Kiip Uses JavaScript Tags To Court App Developers With An Allergy To New SDKs

Kiip is giving SDK-averse apps another option to test its demand.

On Thursday, the mobile rewards ad network rolled out the ability to use JavaScript tags as a lighter-weight way to serve campaigns into a publisher’s app.

Early test partners include music discovery app SoundHound and The Meet Group, which operates a suite of social networking, dating and chat apps.

Publishers have long been wary of incorporating new SDKs into their apps, since they can also introduce potential problems, like latency, increased app download size and other user experience issues.

That’s why the development team at SoundHound “has become pretty much allergic” to new SDKs, said Gabrielle Mayer, its director of client services.

“If something seems super-fantastic, I’m happy to run it up the flagpole, but partners are always forewarned that it’s a rare bird that gets an SDK integration,” Mayer said.

Apps are reticent because they’ve been burned before by ad networks whose SDKs over-promised and under-delivered.

“We’re willing to test anything that can make us money and make our lives easier, but the fact is that integrating SDKs can be a big, fat pain in the ass,” said Meet Group CRO Bill Alena. “I’ve been in the ad tech world a long time, and I’ve learned to be very skeptical.”

The JS tags aren’t meant to replace Kiip’s SDK, but rather to lower the barrier to entry for a publisher that wants to run a test but doesn’t want to commit to an SDK integration without proof that the ad network provides concrete value.

Kiip’s ultimate goal is to get its partners to integrate its SDK, said Kabir Mathur, Kiip’s head of business development. The tags are simply a more painless way for an app to run tests and for Kiip to try to prove its worth.

But although the tag option is helping Kiip drum up new business – SoundHound and The Meet Group are both new clients – it does have limitations.

Certain types of demand, like Kiip’s soon-to-be launched augmented-reality ad units, aren’t accessible through JavaScript tags, which aren’t stable enough to access a user’s camera and gyroscope.

The tags also collect and pass back less data, which can restrict Kiip’s ability to target. SDKs automatically collect a wide array of datapoints, whereas an app using JS tags chooses which data to send.

“We always ask for all the data, but we don’t always receive it,” Mathur said.

Location data is a good example. Kiip’s SDK, which is integrated into about 5,000 apps, will always opt to use lat/long when it’s available as a targeting parameter over IP address, which is less precise. But if a publisher doesn’t actively choose to share lat/long through the JS tags, then Kiip has to default to IP address.

“Broadly speaking, you can still target, but it’s not enough to really identify where a person is,” Mathur said.

Even though JS tags aren’t as robust as SDKs, having the choice is appealing, said SoundHound’s Mayer. SoundHound has turned down potential monetization partners in the past that insist on SDK integration from the get-go.

“We want to work with multiple partners and divide the pie among them,” she said. “But it doesn’t make sense for us to go through all the development work just to test a partner that might not work out.”

Despite his skepticism of ad networks, The Meet’s Group’s Alena is more than willing to integrate an ad network’s SDK if there’s a bottom-line advantage.

The Meet Group generates around half a billion ad impressions a day across its app, which nets out to about 15 billion impressions per month. At that scale, upping CPMs by even a small amount can bring in meaningful revenue.

“Adding a penny to our CPMs might be worth $2 million a year,” Alena said. “Is it worth $2 million for us to add a new SDK? Of course it is. But I have to believe that the SDK will actually do what it says first."

 

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