In-App Header Bidding

Today, the most commonly adopted method for in-app monetization is mediation. In a nutshell, mediation is a solution that lets app developers setup, manage, and optimize multiple mobile ad networks. 

Mediation optimizes revenue following the waterfall model – the sequential initiation of a bid, one ad network after another until the ad is sold.  

But with waterfalls, ad networks are prioritized on historical revenue data. So if a particular network starts to drive higher CPMs but is lower down the waterfall, you may never know. Meaning you’re not getting visibility on the highest bid at any one time. 

This makes it difficult for mediation technology to prioritize monetization partners and means you the publisher, miss out on valuable revenue. Not good. 

And when more than half of app publishers still rely on the ad waterfall model, it’s clear that a change in approach is needed. That’s where In-app header bidding is starting to rise in popularity.

What is Header Bidding (or Parallel Bidding)?

Given its origins in desktop advertising, the term ‘header bidding’ refers to the headers of web pages. Header bidding enables publishers to offer their inventory to all partners, ad exchanges, and ad networks simultaneously before making a call to their ad server. The highest price offered can be taken in real time, based on set rules on schedules and pricing. 

Header bidding is now relatively mature in the world of desktop and mobile display, and is now gaining traction in-app.

Apps, of course, do not have headers. But the name associated with the technique has stuck. You may also see the term ‘parallel bidding’ (or ‘unified auction’) crop up in similar conversations.

For apps, the principles of header bidding can be applied by performing ‘parallel’ bidding via the mediation layer. Just as with web ads, the request is sent to multiple partners at the same time, and the highest bid is selected before calling the ad server. 

In short, this means you don’t miss out on revenue. 

Too good to be true…?

Sounds great, right? Of course, there are a number of challenges to consider before moving to a header bidding (or parallel bidding) model. We’ve listed them below, along with a solution for each.

#1 Multiple Integrations

To make the parallel bidding model work, app developers typically need to integrate an SDK from each monetization partner they work with. If that’s six partners, that could mean six SDKs. 

For smaller development teams in particular, implementing all of that can be a serious time suck. Not to mention require technical upkeep that pulls your team away from what they would otherwise be doing, i.e. iterating and developing new products.

The Solution:

To avoid this, make sure to use a mediation partner that can integrate all major ad networks, ad exchanges, DSPs, and campaigns on the market. The best solutions available today can do this with a single SDK, meaning you don’t have to spend vital man hours on squeezing extra code into your apps.

#2 First vs Second Price Problem

Programmatic advertising has traditionally been run on what is known as ‘second price auctions‘. Typically, this means that the winning bidder will only pay one cent over the second highest price, even if their maximum bid is in fact much higher. This leads to you, the publisher, missing out on revenue. 

This discrepancy between bid price and the publisher commission (or ‘clearing price’) has led to the rise of ‘first price’ auctions. The buyer bids the price at which they value the user they hope to reach. 

In a mediated auction, a second price auction could lead to the second price bid going on to compete at the exchange level. Potentially against first price auction winners. This puts second price bidders at a significant disadvantage.

The Solution:

Dynamic floor optimization. This process flattens the waterfall and does not rely on second price auctions. By placing dynamic floors at regular intervals, more accuracy is achieved across the bid landscape. 

Make sure your mediation partner operates Dynamic floor optimization.

#3 Limited to CPM Only

As a publisher, in order to maximize your potential returns, it pays to be able to accept as many types of performance campaigns as possible. However, many header bidding solutions today currently only support CPM pricing, leaving a lot of potential revenue on the table.

The Solution:

The most advanced mediation partners are able to use predictive technology that can take CPI, CPL, and CPA performance campaigns and convert them into a highly accurate eCPM. This enables them to compete with CPM bids, meaning you won’t miss out. Make sure your mediation partner supports this.

So is Header Bidding for you?

In-app header bidding is fast becoming the preferred monetization method for app publishers. Recent innovations, such as dynamic floor optimization, have all but cleared up previous concerns, and are having a significant impact on publisher revenue.

It might just be time to consider jumping off that waterfall.

If you have any questions about header bidding, and which monetization options might be right for your apps, feel free to drop me a line – barnaby.chapman@ogury.com

Barnaby Chapman, Senior Product Marketing Manager

Amazon reached a significant milestone at the start of the year – over 100 million US Prime members. It’s no wonder that its annual Prime Day event has become one of the biggest US shopping holidays, generating an estimated $4.2B for Amazon last year

Yet, the drive in e-commerce activity around this date is not a win for Amazon alone. In many ways, Prime Day has become a victim of its own success by creating a major opportunity for other digital retailers to piggyback on Amazon’s event. 

