Five Things A DSP Should Look For In A Mobile Ad Exchange


Private RTB In a market crowded with options, choosing a mobile ad exchange can be an overwhelming task.

Integrating with a mobile ad exchange extracts significant resources from both the DSP and the exchange itself so it’s important to research an exchange’s available features—and determine their value to your organization—before committing that investment. Here are a few things to consider as you prepare to integrate with a mobile ad exchange:

1. Unique Inventory

Many exchanges that offer significant volume are simply reselling inventory from other networks and exchanges, offering low converting, low quality impressions that are rarely first-look. The key when choosing an exchange, then, is quality over quantity. Private exchanges are an excellent place to start when vetting exchanges; they tend to attract exclusive, first-look inventory by offering publishers substantial control over their CPM floors, allowing them to whitelist advertisers and demand partners, and providing enhanced ad quality controls.

2. Scale

After isolating exchanges with unique inventory, you still have to consider volume. If an exchange can’t offer the volume necessary to meet your customers’ campaign goals, the integration will be a waste of time and resources. Before vetting exchanges, take stock of your campaign goals and available resources to better target your search. Then, seek exchanges whose inventories are varied and plentiful across ad formats, locations, and verticals.

3. High-Converting Formats

Not all ad formats are created equal and nowhere is that more true than in the mobile ecosystem.  Banners can offer great scale but tend to be disruptive to the user experience and lend themselves to accidental clicks. In order to achieve your advertisers’ campaign goals, look for exchanges that offer high-converting ad formats such as full-screen interstitials, video and retina ads in all forms. As mobile usage shifts significantly in favor of apps, exchanges that offer higher-converting in-app inventory are preferable to those that deploy solely on the mobile web. Additionally, choose an exchange that offers strong downstream metrics for app installation, purchase, sign-up, download, and any other metric that your organization deems valuable.

4. A True Programmatic Solution

Programmatic is the hot topic in the ad tech community. But while many exchanges try to capitalize on its trendiness by claiming to offer programmatic solutions, beware: some of these exchanges have simply rebranded their standard buying solutions via ad tags presenting them as programmatic. Look for exchanges that offer real-time bidding (RTB) integrations to capitalize on the ease and scale of programmatic buying. Additionally, choose an exchange that follows OpenRTB protocol for standardization and ease of integration.

5. Best-in-Class Support

While a self-service platform can be enticing for its ease of use, a high-quality (and eminently available) support team makes all the difference when it comes to optimizing. High touch support allows DSPs to get all the help they need while troubleshooting, optimizing, and honing their bidding strategy. Best-in-class support solutions go one further, providing better insights into the bidding landscape as well as identifying emerging high converting inventory. Remember: programmatic doesn’t mean removing the human element. Nothing beats real live human support from qualified technical professionals.

Focusing your search for a mobile ad exchange helps eliminate trial and error and allows you to take advantage of the exciting cutting edge options available to your organization. Good luck making your (informed) jump into this powerful integration.

Generate Great PR on a Shoestring Budget With These 5 Tips

Tight Budget

For startups, public relations is one of the most valuable and cost-effective pieces of a marketing mix in comparison to other channels, such as advertising.

Top-tier publications create broad awareness and give your company credibility as a leader in your industry. Trade publications are great for driving qualified leads. To get all of this coverage, it helps to have an interesting and differentiated product and a unique point of view. The following are five key points to consider as you launch your PR program.

1. Use PR to drive your business, not the other way around.

First and foremost, you must focus on growing your business. PR will help raise awareness and drive qualified leads, but don’t pursue PR for its own sake. As exciting as press coverage is, resist the temptation to prioritize press over what is best for your business.

For example, you might have a great content idea that you know will be of interest to clients, but isn’t of great interest to top-tier journalists. If you think it will move the needle with clients, publicize it. Generating qualified leads for sales is the highest priority in marketing. General awareness is second.

Case studies can be a great tool for raising awareness, but they are not a “one-size-fits-all” solution for every startup. Case studies can tell a story about the value of your product through a recognizable brand.

They can be problematic, however, if the purpose of your business is to secure your client’s sensitive data. Your client might not want to publicize the use of your service for a number of reasons. If your client is open to a case study, you will likely need to incentivize them with free or discounted product.

Most good case studies will take a tremendous amount of effort for your B2B tech startup. You cannot fully control the outcome, either, as you will ultimately be dependent on your client for approval. In short, you can’t rely on case studies to drive your PR program or your business forward.

2. Company spokespeople must have a unique point of view.

Once you have committed to prioritizing your business, you are ready to build a successful PR program. Now you need to have something newsworthy to say to the media.

