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White-Label Ad Tech Software or Develop It From Scratch? The Definite Answer

Aug 23, 202112 min read
Kate Novatska
Kate Novatska, AdTech Expert

Keep reading or watch Sergey Shchelkov, Sales Executive at Epom, explaining the difference between proprietary, white-label, and self-serve solutions for online advertising.

It's 2023, do you really need to reinvent the wheel? Being an entrepreneur or executive willing to scale your business, your first instinct may be to build your own innovative solution. But why take this time-consuming and expensive route when the same results, or even better can be achieved at minimum cost and effort?

One of the major questions doing rounds among big advertisers, ad networks, and even publishers is: whether to build a technology stack from scratch or choose white-label software?

Ultimately the choice boils down to your needs - whether white-label software products can provide an advantage over undergoing the development process from scratch. However, we can't deny there is so much power in wielding your own ad tech software, especially if you handle a significant amount of digital advertising.

Today, most brands have their hearts set on a custom ad tech solution so much that they are often blinded to the fact white-label software could actually be a viable option. This is why this article will take an in-depth approach in describing white-label ad tech. Keep reading for a clear definition of what white-labeling means and how white-label marketing software gives brands the upper hand.

Let's start with the option of a white-label ad tech stack. What is it? And how does it work?

What Does White-Labeling Mean in Software Development?

If you are looking to gain more control over your advertising activities, white-label ad tech is your best shot. But what is it? White-labeling refers to ready-made software products the buyer can rebrand as their own and solve particular needs.

Picture a factory that mass produces shirts. The shirts are sold without any tag for a price close to production cost. Naturally, other clothing companies can buy these shirts at the factory price, print their brand name on them, and then sell for more. The reason being - it takes much less time to print a ready-made shirt and put it in the store than to sew the shirts themselves.

This is the case with white-label software. An ad tech company develops white-label marketing software products for sale to other entities. It appeals to companies who do not want to or can't afford to invest in the development process but need such a product. Acquiring a readily available and customizable solution provides more privileges than generic solutions can.

How Does Software White-Labeling Work?

White-label software is designed to be resold and customized. Ad tech providers develop products with unique features other entities are willing to purchase and own. They then make these software available for ownership by other industry players at a price.

Picture a company that wants to bring their advertising in-house and get a custom solution for their brand's digital advertising activities. They have two options.

  • Gather a team of developers to build an in-house solution from scratch.
  • Simply acquire a ready-made software, embed their name, add their own logo and other corporate branding and use the solution in-house.

For the uninitiated, this is the basic explanation of what we call white-labeling.

Process of white-label software usage

Choosing the #2 means they will not need to invest time into the project but can buy the solution and become a platform owner. For most white-label software, as is in the case for Epom white-label DSP, brands are charged a fixed monthly fee. From there, the brand has the right to use the software as they want.

Customization is the key selling point for white-label software. A brand can add its logo design to the product, use their own domain, and change the user interface. They can also incorporate their corporate branding into the product. Once the platform's look and feel correspond with their image, it looks just as if the solution would be developed in-house.

But it often doesn't end at UI adjustments. The white-label software allows brands to set custom integrations, as now they become a true owner of the platform. They can access publisher's data, the admin panel, and even the backend through the API to make adjustments needed for their specific business operations just as the developer would.

Pros & Cons of Software White-Labeling

So why else might you want to opt for white-label software? To make the right choice, let's weigh the benefits and disadvantages this option provides.

Advantages of White-Label Solutions

Full platform ownership

You get full ownership of the software hence you can personalize the interface and modify functions as you see fit. It also means less costs as you won't be charged third-party fees on every transaction. White-label software pricing is solely for owning the platform.

Full access to data and platform features

White-labeling your tools for programmatic advertising, you have full access to the platform's data. Your marketing team can access all your ad media buying data and publisher data directly from your platform. A white-label platform puts you into the driving seat.

In SaaS software you also have access to a fair amount of data, but only the one allowed you to see by the provider. If you are the platform owner, you can rightfully request any data from your supply or demand partner and use it to improve your targeting, ad campaign performance, or to identify and eliminate any ad discrepancies in your analytics.

