Banners weren’t cutting it for Vaibhav Gupta, CEO and founder of Bidstalk, a Singapore-based company that provides a white-label mobile and video DSP platform for advertisers and publishers.
But the alternative – native – presented its own attendant complications.
“Marketers are ready to experiment with newer mobile-focused ad formats, but such traffic is still limited,” Gupta said. “And supporting native ads is one of the biggest challenges a DSP faces.”
In search of native inventory, Bidstalk turned to Avocarrot, a San Francisco- and Athens, Greece-based mobile ad network, which trotted out its Morpheus tool on Wednesday.
Morpheus works by analyzing IAB standard banner ads. It breaks them down into their components – messaging, creative, data related to the ad call – and converts them into ad units that fit more natively into the experience of a particular app.
The ads are then served up on AVX, Avocarrot’s mobile exchange, which deals exclusively with in-app inventory – in-feed, lists, interstitials, tiles and custom units.
In addition to Bidstalk, Avocarrot is in the process of integrating several other DSPs into Morpheus, including AdMaxim, Jampp and MobFox, which Matomy bought in October 2014.
“DSPs are able to extract information from particular apps, and publishers can create custom ad experiences,” said Avocarrot co-founder Conno Christou. “We’re just trying to make everyone’s lives easier by using existing demand.”
That’s part of what appeals to Argentine mobile app marketing platform Jampp – more scale.
“Even though native advertising has been very good for us in terms of quality, conversion and user experience, globally, the inventory available is still very small,” said Jampp co-founder Martin Añazco.
Jampp has seen some good early results for certain clients with Morpheus. For example, a UK-based taxi-booking app was able to boost its conversions and lower its cost per acquisition by about 35% after adapting its traditional banners for in-app mobile placements.
But it’s also about what happens after the install. According to research from creative mobile ad platform Celtra, engagement with rich media native ads is two times higher than with standard ad formats. Celtra also found that users spend approximately 40% more time interacting with native ads over traditional units.
“The app marketing world, and the industry as a whole, is evolving to a more sophisticated landscape where clients not only want their apps to achieve a high volume of users, but they’re also paying a lot of attention to CPA and retention metrics,” Añazco said. “In this scenario, the top challenge is to be able to monitor and optimize the whole funnel of user behavior.”
Avocarrot, which has roughly 10 employees split between Athens, where the R&D happens, and San Francisco, where the biz dev is based, is looking to up its headcount to 25 by the end of the year. The company raised a small seed round, just under $162,000, in 2013. According to Christou, he and his co-founders are in discussions with VCs on closing the next round “to be confirmed soon.”