The success of your PR program hinges on your executives’ clarity about company strategy and industry direction, and of course, their unique point of view. It will certainly help if your company has an interesting product and your spokespeople have the experience and credentials to validate their role as thought leaders.

How do you establish your spokespeople as thought leaders with a newsworthy point of view? Start with rapid content creation. Come up with 50 interesting topics and hire freelance writers to help your team produce blogs on all of them. Incorporate the blogs into ebooks. Pull data from your platform for research whitepapers.

Show, don’t tell, the media how fascinating you are, and your PR program will take off.

3. Quality over quantity.

Work on getting coverage in high-value publications, both top-tier and mid-tier, rather than getting coverage in the highest number of publications with no regard for quality. Both top-tier publications and mid-tier trade publications can be of great value to your business. An exclusive in The Wall Street Journal may be worth more than coverage in dozens of smaller publications.

You will have to work your way up to coverage in top-tier publications, so don’t turn down smaller ones as you grow. Publication quality, however, isn’t only defined by reaching the biggest number of readers. Publications specific to your industry will likely drive more downloads of your content and more qualified leads.

4. A balanced approach to measurement.

Strike a balance between these two philosophies:

  • “If you’re not measuring, you’re not marketing.”
  • “What’s measurable isn’t always meaningful, and what’s meaningful isn’t always measurable.”

It is important to set and meet your quantifiable press-coverage goals every quarter, to ensure you stay focused on creating great content, raising awareness for your company, and getting return on investment from your PR efforts.

To deliver quality over quantity in your PR program, however, do not focus solely on the amount of coverage you get in comparison to your competitors. Driving your PR team to increase the number of pieces of coverage, regardless of publication quality or readership, may not achieve your awareness and lead-generation goals.

Be sure to aggressively measure your PR results, and make sure those results are meaningful.

5. PR freelancers are perfect for startups.

Now that you have your strategic priorities in place, newsworthy content to share, and a plan for how to effectively measure your PR, you’re ready to find a great PR partner to help you get coverage. PR freelancers allow startups to focus on the business, not meeting a retainer.

The most important criteria in selecting a PR partner is their fit with your leadership and alignment with your business objectives. If you have a marketing team that has a good understanding of PR and creates interesting content, a great freelancer can be the perfect resource to help you place articles, land media briefings and grow your media presence along with your business.

Getting Big Brands To Advertise On Mobile Apps

Brands in Apps

Mobile advertising is one of the fastest growing sectors in ad tech. Ever so often, we read articles declaring how mobile ad spends will explode into billions overtaking all other media channels. We also read press-releases of product launches or fundraising rounds from ad companies each professing to be the best, the most innovative, the most advanced mobile ad tech ‘platform’, and each hoping to bite into the imminent massive influx of dollars. The authors of such articles are not to blame – demographic data, device usage trends, and user engagement all purport that mobile is here to stay and is changing our lives in remarkable ways. However, mobile advertising is still in its infancy and has a long way to go to catch up to its desktop (web) counterpart.

Cutting through the noise, advertisers reach end users on mobile devices through two main channels – mobile websites and mobile applications.

Mobile websites are essentially mobile optimized websites or sites designed for mobile devices. The majority of traditional web advertisers are primarily spending their ad dollars on mobile websites. One of the reasons for this is that cookies work on mobile web as seamlessly as they do on desktop, and ad tech companies whose technology was built for desktop ads can easily expand into mobile web with their existing technology. Advertisers can track users across devices, measure engagement at different interaction points, retarget them, and build user profiles all based off the cookie. This gives buyers comfort to allocate large spends as they don’t have to change anything. Mobile web attracts big ad dollars from search, retargeting, online shopping ads and other large brand advertisers.

Mobile apps are native applications developed for the iOS and Android platforms. Mobile apps are the other mobile channel through which advertisers reach users. Mobile app ad spend has been dominated by app install ads, with majority of app install spend coming from Games (50%) followed by lifestyle, entertainment, social network and travel categories (each under 10%). Facebook’s billion dollar mobile business was largely built on the back of app install ads. Though app install ads have dominated ad spend growth rates, those rates are likely to taper as advertisers shift focus from user acquisition to user engagement. The ad tech companies operating in the mobile apps space typically have a mobile only focus with their technologies being built around mobile app ads.