No money, time, and energy spent on development

Getting a ready-made solution saves you from investing money in a development team and waiting years for a product you can use. White-labeling your ad tech stack allows you to get down to the business in one week or even less.

Freedom of branding and your own client management

You can purchase white-label software and add your logo and corporate branding enabling your platform users to identify the software with your business.

For example, ad agencies can give customers individual user accounts using a white-label DSP. Your clients will use the platform just like any other SaaS product, having access to features, formats, and advertising metrics set by you using the admin panel.

Possibility of custom feature development

It is also possible to get custom features added to your white-label solution. White-label software development companies like Epom can improve your platform on request, sometimes at no additional cost.

Disadvantages of White-Labeling a Product

Availability of features

Depending on what the white-labeling business can offer, you may end up having to settle for a compromise if the features and functionality you want is not available. The solution would be to request custom features.

No access to the code

If it's not an open-source ad server, typically with white-label software development services the source code stays with the developers. Therefore, you will have to rely on the provider for any changes.

Difference Between White-Labeling vs. Development from Scratch

When businesses compare white-label solutions with those developed from scratch, they usually have two things on their mind. How much it takes to build such software and how much personalization can be done on the product?

Taking a demand-side platform as an example, technology investments may comprise up to 2.5M dollars per year.

Time investment is almost limitless. It may take a good couple of years to develop such a tool with an engineering team of 3 to 6 people, let alone the time spent on maintenance and constant updates to keep up with tech evolution. How many businesses are ready for that?

Some enterprises with revenues of hundreds of millions are. The benefits of development from scratch are obvious: you design custom and branded software perfectly fitted for your business.

Not all companies make hundreds or even dozens of millions. Still, many would like to have their own solution to bring some processes in-house. That's where white-labeling comes into play. It allows you to buy a ready platform, paying several thousand instead of millions.

Here's a brief look at how white-labeling differs from developing your own solution.

Table: White-Labeling vs. Development from Scratch

Type of software White-labeling Custom development
Pricing structure Fixed expense in the form of a monthly fee and a one-time setup fee Uncapped annual expenses including developer team's salaries, infrastructure, and maintenance costs
Time to launch Comes ready for instant deployment Developing a fully functioning platform can take years
Features Customizable to fit business needs Developed according to business needs
Maintenance Covered by developer Separate expense done by
Updates Regular updates from provider Irregular updates by the development team

The verdict is pretty much clear-cut. For those who cannot afford to wait or face the high development costs, white-label software is always a solution. Brands get a custom platform for way less.

White-Label Software vs. SaaS Self-Serve Software

White-label software will cost you more than regular software as a service. But that's just the surface: if you have a large advertising budget, you will eliminate intermediaries from your media buying process. This means that even though you will pay platform fees each month, you will minimize hidden fees usually applied by ad tech providers to make money on bid markups. Moreover, white-label products have several perks as it provides you with more control.

White-Label Software vs. SaaS Self-Serve Software

Type of software White-Label Software SaaS Self-Serve Software
Pricing structure Periodic fee (monthly), include one-time setup fee Bid markup per transaction and/or periodical subscriptions eg.monthly
Platform access Unlimited access to platform features Limited user features
Feature selection You can request custom feature development Built-in features only
User permissions Full platform administration Only user access
Data Access to all data flowing through the platform, including publisher data Limited access to campaign data, no access to publisher data
User profile Support for admin account and individual user accounts for your customers Only supports your brand's user account
UI design A customizable user interface to suit your branding Comes with its own interface design and service provider's logo

Role of White-Label Software in Digital Advertising

The truth is that you can't build your dream ad server, SSP, or DSP within a week. The development is expensive and time-consuming, but that's where white-labeling software for sale comes in. It solves both these problems for advertisers, ad networks, and publishers keen on applying their custom ad tech solutions quickly.

