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Looking Ahead to Mobile & Programmatic in 2015

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Posted by Ajitpal Pannu on October 20, 2014
Mobile & Programmatic in 2015
The mobile advertising industry has and continues to experience tremendous growth. Thanks to some of the big social publishers like Facebook who have highlighted the amount of spend advertisers are allocating towards audiences on mobile globally. Similarly here at Smaato, we have seen tremendous growth where advertisers are also looking to capture audiences across mobile devices globally. This increased spend is not just in the social category but also in other major IAB categories.

The beauty of advertising via programmatic technology is that it allows advertisers to buy the audiences they desire based on campaigns’ objectives globally.

Given the amount of attention mobile monetization and programmatic is receiving, Q4 is always the best time to share past learnings and future planning. Let’s talk about some insights around Q4 and 2015 planning.


1. Mobile is a Global challenge:

Mobile apps and websites have audiences globally and anyone with a smartphone has access to them. So thinking global when thinking monetization is important. On average 60% of the impressions on an app come from 5 or more countries. Smaato’s key value to our publishers has been our ability to not only monetize their US inventory but also provide a much better global fill across their inventory.

The year started where we had less than 150 demand partners plugged into our ecosystem. Today, going into Q4 Smaato has 337 demand partners globally. This is an advantage to our publishers and a unique competitive advantage towards monetizing global audiences.


2. Mobile publishers need controls and automation:

Let’s start with a learning from 2013, when we introduced Unified Auction and Automated Floor Price Management for our publishers. This came from a learning and survey highlighting that app developers are really good at building apps and catering to their audiences, but very limited in advertising technologies and products knowledge. Such requirement calls for automated controls and revenue generation especially on free apps with ads becoming increasingly important.

Research from Gartner predicts downloads for free apps will go from over 100 billion in 2013 to above 270 billion by 2017. Such optimization requires managing advertising partners as well as pricing global audiences and inventory expertise. Our combination of 2 key features allowed 80,000+ app developers and publishers to scale without being yield managers. Some global apps that were generating $20/day in revenue jumped to $600/day because they no longer needed to manually set floor prices across the globe for the same inventory.


3. Ad-server is not a commodity anymore:

Ad-servers have been ignored for the last 10+ years because all players and platforms are interested in catering to advertisers on the buy side (even the latest Facebook launch of Atlas is focused on how Facebook can increase advertiser spend on Facebook with advertiser related controls). What is being ignored is what started the need for Real-time bidding auctions and that is publishers looking to fill inventory without scaling a sales team globally.

RTB allows such scale with controls around automation, optimization and maximizing value for each impression. Such innovation is completely ignored inside publisher/supply side platforms that are missing core ad-server functionality. This has been a core requirement from app developers and publishers, as they want controls on floor prices and managing yield in an automated fashion vs. hiring an army to do so globally.

The consolidation of other players in mobile such as Mopub now part of Twitter and Nexage being acquired by Millennial did not benefit the publisher. Such acquisitions have shifted the priority for those products to the parent companies’ focus and that is advertisers. Smaato’s latest release of our Publisher Platform in BETA comes equipped with further controls for publishers around access to RTB ad-exchange and Supply Side Platform + mobile first ad-serving technology. In mobile, there is no other ad-tech platform built toward catering directly to publisher needs as an end to end solution.

Smaato’s Dynamic Demand capabilities allow for an auction to be held within the ad-server while still accessing direct, indirect, programmatic and ad-network demand that a publisher may have access to. Dynamic Demand creates competition across all line item types and our publishers on average have seen 60% increase in revenue.


4. The SDK install challenge:

In a very recent conversation we heard a publisher’s frustration where each monetization partner he spoke to was trying to convince him to install their SDK. This is also an interesting challenge for publishers as they do not want to leave money on the table, however are concerned about bad user experience in case the SDK is heavy, buggy or just slow.

Smaato obviously has SDKs as well but this challenge concerns me as the partner offering SDK really does not provide the publisher with a user interface to control the benefits of SDK — in other words, a proper ad-server with UI and controls to manage all partners vs. just one per SDK. Smaato’s Publisher Platform (RTB+SSP+ ad-server) acts as the control center for SDK management. This column is not to justify value for installing Smaato’s SDK, but more importantly highlight that there are options a publisher should consider before inserting SDKs and those are API connections as well as Java Script tags especially if the SDK is not an ad-server’s SDK. If a partner is successful in monetizing, then SDK as an option should be considered as phase 2.

Read more about Smaato’s SDK here and Dynamic Demand here.

Finally this is what we would like for you the publisher to consider in Q4 with a mind towards 2015 planning:

  1. Evaluate your SDK partners and controls they provide
  2. Controls also lead to having a next-generation ad-server; Q1 is the best time to evaluate your ad-tech stack
  3. Are you paying for an ad-server? If so, time to look at options!
  4. What are the data parameters you share and are they impacting your revenue? Reach out to us for some price guidance based on data parameters
  5. Most importantly, do you trust the eCPMs you are receiving? If not, talk to few major players in mobile monetization and compare notes

Stay posted for some exciting product updates from Smaato as we plan to introduce more controls that allow our app developers and publishers to take control of each impression and the data behind those impressions.

Written by Ajitpal Pannu

Ajitpal Pannu is Smaato's Chief Business Officer. Ajitpal has a strong background in business development and product strategy from digital advertising technology companies such as OpenX, AdaptiveAds, Adify and Google DoubleClick. At Smaato, Ajitpal helps maintain a strong foothold in mobile RTB and drives the core business and product strategy for its supply and demand business.

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