TechBytes with Andrew Gerhart, VP, Publisher Platforms, InMobi

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Andrew Gerhart, VP of Publisher Platforms at InMobi

Andrew Gerhart
VP of Publisher Platforms at InMobi

Early adopters of in-app header bidding are seeing increased revenue by reducing or eliminating their reliance on manual waterfall optimization. We spoke to Andrew Gerhart, VP of Publisher Platforms at InMobi, to understand the company’s involvement in making header bidding a more readily adoptable technology for mobile advertising.

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

In my role as VP of Publisher Platforms at InMobi, I oversee a team responsible for the innovation and development of InMobi’s ad serving and mediation platform, which InMobi acquired through AerServ in January 2018. Having also spent time as a marketer for multiple publishers, I’m familiar with the complex advertising landscape and know what it takes to work between multiple ad networks and exchanges. Today, my team and I are largely focused on improving unified ad auctions and ad monetization on the platform, and helping customers move away from the current waterfall-based approach of monetization to unified auctions and in-app header bidding.

What is InMobi’s involvement in making header bidding a more readily adoptable technology for mobile advertising?

InMobi is leading the charge to make in-app header bidding and unified auctions a reality. We are doing this through:

  1. Technology – Our team worked relentlessly to build the industry’s first unified auction, and we make it easy for publishers to integrate the technology and buyers.
  2. Transparency – Our platform gives publishers a full view into the auction, header bidding participants and monetization metrics.
  3. Education – We remain dedicated to educating the market about the power of header bidding and unified auctions, and how they can help both publishers and advertisers.

For CMOs and tech vendors, what are the key takeaways from your recently published report, “2018 Header Bidding Research Report”?

One of the most important takeaways from this report is the decline of waterfall’s effectiveness and the inevitable shift to in-app header bidding. The report found that the traditional waterfall is still the preferred in-app monetization method for the majority of publishers today (57 percent), but soon in-app header bidding will take its place.

Among those who have already embraced in-app header bidding, 36 percent said their revenue has gone up as a result, while 49 percent expect to see revenue gains from it over the next 12 months. In addition, 37 percent of those using in-app header bidding said it provided greater transparency into impression values and bids. For those not using in-app header bidding, 21 percent said ad revenues had decreased over the past 12 months, and 32 percent said ad revenues have remained static during that time frame.

How does header bidding technology impact transparency and brand safety standards?

With in-app header bidding, publishers get transparency into the auction mechanics, knowing more about who is bidding, what they are bidding, etc. Simultaneously, buyers get transparency and access to all the inventory and are able to compete for each impression.

Header bidding can unite various ad exchanges and networks into one unified auction where there is competition for every impression, on every ad unit, on every page. The unified competition will result in the highest price that the market will sustain for the ad inventory. In a scenario where every advertiser bids in the header, it’s no longer necessary to create a waterfall. This affords a higher level of transparency and, therefore, control into the auction process, that publishers didn’t previously have with waterfalls. Because the auction process is so transparent, publishers can see exactly who is bidding for their ads, and are no longer at the mercy of pre-determined priority sequences that are often based on historical data.

In terms of brand safety, the survey found that 39 percent of respondents listed brand safety as their most important quality in advertising technology, while over 19 percent said transparent auction dynamics was their priority.

What excites you the most about the current programmatic advertising for mobiles?

The exciting takeaways from this report are the significant opportunities for improving monetization and mediation on mobile. In-app header bidding is in its very early stages of adoption, but I believe it’s only a matter of time until it’s widely embraced by advertisers and app publishers. Early adopters of in-app header bidding are seeing increased revenue by reducing or eliminating their reliance on manual waterfall optimization. Header bidding is a newer, smarter way to monetize a publisher’s inventory, and 34 percent of publishers think header bidding has solved the traditional waterfall issues. I’m excited to see where wider industry adoption of in-app header bidding takes us moving into 2019!

What are your predictions on the role of AI/Machine Learning in header bidding technology? What’s the most exciting aspect of bringing together AI/ML into the mobile advertising marketplace?

I believe artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are helping to innovate and improve business processes across many industries, and ad tech is no exception. There is significant potential for AI to improve programmatic buying, and for ML to learn patterns in ad auctions, in order to improve the bidding sequence. Programmatic is growing in popularity globally — InMobi’s State of Mobile Video Report 2018 found that programmatic mobile video ad spending grew 136 percent globally between 2016 and 2017, and 220 percent in the US during the first three months of 2018 compared to the first quarter of 2017. As programmatic usage rises across all geographies and ad types, the need for app developers and publishers to utilize better advertising technology is apparent. AI and ML can improve automation and move us further away from manual waterfall optimization, and I’m excited to see how it further disrupts the current marketplace.

Thanks for chatting with us, Andrew.

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