When mobile analytics company Apsalar started telling its demand-side platform (DSP) customers a few months ago that is was exiting the DSP business, some took it as welcome news.
Having a dedicated mobile DSP isn’t a priority yet for some marketers, and by taking their DSP off the table, Apsalar seemingly removed the conflict of interest some are wary of when selecting a mobile analytics partner.
The company revealed Thursday it’s completed its pull-out from the mobile DSP space, and instead is focusing solely on mobile marketing analytics and audience management.
“It’s difficult for us to digest a partner that does both media and policing of that media,” said Amit Shah, vice president of marketing for 1-800-Flowers, an Apsalar customer. “The industry has done a good job of policing itself… but we have seen enough instances where having a (wall) between the two is actually a driver of efficiency.”
For 1-800-Flowers, having an objective third party analyzing the performance of their ads is more important than having a dedicated mobile DSP.
For a company that focuses primarily on online direct-response campaigns, Shah said problems can arise if a DSP is pulling data in a way that omits any indicators of efficiency, intentional or not. This can also apply to unique client demands. For example, a DSP may be designed to also be used for an ad agency, whose needs will be much different from a purely direct-response oriented advertiser, Shah said.
Should marketers be concerned about a conflict of interest with a dual provider of a DSP and analytics?
“Marketers (shouldn’t) be highly concerned in terms of analytics for results used to help optimize the campaign,” said Jennifer Wise, research analyst at Forrester. “The true concern is the validation of the reach, impression, viewability, frequency and brand-safety controls,” among other metrics.
Wise said there is no “silver bullet” in solving the conflict of interest question, but marketers can limit the impact by using a variety of analytics partners to compare and validate their findings. “All advertisers and publishers want to confirm what is happening with their ads, but the tracking mechanisms aren't in place and there [is a] lack [of] a clear objective third-party in the market to play that role.”
Both Wise and Shah agree there is need for dedicated mobile DSPs. The desktop DSPs that have added mobile capabilities may lack the specialization of providers who built their platforms for mobile from the ground up. In a perfect world, Shah and other marketers want fewer DSP partners, but Wise said for now marketers and publishers “need to focus on getting best-in-class mobile service first, and not falling victim to the ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ conundrum we are seeing in this immature landscape.”
For Apsalar, the perception of bias was costing the company analytics business. Company CEO Michael Oiknine said although Apsalar added features to segregate its analytics and DSP data, in a competitive marketplace the conflict of interest question was something that could be exploited by competitors and create enough doubt for Apsalar to lose the sale.
Since dropping its DSP offering, Oiknine claimed Apsalar added over 60 new clients and strengthened partnerships with existing ones. 1-800-Flowers' Shah said he had previously kept Apsalar at arm’s length as an analytics partner, but now with the increased air of objectivity, that has changed.