The Mobile Marketer’s Guide to Programmatic Networks

January 23, 2024

Mobile user acquisition (UA) efforts are often dominated by paid search and social media marketing campaigns — but sooner or later, mature apps must move past these easy, DIY options and explore new audiences beyond the confines of the walled gardens of Meta and Google. Small UA teams don’t always have the expertise to navigate the expansive landscape of mobile performance marketing outside of search and social. From programmatic networks (DSPs) to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) preloads it’s a varied landscape that UA marketers often need a guide to explore. 

In this article, we explore the ins and outs of programmatic networks, one of the most popular channels for UA marketers looking to expand their horizons beyond search and social.

What is a Programmatic Network?

Programmatic Networks automate the buying and selling of mobile ad inventory, making it easier to buy audience segments across various publishers. Typically, there are two sides to the programmatic coin. Supply-side platforms (SSPs) support mobile publishers by selling their ad space, while demand-side platforms (DSPs) work for advertisers to find ad inventory, ultimately giving it to the highest bidder.

Two servers showing that Demand side platforms and Supply side platforms make up programmatic networks.

Insider Intelligence predicted mobile ad units would capture 70.6% of U.S. programmatic digital display ad spend in 2023. FeedMob’s data supports the dominance of Programmatic, as more than 23% of our client spending in 2023 went to programmatic traffic. Research suggests that programmatically sold advertising will reach $725 billion by 2026.

Pros and Cons of Programmatic

Programmatic networks are popular with mobile UA marketers for a variety of reasons. At the top of the list is the quality of traffic. Marketers seeing high levels of fraudulent traffic can help curb that problem by moving to DSP traffic. As we’ve seen first-hand, moving to Programmatic can also help apps drive down their cost-per-action (CPA) as well.

The high level of transparency allows marketers to optimize Programmatic campaigns and achieve competitive acquisition costs. DSPs are also known for providing reach and allowing app marketers to scale their spending. Additionally, the ability to implement Apple’s SKAdNetwork (SKAN) with this channel makes this a popular choice among our clients.

However, Programmatic, like all channels, has a downside, and in this case, it’s cost. High-quality programmatic placements are typically the most expensive option, meaning they may not be a solution for brands on a tight budget. Working with Programmatic experts, however, can help marketers zero in on their audience and drive costs down.

Tips for being successful with Programmatic Networks

Because Programmatic offers such a wide range of possible placements, it can work for any vertical. Still, if you want to drive down costs and find the right audience, it takes time and testing.

For instance, when we worked with a sports betting app to diversify their portfolio and find premium partners, we tested and vetted five premium supply partners. Each DSP has its own algorithm, so we share the campaign’s KPIs with them, and though CPAs are high initially, we gather data to feed the algorithms, improving performance and dropping CPAs over time. Through careful optimization, we drove a 44.6% decrease in CPA costs year over year and increased conversion rates from .11% to an average of .18% year over year.

Still, there are challenges to come for Programmatic. As Google phases out third-party cookies and mobile IDs in 2024, Programmatic ad buyers must adjust. As Privacy Sandbox prepares to replace deterministic device ID matching, our experts have followed along closely and believe Google is committed to building a privacy-forward solution with the help of feedback from the ecosystem to ensure a smooth rollout when the change finally comes. Still, it’s more important than ever that UA marketers have the right support to efficiently and effectively navigate the mobile programmatic landscape.

Posted: January 23, 2024

Category: FeedMob News and Updates, Mobile Insights Blog, Mobile Performance Strategies


FeedMob Team

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