Thought Leadership
ironSource on Creating a Sustainable Digital Content Economy

melissa-zeloof-ironsource

Melissa Zeloof
Head of Communications
ironSource

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ironSource is known as one of the largest independent cross-platform ad networks, with a reported valuation of $1B. For those of us not already familiar with ironSource, can you please share more on the company and any recent developments to your platform?

Our goal at ironSource is to create a sustainable digital content economy, and we have multiple products and solutions which serve that mission. Whether it’s monetization tools for publishers, content recommendation platforms for device manufacturers and carriers, distribution and marketing tools for advertisers, or even data infrastructure to help our clients manage the flow of their data better, our mission is to give all these players in the digital content ecosystem the tools to achieve greater business success.

On the monetization side, we’ve recently debuted an ad engagement intelligence toolset on our SSP platform, which will allow developers to get unique, user-level data on how users are interacting with ads, and help them optimize their ad monetization.

We also recently acquired video ad technology StreamRail, which means that existing ironSource advertisers will now have greater access to premium supply inventory from leading publishers who are using the StreamRail solution for their video monetization needs. Our position as a technology provider also affords ironSource in-depth insight into which ads work well with which specific audiences, allowing our brand and advertiser partners to benefit from better targeting and viewability.

 

ironSource acquired mobile app acquisition specialist Supersonic in 2015. Any comments you can make on how the acquisition is going so far, or what the fully integrated platforms will look like?

In June of this year we announced the rebrand of the Supersonic platform as ironSource, and today developers are able to access everything they need for app monetization and marketing from one super-powerful, but lightweight SDK. Part of the reason behind the merger with Supersonic was a desire to address the fragmentation app developers and marketers face when looking to monetize and distribute their apps. Now that our platforms are fully integrated, we offer developers and advertisers a single powerful partner that can offer them enough scale to be a viable alternative to Google and Facebook.

 

The mobile ad landscape is evolving rapidly, with now over 3M apps across the Apple App Store and Google Play. However, many have said that only the top percentile of apps generate cashflow, with many of the long-tail apps being ‘walking zombie’ apps that are just there. Do you think that this amount of apps in the App Stores are sustainable, and how do you see the number of apps evolving in years to come?

Today, consumers spend the bulk of their time on mobile in apps, relying on them for critical functionality and entertainment, so it’s unlikely that we’re going to see developers stop developing for this high-growth market.

What will have to change, however, is the infrastructure around app discovery. The app stores are already crowded and getting more so, and they don’t seem to have been built with discovery in mind.

We’re beginning to see that change, with tools like Apple Search Ads for example. But equally important are new capabilities like deep linking, which allow app marketers to connect a user directly with the specific in-app experience they are looking for, Google’s progressive web apps, which allow users to stream apps without having to install them, or the fact that Apple has opened their SDK so that apps can integrate with Siri.

Initiatives like this will give app developers new avenues for improving discovery, increasing the chances of connecting with the right user at the moment they are most likely to convert.

 

Ad fraud is a huge problem in mobile advertising, with many disreputable networks selling fraudulent clicks or installs to advertisers. How can an advertiser quickly identify when they are being sold fraudulent impressions or users?

The answer lies in maintaining a constant focus on data, and in ensuring mutual transparency between an advertiser and the technology partner they are working with. Post-install data is vital to successfully identifying fraudulent traffic, and the more data advertisers share, the better the entire industry will be in combatting this issue.

What’s encouraging, however, is that the industry is evolving and becoming increasingly sophisticated, moving from straight CPI campaigns to more nuanced CPE and CPA campaigns. The more specific campaign KPIs get, the harder it will be for fraudsters to simulate specific actions.

 

Outside of ad fraud, what do you think are some of the biggest challenges that exist in mobile advertising today?

Today, a huge challenge plaguing mobile advertising is transparency. Facebook, for example, was just caught misreporting their video view metrics these past two years, inflating the numbers by 60-80%. News like this heightens concerns among advertisers who are already skeptical about the impartiality of the data and reporting they get.

 

Can you explain more on how ironSource Aura for OEM & Mobile Carriers works?

ironSource Aura is a smart content recommendation system for devices that gives app marketers looking to stand out from the crowd with a new, untapped distribution channel. Most UA channels today are highly saturated and expensive, often leading to a lower ROI for advertisers. By contrast, by connecting with a user at the moment they are setting up their new device, or at the moment they are looking for a specific service, advertisers are able to rise above the noise and see high conversions and engagement.

