Case Studies
Author: Alise Zaiceva 10 minute read
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Agency SSP as a New Channel to Advance Publisher-Advertiser Synergy

As ad tech industry enters the era of disintermediation and third-party cookies phase out, the spotlight intensifies on innovative methods for audience targeting and campaign management.

In this case study, we’ll learn how Setupad helped Inspira Grupa integrate a new channel – agency SSP – to significantly enhance direct publisher-advertiser relationships.

About Inspira Grupa

Inspira Grupa is a pioneering digital business conglomerate based in Serbia. It comprises six companies and manages ten websites. The group is instrumental in digitizing various services that cater to people’s daily needs. 

Their portfolio includes employment platforms, real estate classifieds, an automobile marketplace, and IT community services. Inspira Group emphasizes innovation and has a substantial digital footprint in the region, attracting over 400,000 daily visits across its platforms.

Setupad partnership with Inspira Grupa 

In March 2021, Setupad partnered with one of the publisher’s websites –, a platform for buying and selling used vehicles. 

Setupad Prebid was launched on the publisher’s own Google Ad Manager (GAM) and Google AdX accounts. Alongside its 15 reseller SSPs, Setupad enabled connection of 5 direct SSPs from publisher direct agreements. They greatly contributed to bid density. One account’s performance especially stood out –  Direct Media International agency’s Adform SSP, a.k.a., agency SSP1.

About Direct Media International

Direct Media International is a leading marketing agency network in Southeast Europe. It offers integrated solutions across multiple channels and specializes in media, creativity, technology, data, and strategy. 

With a presence in eight markets, they focus on helping businesses grow through a comprehensive suite of services, including media investment management, digital and technology solutions, performance marketing, creative development, social media marketing, and experiential marketing. Their holistic approach aims to blend various marketing disciplines to deliver effective outcomes for advertisers.

About Adform

Adform is a global technology leader specializing in real-time programmatic marketing technologies. Combining proprietary SSP, DSP, DMP and an ad server under its belt, Adform effectively tailors its key digital advertising technology solutions to help advertisers, agencies, and publishers to manage their digital advertising efforts more effectively. 

Adform’s main platform, Adform FLOW, provides tools for campaign planning, ad serving, analytics, and reporting.

Media agency uses an SSP as a new channel to partner with the publisher

Inspira Grupa was among the first publishers Direct Media International connected through their agency SSP.  

Trend #1

As such, Adform SSP could now participate in the same bidding process with Setupad Prebid demand. The first trend that became evident was increased revenue. In fact, Adform SSP became the highest bidder in Inspira Grupa’s header bidding stack. 

Trend #2

We then discovered that when agencies extend their demand through SSP and start bidding on inventory in real-time bidding, the eCPM price becomes more dynamic.

This became apparent when we compared Adform SSP’s performance with that of other SSPs in the stack. Because Adform SSP was now buying so much inventory and outbidding other SSPs, the rest of the bidders started to adjust their prices and bid higher. As a result, it wasn’t just extra revenue from the agency that increased but also the eCPM on other demand channels. 

Trend #3

As the new integration prompted good ROI for the agency, they extended the cooperation with Inspira Grupa through preferred deals, reserved for more premium campaigns.  The publisher’s inventory became more valuable, and it made strategic sense to extend cooperation to other campaign types.  

Publisher’s challenge: establish more extensive relationships with agencies

Before connecting them via Prebid, Inspira Grupa had collaborated with various agencies through preferred deals.

While having many advantages, preferred deals do not offer such a comprehensive campaign scale as open auctions. Gaining access to Inspira Grupa’s inventory through Prebid offered substantial advantages to Direct Media International because they can now purchase inventory at any time and engage in open market auctions, having unparalleled levels of control with targeting specific users and adjusting settings based on performance metrics. 

What are the benefits of collaborating through agency SSP? 

The practice of media agency groups collaborating with publishers through agency SSP accounts is part of the evolving digital advertising landscape. 

Benefits for Publishers

By partnering with agencies via an SSP, publishers can access a broader range of advertisers, potentially leading to higher ad revenues and better inventory utilization. The agencies can bring high-quality, high-value ad campaigns that benefit publishers looking to optimize the yield from their ad spaces.

Media agencies were historically slow to adopt programmatic deals. They feared compromising the price structures established through direct advertiser relationships. However, recently, programmatic deals have become increasingly prevalent, and media groups like Direct Media International are allocating bigger budgets toward them, which is especially beneficial for local publishers like Inspira Grupa.  

Inspira Grupa’s team admits, “The main benefit for us was observed in the budget structure that advertisers working with Direct Media International were now directing toward our inventory.” 

Benefits for Agencies 

For the agencies, this setup allows for continuous access to the entire inventory since their SSP can bid and purchase the most preferable inventory type. Consequently, the agency has greater capabilities to target and initiate multiple campaigns with various performance goals.

This direct access can also lead to more competitive pricing and better negotiation leverage on inventory prices because of a more direct collaboration framework.

In the words of the Direct Media International team, “For us, there are few major opportunities when integrating SSP tech in conjunction with other aspects of programmatic. 

