How Ad Mediation Can Boost Your Mobile App Revenue
Friday, February 6, 2015
Ad mediation, the process of managing inventory allocation to buyers, is often misunderstood by developers. Questions range from “why do I need it?” to “how will it help me?” to “can’t I build this myself?” and everything in between. In short, ad mediation allows publishers to better control their ad sales strategy and earn more from their inventory.
The Power of Many
At its core, a mediation platform allows you to easily integrate and manage multiple ad networks for your mobile app. Working with more than one ad network may sound painful but it is essential as your number of users and available ad impressions scales.
An ad network that yields a decent eCPM with 1,000 impressions per day may not yield the same results at 1MM impressions per day. Integrating multiple ad networks and testing new ones allows you to find the best source of buyers for your inventory; all publishers are different, just as the users of their apps are different.
Targeting the Targets
As your app grows, you may find users pouring in from around the globe. Ad networks and exchanges typically have specific areas of strength; some are stronger in a particular country or on a particular operating system, or they’re only good on specific connection speeds (WIFI vs. 3g). Gives you a headache already, right? With mediation, it won’t.
A good mediation platform includes targeting controls so you can easily allocate app inventory to a specific ad network based on GEO, device/OS, connection, carrier and other targeting parameters. The platform then handles the logic to do the targeting via the SDK and ad server. Your work just became a lot easier!
Too Many SDKs!
App developers have SDK fatigue – and who can blame them? Every ad network and exchange wants you to implement their SDK, but the integration and switching costs are high. As more SDKs are integrated into the app, developers must factor in size, or bloat, integration issues and QA, updates for each SDK, the cost of switching, and the value of that SDK.
Also, with multiple SDKs integrated, you’ll need to coordinate updates of each SDK with the update of your app, releasing the new build to the app store, and getting users to update to the most recent version.
Switching SDKS entails making changes to your app, rebuilding, going through the QA process, releasing to the app store and getting users to update the latest version. Whereas, with a tag or API connection, you can add or pause a partner in a matter of minutes.
The developer community needs to dig deep and determine the specific value of the SDK, and decide whether or not the same value can be accomplished through a server to server (API) connection or an ad tag. With mediation, you can easily add new buyers without switching SDKs or re-releasing to the app store. Most mediation platforms enable ad network integration via both API and SDK, and some platforms also allow you to traffic tags for added flexibility.
When an ad request is made to an ad network, they don’t always return an ad. When this happens, they might send back an empty tag, a “no ad available” response, or a different type of response. Every time this happens, the fill rate declines and the publisher loses revenue. December 2014 data from multiple ad networks showed fill rates ranging from 10% to 90% and everywhere in between. That’s a lot of revenue risk!
A good mediation platform solves for this issue. The technology will evaluate the response from each ad attempt, and if an ad isn’t returned, it will move to the next buyer, or waterfall, until it finds an ad. The technology needs to be able to understand “no fill” responses across SDKs, API/S2S, VAST, tags, and more. This is crucial!
Get Your Priorities Straight
Ok, so your app has scaled, and you’re working with multiple ad networks. Nice work! The next time Joe Schmoe starts your app and you want to show him an ad, which one do you call? You want to hit the ad network with the best CPM (price) and fill rate, right? What if that changes from week to week or month to month?
Mediation technology allows you to prioritize ad sources, and control which one gets the first look at inventory. Keep in mind, this could be set differently based on operating system, or country, or the other targeting parameters discussed above. Changing priorities, or the order of your waterfall, shouldn’t require code changes or re-releasing your app – it can be done on the fly via a mediation platform UI.
Test That Pricing
When working with ad exchanges or ad networks, you’ll often have the ability to set price floors. This means that if you have a price floor of $0.50 CPM, you are assured a minimum of $0.50 CPM for all impressions served. Combine these price floors with a mediation platform, and you have nice tool to test the market and improve your overall revenue.
Let’s say you’re working with three different ad exchanges, each offering the ability to set price floors. Historically, your banner price floors were set at $0.50 in each one. With a mediation platform, you can traffic additional instances of each ad exchange at a different price point. For instance, you set up a new tag, or ID, with each ad exchange at a new price floor of $1.25, and stick them at the top of your waterfall in the mediation platform. You’ll now be able to take advantage of any campaigns at the higher price point, even at a lower fill rate, while using waterfalling to ensure high fill rate as the lower price point tags capture the remaining impressions.
SDK, Tag, MRAID, VPAID, VAST, API, Oh My….
So many acronyms, not enough time. In short, mediation should afford you two luxuries: 1) to stay on the forefront of ad technology, utilizing new ad standards that buyers want, and 2) integrating buyers via different methods. Some may only offer SDK, but others may offer integration via API, or even RTB, which are much more efficient and less costly.
What About The Numbers?
Let’s take a look at some actual publisher results to see the real benefits of mediation.
This publisher has a very simple setup: Admob for Android and iAd for iOS. The problem? Neither are producing great results. Looking at the data, iAd has a nice CPM ad a decent fill rate just shy of 67%. But if this publisher was only using iAd for monetization, they’d be missing out on 33% of revenue! Looking at their Android revenue from Admob, both the fill rate and CPM leave quite a bit to be desired.
This publisher should:
- Introduce additional ad networks to test for improved fill rate and improved CPM
- Replace Admob with an ad network with a reasonable fill rate – 1% is too low!
This publisher uses only Admob for interstitial mediation, with AerServ’s aerMarket helping out as the secondary ad network. Admob fills much better for this publisher than in the example above, but the CPM is horrible!
This publisher should:
- Allocate more impressions to aerMarket or place aerMarket higher in the waterfall to take advantage of the much higher CPM when compared to Admob.
- Introduce additional ad networks to compete with Admob and test for improved CPM
- Introduce additional ad networks to fill the remaining 36.48% of their impressions!
- Test a frequency cap for Admob. If users are seeing too many ads, a low CTR may be negatively impacting their CPM.
A snapshot from a premium publisher using AerServ for premium mediation, primarily working with VAST tags and S2S. It’s a good thing this publisher is using mediation, considering it seemingly only has one ad source with a respectable fill rate.
The good news is that with mediation, this publisher is delivering tens of thousands of more impressions than they would if only able to work with one of these ad networks.
Final Thoughts on Ad Mediation
As the mobile market continues to expand and become more complex, there are endless opportunities for both publishers and advertisers to maximize their revenue, but there are also many challenges to navigating the space. Just as advertisers need to ensure they are getting the best quality inventory, publishers need an efficient way to ensure they’re delivering the maximum number of impressions to drive revenue.
Mediation platforms not only provide efficiency via a streamlined transaction process; they also maximize fill rates to deliver better results for advertisers and improve CPMs. The numbers speak for themselves – if you’re looking for the most efficient and effective way to navigate the dynamic and lucrative mobile advertising space, you can’t ask for a better compass than mediation.
Read more: https://www.aerserv.com/
This content is made possible by a guest author, or sponsor; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of App Developer Magazine's editorial staff.
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