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Breaking down programmatic, Episode 1: Demystifying the DSP (Part II)

January 14, 2020

Tags: 2020, Marketers

Julia Martin
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Mobile programmatic advertising is an investment, but one that is well worth the time and effort given the scale and performance it can provide app marketers.  In Part II of Episode 1 of MoPub’s Thought Exchange Video series, we dive even deeper into the topic with three top mobile marketers (Tyler Cooper, Head of User Acquisition, TextNow; Stevie Duffin-Lutgen, User Acquisition Marketing Lead, Mobilityware; and Cole Morris, Growth Marketing Analyst, Root Insurance).

In our premier episode, we sat down with three top performance marketers, representing three key verticals: Communications, Gaming, and FinTech.  These three marketers (Tyler Cooper, Head of User Acquisition, TextNow; Stevie Duffin-Lutgen, User Acquisition Marketing Lead, Mobilityware; and Cole Morris, Growth Marketing Analyst, Root Insurance) are all part of MoPub’s Marketer Program, and each have years of experience in mobile marketing under their belts. Today, we’ll be sharing much of that knowledge with you via takeaways from our latest interview. Read on to learn more about how these mobile marketers approach all things programmatic. 

Transparency, flexibility, and scale

To be successful in mobile user acquisition, you have to test, test, test, and then test some more.  With each test comes new learnings and an overall better understanding of what works for your business and your app.  For Tyler, Stevie, and Cole, programmatic offers a combination of transparency, flexibility, and scale. As Cole puts it, “we have total control over [the users] we are acquiring, where we’re getting them, and the context in which we’re getting them.”  This isn’t necessarily true with social channels or ad networks which can operate in a black box. Furthermore, diversification is key, and programmatic allows for that control and transparency, along with unparalleled reach and scale.

Programmatic budget allocation

So, how much of your marketing budget should be spent on programmatic?  For our marketer interviewees, the range is anywhere from 40-60%. According to Tyler, this percentage continues to grow: “We’re shifting more budgets over time [...] to DSPs.”  Why? Outside of the obvious reasons around improved performance and lower cost, some DSPs offer excellent creative services. Stevie shares, “[DSPs] can be really dynamic in helping you, with small sets of assets, produce hundreds of creative, that would be difficult  to do in-house.”

Absence of fraud

Finally, there’s fraud — or rather, as Tyler and other top marketers have found, the relative absence of fraud in mobile programmatic, compared to other channels.  Tyler says TextNow uses a combination of fraud detection tools and have found programmatic to pose the least amount of risk, primarily due to its inherent transparency.  “We know what we’re buying [...] we’re able to see the impression, the click, the install, and the post install event, matching it all together to know we’re actually driving performance.”

Be sure to tune into Part 1 of this episode to hear more about programmatic best practices from Tyler, Stevie & Cole —  and reach out to our team if you’re interested in working with us. Stay tuned for the next episode. 

If you were convinced in Part I that mobile programmatic is a user acquisition (UA) channel you should invest in, you may still be overwhelmed by figuring out where to start. With hundreds of DSPs out there, which should you test? What should you look for, and what are the questions you should ask during the vetting process?  

How do I find the right demand-side platform (DSP)?

During Part II of this episode, our experts share their perspectives and offer advice to those just getting started. Tyler from TextNow suggests asking for “case studies and sample clients” as well as understanding exactly “where [the DSP] buys their inventory.” Stevie, having worked with dozens of DSPs over the years, looks for “an offering that is either very clear or a unique placement, a unique creative type.” She also speaks to the importance of offering creative services and gets excited when DSPs allow marketers “the ability to use those creatives in perpetuity”.

How many DSPs should I work with? 

If programmatic is working for you, “a modest handful [of DSP partners]” is what Stevie has found to be the sweet spot. Why do you need more than one? Cole from Root Insurance, who currently works with 14 DSPs, has found “certain DSPs perform really well in small pockets” and using multiple DSPs is the best way to find those extra users. Tyler likens DSPs to “prospectors for new pockets and new opportunities” that TextNow may otherwise overlook.

What key offering should I look for when searching for the right DSP?

Tyler, Stevie, and Cole all agree that transparency is key. Cole shares that Root Insurance’s “best” DSP partners are those that are “passing us auction logs, bid logs 一 showing us, at the impression level, where our spend is going.” With transparency comes trust, and, according to Stevie, once that trust with a DSP is established at Mobilityware, they’re more willing to share “robust data, outside of just retention events”.

Be sure to watch the full video interview to gain further actionable insights from these mobile experts!  And if you missed Part I, you can watch it here. Finally, we’ll be wrapping up this interview in Part III, so stay tuned by keeping an eye on our blog for the next video! In the meantime, reach out to our team if you’re interested in working with us.

About the author: Julia Martin, Senior Programmatic Demand Lead

Julia has been in the digital advertising industry for 10+ years, working on both the supply and demand sides of the business.  At MoPub, she's currently focused on helping top mobile app marketers develop & refine their programmatic user acquisition strategies to achieve optimal scale and success.  She lives in sunny LA with her husband, goldendoodle and two young (& very vivacious) kiddos. You can find Julia on Twitter at @JuliaLovesApps.

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