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News, musings and ramblings from the global leader in ad monetization.

Heartbleed Vulnerability Update

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This week, a major security flaw was detected in OpenSSL, the open-source encryption standard used by the majority of popular websites and services like Google, Facebook, Yahoo! and more. Here at SponsorPay, as soon as we were aware of this issue we took immediate steps to patch our systems against the vulnerability.

We have no evidence of any malicious behavior, but we wanted to strongly encourage you to change your SponsorPay password. If you’re a developer, please log in to the Developer Dashboard, then go to “Account” and then “Change Password”. If you’re an advertiser, please log in to the Advertiser Control Panel, then go to “Account” and then to “Login Data”.

We also recommend that you follow best practices and periodically change your passwords everywhere, including SponsorPay. When changing your password, you can follow these simple best practices:

  • Do not use any part of your username or service name in the password.
  • Try to make it at least 8 characters long.
  • Try to mix letters and special characters in a combination you can remember.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Programmatic Gaining Speed

We were at ad:tech SF this week and not surprisingly, programmatic was a hot topic. When we initially visited the session room housing the programmatic track, it was entirely full. Luckily, we were able to get in and learn some programmatic best practices from executives of Cars.com, Zipcar and Emory University, among others.

Here are a few insights that we gleaned from these experts:

  • Effective audience measurement and subsequent segmentation is crucial. Insights and effective segmentation empowered Cars.com and Zipcar to pivot strategies in response to intel.

  • Programmatic creative is evolving and on the rise, but still developing. It requires more experimentation and attention.

  • Creative should be tailored and tested on different audiences (based on age, region, etc.).

  • Develop and manage limitless creative against your audiences to produce optimal results.

  • ROI grows dramatically when a campaign incorporates more ad sizes.

There’s no doubt that programmatic is gaining steam. According to eMarketer predictions, programmatic advertising will grow from less than $5 billion globally in 2011 to more than $32 billion by 2017.

GDC 2014 – Come & Gone

Whew, another GDC has come and gone! Last week, we had the opportunity to touch base with some of the industry’s most influential companies to discuss market trends, developer pain points and what’s next.

We covered off on significant news — Facebook’s plans to bring mobile analytics in-house and what Apple’s acquisition of Burstly means for the ecosystem — and then delved into other topics that are currently top of mind for our new and existing clients and partners:

  • Segmentation: Developers are interested in more effectively targeting specific cohorts of users according to detailed information, such as whether players are first-time users, make in-app purchases, etc. Effective segmentation tools empower developers to customize their monetization approach with user experience in mind while also providing the ability to test different ad formats and ad networks on subdivisions of their audience.

  • Placement best practices: Many we spoke to were eager to gain wisdom on where and when to show available ad types to users. Naturally, user experience was top of mind in each of our conversations.

  • Supply-side solutions: We received an outpouring of support and interest in our SSP (supply-side platform) solution and its new and existing features. Developers were particularly curious about supporting multiple virtual currencies, rewarding users with fixed & dynamic virtual currency amounts, planned feature updates for our central reporting dashboard and our recent announcement that we’ve launched support for interstitial ads.

We’re eager to extend the conversation beyond GDC. If you have any questions pertaining to segmentation, placement best practices, SponsorPay’s SSP solution or any other topics pertaining to mobile monetization, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of experts!

It’s been thrilling, insightful, fun, informative and overall awesome, GDC. Until next year!

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And We Klubbed.

Last night at popular venue Audio, nearly 600 clients, friends and partners joined SponsorPay, AppLift and adjust by adeven to experience Berlin’s epic nightlife at one of GDC’s most anticipated parties – KLUBNACHT (club night in German).

As a nod to our Berlin roots, we transformed Audio from swanky San Francisco nightclub to underground Deutschland party hub. Street artists helped us replace Audio’s walls with something a bit edgier.

Audio Pano

A vintage photo booth, electro DJ, specialty cocktails, German beer, glowsticks, even customized coasters complemented the decor — all to make our guests feel as if they stepped off the streets of San Francisco and into…well, KLUBNACHT.

