Introducing the Commerce SSP

What is a commerce SSP? Discover how unique commerce capabilities make a commerce SSP so powerful for publishers, agencies, and retailers.
Updated on September 26, 2023

Commerce media might be the new kid on the block—but it’s here to stay. 

In fact, according to McKinsey, commerce media has the potential to generate over $1.3 trillion of value in the United States alone. On the supply side, that represents a whopping $50 billion opportunity for publishers and media owners. 

But here’s the rub: while the opportunity for publishers is immense, tapping into this burgeoning market is no small feat. Traditional Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs) often fall short in connecting publishers to commerce budgets with the required data, formats, and direct advertiser access. On top of that, with the majority of commerce media spend going to Retail Media Networks, publishers have trouble capturing those budgets.  

Enter the commerce SSP: a different kind of SSP designed to bridge this gap.  

The commerce SSP is a new source of incremental demand, offering publishers new tools, ad formats, and insights to engage buyers looking to drive commerce outcomes. At the same time, it creates new opportunities for partnerships with retailers, as well as unlocking rich audience overlays based on real-world shopping behavior.  

A commerce SSP is the perfect tool for publishers looking to capitalize on the commerce media boom—and it all starts with a single question. 

Kickstarting Seller Defined Audiences

Exploring the Opportunity of SDAs for Publishers.

What is a commerce SSP, exactly? 

The term SSP, or Supply-Side Platform, is a familiar one in the ad tech world.  

It’s the technology which connects publishers to the programmatic buying ecosystem. 

Most SSPs in the market today will offer a similar set of core features, including: 

  • Access to demand via connections to DSPs (Demand-Side Platforms) 
  • Deals and supply packaging tools 
  • Yield optimization tools 
  • Reporting  
  • Ad quality and pricing controls 

But what happens when you take this conventional SSP and throw in a commerce twist? You get a commerce SSP: a specialized platform that does everything a mainstream SSP does—and then some. 

A commerce SSP offers all of the bread-and-butter capabilities a conventional SSP does, but with unique commerce-focused feature set which enables publishers to tap into the growing commerce media space.  

These features include: 

  • Direct access to premium commerce advertising budgets 
  • Unique commerce-powered data signals for deals packaging 
  • Shopper insights to inform audience-selling and editorial strategies 
  • Exclusive shoppable and commerce-focused ad formats 

The commerce SSP is a tool designed for the publisher who recognizes the growth in the commerce sector and wants to be part of it. This isn’t just about selling ads anymore—it’s about creating connections that drive sales, foster loyalty, and build lasting relationships with advertisers and consumers alike.  

It also offers a unique opportunity for publishers to better understand what their audience looks like as consumers: what they buy, how they buy, when, where, and more.  

These insights are the fuel which turn media experiences into commerce outcomes—and the commerce SSP is the engine.  

Understanding the commerce SSP difference 

We’ve already mentioned commerce-focused features as a key differentiator for the commerce SSP, but what do those look like for publishers in the real world? 

  • Direct access to commerce budgets. A commerce SSP will have direct access to a large pool of both retailer and commerce-focused advertisers who will be willing to spend more to find the right users, at the right time, in the right context. The ability to connect commerce advertisers to audiences throughout the customer journey drives better results for demand partners—and higher CPMs for publishers.
  • Enhanced audience sales strategies. By infusing high-value commerce signals with your first-party supply, you can create unique PMP-based deals to sell to brand and agency partners looking to capture the attention of your audiences. Have gaps in the data you’re using to inform your audience selling strategy? Commerce signals help you increase not just the value of your inventory, but also to expand the categories you can sell into.
  • Supercharge your strategy with audience insights. By combining real shopper data from the buy side with audience data on the supply side, a commerce SSP can deliver unique insights about your users. This could include the brands your users are buying, which commerce categories they buy most, and more. Understanding the customer journeys of your audience will help refine your editorial content strategy and inform your PMP deals strategy.
  • Captivate consumers with commerce experiences. A commerce SSP provides the tools and ad formats publishers need to attract commerce advertising budgets. More importantly, it creates opportunities to engage customers with relevant advertising while optimizing outcomes for advertisers and maximizing ad yield. So everybody wins. 

The complete commerce opportunity 

So far, we’ve focused on the commerce SSP experience for publishers and media owners. But, in the brave new world of commerce media, everyone’s invited.  

For agencies, a commerce SSP can help engage with shoppers at every stage of their buying journey. By harnessing commerce data, agencies gain insights into brand preferences, category affinities, retailer loyalty, buying patterns, and other valuable attributes. They can use these insights to tailor their creative strategies, unlocking superior outcomes through powerful ad formats, contextual relevance, shoppable experiences, cross-channel activations, and more. 

Retailers occupy a unique space in our ecosystem: as media buyers looking to generate sales, but also as sellers of their own media or audiences.  

On the buy side, a commerce SSP provides retailers with access to high-quality inventory, unique formats, and detailed shopper insights to boost outcomes. On the sell side, it allows programmatic monetization of their onsite inventory and offsite data monetization via curation

A key differentiator for a commerce SSP is its deep grasp of retailers’ needs—especially around data privacy, competitive controls, channel conflicts, and other sensitive topics. While retailers often focus on endemic advertisers, a commerce SSP broadens their scope, connecting them with non-endemic advertisers hungry for their data. 

Say hello to Criteo Commerce Grid 

Now that you’re familiar with how a commerce SSP works, let’s get a bit more specific, with an introduction to Criteo Commerce Grid. 

Built from the ground up as the world’s first commerce SSP, Commerce Grid harnesses the power of commerce to maximize publisher revenue, amplify advertiser outcomes at scale, and help retailers unlock the true value of their shopper data—from one end of the consumer journey to the other. 

This combination of premium demand, exclusive audiences, and world-class data packaging tools, is what makes Commerce Grid the commerce SSP.  

Want to dive deeper into how Commerce Grid could help you achieve your commerce goals? Watch our 30-minute webinar Introducing Commerce Grid now  

Rob Taylor

Based in the sporadically sunny climes of London, UK, Rob is Global Content Manager at Criteo. With over 11 years' experience in the ad tech industry across both SEM and programmatic, Rob is passionate about making tech make sense. He holds a BA(Hons) degree in English & Journalism from the ...

Global Content Manager
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