Firstly, compared to traditional methods of direct buying, we use less workforce for media buying. This leaves more time for our employees to hone their digital expertise and provide better services for our clients. 

Secondly, by applying technology and automation, we discover new possibilities for better inventory management, which makes it easier to fulfill our KPIs as it comes to our clients and publishers alike. 

Thirdly, it opens up a whole new revenue stream and connects us to publishers around the world, beyond our main area of business, without any need for direct communication.”  

Paulius Grežėnas, Commercial Director (Baltics), Adform, further elaborates on this:  

“Advertisers end up getting a much better service because of the collaboration between the agency and the platform. Additionally, agencies tend to utilize a wider array of products. 

In most cases, some products such as a data management platform or a buy-seller marketplace may not benefit a single advertiser. Still, when coupled with a full agency portfolio, incremental benefits are quite visible for single advertisers due to the amount of data agencies can pass through.” 

The Setupad Solution: Direct Prebid integration and cooperation through the agency SSP  

Thanks to an optimized setup, Inspira Grupa could collaborate more closely with partners on a broader scale. In addition to the currently active 15 Setupad bidders, we offered the infrastructure to connect the publisher’s own 5 direct SSP connections (1 agency SSP and 4 direct). 

Direct SSP connections are more cost-effective for the publisher because they involve smaller CPM commissions compared to the standard reseller-based model, in which the publisher and the reseller operate on a revenue share basis. 

Another benefit of our Prebid Server is that it allows publishers to host countless server-to-server connections with SSPs at no extra cost to their loading speed. Currently, 8 of Setupad bidders run as both browser-side and server-side and 1 direct publisher SSP runs as server-to-server. 

The whole integration process was very smooth and simple for the publisher.

“Previously, we didn’t have a direct relationship with the other side [advertisers], it was a fully automated process. We now have that cooperation that allows us to cut through many middlemen. Besides, we now have new cooperation avenues such as programmatic direct deals. We believe these will be the most crucial relationships to nurture after the third-party cookies are gone,”–says Inspira Grupa’s team. 

The Result: Increase in publisher SSPs purchasing power 

The graph below shows the effect of an optimized monetization setup and additional demand from agency SSPs on the overall purchasing power of SSPs from January 2023 to May 2024.

It can be seen that since integrating Adform SSP (red curve), total SSP revenue (green curve), alongside direct publisher SSP revenue (blue curve) and Setupad SSP revenue (yellow curve), has grown respectively.  

revenue by channel inspira grupa setupad prebid

The graph below shows proof of concept that other SSPs began to increase their bidding prices as soon as Adform SSP started to create competition. Consequently, this led to an increase in revenue from the agency and higher eCPM across other demand channels. 

ecpm by channel inpsira grupa setupad prebid

Why should media agencies work with SSPs? 

In response to our question of whether this type of integration is planned to be extended to other publishers, the Direct Media International team responds positively, emphasizing their commitment to providing the best possible service to their advertisers by finding the most cost-efficient ways to deliver value on reputable local news outlets. 

“We mainly answer our clients’ needs, that is our first goal. SSP provides valuable traffic that can be segmented and then applied to our campaigns to achieve the best results possible. For us, this is a “never-ending” project that is steered by the types of campaigns we are running, and it largely depends on the demand that is changing every month,” says the Direct Media International team. 

Besides using Adform SSP to secure more direct publisher-advertiser relationships, Direct Media International also started using Adform DMP, which helps media agencies adapt to the approaching phaseout of third-party cookies by integrating first-party data and leveraging contextual targeting. 

A shift in audience curation 

This case study also serves as a part of a potentially larger trend observed in sell-side curation. 

Traditionally, audience curation involved data providers integrating cookie-based IDs with DSPs to target ads. However, with the decline of third-party cookies, SSPs are increasingly taking over this role by creating private marketplaces (PMPs) using first-party data from publishers. This change gives SSPs a more direct role in matching advertisers’ customer data with publishers’ audience data.

“Agencies generally have a much larger drive to focus on the cutting edge of a platform. Since learning to work with these tools and gaining as much performance out of them is their entire business, you have power users who tend to push the limits of the tools you provide. 

We’ve had plenty of features developed purely due to the feedback and requests being made by our agency clients. An example would be how agencies utilize the buyer-seller marketplace technology via a private SSP. For regular advertisers an SSP generally has no value. Still, as an agency, you can create your own private marketplace in agreement with publishers, tailoring your strategy specifically to your clients,” says Paulius Grežėnas, Commercial Director (Baltics), Adform. 

Final Words

The relationship between media agencies, SSPs, and publishers is continuously developing with the advancement of technology and the introduction of new tools and practices in programmatic advertising. 

These collaborations present new opportunities for publishers, advertisers, and their media partners, increasing transparency, scalability, ROI and cost-effectiveness, as well as promoting direct relationship-building and cooperation. 


  1.  Agency SSP here and further is referred to as the supply-side platform used by an advertising agency to manage and buy digital inventory on behalf of its clients. 
About Alise Zaiceva
Alise is a content marketing manager at Setupad. She’s passionate about content and helping publishers scale their businesses through powerful digital marketing strategies. In her free time, she expands her knowledge of tech.

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