for specific capabilities or exclusive inventory, Mannion said. And where Google has separated from the pack the most is as a platform for self-serve advertising.

“Self-serve is a major commitment,” he said. The buyers need to have hands-on experience with the tools, and since it means they’re using their own data, self-serve platforms are the ones that have been most thoroughly vetted for compliance.

There’s a lot more managed service up for grabs in the market – but that’s the Google edge. The self-serve platform is far less likely to churn.

Mannion said in this DSP report that Advertiser Perceptions followed up with interviewees about why they have more managed service opportunities while spending more with self-serve platforms.

“One interesting signal was that they often suspect their agencies don’t have the tech capabilities needed to fully understand how to use self-service platforms or suspect the DSP’s motivations, if it has exclusive or O&O inventory,” he said.

Though Google seems to have a pass from many of the same advertisers when it comes to concerns about a DSP buying its own media.

“In fact, what we heard from many agency and brand marketers was that one of the things they’re most excited about with DV360 is the integration with other Google properties,” Mannion said.

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