 Coaster     Glowsticks     photo-15

After last night’s shenanigans, we sympathize with those of you walking the show floor today feeling a little slower than usual. We’ve got you covered. Stop by our booth (1445) on the show floor to pick up a little hangover cure, courtesy of SponsorPay. Check out our very own ad marketplace account manager Eileen modeling the sunglasses/Advil duo below.

 

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Thanks for joining us to give GDC a taste of Berlin!

How To Choose A Solid Mobile Supply Side Platform

Developers have many choices for ad monetization, from selecting the right demand partners among ad networks, agencies, DSPs, and ad exchanges, to finding the perfect ad formats with videos, interstitials, banners and more. With the array of options out there, it’s probably a good time to share my thoughts and to arm developers with a checklist that highlights the key features of a high-quality mobile supply side platform.

 

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An overview of SponsorPay’s mobile ad monetization platform.

 

1. Single Integration
Go with a single unified SDK so that you can avoid the nightmare of integrating multiple ad network partners. If you’re migrating over from other monetization platforms, this is essential so you don’t have to spend valuable engineering and QA resources integrating, testing and servicing multiple SDKs for each revenue source.

2. Maintain Your Direct Ad Network Agreements
Every mediation product should allow you to foster direct relationships and contractual agreements with leading ad networks (that is, after all, the definition of ad network mediation). Make sure to use a supply side platform that empowers you to control your ad network setups and to take advantage of special ad network deals, like traffic allocation features.

3. Flexibility With Ad Formats
Choose a solution that offers multiple ad formats to achieve a better, more sophisticated ad monetization strategy. Every developer uses a different set of ad formats, so not every supply side platform is right for your needs. At SponsorPay, we’re focused on helping freemium app developers drive the highest-performing ad monetization strategies; based on their feedback, we have built our supply side stack to support rich media and video Interstitial Ads, Offer Walls, and high-engagement Rewarded Video Ads.

4. Unified Dashboard
To best execute your ad monetization strategy, you will want a centralized and unified dashboard, which gives you a clear overview of all your ad revenues, in addition to actionable insights and other handy tools to manage and optimize all your ad revenue sources.

5. Strong Yield Optimization
Select an open platform that provides you with a range of monetization products. Our team took this to heart and made sure that our platform was built to provide both a robust ad marketplace and a strong mediation platform. Look for platforms that give you an automated option for driving the highest yield optimization of multiple layers of ad demand. Our platform’s AutoPilot uses predictive algorithms to drive the highest revenues from your mediated ad networks, DSPs, clients direct and house ads.

6. Reliable & Scalable Architecture
Trusting a supply side platform to manage all or or most of your ad revenue requires not only a scalable infrastructure, but even more importantly, a reliable infrastructure. You should be able to confidently serve billions of impressions without any risk of down time.

With GDC around the corner, we’re looking forward to meeting more developers and sharing our solutions so that they can implement a smarter ad monetization strategy. I’m happy to answer any questions (Twitter handle: @janiszech). Come visit us at our GDC booth (#1445) at the San Francisco Moscone Center / South Hall, from March 19-21.

SponsorPay Launches First Non-Rewarded Ad Format, Interstitial Ads, for iOS & Android

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As ad monetization strategies grow ever more sophisticated, SponsorPay empowers developers to combine in-app ad formats for maximum revenue.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – March 13, 2014 – SponsorPay, a leading mobile supply-side platform, today announced newly added support for Interstitial Ads on iOS and Android. The announcement marks the first time SponsorPay is offering a non-rewarded ad format to developers, a natural step forward in empowering developers to build advanced ad monetization strategies based on a wide variety of ad formats. With several ad networks on board including AppLift, Appia, InMobi, Millennial Media, and more in the pipeline, SponsorPay expects that its developers will see high-quality results very quickly.

