Masters of Mobile: Making the Most of Mediation: How Mobile App Publishers Can Maximize Short-Term Revenues While Positioning Themselves For Long-Term Success


For many mobile app publishers, mediation has become an unfortunate workflow ‘norm’ when it comes to generating revenue from their leftover inventory. While mobile mediation isn’t the most efficient monetization strategy, it does help mobile publishers sell additional impressions in a market where demand can sometimes be hard to come by.

Let’s start with defining mediation in ad tech. Mediation is when a publisher sends impressions to a demand partner without running an auction to determine value for that individual impression. The demand partner has option to take those impressions or send them back to the publisher. The value of those impressions are not communicated to the pub in real time, and typically the demand partner will give the pub next day reporting on how much revenue was made.

In the world of mobile monetization, here’s what that means: After first offering an impression to the publisher’s direct deal line items and real-time bidding partners, a publisher-side software development kit (SDK) will then pass that impression to a series of ad networks, one at a time. Though this process gives app developers a better chance of selling out their inventory, the mediating ad networks often charge opaque and unreasonable service fees. And every time a network passes on an impression, publishers must wait for a bid from the next network in the so-called “waterfall,” saddling the user experience with long load times.

While the ultimate goal for publishers should be to move away from mediation toward better ways of selling their inventory, there are a few steps they can take to make the most of this process. Here, we’ll offer a few tips for maximizing your short-term mediation performance, as well as for positioning yourself for long-term success in a post-mediation future.


Data and Control: The Two Keys To Effective Mediation

The most important thing to remember when implementing a mediation strategy is that every hop in your waterfall is potentially another several-hundred milliseconds your user has to wait to see their content, meaning you could ultimately leave them hanging for up to five seconds. As such, publishers need to be smart about maximizing revenues without hurting the user experience so much that people find something else to do.

One way to do this is to ask your mediation partner for data you can use to optimize your waterfall. For instance, if you know that one ad network offers high CPMs and fill rates for inventory in the United States, you could make sure to give it first crack at your U.S. impressions. Then, you could preserve your load times by eliminating a network that performs poorly from the waterfall you use to sell ads for domestic users.

Publishers can further prioritize the user experience by retaining control over how long it takes networks in their waterfall to respond to the ad call. By setting time-out rates for each partner and eliminating networks that take too long to return a bid, app developers can ensure that the people who love their content will keep coming back for more.


Taking the Next Step: Tips for Weaning Yourself Off Mobile Mediation

Of course, if you really want to maximize revenues and perfect the user experience, you’ll want to be working toward a future where you’re using mediation as little as possible. After all, no matter what you do, you’re still going to be passing your impressions along the waterfall and paying service fees you’d likely prefer to keep for yourself.

That’s why it’s smart to investigate your data to see where you can start working with buyers to shift sales from mediation to direct deals or real-time bidding. Review your mediated ad networks for who’s buying your impressions as it may be possible to flip your biggest advertisers to programmatic deal partners (PMPs). Most would be happy to do so if their DSP has the tools and access to your supply.

To this end, you’ll want to be working with a mobile advertising SDK that can provide granular, impression-level insights into how your inventory is being purchased. Ideally, it will also provide the tools you need to connect directly with ad exchanges, as opposed to through network mediation. While it might not be sensible to ditch mediation just yet, it’s important to begin preparing now for a future where app developers sell their inventory straight to exchange buyers -- without a middle man swiping added service fees and corrupting the user experience.

Here’s a quick checklist of some things to look for in an SDK partner:

  • Controls that allow you to set time outs for individual networks
  • Detailed reporting into how and where each impression is sold
  • Technology for running unified auctions across direct sold orders, open exchange buyers, programmatic deals, and mediation partners
  • Tools for managing all your sources of demand in one view
  • Easy integration and responsive customer service
  • Pre-built adaptors for mediating major networks like AdMob, Amazon, DFP, Facebook, iAds, Millennial Media and MoPub


Want to learn more about finding the right SDK and making mediation work for you? Contact a member of our sales team today.


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