Between the two channels, mobile apps have superior engagement metrics than mobile websites. Mobile analytics firms have published several studies on this topic backing this claim with data. A quick Google search will yield several hits on app vs web engagement metrics. The fact is that most users primarily consume content (Music, Games, Weather, Email, Entertainment, News and so on) on mobile apps. Further, the ad formats, ad delivery, and ad engagement (read click through rate) on mobile apps is superior to mobile web. This does not mean that mobile web inventory is irrelevant. It does have its place in the ad ecosystem. It is preferred for search, online shopping, entertainment, and retargeting. However, where mobile web falls short, mobile app inventory excels, i.e. in user engagement, ad formats, ad engagement and ultimately conversions.

Despite better performance, large brands still haven’t truly adopted mobile apps as a channel in a big way yet. To assess some of the ways in which existing ad tech players / platforms can drive more brand dollars into in-app ads we need to look at the media buying process. Large media buys are primarily done through ad agencies that represent large corporations. More recently DSPs (demand side platforms) have burst onto the scene and savvy CMOs are bypassing agencies to directly work with these DSPs. Here’s what matters most to these large buyers when they consider buying mobile app inventory:

  1. Scale: Large media buyers – the ones with the tens/hundreds of million dollars ad buys have specific campaign mandates (spend, reach, metrics). The revenue model of these intermediaries, more often than not, is directly linked to the total campaign spend wherein they receive a certain % of the total ad spend. Since their revenue is linked to spending the campaign budget within certain pre-defined performance metrics, these buyers want sellers that have the scale and quality inventory to absorb their spend. Currently, buying mobile in-app inventory at scale is challenging because a) it is sold across a fragmented and incestuous cluster of exchanges, supply side platforms, ad-networks, and direct publishers, and b) there is no consistency in working with a set of app to gain a set audience, because of rapidly changing usage popularity of most apps on App Store and Google Play rankings. Apart from Facebook, Twitter and a few other large publishers, no single ad tech company has the scale of quality mobile in-app inventory to absorb large budgets. And scale means massive user reach, across various of ad formats, across devices, and across geographies. Buyers have to cobble together inventory from several small to mid-size sellers to be able to spend a sizeable budget on in-app media buys, which, seems to be an inherently inefficient process. Any ad tech player that is able to consolidate direct inventory of premium app publishers at scale will undoubtedly attract big brand dollars.
  2. Audience Segments: One of the first steps in the media buying process is to define the target audience i.e. the most relevant end-users for the ad campaign. Agencies will typically have mandates to reach a certain audience segment, say for example,car enthusiasts, parents or teens, when they make their briefs. Mobile in-app inventory filtered to relevant demographic and interest attributes, packaged and sold in audience segments, is likely to attract large budgets. Additionally, some mobile app publishers sit on a treasure trove of first party user data such as age, gender, interests, app engagement and so on. Selling platforms that help publishers organize and share this data with buyers in a privacy-safe manner could complement the complex targeting algorithms implemented by Demand side platforms (DSPs), thereby channelizing more spend. In short, any selling platform that enhances targeting and builds segments by aggregating anonymized user data can prove to be valuable for large media buyers who want to reach audiences.
  3. Connecting Web and App users: One of the major limitations of advertising on mobile apps is the cookie. All the targeting and browsing information advertisers painstakingly collect on desktop users is completely useless in the in-app world. Anyone that is able to target users across desktops, mobile web and mobile apps will most definitely unlock spending on mobile apps. One of the reasons why Facebook has been successful at attracting large advertising budgets is because it can target users across devices using account login information. The folks at Google still haven’t solved the problem, but are working on bridging the gap. A Google spokesman confirmed the effort, ”As an alternative to less transparent methods, we’re doing some tests to help businesses run consistent ad campaigns across a device’s mobile browser and mobile apps, using existing anonymous identifiers, while enabling people to use the established privacy controls on Android and iOS.”

These are some of the challenges curtailing the mobile app ad spend, and no matter what happens, one thing is certain – the ad tech industry will evolve to address these challenges. Mobile advertising as a channel will be taken more seriously by CMOs, advertisers will get more mobile savvy., and fragmentation will decrease (see 2014 acquisitions). Eventually, only those companies that provide great value and a differentiated offering backed by robust technology will survive to scale or get acquired.

The HackerBus is Ready to Roll to GDCnext!

We had our kick off lunch for the HackerBus tour this Saturday! The developers who are going to be on the bus came by to hear all the rules and they even had a chance to win the new Nvidia Shield Android device. If you want to register for the “remote hackathon” click here. Here are some photos of the event:

Gregory Tour Bus

Gregory Kicking things off!

Crystal SDK Demo

Crystal giving a demo of our SDK.


All the developers chatting it up!

Demo Shield

Developers getting to test out the VR Headset!

It was a great event and we cannot wait to get on the bus down to LA!

