Mobile Advertising: An Inside “Guide for Publishers” on Fill Rates, eCPMs etc

Many new  publishers get stuck trying to understand what kind of eCPMs and Fill Rates that they will get in order to firm up a reasonable business case. Unfortunately, it is not a very easy thing to understand for new publishers. I thought this would be a great topic to write about it to throw some light into the industry for prospective new publishers.

Here are some thoughts on this industry in general, from an insider.

The biggest brand may not necessarily mean the best fill rates. Even by people who claim that mobile advertising sucks and they’re here to fix it. Recent news indicated that one prominent network was giving 6% fill rates – so good luck with that.

The largest network may have 100% fill rate but good luck with that. Be prepared to deal with CPC bids that are as low as $0.005 a click or even lower. Why so?. Most remnant inventory deals are signed up for Cost Per Lead (CPL) or Cost Per Action / Acquisition (CPA). Ad networks lower the bid prices heavily to make these campaigns work.

Most networks are “blind” and don’t show you the ads they run or the bid prices for each ad.

There is no such thing as free lunch, or free beer or 100% revenue forever. Yeah – some have short term developer programs that can be great to throw away those millions they just raised. Sure – most VCs will still throw more money at them..but the bottom line is, it is not sustainable for either parties in the long term. Ad networks can’t make money like this and publishers do not get any guarantee of 100% revenue all the time.  But still – you should make hay while the sun shines!

– Fast, hassle free integration again doesn’t mean great revenue. Look around the credibility of the ad network in the developer community and see the horror stories before you release your app.

– Some networks claim high CPM – but what is really eCPM?. Is it earnings per thousand on ads delivered …what about the impressions that were not filled?..remember – no one is counting them.

– Exclusive deals for your “premium” inventory don’t exist: If you’re one of them touting that you’re inventory is “premium”..get real fast or run the risk of not getting any ad inventory. From my experience, many publishers who touted premium inventory, premium network etc have all either run out of business or accepted the reality of the market place and moved on.

– Analytics don’t always show you everything: Remember – ad networks gather a lot of data. But they don’t necessarily show what you really want to know. Check with the network to see if they provide ALL fill rate data, unique user data, application (iPhone / Android) specific data and more. It would be great to find out which ads are performing and which ads aren’t, so that you can block non performing ads. Does your ad network do this?

Most ad networks are closed: Check how transparent is your ad network and how much of data are they willing to share at real time. Having a closed ecosystem means you will have to adjust the traffic to the network according to their available campaigns after looking at reports through other data scraping tools or by looking it up manually.

I will add more thoughts to this blog shortly.





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