Archive for October, 2013

The emergence of Universal Buy Side SDKs or Meta DSPs (mDSP)

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

There is a trend brewing on the advertiser side of the ecosystem that is likely going to influence how advertising dollars flow in mobile ad tech. I believe we are witnessing the birth of a new category of companies: Meta DSPs or Universal buyside SDKs.

To understand where these new players fit in, lets take a quick look at the short and turbulent history of the Supply Side Platform. Their original value proposition was to bring order to chaos by supplying publisher with a single tag that could call multiple networks. Often this tag was placed into the publisher’s primary ad server.

SSPs also offered publishers a single dashboard that shows an aggregated view of all network advertising revenues. For the first time publishers were able to understand exactly who purchased their unsold inventory.

Additional services included financial reconciliation between networks and publishers. SSPs would send a single, consolidated check to the publisher at the end of the month. Often taking on some of the financial risk as well.

From a technical perspective the idea is to allocate the best possible demand to a specific ad-slot at any given time. First SSPs used dynamic daisy chains of networks, and later the deployed more efficient RTB auctions.

This had profound effects on the industry, as publishers got technically from their remnant demand sources. Benefits outweighed the costs, and many publishers realized that RTB was an opportunity for more efficient connection with their demand sources. Transparency entered the market like never before, and seeing all supply in one place helped the buyers to cherry pick the right impressions for them.

This brings us to today’s mobile buy side and what might happen.

Today media buyers work with Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) either directly or via one of the trading desks. Large app advertisers tend to work with multiple DSPs or networks. In a mobile app environment this throws up a unique challenge. In order to track effectiveness and attribution, these DSPs and Networks need to have their SDKs installed in the advertisers application. As a result, app advertisers need to have multiple buy side SDKs in their application.

Universal Buy Side SDKs give advertisers the ability to replace all buy-side SDKs with a single “universal” SDK.

Their SDK will bring order to chaos, by connecting to networks/DSPs via API integrations. These APIs can track the effectiveness of specific campaigns across multiple advertisers and supply sources. In addition, these companies offer dashboards that show all advertising spent in one place, allowing advertiser to instantly see the ROI of various campaigns.

Today these companies focus on attribution, and are not venturing into media buying, but its easier to see a future where they offer trafficking, bidding, and consolidated buying across multiple DSPs.

Once all demand is visible in one place, it is conceivable that Media Buyers will want to use mDSPs to adjust and execute advertising budgets. Hence they might transform from Universal Buy Side SDKs into full fledged Meta DSP.

This is all great news for the ecosystem.

Some of the likely outcomes might be:

–       buy-side transparency will enter the market like never seen before

–       it will become much easier for small DSPs to reach scale

–       re-targeting becomes a reality at scale

–       without the need to build SDKs, it will be easier for the 400+ desktop DSPs to spend money in mobile

All these changes mean that more ad dollars will flow into the mobile app ecosystem, and that’s a great thing.

In addition to the larger players, here are some of the start-up companies going in this direction:

– Ad-X Tracking (Acquired by Criteo)

– MobileApp Tracking (HasOffers)

– Kochava

– Cake

– AppsFlyer

– Segment.io

– Grow Mobile

Clearly, this is just my personal opinion, and it could also happen completely differently. Wouldn’t be the first time. 😉