You still have time to register for the “remote” hackathon. Click here if you want to register:

Three Things You Won’t Hear From Other Mobile Ad Exchanges

Mobile Ad Exchange Secrets

It occurred to us that entering into a partnership with a mobile ad exchange was actually pretty similar to any other kind of partnership. We all know that any healthy partnership only comes from two parties who feel like they are independent and have options. Sure, we’re going to share resources and help each other grow, but each partner has to retain personal value for both parties to benefit from the relationship. Here’s three ways that we encourage our clients to keep their independence while bringing the best value to our exchange.

1. We Don’t Want All of Your Traffic

Wait, what? No, seriously. Just like the world of stock exchanges, it is in your best interest to diversify your portfolio and distribute your traffic across multiple partners. This is sort of like having friends and other people to reach out to besides your domestic partner; you want their prime time, not all their time.

Believe it or not, diversification across many publishers benefits our advertisers—we want a portion of your traffic so we can fill it with our premium demand. We want our inventory to be diverse but we do want enough of your inventory so that our demand partners are eager to bid on it.

2. We Don’t Want to Be Your Only Partner

This is sort of like dating other people before you get married—you can’t really know what you want unless you see what’s out there, first-hand. This form of relationship “testing” makes you a better partner.

Will that make us jealous? Nah. In a perfect world, there would be no such thing as “frenemies,” but, let’s be real, in advertising we need them to survive. Navigating the Ad Tech landscape can be complex and confusing; you can’t make a decision without data and to have data you need to test. To test you need multiple ad networks and sources to compare each other to.

3. You Don’t Have to Take Our SDK.

Yes, you read that right—and this statement may come to you as a shock. You rely on an ad exchange like a close friend but it would be a little weird for a new friend to ask you to get matching BFF tattoos, right? Similarly, you shouldn’t take our SDK before we’ve proven our value and built a strong enough relationship to devote your engineering resources and prove that the integration is worthwhile.

Of course, we can tell you our SDK integration provides better quality ads (including native and video), produces higher CPMs, and offers a better user experience but you still shouldn’t just take our word for it. That is to say, we’re happy to head down to the tattoo parlor…once you are ready!

Happier relationships form when exchanges demonstrate their value. We’re confident that actively encouraging this kind of diversity leads to a healthier ad tech ecosystem.

Six Mobile Tips for the Holidays

Holiday Shopping TipsMobile apps, location-based beacons and deep links are some of the tools at a retailer’s disposal that can boost sales this holiday season.

The holiday season is a critical time for retail. The sales from the final months of the year can make or break a retailer so it’s a good idea to go full bore with marketing efforts. This means coming up with a solid plan of action long before doors open on Black Friday.

With U.S. smartphone penetration over 65% of the mobile phone market, a comprehensive mobile strategy is a key component to finishing out the year in strong form. Here are six tips to help make the most of this year’s holiday shopping season.

1. Leverage beacons. Increasing staff and preparing the layout of a store for seasonal crowds are great ways to ensure customers are engaged. However, if a retailer has a mobile app, implementing beacons in-store can take engagement to a completely new level. Beacons are relatively inexpensive devices ($5-30) that can be used to send push notifications to Bluetooth-enabled smartphones. Simply place them in a store and customers with a retailer’s app will automatically receive messages on deals or promotions when they are near beacons.

2. Use family-friendly messaging. The holidays are a time when friends and families come together to celebrate and show how much they care for those closest to them. Reflecting this sentiment in ads helps reinforce this feeling during customers’ shopping experiences. And using family-centric messaging does more than just encourage customers to buy—it personalizes a brand and endears it to customers.

3. Increase user acquisition. Now is the time to start pushing an app to consumers, not while the seasonal rush is underway. There are almost endless possibilities when it comes to encouraging customers to download an app and promoting a retailer’s business; here are a couple:

  • Offer a special promotion for downloading an app. Send an e-mail announcement that those who install an app will receive a 5% Off coupon once it is downloaded. This could be tied to a holiday, like Halloween, or just a random promotion. Either way, this will help ensure an app is at your customers’ fingertips during the holiday season.
  • Use all existing marketing channels to make a business top of mind. E-mail blasts, in-store advertising and increasing online ads will all pay dividends in the coming months.
  • Implement a customer loyalty program. Though this is a great way to increase user/customer acquisition at any time of the year, it can go a long way toward making the holiday season a success.

4. Deep link products. It’s no surprise customers like instant gratification. Now more than ever, in the mobile age, customers are a lot less likely to invest the time to track down a product they have seen in an ad. This is particularly true when they are on mobile, as consumers are generally engaged in other activities. Deep linking product pages in an app means when a customer clicks on an online ad or e-mail promotion he finds enticing, he is taken directly to the product page in the app (if he has the app), as opposed to the page on a mobile web site. He then can purchase the product in the app, which provides a superior shopping experience to mobile web sites.