The so-called “Prime Day effect” has seen savvy competitors capitalizing on mid-summer sales with their own special discounts. According to Adobe research, Prime Day 2018 boosted other large retailers’ sales by 54 percent, and a study by global consulting firm AlixPartners found that 39 percent of shoppers look for bargains at retailers other than Amazon. 

Looking at Ogury’s consented first-party mobile user journey data, we discovered that the opportunity for other brands to cash in on Prime Day began long before last year, with activity on Walmart’s app increasing 54 percent on Prime Day 2017. 


What’s more, in 2018, Ogury mobile journey data shows that Target app users were 17 percent more active on July 17, 2018, compared to the previous day. And research from Mckinsey & Company reveals that Target saw a 129 percent lift in conversions on this date when compared to the previous week, topping Amazon’s 121% Prime Day conversion lift. 


It’s clear that Prime Day holds huge potential for retailers above and beyond Amazon. And with research by InfoScout uncovering 67 percent of all 2018 Prime Day sales were made on mobile, a mobile-first approach is essential to success. 

But what first-party data and third-party trends can retailers leverage to effectively engage consumers on mobile at the exact time they are ‘primed’ to purchase? 

Understand the mobile user journey 

To truly make a mark on Prime Day, it’s imperative retailers understand what the Prime Day shopping journey looks like for individual customers. Too often retailers opt for a broad approach to their marketing strategies. Typically this is due to knowledge gaps in mobile journey data, which limit brand marketers’ understanding of user behavior outside their own app or website. 

Yet, sending a significant pool of your audience potentially irrelevant brand messaging could not only damage your brand’s reputation, but also increase consumer unease around how you are collecting and using their data. In a recent study by Mobile Ecosystem Forum, over one-third (36 percent) of smartphone users surveyed felt they didn’t have a choice in how apps use their data.

There is an alternative that negates reliance on incomplete and unreliable third-party data though. Instead, retailers can use Mobile Journey Marketing (MJM) to gain a holistic view of their consumers’ mobile journeys. MJM relies on quality consented first-party data that gives users full transparency over how their data is used. Understanding the mobile journey allows brands to build a complete picture of the human behind the screen and personalize Prime Day messaging to their precise preferences. 

Identify how Amazon customers behave

To draw customers away from the Amazon app and on to your own app requires a level of insight into customers’ mobile behavior. Ogury Active Insights examined the mobile journey of Amazon app users to identify other apps that its customers engage with. This includes QSR apps like Domino’s and Papa John’s, and online marketplace apps LetGo and Groupon. Engagement with the latter suggests users prioritize discounts and deals – perfect for Prime Day! 

Seeing where users go outside of your app or website and understanding their mobile routine will allow you to make intelligent decisions about which users may be attracted to your brand. Having deep knowledge of the mobile journey means you can effectively engage new and existing customers and capture share of voice over seasonal retail holidays like Prime Day, to ultimately drive business results. 

See the seasonal sentiments 

In addition to first-party insights, third-party trends enable brands to make educated predictions that can inform mobile strategies and ensure successful activation. When considering Prime Day, time of year is crucial as it dictates the types of purchases consumers will be looking to make in this period, which doesn’t apply all year round. Prime Day sits at the start of the summer vacation, so holiday essentials and back-to-school buys are top of mind. Ahead of Prime Day 2018, RetailMeNot ran a survey of US parents of school-aged children, and a whopping 91 percent said they plan to make a back-to-school purchase on Prime Day

Perhaps more surprising is that 40 percent of US consumers buy Christmas gifts on Prime Day according to Valassis, and among 18 – 34-year-olds, nearly one in five completed a quarter (25 percent) of their holiday shopping on Prime Day – so Christmas in July really does exist! 

Don’t focus all your efforts on the US

When Prime Day started back in 2015, US sales accounted for 77 percent of all purchases, but international sales have steadily increased year-on-year, hitting 37 percent in 2018, with 2019 set to see an even bigger increment in international spend. Global retailers should therefore include key international markets in their mobile strategy. In fact, Ogury data reveals similar trends at competitor retail stores in international markets on Prime Day. This includes a 28% increase in daily active users on the Asda app and a 73% increase in the number of sessions per users on the John Lewis app last Prime Day compared to the day before Amazon’s Prime Day started.

