Perception vs. Reality: Checking The Facts On SSP Adoption

Advertiser Perceptions recently published a report reflecting publishers’ self-stated adoption of programmatic selling platforms. It is a case study in the misinformation that marketers confront when working with their sell-side counterparts.

On average, the 154 publishers Advertiser Perceptions surveyed stated that they partner with 2.7 SSPs. Through our investigation of ads.txt files from the 2,000 largest ad supported publishers, we find that the actual average is dramatically higher. Ads.txt files indicate that the average publisher integrates with 15 different SSPs. This number also aligns with STAQ’s benchmark analysis, which counted 14.5 partners on average across 22 publishers.


The Advertiser Perceptions survey also asked publishers to identify their SSP partners. Without surprise, and consistent with ads.txt data, publishers most commonly name Google as a programmatic selling platform. But other publisher-stated partnership data appears strikingly out of line with actual adoption rates. Most notably, Index Exchange was named as a partner by just 6% of survey respondents, but is listed as a sales partner on 80% of publisher ads.txt files.


Perhaps publisher teams aren’t fully aware of their programmatic sales implementations. Perhaps they under-represent their diversity of partnerships to avoid go-to-market complexity. Or perhaps they are trying to steer ad spend toward a short list of partners. Whatever the case, it seems to us that the perceptions created by publishers in the market don’t match the facts.

For free access to our ads.txt dashboard and ads.txt database, check out our Programmatic Atlas.