Business relationships are often a complex weave of competing incentives, with suppliers, sellers, and other actors each trying to take a larger piece of what the consumer actually spends. In-app monetization isn’t exempt from this trend, and still presents an environment where different players in your advertising stack are incentivized to do what’s best for them and not for publishers. These choices typically present as closed systems, features that don’t address major pain points for you, and a general lack of transparency.
None of this seems terribly shocking, but realizing how much your monetization platform is leaving on the table probably will. In our experience running a DSP, we’ve gained a unique perspective on how the buying side views publishers. Let’s take a spin through eight ways your mobile monetization platform leaves money on the table.
1. Not structuring bids as a simultaneous auction
This is probably the most obvious entry in this list, but it’s worth going over since it makes such a significant impact on revenue. Like, really significant. Pretend not to hear your CFO on the conference call when he asks “why didn’t we implement this sooner” significant. Imagine you’re at a traditional auction and instead of going through the normal process the auctioneer just accepts the first reasonable bid from one of the regulars. This makes about as much sense in real life as it does in an ad stack.
Read up on how Timehop moved to a simultaneous auction setup and increased their daily revenue by as much as 1200%!
2. Not being open to work with any exchange
Even in-app header bidding platforms can miss high priced bids for your inventory. This is not to say they are ignoring high bids that are present, but they can just skip networks that could bid on them all together. While this doesn’t make sense to you as the publisher, it can make sense to the platform provider who may have cut side deals to funnel inventory to specific exchanges. Which brings us to the next item..
3. Not providing access to bid information
As mentioned above, business relationships involve competing incentives. Some industries can get by on trust alone, but the mobile ad world can be rife with hidden fees, alternate revenue calculations, and even outright fraud. With ad revenue being the lifeblood of most apps, it’s paramount to have faith that your monetization platform isn’t leaching from your company in a way that isn’t obvious. Access to bid information reveals exactly what’s going on with your apps monetization. It’s not difficult to provide this information, and yet many platforms choose not to in order to obfuscate the multiple ways they take pieces of your revenue.
4. Not allowing you to make changes on the fly
Money doesn’t just come in the form of a revenue check. It can also be represented by opportunity cost–the amount of money you are wasting when your developers could have been doing other things.
Platforms can cause you to waste valuable developer time by needing to redeploy your entire app just to make changes to your ad stack. Redeploying your app can also mean segmentation of your username between different versions, fatigue from users having to update their app frequently, and can affect the display of your App Store ratings. Most importantly though, it can cause you to avoid updating your ad stack and skip making changes that could mean a meaningful increase in revenue like adding another demand source.
5. Not providing easy access to customer support
Switching monetization platforms can be a stressful operation involving both technical effort and taking a risk with critical revenue streams. That’s why it’s vitally important to vet the responsiveness and knowledge of the support team that will help you through the process and after. Some of the larger scale platforms will simply not have time to help you through your issues in a meaningful way. Instead they will run your problem through an escalation ladder until it’s cleared to be asked to one of the actual engineers who knows the product.
Like in the other examples this is driven by a competing incentive. Where platforms with accounts much larger than yours simply will make a cost/benefit analysis to help their very large scale partners first and you second due to the sizes of the companies. The best choice is to go with the platform that values your business enough to give you fast and accurate support when dealing with something as sensitive as your ad revenue.
6. Stuffing yet another bulky SDK into your app
If you’re like most developers, you probably are fairly sick of seeing the letters SDK in your inbox. SDKs can drastically streamline the development process or unlock powerful features, but there is such a thing as too many SDKs. Cramming your app full of bulky SDKs that attempt to do complex functions locally can lead to a large app size, and potentially can prevent users from installing or keeping your app on their device. Monetization platforms with their publishers’ interests in mind should be keeping as much functionality as possible server-sided to decrease SDK size and complexity.
7. Not allowing you to manipulate price bands
Price bands are the tools with which yield managers work their magic and tease more and more ad revenue from inventory. While some platforms may claim to manage this, what typically happens is that a one size fits all model is applied to all apps. This may result in a slight improvement in yield, but effective manipulation of price bands is both matched to the app and changed frequently to match the fluctuations in the market.
With ClearBid, we wanted to go a step further than this and have price reserves based on things like location and day of week, allowing us to get even more out of our existing inventory. Our dynamic price floors allow ClearBid to maximize yield with minimal effort on the part of the publisher.
8. Not being ClearBid
Okay we cheated a bit with this one, but UberMedia’s ClearBid platform really does provide the most publisher-friendly solution on the market. After all, we built it for our own apps before deciding to release it to the world. ClearBid is an open platform, free to work with any exchange. It’s server-sided, so you can make changes on the fly and only install a tiny SDK. And finally it’s transparent: Anyone is free to examine bid information and see that we’re delivering great value for an honest business partnership. Finally, we’re confident in our platform because we use it ourselves. One where our incentives are aligned to support publishers and not big exchanges.
Join our Publisher Group
ClearBid is live and currently boosting revenue for our own apps and the apps of some of our publisher friends. Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be a member of our publisher group, we’re already seeing significant boosts in revenue and are happy to share with the publisher community.