The app monetization options available to mobile publishers have expanded rapidly over the past year. This is great news for independent publishers, who were previously stuck trying to optimize low performing banner ads from mobile ad networks. With a limited salesforce and even more constraints on technology development, independent publishers need to carefully consider their options when it comes to app monetization. For 2014, we recommend that independent publishers look closely at the following trends:
Facebook pioneered this format and has scaled it to a multi-billion dollar opportunity. Driven primarily by their app download product, Facebook single-handedly created an entirely new advertising market. Sponsored posts, incorporated into a news stream, have also performed well on other publishers besides Facebook. What most publishers like about this format, in addition to the higher CPMs it delivers, is a superior overall user experience. In the past, most ad models were built on interruption or distraction that users dislike. Native formats provide mobile users with real value that’s presented in a noninvasive and comfortable way.
All publishers should leverage a native strategy if it is applicable. Do they have a newsfeed or stream that they can utilize? If not, what other options are available? Some publishers have gone to great lengths to develop new products into which they can incorporate native ads for app monetization.
Programmatic Buying and RTB (Real-Time Bidding)
Recently, advances have been made in the mobile RTB space. Twitter’s acquisition of MoPub paved the way for mobile RTB legitimacy. It now represents a sizable portion of Twitter’s business. For independent publishers, RTB can mean that there is no need for direct sales at all. Federated Media recently went 100% programmatic. This approach not only reduces overhead, but it also helps the team stay focused. A publisher’s product and engineering can now put all their effort into scaling the business, not building monetization tools. This approach also scales internationally. Many mobile publishers have a significant portion of inventory in overseas markets, and building an international sales team is tricky. RTB platforms offer easy access to buyers, both international and domestic.
Programmatic is a great solution for independent publishers. When you’re not part of large media company, building and managing a sale team is a major undertaking. RTB offers flexibility, access to multiple demand partners, and targeting data. It can also easily coexist with a smaller internal sales effort, by using the RTB platform to deliver direct sold campaigns.
Mobile video monetization platforms have grown rapidly over the past year. The large installed base of high end smartphones have made it relatively easy to stream TV quality video at scale. CPMs for video ads remain high, and publishers that set aside even a small portion of inventory for video will see a significant bump in overall monetization. Advertiser demand for high quality video impressions continues to surge as TV viewership declines and PC Web usage flattens.
Most publishers don’t get excited about forcing video interstitials into their app. They’re correct that this approach does not yield good results. Publishers need to develop a user experience consistent with the video experience if they want take advantage of this as part of a app monetization strategy. But the investment can be worth it.
Don’t Go it Alone — Select Best of Breed Partners
There is now significant buyer demand supporting all of these trends, and technology platforms that can provide publishers with plug and play access to it, at scale. Publishers need to think beyond the banner and get creative about app monetization. Native, Video and RTB implementation all require a well-planned approach to implement correctly, as alignment across multiple functions is the key to success. Don’t waste time evaluating partners with a goal of selecting just one. Build relationships with multiple partners, put in place technology that will scale, and keep your options open. The market changes rapidly and you’ll want to maximize what each player can offer.