• Advertising
  • App Monetization
  • Header Bidding

What Should an Ad Mediation SDK Look Like in 2021?

Eugene Dorfman
11 Dec 2020
6 min
What Should an Ad Mediation SDK Look Like in 2021?

With an increasing number of mobile users year after year, it’s apparent business owners should focus on the mobile market. And programmatic advertising is no exception: according to Statista, in 2019, mobile advertising spendings worldwide amounted to 189 billion U.S. dollars and are expected to surpass 240 billion dollars by 2022.

This means adding a world-class mobile ad mediation SDK to the list of offerings is a must for any programmatic advertising service provider to stay competitive. But what does a perfect SDK look like in 2021? There’s no straightforward answer. But no worries, based on our experience and research-driven estimations, we’ve assembled a list of features to include in your project scope.  

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    Choose your path to market

    At Postindustria, we are strong believers in distribution channels as a product feature. Thus, including a path-to-market strategy in your development plan is crucial: it will shape your conclusive list of features and help you prioritize them. 

    For example, if you are looking to reach publishers through a partnership with MoPub – a leading mobile ad mediation platform – your solution must satisfy a list of criteria and tech requirements. These guidelines will help outline your delivery plan for MoPub. Here are the key tech features to support: 

    • the Automated Reporting API to aid MoPub’s AutoCPM feature
    • open source adapters in GitHub, conforming to core requirements and style guides 
    • SDK distribution through CocoaPods for iOS and JCenter for Android

    MoPub is not the only partnership option, though. Google Ad Manager, Fyber, Smaato, and IronSource are also decent shortcuts to your clients — despite having their own demand, they can also mediate other networks as a primary ad server and an SDK. But there are also “pure” mediation platforms, such as Appodeal. These companies don’t have a personal demand, they only mediate others. 

    Therefore, becoming a mediated network that partners with leading mediators can be a good path to market, as many publishers adopt mediation mechanics right away and choose an established vendor in this space. At the same time, to integrate your solution, onboarding publishers (end-users) directly remains the number-one distribution channel and should be included in your route-to-market strategy. Early adopters are a great source of feedback, which is necessary for becoming more prepared to apply for mediation partnership programs.

    Select features based on your path to market

    While partnership criteria vary from platform to platform, compiling an ultimate list of must-have features from the beginning can be a bit overwhelming. Besides, the market competition is tough, making it pretty challenging to stand out from the rest. To this end, we’ve compiled a list of the most sought-after features and characteristics to help you envision a viable ad mediation SDK in 2021. 

    Modularity

    When it comes to evaluating SDK solutions, size is key. It shouldn’t exceed 10MB, and ideally, should be under 2MB. With this in mind, we strongly recommend building ad mediation SDK with a modular structure, so publishers can choose only the functions they need. For example, your SDK can contain the following “building blocks”: 

    • Core SDK — the code created and maintained by you or a software development vendor you hired for this purpose
    • Adapters — the code that provides a bridging layer between the primary (aka mediator) and the mediated SDKs
    • Partner SDKs — responsible for requesting and rendering 3rd party ads (provided by third-party companies)

    In addition, your Core SDK should consist of the following modules: 

    • Mediation — responsible for dispatching control between various partner SDKs based on the ad server’s mediation settings
    • Bidding — responsible for initiating bids 
    • Rendering — responsible for rendering creatives coming from bidders

    Based on the ad formats, the Rendering component can be modularized as well: Banner, Interstitial, and Rewarded Video. Thus, a publisher can choose the format needed for a particular app. 

    Since the modular structure allows publishers to embed a part of the solution only, the disc space savings can reach up to 60% on Android and up to 35% on iOS.

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      Advanced bidding 

      Supporting “normal” bidding mechanisms, like waterfall and header bidding, is, of course, a must. But still, it’s not enough for staying competitive in 2021. That being said, you should include advanced bidding among your list of must-have features. But what is “advanced bidding” exactly? 

      Recently introduced by MoPub, advanced bidding is a complete reimagination of header bidding for a mobile ecosystem. It combines network mediation and real-time bidding. Basically, it flattens the waterfall, giving ad networks and exchange buyers a fair look at each impression. Here’s what the advanced bidding mechanics look like: 

      What Should an Ad Mediation SDK Look Like in 2021? - photo 1

      MoPub proved that implementing advanced bidding leads to better revenue gains. You can read about advanced bidding mechanics in more detail here

      Remote configuration 

      An SDK’s behavior should be fully configurable on the server, which is rather a standard requirement, not an additional frill to stand out. The key reason is mobile applications are subject to infrequent releases. That’s why it’s best to avoid altering the client code upon each app update. We recommend having as much control over the server as possible.

      This includes waterfall configuration with all the audience and keyword targeting parameters, ad network settings (specifying their placement IDs and other parameters), bidder configurations, prioritization of ad sources, and ad unit configurations (size, refresh interval, etc.).  

      Viewability

      To gain trust from more demand partners and ad mediation platforms, it’s urged to pass an IAB certification for Open Measurement 1.3 (OM 1.3) — an IAB initiative that measures the performance of in-app ads by various third-party vendors, like MOAT and IAS, via a single SDK. 

      With Open Measurement, advertisers can measure their ad performance independently, which helps them purchase inventory with more confidence while adding an additional layer of transparency. For publishers, OM compliance means avoiding the need to convince advertisers they are real people, and that their inventory is making a measurable impact. 

      Other requirements to consider

      No doubt, implementing the above practices will not just enable you to partner with leading mediation platforms but also give you an edge over your competitors. Other criteria include: 

      • supported platforms: iOS, Android
      • targeting dimensions: ad unit ID, advertising identifier, country code, carrier, language/locale, custom keywords
      • supported ad formats: banner, interstitial, rewarded video
      • tracking metrics: impression tracking, click tracking, video completion (%), user sessions, ad loading latency, Impression Level Revenue Data
      • compliance guidelines: GDPR, CCA, COPPA
      • distribution channels: Cocoapods for iOS, JCenter / Gradle for Android
      • documentation distribution channels: GitHub
      • supported industry standards (aside from OM 1.3): MRAID 3, VAST 4.1, VAST Wrappers, VAST with EndCard, SKAdNetwork, MRC Viewability Standards, AdChoices, custom server-side setup 

      Conclusion

      If you want to build a viable ad mediation SDK in 2021, meeting user needs isn’t enough. Choosing the right mediation platform as a path to market matters, too. And depending on your choice, your project’s scope might vary. 

      Luckily, many mediation partnership criteria align while revolving around the same goal — making monetization easier and more profitable without interfering with app user experience. So, we’ve come full circle: partnerships with leading ad mediation platforms help meet end-user needs. 

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