When a user turns on their device for the first time, Aura’s app recommendation platform is the first thing they see, beginning with a rich and engaging out-of-the-box experience, where users are offered a wide range of useful or popular apps, allowing them to set up their device with exactly the apps they want.

Throughout the lifecycle of the device, Aura re-engages users with smart notifications, using targeting technologies to recommend relevant and personalized apps at moments the user really needs them. For example, if device storage is running low, Aura can recommend a special offer on cloud storage apps. The users who are acquired through these notifications are extremely high-quality, since they’ve installed apps they actively want or need.

 

ironSource is known for your massive scale of over 800M global users in mobile, but I don’t think much attention has been paid do one of your other subsidiaries, installCore. Can you share more on the market for desktop apps and how distribution works for this?

At ironSource we believe in being developer-centric. Our goal is to build tools that empower developers no matter what operating system or device they’re developing for.

The technology and internet industry is moving increasingly towards a user-centric and device/OS agnostic approach. Developers today are creating apps and software with users in mind, instead of specific platforms in mind. Their strategy is to cast as wide a net as possible, hoping to capitalize on every operating system and device out there — and desktop is one key element of that strategy — so we serve them just as well on that channel as we do on mobile.

 

There is a copious numbers of advertising vendors a marketer can now choose from – with over 1,000 mobile-specific ad networks and 100,000s more publishers, and display networks an advertiser can potentially work with. Do you think that this number of independent ad networks is sustainable, and how do you think the market will evolve in the coming years?

The fast pace of M&A in the ad tech sphere should make it clear that the fragmentation and over-saturation in the market is absolutely unsustainable. The aggressive industry consolidation we’re seeing is in part an answer to the fact that marketers are getting increasingly frustrated with having to work with multiple partners, and are looking for companies who can provide them with end-to-end solutions.

Over the next few years we’re going to see this industry consolidation continue till there are a select few large-scale companies who can offer marketers and advertisers the targeting and transparency they need, at the scale they want. The companies that will succeed in this industry are going to be the ones that are offering a one-stop-shop for mobile marketers.  

Perhaps more interestingly, we’re also going to see companies from outside the ad tech and marketing tech space start to move in. Just look at companies like WalMart buying multiple adtech companies in the last several years. For really large-scale brand advertisers, taking some advertising technology capabilities in-house may make increasing sense.

 

From your internal data, are there any emerging markets that you think will become extremely important for mobile advertisers?

Yes, India is perhaps one of the most exciting emerging markets for mobile advertisers today. It’s the second largest smartphone market in the world, and the pace of smartphone adoption is set to continue as device and data prices continue to drop. Jio’s commercial launch in early September is a major factor in the telco price drop, as the company is offering the cheapest data plan in the world, nearly 1/10 the price of existing carrier providers in India.

Most consumers in India have skipped the desktop experience altogether, using mobile to access the internet for the first time. Unlike Western markets where economic growth has slowed, the economy in India is expected to expand rapidly in the coming years. We can expect steady growth both in terms of spend, and in terms of the amount of budget allocated to mobile – especially given the fact that a large proportion of India’s population are young – constituting a lucrative and sought-after audience for most marketers.

 

Lastly, what is your take on the future of mobile advertising and user acquisition?

In the future, we can expect to see an increased focus on retention and engagement in a way that matches the focus of user acquisition. Until now, app marketers have focused their mobile advertising efforts on scale, seeking to acquire as many new users as possible. But these days, UA is so competitive and expensive that app marketers have to make sure that they are maximizing the potential of their existing users, not just spending money on acquiring new ones.

In addition, I think we’re going to see mobile device manufacturers and mobile carriers play a greater part in user acquisition. With their devices and networks making the mobile experience possible, they are in a unique position to be able to offer targeted apps to users.

 


 

ironSource builds monetization, engagement, analytics and discovery tools for app developers, device manufacturers, mobile carriers and advertisers. Our comprehensive solutions help industry leading companies achieve greater business success, enabling them to find, understand, engage with and monetize their target audiences more effectively.Over 80K app developers are using our developer solutions, and our enterprise technology is shipping on hundreds of millions of devices worldwide, giving ironSource the ability to reach over 800 million unique users every month, globally.

Founded in 2010, ironSource is a truly global company, with offices in Tel Aviv, London, New York, San Francisco, Beijing, Bangalore and Seoul. Read more at www.ironsrc.com

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