For those of us not familiar with Appodeal, please share a little more on your company and some of the apps integrated with your platform.
Appodeal is an ad mediation platform founded by a mobile game developer who was looking for a better way to monetize his apps. Pavel Golubev, the founder and CEO of Appodeal, also founded a game publishing company called Alfa Production, which managed over 3000 games at a time. These games were monetized using ads, and Pavel developed an internal product to optimize the monetization strategy. He realized this product was useful for other developers as well, and that’s how Appodeal came to be.
We now work with more than 25,000 apps to mediate their ad strategy. We work with a lot of mobile games, as you can imagine, but also utility, business, entertainment, educational, social, and even children’s apps. We work with every type of ad unit, and our clients range from tiny solo devs to whole publishing studios.
Appodeals’ publisher inventory is accessible through many major ad networks. Can you list (some or all of) the ad networks you are integrated with?
We are partnered with most of the big names that everyone is familiar with, like Admob, MoPub, Chartboost, Vungle, Tapjoy, Applovin, and so on. In fact, we have more than 60 demand sources, including DSPs and ad exchanges.
Is it truly better for an app developer to integrate with a mobile SSP rather than with an ad network directly? Does this extra optimization layer truly provide a lift in yield due to the SSP being able to maximize revenue for every single impression bid on a publishers’ inventory?
It really is, and it all comes down to the mediation technique. Integrating with a platform like Appodeal forces ad networks to outbid one another on each impression, which automatically means higher revenue for the publisher. The extra layer helps beyond each individual impression as well. There is an even bigger amount of demand, and it can function as a safeguard against loss of major revenue from ad network downtime, since there’s always someone else to step in. Having access to more ad networks helps with backfill as well, which is especially good for publishers who don’t necessarily have the huge amounts of traffic which guarantee quality, high-paying ads nearly 100% of the time. Depending on the publisher, it can all add up to a lot. That’s a big part of the draw of Appodeal, that it’s helpful to a wide range of publishers.
Your site states that your average weekly eCPM for this week was $8.51, which sounds pretty spectacular. Can you shed a little light on how you can help an app developer reach this tier of yield?
Again, it comes down to the technology. One of the reasons we’re able to contribute so meaningfully to publishers’ bottom line is that we partner with a wide variety of networks. The goal is to have quality ads wherever the publisher’s audience is, so we continually add to our demand partners strategically. It’s important for publishers to have access to networks which perform in their targeted geos, and that’s a big contributor to a healthy eCPM.
We also go beyond the algorithm and work with a lot of publishers to improve their ad setup. Our team is experienced in the industry, and seeing the performance and numbers behind the scenes means that they know what’s effective and what’s harmful based on firsthand experience. They often make suggestions for improvements, ranging from integrating another type of ad unit, adding a whole new placement, to adjusting frequency of ad displays. Appodeal is the whole package – between our carefully crafted algorithm, powerful publisher tools, and expert team, we’re able to ensure that publishers are optimizing their mediation and getting more for their inventory.
To the extent that you can reveal, what has been your most successful strategy so far for meeting, and integrating new app developers? Has word of mouth been one of your biggest channels?
The best thing a service provider like us can do is be truly helpful to their audience. Our team goes where the publishers are, and the fact that our company has a background in development means that we’re hyper-focused on understanding publisher goals and problems. We attend conferences and meetups all over the world, hang out on forums and social media, and consistently produce insightful content to serve publishers.
It also helps that most of our team lives and breathes these things. We have avid app users and big gamers all over our company, and the publishers we work with recommend our team members as much as they do the platform itself. If you’re doing the work just to do the work, it will show. Our most successful strategy by far has been to put together a dedicated team that cares about what happens to publishers, and has the expertise and know-how to boost their revenue. The work they do then speaks for itself.
There are now over 3M apps in the Google Play and Apple App Stores, with many of them being ‘Walking Dead’ apps that have very few users and make almost no revenue. Do you think that this number of apps is sustainable, and how do you think the number of apps available will change over the coming years?
This is an interesting question, because we’re actually seeing several things happen simultaneously.
We’re already seeing the app stores make moves toward “cleaning up”. Google has made announcements about doubling down on the Play Store and removing apps which don’t comply with their User Policy, as well as about introducing new systems to ensure that higher quality apps are visible. Both of these tactics will mean that the “Walking Dead” apps you refer to will be shunted to one side.
Most people are predicting that this means thousands of apps will be removed from the app store, but we’re also contending with the current dev climate. The lower barriers to entry in the app and game development industry mean that more and more people are developing apps and publishing them. There are currently more mobile developers than there have ever been before.
It’s also why we’re seeing a rise in other app stores and marketplaces. More and more developers are turning away from the App Store and Google Play in favor of 3rd party marketplaces for their apps. Even if Apple and Google pare down their app counts, those numbers will continue to grow in other places. We’re also seeing calls from indie developers for Apple and Google to change how they feature and list apps, since it feels to many like a vicious cycle of success for the biggest publishers.
