DSP use among ad buyers seems to flip every half year between The Trade Desk, Google DV 360 and Amazon Advertising.
But bolstered by the last few months’ ecommerce surge, Amazon has reclaimed the top spot, after having slipped behind Google and The Trade Desk earlier this year – based on the Q4 2020 Advertiser Perceptions DSP report.
The data is based on a survey of 326 brand marketers and agency buyers, split about evenly between the two, with at least $1 million in annual digital ad spend.
Twenty-seven percent of respondents told the market research firm that Amazon was their preferred DSP, followed by Google and The Trade Desk. Forty-six percent of respondents said they used Amazon’s DSP in the past 12 months, followed by Google at 43% and The Trade Desk at 37%.
Amazon had been third in Q1 2020, but has clearly benefited from consumers’ shift to ecommerce and streaming TV during the COVID-19 pandemic. The online retail giant reported a record Q3 in October that was driven in part by a 51% increase in advertising revenue buoyed by the surge in ecommerce and CTV.
“I totally think that the pandemic has benefited Amazon,” said Kevin Mannion, chief strategy officer at Advertiser Perceptions. “Everything in our study for the last year told us that Google was moving back into a No. 1 spot as a DSP, and they did actually in the last wave.”
Forty-two percent of those surveyed said they are considering Amazon as their DSP for CTV and OTT advertising over the next 12 months, followed by Google Display & Video 360, The Trade Desk and Verizon Media DSP. Amazon has traditionally placed high in that category, Mannion said, particularly because advertisers are attracted to its CTV offering Fire TV.
Meanwhile, The Trade Desk is a standout among independently-owned DSPs. “The Trade Desk is the first independent DSP on the list,” Mannion said.
Splits between managed vs. self-service
Advertiser Perceptions noted significant differences between the DSPs favored for self-service vs. those favored for managed service.
Although Amazon leads as a managed services DSP ahead of Verizon Media and DV360, more than half (57%) of those polled said they use Google for self-service DSP capabilities, followed closely by The Trade Desk (56%).
And both The Trade Desk and MediaMath tumbled from the last Advertiser Perceptions survey in February, ranking fourth and eighth respectively in terms of managed service use. Only 31% use The Trade Desk and 14% use MediaMath. In the top spot, 50% of respondents gave Amazon the nod, while 39% cited Verizon Media and 33% DV360, respectively.
“When you consider that The Trade Desk and Google are really focused on self-service, that creates a wide opening for a No. 2 for managed services, and Verizon has moved into that,” said Advertiser Perceptions VP of Business Intelligence Lauren Fisher.
Meanwhile, it’s not too surprising to find Google and The Trade Desk “only” ranked third and fourth in managed service, respectively – both behind Verizon Media. As Mannion pointed out, both Google and The Trade Desk are largely self-service platforms, so they wouldn’t have as strong a presence in managed services use, compared to Amazon which is all managed service.
Marketers drive Amazon use
“Often one of the things that we hear when we speak to agency people who are using Amazon, they’ll tell us that it’s driven by the marketer,” Mannion said. “And that says something about the Amazon brand – that they’re so strong in the marketplace right now.”
Sixty-one percent of advertisers that sell products on Amazon are significantly more likely to use its DSP, followed by Verizon Media and Google. Google and The Trade Desk, however, were most popular among advertisers who don’t sell products on Amazon, ranking No. 1 and No. 2 at 46% use and 39% use, respectively.
“If you’re not selling on Amazon, or if you’re an agency, you might say Google or The Trade Desk are really my preference,” Mannion said.
Brand recognition also played a role in how often ad buyers reported using certain DSPs. Xandr Invest and OneView weren’t ranked highly in managed service or self-service, whereas Verizon Media was. That positioning might have to do with the fact that Xandr isn’t tied to its parent company, WarnerMedia, nor is OneView tied to its parent, Roku.
By contrast, Verizon Media shot up in use after jettisoning its Oath branding from prior surveys, and Mannion said that the name change last year is working in the company’s favor because “there’s a lot more confidence in the Verizon brand.”
“In many cases, we see in our research, that if there’s a rebrand and they’re going with the stronger brand, they’re benefiting from that halo effect,” Fisher said.
OneView’s and Xandr’s lower rankings were especially surprising in the CTV category. OneView came in sixth, and Xandr came in 11th. Yet, both DSPs are tied to owners of video inventory.
Again, these low positions might have to do with lack of name recognition.
Branding and name recognition also came into play when Advertiser Perceptions asked which DSPs are in the best position to navigate the shift from third-party cookies.
The Trade Desk – which is leading the charge with Unified ID 2.0 – surprisingly trailed Amazon, Google and Verizon Media and Adobe. Sixty-nine percent of respondents felt positively around Amazon’s prospects to shift away from third-party cookies, 63% felt positively about Google, 55% felt positively about Verizon Media and 48% felt positively about Adobe. Forty-six percent felt positively about The Trade Desk.
So despite The Trade Desk’s positioning of Unified ID 2.0, the DSP might have more work to do from a marketing perspective.