With over 700+ clients utilizing our Proprietary Mobile Tracking Platform here at iMobitrax, and over 500+ Mobile Affiliates using our Mobile CPA Network at Revived Media, I’m constantly asked the same question over and over again – “Ruck, how do I tell who is a good mobile ad network and who isn’t?”
I’m now going to attempt to answer that question publicly but it isn’t going to be a “cut and dry” answer, and most likely, you probably won’t like what I have to say.
But, I know my answer can save you money if you pay attention to what I say and use this to your negotiating advantage when it comes to dealing with mobile network representatives.
No Mobile Ad Network Is The Same: All of them differ in some way. All the way to who they employ, how many employees they got. I’ll give you a specific example of what I am talking about. Behind the scenes, we have been building our own mobile ad network. Believe me, it’s incredibly simple. We’ve integrated and used iMobiTrax with over 100+ Mobile Ad Networks and direct sources over the last 6 months, and we’ve learned alot. It only made sense to start a mobile ad network on our own.
There really is no difference in how mobile ad networks operate in comparison to online ad networks. In the simplest way to understand it, mobile ad networks basically aggregate ad inventory and match it with advertisers just like online networks do. Wow, that is mind-blowing. Not.
Mobile ad Networks soak up, acquire and trade mobile ad inventory. They then analyze the potential of it (the real players do anyhow) and then sell it based upon the needs of advertisers.
Now in mobile though, Ad Networks do serve a pretty important purpose. The audience/users in mobile are EXTREMELY fragmented across a ton of devices and publishers (whether those publishers are apps or mobile websites). Mobile Ad Networks serve their purpose by rounding up those fragmented audiences into a centralized marketplace to serve ads to them.
However, here’s a big secret that really isn’t a secret at all (if you are connected and know some key players) – Near every mobile ad network has the same inventory or the ability to access the same inventory. I know, it’s mind-boggling isn’t it (Sarcasm)? The reason for this is because a lot of mobile ad networks buy this publisher supply of inventory from wholesalers.
In many cases of buying mobile advertising for us, we’ve marked down large mobile websites whom we’ve wanted to go direct with because we have found that we were serving mobile ads to that publisher across more than one network at a time. Basically, we were competing against ourselves for the ad inventory.
Now, like I said before, this isn’t the case with all mobile ad networks. The real players in this space are the ones with actual sales teams that are out their signing new direct publisher and advertiser relationships. However, when I say “real players,” there (unfortunately) isn’t very many of them compared to the actual amount of mobile ad networks in existence. Pretty shitty huh?
Now something important that I would like to point out about all of this is, is that I’m excluding Mobile Exchanges and Mobile Demand Side Platforms (DSP’s) from all of this. At least for now.
I’m not addressing those just yet because they are different when compared to mobile ad networks. Yes, you obviously can buy mobile ads from exchanges and DSP’s however the difference here is that with DSP’s you typically get much more transparency (as an advertiser) to the ad inventory available. With DSP’s being more transparent, the educated mobile advertiser gets a bit of an “upper-hand” if you will at optimizing their campaigns on a real-time basis and also buy up inventory in real-time across more publishers.
With mobile ad exchanges, the mobile ad process is much more automated and computed. Exchanges basically take the mobile publishers and connect them to multiple ad networks. Now, typically exchanges serve as SSP’s (Supply Side Platforms) serving mobile publishers the opportunity to connect with multiple ad networks and increase their fill rates and earnings. This is important to understand if you do actually work with an exchange and purchase inventory as an advertiser. It basically boils down to mobile publishers wanting more bang for their buck and doing anything they can to make that happen. These mobile ad exchanges are also fueling the ad inventory side of a lot of mobile ad networks out there. That’s why you’re getting a lot of the same inventory.
Now this is just a very broad overview of mobile ad networks, but hopefully it does clear up the question of who is a good mobile ad network and who isn’t. I’m not going to list who I know is good and who I know is bad. That information is gold. It’s priceless. That’s for you to figure out on your own, much like we have. However, this should give you a bit more insight into what you need to be asking mobile ad networks before depositing your advertising dollars into them.