SponsorPay’s Interstitial Ad support is advantageous for developers, who are increasingly turning to ad monetization strategies for revenue as freemium apps continue to dominate the app store. Gartner predicts that 94.5 percent of apps will be free by 2017, a clear sign that in-app monetization is the future of the app economy. Accordingly, developers are starting to build more sophisticated ad monetization strategies that incorporate multiple ad formats across a unified SDK integration.

“There’s huge value for developers to be able to access a wide variety of ad networks through supply-side platforms,” said Dr. Hanno Fichtner, CEO of AppLift US. “We’re excited to partner with SponsorPay as they continue to extend flexibility to developers, empowering them to further maximize their monetization opportunities through an easy solution.”

Interstitial Ads have produced up to a 9x increase in eCPMs and 7x increase in conversions for app developers across Europe and the United States, according to results published by InMobi in August 2013. Static interstitials, according to inMobi, provide click-through rates as high as 20 percent. These numbers shed light on the extremely high performance of Interstitial Ads in today’s mobile advertising market.

“Increasingly, we’re noticing that mobile developers want cloud-based software for centralizing all ad monetization needs,” said Janis Zech, CRO & Co-Founder of SponsorPay. “This drove our decision to introduce Interstitial Ad support to our sell-side platform, empowering our partners to strike direct agreements with leading interstitial networks in order to grow their businesses on top of Rewarded Video and Offer Wall ad revenues.”

Developers mediating Interstitial Ads through SponsorPay’s platform will be able to access brand-specific and app-specific demand on a global scale, thanks to the diversity of the supported ad networks available. Developers using SponsorPay will also maintain the freedom to choose the ad networks that fit their strategy, an option that allows them to maximize revenues with unparalleled flexibility.

Lessons from Asia: SponsorPay’s Panel at Casual Connect Europe

Last week, SponsorPay set up shop at Casual Connect Europe. Housed in the architecturally famous Beurs van Berlage venue in Amsterdam, the event was buzzing right and left with great information about the gaming industry. (Perhaps the great conversations were fueled by the SponsorPay-branded energy drinks we handed out at our booth!) Topics ranged from tips on creating great audio for iOS games, to funding strategies for indie developers, to our favorite subject: mobile ad monetization.

We hosted our own panel, called “Success in Asia: Lessons from Industry Leaders in China, Japan, and South Korea,” moderated by our Director of Developer Relations for EMEA, Tomas Piktozis (who also gave a great Casual Connect interview the next day). Asian market experts Charlie Moseley of Tap4Fun, Jaime Ocampo of DeNA, and David Kim of Animoca shared their insights, the most important of which were:

  1. Each Asian market is extremely different. China, Japan, and South Korea can’t be lumped together into a single market when you think about gaming in Asia.
  2. If you’re looking to break into the Chinese market, you should absolutely partner with a Chinese gaming company that can help you . You should also be working on Android and know that freemium apps reign supreme in China.
  3. In South Korea, virality is part of the culture. Trends go viral with the blink of an eye. Trends that take weeks to sweep the U.S. can sweep South Korea within 24 hours – and often, the most viral games are created by South Korean locals. Even foreign developers who create successful games for the South Korean market are often outdone by locals who release better versions of their games a short time later.
  4. Don’t overlook Southeast Asian markets like Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, which all have their own regional ins-and-outs. In fact, WeChat, Kakao, and LINE are all competing for Southeast Asia as their next battleground. Developers should know: Thailand and Vietnam have cheap user acquisition costs and LTV; you can acquire huge numbers of users there, but Southeast Asia not a gold mine in terms of monetization. Still, there’s room to go and establish yourself in Southeast Asian counties for the next 5 years of growth. Singapore and Malaysia are logistically the friendliest because of their large English-speaking demographics.

Be sure to watch our full panel to learn more about mobile gaming in Asia!

SponsorPay Expands Video Mediation Platform to Android, Launching with Key Developers Pixelberry, Ninja Kiwi and Cie Games

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Following rapid adoption of its iOS rewarded video mediation platform, SponsorPay launches Android counterpart to enable feature parity and ease of integration through unified SDK

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Feb. 19, 2014 – SponsorPay, a leading mobile supply-side platform, today announced the launch of Android support for its mediation platform to further empower developers with cross-platform feature parity. Now, developers can seamlessly integrate, manage and optimize video ads from leading ad networks across Android and iOS for better fill rates and higher eCPMs.

