TechBytes with Tal Shoham, COO Mobile at ironSource

Tal Shoham

Tal Shoham
COO Mobile, ironSource

Given the rapid transformation in programmatic advertising technologies, businesses are preparing for further disruptions in the mobile adtech industry. We spoke to Tal Shoham, COO Mobile at ironSource, to better understand the core tenets of modern mobile monetization technology and how it can improve in-ad experience.

Tell us about your role at ironSource and the team/technology you handle.

As the COO of ironSource’s mobile division, my focus is on building a long-term vision for product and the business as we grow our market share with app and game developers worldwide. My goal is to ensure both our product roadmap and business strategy are targeted towards continually providing concrete added value to the global developer community – whether that’s global gaming behemoths, the hottest hyper casual studio to break into the charts or an indie developer producing great apps out of a co-working space.

What are the core tenets of your mobile monetization technology?

Our goal at ironSource is to offer our developers the technology with the greatest number of options for maximising the value of their inventory and managing their monetization effectively. As part of that, we offer both an in-app ad network covering all major ad units – including rewarded, video, display and native – and a robust mediation platform which gives app developers access to all the available options, programmatic, traditional waterfall, or both at the same time. At its core, our approach to mobile app monetization is very data-driven. Especially as ad monetization becomes an increasingly important revenue stream for developers, we believe that the more data they can easily access on the performance of ads inside their app, and how different segments of users interact with ads – the better. This is particularly important in an era of increasingly sophisticated interactive ad units. The creative revolution we’ve seen happen over the last couple of years means data has become an even more critical part of both monetization and user acquisition strategies.

How would in-app data platform benefit advertisers and publishers? How would it improve in-ad experience?

Our In-Ad Data Platform is unique in the industry, and in many ways in the history of advertising, in that it gives advertisers access to analytical and performance data that’s never been available before, giving them insight into how their ads are performing beyond the impression and the click. The rise of interactive ad units like playable and interactive video ads have transformed the ad from being a part of the funnel into a funnel in and of itself. Because of that, there is a wealth of data to look at and optimize for in terms of what’s happening inside the ad itself.

A useful way of thinking about it is optimizing the user experience inside an app. Similarly, with our in-ad data platform, we can look at how users are interacting with different touchpoints inside our interactive ads, and then optimize the ads for maximum user engagement and enjoyment. Imagine an ad for a car racing game which gives users the option to choose different racing car models to test drive, different race tracks etc. With the data in our platform, we’re able to see how many users choose to initially engage with the ad, what percentage continue engaging throughout the ad, at which points users drop off, how many users who win the mini-game will go on to install the app or vice versa, and at which points in the ad they are most likely to click to install. Based on this data we’re then able to optimize the ad experience so that users stay engaged and interacting for longer.

This is creative optimization like we’ve never seen before, which is incredibly exciting. This is the first time you have an ad product that everyone is happy about – users enjoy engaging with an ad, developers are happy because they’re making money on ads within their apps and games, and advertisers are happy because they’re able to run ads that see amazing performance and generate positive brand recall.

Please provide us with a sneak preview of the “interactive video ads funnel”? What are the key pillars of this funnel?

The funnel essentially gives a complete snapshot of where drop-off points are within an ad, highlighting the pull effect of the creative on users throughout the experience. It also allows us to see where users typically exit the ad to install the advertised app or game, and how often users who win in a playable ad will go on to install, and how this ratio differs across different game categories.  These new metrics allow for much deeper creative optimization and analysis that goes far beyond the current industry standards of measuring volume of impressions, CTR and CVR.

Given the rapid transformation in programmatic advertising technologies, how do you prepare for further disruptions in the mobile adtech industry?

We keep our focus on providing value to our clients – whether that’s developers looking to monetize or advertisers looking to run user acquisition or brand awareness campaigns. For example, in the in-app ecosystem, programmatic brings with it a unique set of challenges which won’t necessarily equal more revenue for developers in the immediate future. That’s why our mediation platform allows them to build their ad tech stack with maximum flexibility, including both programmatic and non-programmatic options. While we’re still preparing for a fully-RTB ecosystem long-term, our focus is on ensuring that value for our clients stays high in the short term. Every product development we pursue has to equal more value for our clients – regardless of what is currently creating buzz in the industry.

What are the opportunities and risks you foresee in the way mobile customer data is shaping up, over the next ten years?

It’s an exciting time for mobile advertising because the data we have at our fingertips allows us to completely optimize the in-ad experience. With that ability, we can ensure that ads are not only unobtrusive, but that they’re actually enjoyable, and fully personalized. I think over the next 10 years, we’ll see a revolution in the ad experience which will lead to a shift in user perception around ads.

Thanks for chatting with us, Tal.

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