Though such a large number might feel unsustainable, and the big names are taking action to try to bring that number under control, the industry is definitely booming. We might still see such high numbers for at least a couple of years to come, until the next big change in app development or distribution, and numbers begin to settle.
It was reported in Feburary in the International Business Times that ad frausters plugged a large amount of their inventory into Mopub, and ran off with $250k in revenue per day through the exchange. What are your thoughts on the fraud that exist on exchanges, and how does Appodeal mitigate any of this potentially fraudulent inventory from entering your platform?
Fraud is rampant in the world of ads, and it’s something Appodeal takes very seriously. We have a fraud team whose whole job is to monitor the apps we work with, and we hold them to a high standard. We review apps manually, as well as analyze impressions data across all of our clients. We’re able to catch issues that appear to be fraudulent by keeping an eye out for unusual numbers and sudden changes, and we maintain open communication with our publishers to resolve those issues quickly and efficiently.
Another big problem in the advertising ecosystem is the re-brokering of inventory, where an ad network will ‘re-broker’ their client deal to other ad networks to fulfill advertiser install volume goals. What are your thoughts on this?
Re-brokering is a tricky area. It can sometimes be used effectively, to the benefit of everyone involved in the lifetime cycle of a particular ad unit or placement. However, what we’re seeing is a lot of either careless or malicious re-brokering, which tends to lead to chaos and loss of revenue for the advertiser and the publisher. Brands lose track of where their ads get placed, and it sometimes means that ads show up where a brand absolutely doesn’t want to be associated with. Other times, they are used in very aggressive placements which will impact the reputation of both the brand itself, as well as the publisher showing the ad unit. It’s also difficult to track sources of revenue when an ad unit has changed so many hands and no one knows where it’s ended up.
Since it’s very easy for re-brokered inventory to spin out of control, it’s important for everyone in the ad ecosystem to take the right steps to prevent it from happening. It probably won’t stop altogether any time soon, but there are steps we can take – our advice would be to not work with any blacklisted networks and brokers, to begin with, and to also carefully monitor traffic.
Ad blocking has been a scourge on desktop, as well as for ads appearing on the mobile web. Does ad blocking affect any of the inventory currently that appears in apps, and if not, do you think it could potentially be a problem in the near future? (esp. with the Shine Technologies partnership for network-level ad blocking with UK carrier Three)
We think this speaks more to the quality of ads and method of display than anything else. We have long been advocates of intelligent and creative ad strategies which benefit both the publisher and the end user. We can really only impact our own section of the ecosystem however, and we continually encourage publishers to focus on user engagement and experience when planning ad formats and placements. This phenomenon will likely contribute to the growth of native ads, and other dynamic and engaging formats such as rewarded videos, as well as encourage more publishers to get creative in their placement so that end users are asking to see ads instead of blocking them.
There are now 1000s of ad networks an app developer can now work with for user acquisition, which makes it difficult to pinpoint the ones to run a test campaign with. Do you think that this number of ad networks is sustainable for the market, and how do you see this number evolving over time?
Unlike the app stores, where apps can stagnate for extended periods of time without any impact on the publisher, networks that don’t perform well eventually leave the ecosystem. While the overall number might take time to change, as people enter any industry which appears profitable, it’s easier to identify who to work with based on success. The most successful ad networks get a lot of word of mouth marketing and will continue to get business.
Eventually, this number will become a bit more manageable. Much like anything else, however, it will all depend on future changes in mobile development and ads. Anyway, we’ll continue our work to find the most profitable ads for app publishers in every ad network.
Lastly, what is your take on the future of mobile app monetization?
We think mobile app monetization is becoming more and more creative, and publishers need to keep up. It’s not very surprising that mobile ads are going much the same way as desktop ads did, with things like banner blindness, ad blocking, and native ads. What mobile has done better, however, is the very unique placements. With new ad units like rich media and playable ads, we’re already seeing some big changes in the space.
There’s also something to be said for the potential resurgence of premium apps. We’re seeing consumers willing to pay for apps and games again, as the role of digital media grows larger in consumerism. Publishers with quality apps will be able to confidently engage in paid distribution rather than F2P or F2D. It’s a healthy way to round out the monetization landscape with something for everybody.
Appodeal has pioneered the way for app publishers since its launch in 2015 by setting new industry standards that always put publishers first. In a mobile ad industry built unfairly for advertisers, the comprehensive mobile app monetization brings the power back to publishers.
Publishers maximize their revenue by engaging the entire ad ecosystem in real-time competition for every ad impression through Appodeal’s marketplace. Appodeal showcases publisher ad inventory to the advertisers and offers the highest rate to the publisher in real time. The large auction is accompanied by a mediation layer, which exposes the inventory to all available buyers on the market including all major ad networks, RTB exchanges, and DSPs.