Mobile advertising continues to offer brands and app publishers huge opportunities – along with some big challenges. Market fragmentation, siloed offerings and the inherent difficulty in targeting individuals on a global scale are key issues in today’s mobile advertising ecosystem.
It can sometimes feel like we are drowning in data but struggling to find actionable insights. Brands and advertisers face trying to accurately measure and attribute the performance of their campaigns, with little standardization between ad networks and platforms and many major internet companies operating their own walled gardens.
That’s where a trading desk has an advantage over other programmatic ad platforms. It has the potential to give advertisers transparent reporting, comparing performance across different in-app and web environments, across different devices, and even different languages and geographies.
Why do people need a trading desk?
Trading desks allow advertisers to coordinate campaigns across a much more dynamic range of media and platforms than would be possible otherwise. We are seeing a big increase in the complexity of campaigns, as advertisers are presented with ever more publications across many different media categories – plus the increasing use of social media influencers as part of the advertising mix.
Complexity is also being added by new innovations happening within different media platforms – examples like BiliBili (user messages), live streaming video (Twitch, Mixer), WeChat mini-apps, etc.
There is also the growing complexity of measuring the effectiveness of campaigns, and understanding the ROI. While we know that more budget than ever before is going towards mobile, as a platform it still lacks transparency.
All of the above complexities are multiplied when you want to target campaigns across different markets (i.e. China).
Why a trading desk and not just another programmatic platform?
In many ways, both serve the same function of making the process of planning and buying thousands of different ad placements as efficient and as automated as possible. Plus, both are built around an RTB framework; the key difference is that with a trading desk model you are able to create more complex rules for how a campaign should perform.
Pure programmatic platforms are also much better suited at making effective use of mid- and long-tail traffic, which accounts for around only 10% of global media spend. With a trading desk model, advertisers can combine this approach with premium inventory, which is often siloed between the different sites and media platforms.
The importance of API’s
As the digital media landscape continues to mature, we have seen the growth of ‘walled garden’ platforms like Facebook and WeChat. Whilst these platforms offer tools that allow advertisers to run ad campaigns and target users with impressive accuracy, the fact that these are closed platforms means that running a campaign across multiple platforms requires a lot of manual work.
We are also seeing more standardisation between platforms, meaning automation becomes possible with the right tools. For example, influencer marketing has become a very important tool for reaching certain audiences but has been hugely reliant on time-consuming, manual planning – often down to dealing with influencers individually. Now, we are seeing platforms like Snap and Instagram building tools designed to allow marketers to build influencer campaigns at scale. By integrating these APIs into a trading desk model, it becomes possible to remove a lot of the difficulty in using these platforms, which in turn opens them up to many more brands and advertisers than before.
The future of the trading desk model
Over the next few years, we will see many more media platforms and formats emerge that are built around a programmatic model. Already we are seeing programmatic ad campaigns targeting Smart TVs, and the emergence of on-demand platforms like Spotify which have ad-funded tiers also create opportunities for programmatic buying. So we think it is inevitable that the ad industry will shift towards trading desks as a way to deal with this rising complexity.
Advertisers will always want more transparency, and we know that the current ad tech landscape doesn’t really deliver this. As campaigns become more complex and advertisers look to use many different channels within a single campaign, they need tools that let them understand campaign performance and return on investment. Therefore, improving the efficiency of cross-media management and offering this kind of transparent reporting and measurement is a key benefit of the trading desk model.
The Nativex Trading Desk structure
What makes the Nativex Trading Desk different?
The core difference with Nativex’s solution is the integration of these walled garden media platforms, using their APIs to create a cross-media planning and measurement tool.
Whilst the trading desk approach is not especially new, most of these sit above a DSP and DMP, acting as an interface between the advertiser and the programmatic technology. But shifting to an API-based approach is fundamentally different, in that it requires both the right vertical technology stack, plus the ability to scale horizontally to integrate many different kinds of media into a single tool.
Doing this is a significant technical challenge that today few companies are able to deliver, as each walled garden platform requires its own customised integration. We believe that the Nativex trading desk is the first to the market to offer this approach.