5. Use programmatic ad buying. During the holiday rush, retailers are busy. There are a variety of campaigns to manage and a flurry of special promotions and marketing initiatives that need support—manually managing ad buys isn’t exactly the best use of time. There is another, better way: programmatic ad buying. Programmatic ad buying is the use of software to purchase digital advertising. It removes the need for requests for proposal, in-person negotiations, and manual insertion orders, saving time and resources required to effectively buy ad space. There are a few different ways to leverage programmatic ad buying, but one likely helpful during the holiday season is real-time bidding. These are auctions, usually facilitated by ad exchanges, which cut the buying process down to milliseconds. Retailers can use technology to quickly decide which ad impressions they wish to purchase and how much to bid on them.

6. Regionalize creative. Ads are most effective when they speak to the individual. To truly be a powerful means of persuasion, the context in which an audience is viewing an ad must be taken into account and their geographic location is a big part of that. Ideally, a retailer wouldn’t speak to consumers in Dallas the same way it would to potential customers in Boston. Consider including imagery and text that references where an audience lives. For example, if targeting customers in New York City, showing an image of a Christmas tree in Time Square along with a promotion will resonate with the viewer and help strike that special chord. Likewise, for the holiday season in Hawaii, a retailer may want to show a palm tree strung up with lights and a star on top. These are basic examples of regionalizing creative to speak to the viewer, but this practice can go beyond just calling out landmarks or scenery through ad imagery. The demographics and culture of the different regions being targeted also can affect messaging and design.

Following these six simple tips will help maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing efforts this holiday season and ensure retailers make the most out of this critical time of the year.


The following post is from our “Complete Guide to Mobile Advertising for 2015″ which you can download here:

Download our Latest eBook: A Complete Guide to Mobile Advertising for 2015



What do publishers need to know about the iPhone 6? What is the real value of a private exchange versus a public one? TapSense tackled these questions and more in our Guide to Mobile Advertising 2015, a comprehensive collection of insights from the trenches of mobile advertising designed to help you create maximum value in this ever-changing landscape. Here are just a handful of the key topics covered:

  • What Advertisers and Publishers Need to Know About Apple’s new iPhone
  • 4 Tips for Great Mobile Ad Creative: How to Get a Free Trip to Cannes
  • Why Private Exchanges Monetize 213% Better than Public for App Publishers
  • 5 Things a DSP Should Look for From a Mobile Ad Exchange

Click Here to Download

Recap: 2015′s Mobile Media Summit During NYC Ad Week

MMS Panel pic 2 Ash
TapSense’s Ash Kumar at the “How To Do Native in a Programmatic World” panel at Mobile Media Summit during Ad Week in NTC (photo: Erica Haile—@ericahaile)

We’re fresh off the plane from New York and happy to report that this year’s Mobile Media Summit was a rousing success! Thanks to everyone who stopped by the TapSense booth and Ash’s panel, “How To Do Native in a Programmatic World.”

If you enjoyed Ash’s talk (or if you missed it), he goes into more detail on the subject with Mobile Media Xchange.

Follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on all things TapSense. Until next year…

Hack Your Way to LA: Register by 9/30 for November’s Hacker Bus to GDC

Hacker bus banner

Good morning! We wanted to remind you about our awesome 4-day hackathon coming up on the first-ever Hacker Bus to GDC Next, Nov 2-5, 2014.

Developers will get a free round trip ride from SF to LA on the wifi-enabled luxury bus, stocked with food and drinks. The hackathon continues in a work space in LA. You will also get a free expo pass to GDC Next, access to discounted hotel rooms, and the chance to win $10,000 in ad spend to promote your app. Can’t join us on the bus? Remote participation is welcome, too.

Sign up here by September 30th.


Mobile Media Summit During Ad Week in NYC 9/29

MMS bannerHot on the heels of an epic few days at Games Beat, TapSense will be appearing at this year’s Mobile Media Summit during Ad Week in New York City, next Monday, September 29th. This is the largest summit of its kind, featuring top-tier mobile-first marketers and leading agency executives. Anyone with a vested interest in the future of mobile ads can’t afford to miss this networking opportunity.

Our CEO, Ash Kumar, will be speaking at a panel entitled, “How to do Native in a Programmatic World,” at 3pm on the 29th. We’re very excited to share our insights from 2014 with you at this prestigious event. If you make it, don’t forget to stop by and say hi to TapSense!

Register here.