Follow the leader 

There’s a reason why Prime Day has been so successful, and other retailers would be wise to look closely at Amazon’s tactics and follow suit. According to RetailMeNot, the brands that fared best on Prime Day were those that – like Amazon – offered short-lived availability, aggressive discounts, sitewide codes, and free shipping, as well as those using the word ‘prime’ in marketing content. 

Considering points of differentiation could also help your brand reign supreme against the competition. For many retailers, this may be the fact that users don’t require a membership to buy from your app or website, but smaller retailers might also want to consider promoting stock that is unique to them or hard-to-come-by, such as handcrafted products.  

In five years, Amazon Prime Day has evolved to become a major global shopping holiday. Once an Amazon-only revenue generator, challenger brands have succeeded in creating a buzz of users browsing far and wide for the best discount deals.

Taking a slice of Amazon’s sales pie is no longer an impossible task, but it does require a data-driven mobile-first strategy, incorporating third-party trends and first party insights, if retailers want to reap the highest returns from digital investments and mobile inventory. 

If you’re interested in gaining a holistic view of your consumer, leverage quality consented first-party mobile journey data and activate business results this Prime Day. Reach out to learn more: Kevin@ogury.co.

Kevin Fitzgerald, Head of Insights, US

Ninety percent of a mobile user’s time on their device is spent in-app. This is fundamentally changing the way people shop on mobile. It can be hard for shopper marketers to keep up. Especially if they aren’t looking at the bigger picture.

Last month, a Forbes article that featured research on mobile app dominance amongst major brands shared some surprising results. A year after Starbucks was named the leader in mobile app adoption, it was unseated by Walmart. The retail giant had over 58 million US app installs compared to Starbucks’ 44 million.

Walmart’s dominance is no small feat. In addition to toppling Starbucks off its perch, it also passed Amazon and Uber.

As evidence of how quickly app usage and adoption can change the landscape, a Vox article from May 2018 touted Starbucks’ mobile payment capabilities and customer willingness to load and store funds on the app as key reasons for its success. Vox predicted the app to continue its dominance. At the time of the article, Starbucks was leading app adoption over industry leaders, including Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay. Walmart was not even part of the equation.

A year later, Walmart trails just behind Starbucks in how often users load funds to the app. Twenty one percent of Starbucks users load funds “often”, compared to Walmart’s 20 percent, according to the Cornerstone and StrategyCorp research quoted by Forbes.

These insights tell an interesting story of a legacy brand quickly adopting and succeeding in the mobile app ecosystem, But this story very much starts and stops at app downloads and installs. By only considering these metrics, shopper marketers are not getting the bigger picture view. They’re missing out on what their users – and those of their competitors – are actually doing on their devices.

They need to look beyond app installs and app ownership and look at what else users are actually doing. In this case, we know users are loading funds into the app. But how, when and where are they using the app? And what other apps are driving engagement? For that, we dug a little deeper to look at the Walmart shopper’s mobile user journey to answer three key questions.

How loyal is the Walmart app user?

First, we know that Walmart is leading the pack in terms of downloads, but we wanted to see how loyal these users are, and how this may differ between Walmart and Walmart Grocery.

As you can see above, Ogury’s first-party consented data reveals that 91 percent of Walmart Grocery app users are shared with other retailers. Amazon takes up a significant share of that user base, followed by Target. Looking at the Walmart app, only 67 percent of its users are shared with other retailers, with Amazon and Sam’s Club top of the list.  

How does seasonality impact app usage?

We know users leverage both of the Walmart apps, but how does seasonality impact activity? Looking at insights drawn from Ogury’s data, you can see below that users are consistently active on Walmart’s app and site across the year, with a dip in activity over the holiday shopping period.

So where are these users going and why would there be a dip during the holiday shopping period? With holiday shopping being a big revenue driver for not only Walmart but the industry as a whole, I took a look at other retailer activity to understand user behavior. Below you can see that activity increases at retailers including Target, Kroger and Dollar General, as shoppers share their time over the busiest shopping period of the year.

To capitalize on seasonal trends, shopper marketers should look at traffic spikes and dips to formalize competitive strategies to ensure it’s your brand capturing user attention and dollars.

What other apps do Walmart users engage with?

Finally, we wanted to take a look at Walmart’s broader app ecosystem. What other apps were users engaging with? Where else were they shopping? Insights revealed that users engaged with apps from discount shopping stores like Dollar General and Family Dollar, as well as rebate and cashback apps like iBotta and eBates. In addition to these retail apps, users also engaged with QSR apps such as McDonalds and Sonic. This ecosystem paints the average Walmart user as deal savvy and on-the-go. Pertinent insight for shopper marketers to better engage the Walmart shopper.

