First-party audience data is an app publisher’s most precious asset. Which is why, as developers and brands dip their toe further into mobile programmatic, private marketplaces are their safety mechanism.
On Wednesday, MobFox took the wraps off a PMP for mobile audiences, where app publishers can make their data and inventory available programmatically and select brands can shop with more transparency into pricing, placement and segments. The product was in beta for the past few months.
“Publishers are trying to fight the inefficiency you see in the programmatic world, where impressions aren’t sold at maximum yield,” said Gil Klein, EVP of media at Matomy Media Group, parent company of mobile SSP and exchange MobFox.
MobFox is also creating cross-publisher inventory and audience packages to help advertisers find what they’re looking for and help publishers snag the best price.
“It could be a package of top-performing apps or perhaps a package of music apps or apps with location turned on,” Klein said. “Or it could be audience-related, like packages of apps around age, gender or in-app events, which is the more sophisticated stuff.”
Rakuten-owned IP calling and messaging app Viber is using the MobFox PMP as an inducement for advertisers that want a greater level of control over their programmatic buys and as an enticement to potential buyers that want to test the waters before jumping into a longer-term relationship with the app.
“It’s like a middle ground that brings nonprogrammatic players to the field for us and opens up new lines of business,” said Zion Karsenti, Viber’s head of advertising. “They know what they’re getting. We can make a guarantee and they can have specific targeting for a subset of users.”
Setting up a private marketplace also lets Viber make more money in difficult-to-monetize, generally smaller markets, like within Southeast Asia.
In large markets, the open exchange is competitive because there’s more demand than supply, Karsenti said, so the price goes up.
But in markets where the demand and supply are pretty much equal, “the exchange turns into a kind of pipe where you have enough impressions to serve everyone, so the price might only go slightly above the floor price,” he said. “It’s to be expected.”
That doesn’t mean, however, that some advertisers in those markets aren’t willing to pay top dollar for Viber’s audience. Rather than scrolling mindlessly through a feed, Viber users are usually engaged when presented with an ad – all of Viber’s inventory is native – because they’ve either just finished a phone call or are in the midst of sending a message.
Using a PMP, Viber can lock in interested advertisers at a higher CPM for those segments in a regional market than they’d get out on the open exchange.
“It’s amazing to see eCPMs in some nascent areas of the world rise to the level of Italy or France because there are multiple buyers in the PMP,” Karsenti said.
In mobile, value comes from being able to – safely – layer in audience-based buys, Klein said.
“Publishers are getting smarter,” he said. “They know that the more data there is and the more granular and targeted you can get, the higher the yield will be. They’re actually happy to sell their data – they just want to make sure they get the right price for it.”
Mobile data exchange Adsquare released a similar product in September, a PMP for mobile audience data that aims to give publishers more control over who they make their segments available to. Approved buy-side partners can access the segments through certain DSPs.