Masters of Mobile: Myth Busting the Mobile Buying Landscape

Welcome to the first segment of the Masters of Mobile series, where we provide insights and education on topics that influence the mobile ecosystem. 

The mobile advertising market has exploded in recent years, with global spending projected to top $100 billion for the first time in 2016. That’s more than double what advertisers spent in the mobile category just two years prior.

With so many advertisers either entering the market for the first time or dramatically increasing spend, it’s only natural that there would still be some confusion surrounding the finer points of mobile buying.

Today, we’re tackling three of the biggest myths floating around, with practical advice for how media buyers and DSPs can make the most out of their investments in this fast-growing medium.

Myth: Unique inventory is the most important factor when buying mobile.

Truth: Programmatic buyers need to focus on driving scale and efficiency.

While many mobile exchanges try to sell buyers on the idea that exclusive access to inventory is the most important factor when choosing where to buy mobile, the reality is that programmatic inventory is largely the same across all platforms. That’s because the vast majority of consumers’ mobile time is concentrated in only a handful of apps. Given that so much of the available inventory is located in so few apps “exclusive” inventory with enough volume for your campaign to scale is exceptionally rare.

Instead, media-buyers should focus on using programmatic tools to drive efficiency and focus on reaching the precise audiences they need across whichever apps they happen to be using. In order to do this effectively, buyers should seek out exchange partners that minimize service fees and offer complete transparency into where their ad dollars are going. It’s these characteristics, rather than some miniscule pocket of unique inventory, that will determine how well your exchange partner helps you maximize ROI.

If you still want a little bit of super-premium inventory to complement your larger programmatic strategy, you’re probably best off working with an individual publisher to create a private marketplace (PMP) or a direct sponsorship deal.


Myth: All private marketplaces operate under the same principles.

Truth: There are quite a few variables, depending on your publisher and exchange partners.

Speaking of PMPs, it’s important to remember they’re not all created equal. PMPs set up on different exchanges will come with different take rates and different levels of transparency. Similarly, publishers vary based on the type of inventory they make available and the level of access they give buyers to those impressions.

Before the marketplace goes live, buyers should make sure they’ve agreed on where they’re going to be in the publisher waterfall and what they’re paying the exchange as a service fee. In addition, all sides of the deal must understand the key performance indicators (KPIs) in play, how much volume the buyer will need to reach its desired scale and how much spend is being committed to the campaign.

From experience, it’s much better to tie up these loose ends at the beginning than to be disputing different facets of your agreement as the campaign is running.

Here’s a checklist you can use when leveraging private marketplaces:

pmp checklist


Myth: You can buy mobile using the same buying strategies you use while buying desktop.

Truth: Mobile audiences are far less predictable than their desktop counterpart.

If you were trying to target a desktop campaign toward high-income executives from the United States, there’s likely a pretty small handful of English-language publishers you’d be trying to advertise with: The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The New York Times, and a few others. However, mobile audiences are harder to pinpoint by publisher, since so many of us use the same apps.

For instance, if an executive is looking at her phone while waiting to board a flight, there’s a pretty good chance she’s playing the same exact mobile game as the teenager at the other end of the airport. Indeed, contrary to popular belief, there are actually more women playing mobile games than there are male gamers, and nearly 40% of players are over the age of 36. On top of that, the universal appeal of gaming, messaging and productivity apps means that any publisher you advertise with will likely have users who speak different languages and live all over the world.

In order to win in this environment, buyers should concern themselves with results rather than the names of the apps they’re advertising on. Ultimately, focusing on results and engaging your target customers on mobile and driving them down the purchase funnel will be a lot more satisfying than merely putting your company’s logo inside a name-brand app.

Mobile is a relatively new space, and one that is changing very quickly. That said, if you have a clear understanding of how the marketplace works and what you’re trying to achieve, the medium offers a tremendous opportunity to reach your target audience on the devices they’re becoming increasingly attached to.

Want to learn more about how you can get the most out of your mobile ad spend? Feel free to reach out to our sales team.

Contact Jill on twitter: @jillbcasey

pmp checklist

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