Looking only at app installs and app ownership puts constraints on shopper marketer’s foresight. It’s akin to only looking at foot traffic at a brick-and-mortar without paying attention to purchase behavior or inventory. With competitors becoming more digitally savvy, it’s vital that shopper marketers become ecosystem aware to better engage their consumers along their user journey, in a complaint, and effective way.

Interested in becoming ecosystem aware? Email me at shopper@ogury.co to learn more.

Drew Childers, VP Midwest Region

GDPR Compliant Ads & GDPR Compliance

Seems like just yesterday GDPR came into effect. Marking a historic new chapter.

Consumer data, mishandled for decades, can no longer be used without the user’s consent.

Finally!

An end to appalling displays of data abuse and rogue marketing. An end to consumer mistrust.

What a difference a year makes.

Or does it? How do consumers really feel since GDPR compliance came in to effect?

We had to find out. So we conducted some extensive research.

Not the type that consists of 2,000 – 10,000 survey respondents. That’s not enough to grasp the reality of the situation.

We asked 287,000 consumers, from six countries, their opinions towards data, privacy, mobile marketing, and advertising. Making it the largest piece of research of its kind ever conducted.

The results are in, and they make for wide-eyed reading.
The Reality Report: Consumer Attitudes Towards Mobile Marketing 2019, will be available for you to download free from July 9th. But before we release it in its entirety, we wanted to share some alarming GDPR related snippets.

Consumers Are Still In The Dark Over Their Data

One year on from GDPR, despite the publicity, and best efforts of organizations and lawmakers, only 8% of consumers feel they now have a better understanding of how their data is used by the companies who collect it. 8%!? That’s low.

Digging deeper, results show that over one half of consumers feel they have no better understanding of how their data is being used since GDPR was introduced. And over a third don’t even know what GDPR is.

Ouch.

No legislation is perfect. But such a dramatic disconnect between the policy and the people is disappointing news for lawmakers.

For marketers, it’s a wake-up call.

One year in, the grace period is over. GDPR sanctions will fall. And fines will become more frequent. Organizations have a responsibility to inform users about how their data will be used and to deliver GDPR compliant ads. Not only to avoid financial implications, but also to build consumer trust, and help demonstrate the mutual value-exchange that comes with sharing data.

As is stands today, however, consumers are not getting it. Why?

GDPR and GDPR compliant ads have not been taken seriously enough

Based on what we’ve seen so far, most would say that’s true.

But organizations can hardly be accused of sleeping on the job. Since GDPR came into effect, job listings for data Protection Officers (DPOs) have shot up by 700% as companies gear up for compliance. In the USA and UK alone, an estimated $9bn has been spent on GDPR compliance preparation.

$9bn is a serious amount of money. And if you’re reading this, chances are you or your company have put in a lot of effort into adopting practices and processes to become compliant.

Lack of consumer understanding, therefore, is not entirely caused by the fact that GDPR compliance hasn’t been taken seriously enough. It’s that organizations time and money has been mainly spent on internal changes.   

That’s all absolutely required. But consumer clarity requires external focus.

And that begins with consent notices. The first line of communication.

It’s this – vital interaction – that hasn’t been taken seriously enough.

Results from our research prove it…

78% of consumers do not read consent notices

Alarming indeed. But hardly surprising when the average amount of time it takes to read one is 18 minutes.

Packed with obscure legalese and sprawling clauses, the majority of consent notices are too long and too opaque. They’re not accessible to the average reader. They don’t help consumers understand how organizations use their data. In fact – they’re failing to inform the very people they are designed to protect.

Consent notices should use plain language, that’s easy to understand, quick to consume, and published in plain sight. Empowering users with clarity, to make an informed choice.

But currently, that’s not the case.

As long as it remains this way, organizations will never earn consumer trust. And that is bad for the internet, and bad for business.

In a post-Cambridge Analytica world, where guards are up and consumers don’t know how their data is being used, trust is a competitive advantage. It’s a route to sustainable business growth.

As an industry, it’s time to stand up and take note of what our consumers have told us.

And they’ve told us a lot – all 287,000 of them – in The Reality Report: Consumer Attitudes To Mobile Marketing 2019.

It’s available for free from July 9th. Send us your details below and we’ll ensure you’re one of the first to receive it.

