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Things to consider when choosing a Mediation Platform

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By , AerServ Team


Many publishers are deciding to use a mediation platform that allows them to serve ads from existing advertising deals they have and also access additional advertising opportunities provided by the mediation platform. Sometimes the publisher’s advertising campaigns compete with the mediation platform campaigns to identify the highest paying one to display in order to increase the publisher’s revenue. This setup offers many benefits but a publisher should properly assess the mediation platform choices before selecting one. There are many choices available and a publisher should not choose the first one they see. Below are some of the things a publisher should look at when evaluating the choices.
Number of supported ad sources
Cost
How stable is the product
What ad unit types does it support
Do they offer a marketplace and if so how is the performance of it
How is their customer support
Do you need to use their SDK
Do they offer private marketplace functionality
Can you traffic house ads
Do they offer a data management layer
Do they offer conversion tracking
Are their ads primarily brand based or performance based
Do they offer an auto optimization feature
Do they offer virtual currency/rewarded ads support
How are their reporting capabilities
How is their user interface
Do they approve all publishers

Number of supported ad sources
Many mediation platforms will provide existing connections to selected advertisers where you only have to enter your credentials in order to start running their ads. These connections have been verified and typically have some logic to fail over if an ad is not returned. A large number of supported ad sources can be a good sign and can make it easier for you to get started using their platform, but this should not be the only factor you consider when evaluating it.

Cost
How expensive is the platform? Is there a setup cost, a monthly minimum fee, an add serving fee, etc.? The prices can range from free to very very expensive. Make sure you understand completely what the charges are before signing a contract.

How stable is the product
You want to make sure the product is stable and will not be going down. Typically the longer a company has been around the more stable their products will be, but this may not always be the case. You may need to ask others who have used their platform to get a true indication of their stability. If you ask the company they will always tell you it is very stable.

What ad unit types does it support
Do they support all the different ad unit types: banner, interstitial, video, MRAID, VPAID, etc? Some platforms only support video or banner, so make sure the platform supports all of the different ad unit types you want to run. As an added bonus, see if they offer the ability to fail over between different ad unit types. For example if a video does not fill can they fail over to display an interstitial.

Do they offer a marketplace and if so how is the performance of it
Many mediation platforms have their own marketplace which competes with the ad sources you enter in the platform. They may compete against each other or the marketplace may only be used if your ad sources do not fill. Regardless of how the marketplace functions in relation to your ad sources, it is important to know how well the marketplace fills and what the average CPMs are.

How is their customer support
Can you quickly get in touch with someone to answer your questions or is it difficult to reach them? Most publishers will have some questions when integrating a mediation platform, so it is important to be able to easily get in touch with someone. Also, check to see what documentation and online resources they offer to help get your questions offered outside of normal business hours.

Do they require you to use their sdk
Can you use an API or do you have to use their SDK? They should provide an alternate method to utilize their platform. Requiring the use of their SDK can result in SDK bloat and a maintenance headache as you may need to update your SDK every time they release a new version. You want as much flexibility as possible in using their platform.

Do they offer private marketplace functionality
A private marketplace allows a publisher to choose which advertisers can bid on their inventory. This allows a publisher to ensure the quality of ads running on their properties and can also result in higher CPMs though that is not always the case. This is a nice feature to have available, but it may not be something every publisher needs.

Can you traffic house ads
Can you traffic your own house ads within your waterfall? You may want to have one of your house ads display if all other ad sources fail to fill. This provides a much nicer user experience and allows publishers to also market additional products or services they provide.

Do they offer a data management layer
Can you utilize a data management service to gather additional information about a user request? For example can you use the device ID of the request to see how it has performed in the past (VTR, CTR, etc.) or any additional demo data (gender, age range, etc.) which can be used to better target the ad to the user?

Do they offer conversion tracking
Do they offer the ability to track what a user does after they click on an ad? This can be helpful if you are running lots of performance based ads. Again this may not be a feature many publishers need, but it is something to check on if you use it.

Are their Marketplace ads primarily brand based or performance based
This can directly impact your performance. Most performance based ads are CPI or CPA based so it is dependent upon your users performing some action (installing an app for example) in order for you to get paid. If your user base performs well with performance based ads your revenue can be very high, but if it does not then your revenue may be little to none. Brand based ads typically have a lower CPM but are paid on the user viewing the ad and may be of a higher quality. A mixture of the two types of ads is typically a better strategy rather than only showing performance based ads.

Do they offer an auto optimization feature
Can the platform automatically optimize your ad sources so the best performing ones always get first shot at an ad opportunity? This feature is typically something you have to choose to turn on, but it can save the publisher a lot of time because they no longer have to manually optimize the order of their ad sources. It can also result in higher fill rates and CPMs.

Do they support virtual currency/rewarded ads
Some publishers offer their users virtual currency or rewards based on if they watch ads to completion. If your site or app functions in this way you will want to ensure that the platform supports it and offers all of the features you need to properly track and reward your users.

How are their reporting capabilities
Does their reporting update every hour or quicker or only once a day? Do they offer a UI you can login to and retrieve the reports yourself or do you have to wait for the reports to be emailed to you? Having access to reporting as soon as possible is critical to identifying problems so you do not lose out on lost revenue opportunities. If one exists, you also want to check the self serve reporting interface to make sure it is easy to use and does not restrict you to just canned reports they have created.

How is their user interface
Is the user interface (UI) easy to navigate and find what you are looking for? Some publishers make their decision based solely on the UI, so you want to ensure it is intuitive and you can find the information you need. Does it look like it is maintained and consistently updated, or does it look like it was created years ago and is rarely updated?

Do they approve all publishers
Some mediation platforms only accept publishers with a certain level of traffic and are not available to all properties. Before you get too far down the evaluation road of a platform, make sure your site or app meets any requirements they have to use their platform.

The are lots of features and benefits offered by mediation platforms, but a publisher needs to focus on the ones that are truly important to their business and not get distracted by all of the bells and whistles. Selecting a mediation platform should not be something that is done quickly, but a publisher should take their time to properly evaluate each option and choose the one that at the very least offers the bare minimum they need. Cutting corners on the evaluation process may cause a publisher to end up with an expensive platform that does not perform like they expected, and does not offer what they really need.