White-Label Programmatic Platforms

White-label programmatic platforms fall under digital advertising solutions. They include demand-side platforms and supply-side platforms which both serve to automate ad media buying and selling respectively.

White-Label DSP

A demand-side platform (DSP) is an RTB-based software used to buy ad inventory from multiple supply partners automatically. It connects advertisers and ad agencies to ad exchanges to complete the cycle for programmatic advertising.

The WL DSP offers advertisers functionality unheard of in self-serve DSP. It allows you to choose where your ad traffic comes from by enabling you to connect to custom supply-side platforms (SSPs). With self-serve solutions, advertisers often end up using multiple DSPs to tap into varying traffic sources. It allows you to manage all your programmatic advertising from one account to avoid bidding against yourself on available ad inventory.

WL DSP compared to SS DSP illustration

And that's not all; a white-label DSP also puts you in the front seat. You will have first-hand access to the data transmitted from publishers about your ad campaigns.

White-Label SSP

A supply-side platform (SSP) is an automated ad tech platform that publishers use to manage, sell, and optimize ad inventory of their mobile apps or websites. Publishers use SSPs to sell their online ad placements via real-time bidding (RTB) auction rather than negotiating prices directly with advertisers.

White-Label Ad Server & Beyond

Ad servers, by design, act as web servers hosting ads to serve them to the right ad media and the correct audience. Ad networks use white-label ad servers to deliver different ad formats on multiple digital platforms like websites, CTV/OTT devices, and mobile apps.

A white-label ad server gives you control over the ad serving, inventory management, and the user accounts created for your clients. You become the network manager in charge of all ad delivery on your network. The difference between a regular ad server and this one is that you can change your server branding, use your own domain, and look like a pro superstar in the ad network community.

Why Might Ad Networks Need a White-Label Ad Tech Stack?

Ad networks function as resellers of ad inventory. They for sure need robust technology for ad serving, but even more, they need to give a boost to their brand image. Owning a WL platform means you have full control over the platform, can brand it as your own, and grant access for your partners to its functionality. As a result, providing a better customer experience to all ad network clients.

A good example is how an ad network can provide its users with independent accounts on a branded platform, utilizing a white-label ad server.

Ad networks function as resellers of ad inventory. They need robust technology, and it doesn't get any better than white-label software. A good example is how with a white-label ad server, an ad network can provide its users with independent accounts on a branded platform.

A white-label ad tech stack enables the ad network do to the following:

  • Rebrand the platform so users can easily associate it with their services;
  • Provide customers with their own accounts to monitor their programmatic advertising;
  • Work as ad media resellers, matching publishers and advertisers all from a single dashboard;
  • Serve ads across different channels simultaneously;
  • Deliver ad campaigns involving ad formats with more advanced approaches like rich media and push notifications;
  • Monitor both publishers and advertisers performance in real-time;
  • Carry out waterfall and header-bidding auctions in a manner that helps clients maximize their gains.

Reasons to White-Label Programmatic for Brands & Agencies

Why Might Ad Networks Need a White-Label Ad Tech Stack?

White-label software enables advertisers to:

  • Access all campaign-related data on the platform;
  • Perform advanced analytics and view important KPIs for their ad campaigns;
  • Access to available publisher data;
  • Have more control over where their traffic comes from;
  • Eliminate hidden fees from third-party software that inflame the cost of ad inventory.

How About Epom White-Label DSP?

Brands using Epom white-label DSP can attest to the power of a white-label programmatic solution. Whereas they could have spent millions on a DSP, they now no longer have to worry about shelling out massive amounts for maintenance and other costs to keep the platform vibrant.

To summarize the benefits of Epom product:

  • Saves you millions of dollar as there will be no development costs;
  • Without middle-men, you can cut down advertising expenses by 5% to 30%;
  • Access to all campaign data, including the publisher's available data;
  • Get real-time analytics and reporting;
  • You can conduct all ad media buying using a single platform;
  • Optimize your campaigns at every stage.

Epom helps you find cost-effective means to programmatic advertising. Get in touch now and discover our white-label SaaS products can help you achieve your goals.

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