The ad block battle continues, but solutions are under way – AerServ’s Andrew Gerhart on SSPs, ad blockers and the future of mobile programmatic

Aerserv

Mobile advertising can be a complex topic to wrap your head around. And with a growing number of industry folks now suggesting Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) may be on their way out, we’ve spoken with Andrew Gerhart, COO of mobile video mediation platform AerServ, who recently shared his views on everything publishers can still get out of a full-service SSP and indeed how additional services may enhance them further.

Andrew Gerhart, COO, AerServ: SSPs are not dead

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Source: aerserv.com

An increase in the adoption of ad blockers is one of the big threats publishers are facing these days. Much of that is driven by consumers wishing to minimise their mobile data costs and maximise their page load speeds. Andrew explains that SSP usage cannot be ruled as a flat negative when it comes to ad load times:

“The SSP is a mechanism to deliver ads and optimize yield across a large number of programmatic partners. One might ask whether working with all of those programmatic partners could add to load times, and if they were all called from the page, the answer would be yes. However, all of the ad calls are made simultaneously from the server, not by the client (ex: the app or page), which means they have no impact on latency, ad calls or load times.”

So, where is ad blocking taking us from here? 

“I think the battle will continue for a short time – the battle between users and content producers. Some users feel they have the right to consume content for free and block ads from that content. Content producers obviously feel differently – there is a great cost involved with producing and distributing content.”

Andrew explains that two options are likely:

“The industry will make improvements over time to cut at the core issues causing ad blocking: malicious ads, latency, poor relevance, quality ads. There are people and organizations within the industry, like the IAB Tech Lab and their Ad Blocking Working Group, that are working to improve the advertising experience for users. [Or] publishers will implement new technology that will identify ad blockers and take appropriate action to preserve their revenue streams. We saw this recently with Facebook blocking ad blocker code from their site, which means the blockers were unable to block Facebook ads. It might be that publishers implement code to block ad blockers in order to preserve their advertising revenue. Or, it could be that publishers detect ad blocker code, and put up a roadblock that warns users to either disable the ad blocker, or pay a subscription to continue. New products and companies may pop up serving this specific use case and publisher need.”

How can programmatic mobile ads help to change this? What options are available?

“The shift in consumer behavior to mobile devices, and to apps in particular, will certainly help. In addition, the shift to mobile video and away from mediums like small banner ads and intrusive interstitial placements. The advertising experience within mobile apps and games has been trending toward rewarded video, a user-initiated and opt-in form of advertising based on a value exchange. The user chooses to engage with the ad and watch a video, and in return receives something within the app or game. For example, they may receive a new life, a game upgrade or some new feature within the app. This ad experience is not intrusive and multiple studies validate consumer’s preference for this ad experience. As more of this inventory is available programmatically, instead of siloed within ad network SDKs, ad spend will move towards these ad units.”

Indeed, a study by Unity recently found that rewarded mobile video ads are the preferred advertising format among gamers and almost 80% of them engaged more often with the format than traditional ads.

Rewarded video ads are more popular among mobile gamers

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Source: unity3d.com

He adds that programmatic can further enhance mobile ad relevancy, in addition to targeting specific audiences and their geo-locations.

Transparency is fast becoming an important issue in programmatic, but why?

“Marketers want comfort in knowing the inventory they’re purchasing is legitimate. This means real users (fraud-free), that the inventory is actually viewed by those users (viewable), and heard by those users (audible), and finally, that the environment in which the ads were shown was authentic. In the programmatic environment, marketers bid on inventory without knowing the underlying components leading to the price. How many slices are being taken out? What tech vendor costs are involved (DMP, viewability, fraud, etc.)?”

Which mobile ad technologies are likely to decline in popularity?

“The first ad unit to die might be the 320×50 banner ad, but it will take some time due to the massive scale it has now. The technology that will likely decline in popularity is the SDK. App developers have grown weary of installing SDKs from every vendor, not just ad tech but marketing and everyone else, and the market is becoming tighter. With proper industry standards, the need for SDKs from ad tech companies could certainly be reduced.”

What do you believe is a future technology within mobile advertising coming in the next two years? 

“I think we’ll see mobile video continue to grow – it has already seen explosive growth and dominates mobile consumption today. Interactive ad units – [the] ones that allow the user to engage, take an action, or even try an app before downloading – will continue to grow. There’s a lot that still needs to be done around cross-screen targeting, accurately pinpointing and targeting users across their devices and screens, in a non-probabilistic way.”

For more insights from Andrew and to find out how he believes the SSP lifeline can be extended, click here.