Self-Serve vs Fully-Managed Mediation


Most publishers who have accepted ads as part of the monetization plans for their apps have come to realize that no single ad network will be sufficient to fill all their ad requests, in every country, at the highest value. With that realization, a publisher must decide on how best to integrate multiple ad networks into their apps. The choices are somewhat limited. Either a publisher has to integrate the ad networks separately, and build some sort of switching logic to control which ad network gets called when, or they must choose to use a third-party mediation platform.

    Many publishers start out trying the first option, of building their own home-grown mediation logic and technology. In most cases, publishers find out that there is more to it than first estimated. After getting all the networks integrated and working together with the switching logic, there still remains the problem of trying to cobble together the revenue reporting from each network in order to try to optimize the switching logic. To ensure revenues are maximized, the rankings of the ad networks should be optimized in every country. Maintaining and optimizing these rankings, or “waterfalls”, can become quite a challenge without a robust reporting suite at your fingertips. Eventually, most publishers realize they are spending far too much time working on their home-grown ad mediation technology instead of focusing on making great games, and they begin the hunt for a third-party mediation partner.

      When it comes to third-party mediation platforms, there are essentially two flavors. The most common, is the self-serve mediation solution. This is essentially a platform that allows publishers to plug in their favorite ad networks directly, as well as the ads available from the mediation platform itself. The self-serve solution does relieve the publisher of having to build all the technology, but often leaves the optimization and data gathering up to the publisher. This is not a bad solution for publishers who have invested in experienced Ad Ops professionals and analysts as there is a lot of work required ensuring you are getting the most out of all the ad networks competing for your inventory.

        The second flavor of mediation is the fully-managed solution, where the mediation platform takes an active role in optimizing the advertising revenue on behalf of the publisher. This approach works best, when the mediation platform has a sophisticated technology, methodology, and a team to work all the dials. Such a team should be able to outperform a self-serve solution since optimizing ads is the sole purpose for their existence, and they have a wealth of experience and data at their fingertips from performing their optimizations across many publishers. It should also be noted that if you are leaving the optimization up to a third-party team, that team needs to be completely unbiased as to which ad networks get first crack at your traffic. The fully-managed solution is a great choice for both large and small publishers who want to focus their resources and efforts into building and improving their games.

          No matter what option you choose, be wary of networks offering high eCPM guarantees for first look at your inventory. In many cases, you will spend valuable time integrating their SDK and optimizing them into your waterfalls only to find out they don’t fill very often or only fill in your high value countries. If you are using a mediation platform, leverage their expertise and experience in handling guarantees from networks. In many cases, your mediation provider can help you negotiate and improve the guarantees from reputable networks, and avoid those that are a known time sink.

            To learn more, download The Art and Science of Optimization, or contact our Publisher Growth team.

            Darren Keyes
            EVP, Operations at Fuse Powered
            Wine lover, competitive poker player, and master of all things data.