If you’d also like to know more about our take on GDPR and GDPR compliant ads, please reach out to us.

Max Pepe, VP Marketing

Summer is only just beginning, but parents are already thinking about the back-to-school season. According to NRF, back-to-school (BTS) and back-to-college (BTC) shoppers spend more per household than Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day combined. In fact, it’s expected to reach $82 billion.

Whether it’s online or offline, it’s a prime shopping season that you cannot miss, which is significantly aided by mobile. In fact, 53% of consumers plan to use their smartphones for BTS shopping. Marketers realize how big of an opportunity BTS is, allocating 56% more to mobile marketing budgets compared to prior years.

Understanding what this BTS shopping journey looks like will ensure that these investments pay off, and that those dollars are spent with your brand. But this is easier said than done since it’s hard to differentiate the nuances between different BTS shoppers. Rather than casting a wide net, you need to understand what your consumers are looking for, how and when they shop, and what messages should be used to attract them.

To help you navigate this massive mobile opportunity, I developed four key lessons you can start applying to your marketing plan.

Lesson One: Moms like to avoid in-store traffic

Thanks to mobile and tech, moms can now avoid the BTS rush. Looking at Ogury’s mobile journey data, active app users increased across multiple large retailers last July compared to the previous year, including Walmart (22%), Best Buy (13%) and Staples (58%). Moms are going online more and more. In fact, a survey last year discovered that 74% of smartphone-wielding moms in the U.S. plan to shop online for school supplies. Roughly half of the moms surveyed reported picking up their orders in-store. Others had planned to order supplies through an app (41%), get them via curbside pickup (24%), or use a virtual assistant (21%).

This means you need an omnichannel strategy that supports these on-the-go moms; from online grocery pickup apps to delivery sites. Knowing how your target audience shops can help you deliver a better all-encompassing media strategy.

Lesson Two: Peak Shopping Days Vary by Brand

Timing is one of the biggest factors of any marketing strategy. Using mobile journey data will enable you to see exactly when consumers are engaging with both your brand and your competitors.

Ogury Active Insights revealed the differences in peak shopping periods for Amazon and Walmart:

Ogury’s first-party data reveals that Walmart sees consistent traffic while Amazon has more clearly defined peak days, which also align with Walmart’s peaks. You can do the same with your brand to identify the best days to reach your shoppers, and know when to ramp up messaging for slower days.

Lesson Three: BTS and BTC Shoppers Value Different Verticals

The needs of BTS and BTC shoppers vary, which is reflected in the verticals and categories in which they shop.

Sixty-four percent of freshman college students plan to stop up on new electronics like laptops, gaming consoles and TVs before going to university. On average, these students spend roughly $229 on electronics, $153 on clothes and $83 on shoes. Back-to-school shoppers, however, spend more on clothing ($237) and shoes ($139) than electronics ($187).

Insights drawn from Ogury mobile user journey data reveal that Best Buy app users engaged with their app the most amount of times towards the end of the BTS season. By contrast, H&M app users had more sessions towards the start. This goes to show that while the categories for BTS and BTC shoppers are similar, their priorities are vastly different. You can use this level of insight to your advantage by aligning your media strategies with the key verticals that appeal to these audiences.

Lesson Four: Use State Sales Tax Holidays to Your Advantage

Early August is one of the biggest spending months for BTS shoppers, with 67% of active shoppers and a total spend of $9.9 billion.

What’s the deal behind these stats?

Well, it turns out that a lot of people like to save money. More than 70 percent of older millennials (ages 25 and up) try to find the best deals and lowest prices. It just so happens that August is also the month where more states host tax-free weekends. Looking at Ogury’s first-party mobile journey data, engagement on Target’s app and site consistently peaks across each Sunday in August, as shoppers take advantage of the savings.

How can you capitalize on this trend? Use an always-on marketing strategy to stay relevant with your shoppers. Boost your media tactics by incorporating incentivized messaging during peak state sales tax holidays to capture attention when they’re in the market to purchase.

Whether you want to reach moms with K-12 children or high school grads heading off to college, it’s important to understand their mobile user journey. This will allow you to see how these consumers behave outside of your owned channels, personalize your media messages to each stage of their shopping journey, and know when to upweight media to get the highest engagement.

Want to learn more about how you can leverage mobile journey data to reach your BTS and BTC consumers? Reach out to me directly at kevin@ogury.co

Kevin Fitzgerald, Head of Insights, US