MoPub On Mobile Exchanges: ‘We Were Here First’

JanaeMcDonoughMoPub was helping app developers monetize before it was cool.

That’s part of what gives Twitter’s mobile exchange its street cred, said Janae McDonough, senior director of exchange at Twitter, who joined MoPub the year before Twitter acquired it in 2013.

“We created this opportunity for app developers four years before anybody was thinking about that,” McDonough said. “Back then, Facebook, or any other company you could name, wasn’t thinking about app developers or taking a mobile-first approach in terms of providing them with an app monetization solution.”

Speaking of the competition, the mobile arms race is heating up. Facebook in particular put MoPub on notice in March at the F8 Developer Conference when it announced its own mobile exchange for in-app display built off the back of LiveRail, the video SSP that Facebook bought in July.

But Twitter-owned MoPub will need more than its self-touted headstart to stay ahead of Facebook or gain market share from Google. McDonough is betting MoPub’s mobile pedigree for that.

“If you use a platform that started in desktop or video, it’s very different from something that was created in the mobile context. It’s flattering that other companies are building solutions that are similar to ours,” she said. “I can’t comment on what Facebook is actually offering in terms of LiveRail, but regardless of the competitor, the reality is that we were here first, and we’re continuing to build on that.”

MoPub was founded in 2010 by AdMob vets looking for a way to make money off apps. Today, the platform combines mobile ad serving capabilities and access to MoPub’s RTB marketplace with ad network mediation via all the usual suspects, including AdMob, Conversant, iAd, Millennial Media, AdColony, MobFox, InMobi and even Facebook. It all sits at the heart of Fabric, the suite of SDKs that Twitter rolled out in 2014 to help developers maintain app stability, bolster downloads, analyze usage and bring in ad revenue.

McDonough caught up with AdExchanger on MoPub’s past, its present and its publisher-focused future.

AdExchanger: What’s in MoPub’s future?

JANAE MCDONOUGH: [MoPub is] a flexible platform to help app developers make money no matter where they are in the development lifecycle, and it’s free. MoPub only makes money when a publisher makes money. We’re going to continue to build on that same thesis. We’re a platform for publishers to monetize and that’s key. Because not all publishers are created equally.

How so?

Game developers might be interested in leveraging rewards. Content publishers might be looking to leverage their newsfeed. They key is to allow publishers to be flexible in how they choose to monetize their audiences, whether it’s through native ad formats, interstitials or video assets – we’ll continue to invest in all of those things through our platform.

What does MoPub’s connection with Twitter do for publishers?

The Twitter Publisher Network extends brands to publishers and helps those publishers create experiences similar to what you would see on Twitter.

Twitter’s sales force is in the hundreds, but publishers don’t have the same kind of sales force to go out and look for access to demand sources. Twitter becomes the demand source. Those are dollars they wouldn’t otherwise be able to capitalize on.

How does MoPub fit into Twitter’s overall stack of ad products?

The user experience is fragmented across the mobile app ecosystem and MoPub is about providing advertisers with the ability to reach users beyond Twitter's owned and operated properties. It's central to Twitter's off-network strategy. We work with 31,000 app developers and reach more than 1 billion devices. On the publisher side, the Fabric suite of apps for mobile developers helps MoPub expand its supply footprint.

The TapCommerce piece [Twitter acquired the mobile retargeting startup in June] fits in from a reengagement standpoint, whether a user’s putting something in their cart or checking flight prices on Kayak. TapCommerce is connected to MoPub and other exchanges to allow reach beyond Twitter’s own assets and inventory.

MoPub rolled out its native ad product in April. How are you bridging native and programmatic?

It’s key for native ads to be native for each specific publisher – but programmatic is all about scale. To solve for that, we gave publishers control over the tiles and assets that make up native ad units, and the stack allows them to communicate with the buyer to say that this particular inventory comes from Trivia Crack or Tango or whichever app. The publisher can then resolve those ads quite differently. Our platform makes the intelligent decision on how to render the ad unit.

The mobile exchange world is consolidating. How does Twitter get access to more audience data?

We’re always publisher-first, and publishers bring their own valuable data to the platform. Twitter as a publisher also has its own unique data that we provide to advertisers.

We help the publishers that are a part of MoPub surface their data, and we work with them on how to best leverage their data for direct ad sales or private marketplaces.

What can MoPub do to increase its stickiness?

[Publishers] have the ability to leverage their own first-party data for both direct and indirect monetization, [and] our SDK allows the publisher to customize the information they might be interested in collecting. For example, MyFitnessPal could identify a user’s meal preferences, i.e., that they are vegetarian, based on the content in their application or user settings. They can create keyword targeting audience segments for vegetarians [via MoPub] and sell that to an advertiser or an agency directly.

Alternatively, they could expose that into the marketplace as additional information for buyers/DSPs to leverage for their targeting.

What would you say to a publisher thinking about migrating over to Facebook’s LiveRail?

What sets us apart is that we’re mobile-first and we’re backed by a company that also thinks mobile-first. The Twitter business was founded on 140 characters through SMS. Mobile is in our DNA, and it’s important for publishers to consider that when they think about which platform to choose.

 

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