Mobile is Messy – Part 2 … Understanding the Mobile Marketplace

A Programmatic Marketplace Fraught with Land Mines 

Yep, programmatic is changing everything because there are many ways to play the Mobile market.  If your agency doesn’t understand it … you’re probably losing about 50-80% of your budget

The Mobile Landscape ➟ Understanding the Structure in Simple Terms

A burgeoning marketplace still evolving & dedicated to streamlining a tedious buying process by providing greater efficiency through precision audience targeting

  • In the chart below, start on the right with publishers who are now putting most of their inventory on Supply Side Platforms (SSP) in easy reach of millions of buyers using various ad exchange technologies  
  • Go back left to advertisers who use various agents to buy inventory through DSP’s, networks and PMP’s using the ad exchanges 

mobile market structure


There are several transaction modes for Programmatic (automated buying)

  • Programmatic direct (also called guaranteed or reserved) – automated, non-auction buying of Mobile display inventory = 1 seller to 1 buyer
  • Private Marketplace (PMP) – Private exchange auction = 1 seller to a few buyers
  • Real-Time Bidding (RTB) – Open exchange auction  … represents 20+% of Programmatic = 1 seller to all buyer

However, the cost of all these technologies along with exchange arbitration adds costs to a process intended to streamline Mobile buying and provide better efficiency.  How much cost is hard to pin down, but the following chart is a compilation from several sources estimating where the money goes in the marketplace

  • As indicated at the bottom of the chart, the majority of a brand’s money ends up going to various technologies from DSP’s to Exchanges to SSP’s
    • Programmatic technologies eat up 20-80% … and the majority is on the upper end
    • Publishers get 30-50% … most publisher claim in the low 30’s
    • Agents get 10-30% … trading desks usually exceed this limit  

mobile market structure with dollars


Straight Up  ⇒ The best strategy to gain efficiencies by leveraging Programmatic is to find a specialist who understands Mobile and spends a majority of their time working the marketplace.  

Best practices include

  • Always-On Buying ➟ The days of buying media are gone
    • Optimize continually – Asset Allocation Grid permanently on
  • Learn & Earn ➟ Initially … invest small & target wide
    • Let the data dictate high performance segments to spend on
  • Eyes On ➟ Daily human auditing ensuring buy efficiency, brand appropriateness and brand safety
  • Entrenched Relationships ➟ Know your ad tech vendors inside out
    • Who runs them, backs them, take-overs and inventory sources
  • Constant Search ➟ Never rest on your current technology


Zig is a Social/Mobile/Video specialist that maximizes marketing assets by driving performance at the lowest cost.  You can see our work by clicking on the link ⇒

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