In 2014, mobile advertising spend is expected to reach $18 billion globally, according to Gartner. Video has been identified as the fastest growing ad format and the IAB estimates that mobile video ads will grow at a compound rate of more than 70 percent in the next five years. In parallel, Android is gaining significant ground in the race for platform dominance, capturing more than 79 percent of the smartphone market in 2013. Empowering developers with innovative and simple tools to capitalize on this momentum, Sponsorpay will partner with developers such as Pixelberry, Ninja Kiwi, Cie Games, LOVOO and Xyrality at the launch of its Android rewarded video mediation platform.

“We didn’t hesitate when considering whether to integrate SponsorPay’s rewarded video mediation for Android,” said Oliver Miao, CEO of Pixelberry. “We were an early adopter of SponsorPay’s rewarded video format on iOS and found that its built-in mediation layer helped us seamlessly manage our monetization strategy. The availability on Android is significant in that we can now offer a unified user experience across platforms.”

Developers must balance opportunity costs at each stage of the ad monetization lifecycle – integration, management, optimization and reporting. SponsorPay’s Ad Monetization Platform empowers developers through easy drag-and-drop ad network adapters, yield optimization features and the ability to view results on a consolidated and transparent revenue reporting system. This feature set is increasingly crucial for video as the medium catapults to the fastest growing ad format in 2014.

Ninja Kiwi, which has used SponsorPay’s iOS rewarded video mediation since October 2013, will be among the first developers to launch with Android support. “Our biggest advertising challenge was immediately alleviated after integrating rewarded video mediation on iOS,” said Scott Walker, Head of Production at Ninja Kiwi. “The growth in fill-rate and revenue was substantial, up 25 percent overnight. The added benefit is that more players received the rewards they wanted, which makes them more likely to engage with future ads and rewards. SponsorPay provides us with end-to-end solutions on iOS, web, and Android, and we look forward to similar immediate wins with Android video mediation.”

Optimization, another significant challenge for developers monetizing apps, is a key element of SponsorPay’s solution. To ensure adequate fill, developers must integrate multiple ad networks, but optimizing these ad sources expends valuable resources. SponsorPay recently launched its predictive algorithm to mitigate this time and resource expenditure. This proprietary algorithm automatically predicts eCPMs across all ads in all networks and selects the right ad to be delivered for each request, resulting in increased revenue for the developer.

“We see ad-based monetization as a key complement to in-app purchases,” said Austin Yuen, Product Manager at Cie Games. “SponsorPay’s supply-side platform allows us to automatically optimize based on eCPMs from multiple ad networks. This not only increases revenue across our different ad sources, but also makes our lives easier.”

 

Make the Most of Ad Network Mediation

In this post, our product manager Jan Ustohal explains ad network mediation, giving advice on how developers can make the most of mediation for their overall ad monetization solution.


Why Mediation?

The key to successful ad monetization is being able to show an ad to your users whenever they want to see one, regardless of the time of the day or their geographic location.

With increasing demand for advertising, it is getting more difficult for ad networks to provide sufficient fill rates for your traffic, leading to a large number of ad requests going unfilled. This issue can be solved by integrating several ad networks, but this process requires a lot of time and resources — not only for the integration itself, but also for the management and optimization of these ad networks.

Mediation enables you to integrate, manage, and optimize several ad networks in parallel. We’ve built a solution that minimizes the complexities of the process by unifying ad network adapters. These ad network adapters, which are either distributed with the SDK or implemented on the server-side, facilitate communication between the app and the ad networks. Normally, developers need to deal with all these networks individually. With our mediation solution the developer bypasses this inconvenience and is able to use all the networks through a single interface.

