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Network Traffic Challenges

Ryan Gauss
Posted on
By , VP of Product Development


As the mobile ad industry moves towards greater transparency, network traffic can be difficult to fit into this model. Many publishers work with hundreds or thousands of different sites and apps and they add them to their network. The network then signs up with an ad network and sends all of this network traffic through the same account. This implementation causes several issues.

The first issue is that because all of the request information (app name, app bundle, app store url, site name, etc.) gets routed through the network servers first rather then going directly to the ad network, all of the desired information may not get passed. It is rare to find a network that can pass in app name, app bundle, etc. in the request, and because there are multiple properties flowing through a single network, the ad network is not able to set up a profile to pass in the information if the publisher cannot.

If the network was sending all requests for a single property through the same credential, then the solution could be to setup a profile for the property on the ad network. The ad network could set values for the app name, app bundle, app domain, etc. on their server because all requests would be coming from the same property. If a request was received where the network did not pass in this information then it could append the default values to the ad request. If multiple properties are sending requests through the same credentials though, then this solution does not work. In order to make this scenario work a secondary element key must be used to populate the data.

A secondary element key would allow a network to pass in all requests through a single credential, but default values could be tied to a secondary element such as the app name. The ad network would key off the app name to determine which default values to send. This requires the network to ensure the secondary element key be present with every request and if it is not then this approach starts to break down. Most ad networks do not implement functionality like this.

The second issue with sending network traffic through the same credentials, is that unless a secondary element key is used all requests are sent to advertisers with the same ad request approvals. In this case, they are most likely run of network (RON) tag IDs. Many advertisers give preference to publishers who are able to break out their inventory per app or site and they will provide a unique ID to be sent in the ad request so they know exactly which property the request is coming from. Having a unique advertiser ID for each property can sometimes result in higher fill rates and CPMs.

If a publisher cannot break out their properties then they must send the same advertiser ID for all of their requests which can limit the fill rate. This is the least desired approach by advertisers since it limits transparency and visibility. Some ad networks will attempt to break out their largest properties with their own credentials but this depends on their willingness and capabilities. Network traffic can be particularly troublesome in programmatic buying where transparency is of utmost importance.

There is an ocean of mobile network traffic looking to be monetized, but there are limitations with it that must be addressed in order for it to be attractive to advertisers. Publishers must understand the deficiencies of it and work with ad networks to do whatever they can to make it more desirable.