The integration itself is only a matter of one drag-and-drop that adds the libraries to your project. This simple process is identical whether you’re integrating one or one hundred ad networks.


Taking control

In a similar manner, mediation addresses the issues related to managing individual ad networks. Rather than setting everything up in each network’s dashboard, with our solution you are able to configure all the networks, set up optimization options, evaluate the performance of your integration through unified analytics, and depending on the network’s support, manage your content control rules through one single dashboard (see screenshots below).

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Making the Most of Mediation

Being able to integrate and manage ad networks effortlessly is only one part of the story. It’s important to get the most out of each network to achieve the best possible eCPM and maximize ad revenues.

Regardless of the ad format used, the process of manually adjusting the ranking of the networks based on their actual performance in tedious and inefficient. You have to obtain the data from the ad networks’ dashboards, make sure the metrics are comparable, rank the networks, and set the order accordingly. Failing to do so daily can result in a sub-optimal integration.

Our AutoPilot optimization aims to eliminate this problem by tapping into the reporting APIs of the ad networks, fetching the revenue data, and automatically calculating the real eCPM of the network. While this approach already addresses the biggest optimization pain point, we believe that we can improve the rankings even further. By using clever algorithms and statistical models, we want to leverage the fact that networks usually place the high paying campaigns in front of the “queue,” ensuring we always show high-paying from all networks before going to the backfill. We’ve just released our Predictive Algorithm to accomplish this very goal.

We don’t want to take away manual control over the network ranking completely, though. We also provide the option to fix eCPM manually, or to top-rank a specific network in a group of countries to ensure prioritized delivery.


Finding the match

Now we know that we can easily integrate and manage several networks, as well as optimize them for the best performance.  But we still have to decide which ones to choose.

We believe that in some cases “less is more,” and we put a lot of effort into continually screening and selecting the best ad networks to work with, on the basis of their eCPM potential, fill rates, user experience, and stability. Each partner network then undergoes a diligent integration process, making sure the integration into the mediation platform is seamless.


Just go for it

So, what is this mediation in the end? It’s a clever way to maximize your eCPM, ensure high fill rate, and integrate the right networks — all while minimizing the effort required to integrate, manage, and optimize these ad networks. So give it a shot!

An Update on Apple’s IDFA Policies

Apple’s announcement about regulating IDFA use in mobile apps made headlines this week. In the wake of the news, we’d like to ensure that you’re informed and know we’re doing everything in our power to ensure this doesn’t affect our developer and advertiser clients.

First, a little background on Apple’s announcement and the situation:

The IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) is the widespread tracking option for advertising within mobile apps. Each user has a unique IDFA that mobile apps can retrieve to serve advertisements. Apple’s crackdown applies to a specific subset of mobile apps: those that retrieve an end user’s IDFA without showing any advertising. Specifically, Apple states:

“You and Your Applications (and any third party with whom you have contracted to serve advertising) may use the Advertising Identifier, and any information obtained through the use of the Advertising Identifier, only for the purpose of serving advertising. If a user resets the Advertising Identifier, then You agree not to combine, correlate, link or otherwise associate, either directly or indirectly, the prior Advertising Identifier and any derived information with the reset Advertising Identifier.”

What does this mean for our clients, and why can you rest easy?

Developers:

If you’re an app developer using our ad monetization platform, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. You are showing advertising to your users, which is the explicit purpose of the IDFA and precisely what Apple allows.

Furthermore, more than 90 percent of advertisers on our platform use third-party tracking providers whose attribution works without IDFA. Tracking via these third-party providers will continue to work without IDFA.

We believe that mobile advertising attribution is a valid use of the IDFA, so we are working closely with our third-party tracking providers to monitor the situation. The fact remains that third-party tracking hasn’t been compromised.

Advertisers:

We are currently working on a solution for those of you who are not using third-party tracking. We’ll provide updates to keep you informed on the best tracking alternatives that work independently of IDFA.

While we have yet to see an app get rejected for using IDFA for advertising attribution, we’re already working on a solution that will work without IDFA for those of you not using third-party attribution platforms.