+2 votes
In a time where many (most?) devs/publishers are monetizing on ads through mediation, with bidding only, or with a hybrid of bidding and waterfall, does it still make sense to invest in building and maintaining relations with the ad networks?

Will having a close relationship with the ad networks (still) allow for more negotiations and better performance (higher revenue), or are the terms more equal for publishers with more self-service solutions?

And how do you expect the upcoming ATT changes to impact the need for investing in these relations?
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2 Answers

0 votes
Just a couple of years ago, having frequent meetings and exchanging (weekly) emails with the ad network representatives, without a doubt had a significant impact on the performance of the network. I remember going back and forth between the ad networks to negotiate for the higher ecpm in exchange for the first impression, with a lot of manual work and things to keep track of.

With more and more self-service solutions allowing publishers to self-manage, creating new placements, setting ecpm floors etc, luckily has made running day-to-day ad ops easier, at least for a smaller sized company where we don't have a team dedicated to doing ad ops full-time. Bidding makes it even easier, even though it still takes time to optimize waterfalls in a hybrid solution.

With frequent restructuring in the ad network's organizations, and of course the covid situation canceling all on-site conferences where you would normally network and meet people, I find maintaining the client/partner relationships with the ad networks more challenging than before. But at the same time, maybe it is sufficient to have someone to reach out to for advice every now and then, and just let the mediation do its work. It is for sure less time-consuming.
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0 votes
Having spent time on the buy side I can say among the biggest challenges was simply understanding the organization of the publisher's inventory. Margin negotiations aside, today I regularly meet with demand partners simply to keep them updated on what monetization strategies and methodologies we are implementing. At the end of the day a successful relationship between you and the network will generate profit on both sides and it's very difficult to do this by simply analyzing a flood of bid requests.

Add to this, investment on the buyer's side will-- in most cases-- help your standing with the bidding algorithms. There's plenty of traffic out there, the bidder isn't going to buy unprofitably for long unless there's a reason for it.

I also find it helpful to see what priorities the buyers have on their docket, often you can spot indications that you'll need to see ahead of time (e.g. de-prioritizing native ads).

As iOS 14.5 brings life to a new generation of buy strategies I'd say it's more important than ever to keep a tight rein with the networks. They're not quite sure how to buy and you keeping in touch with them just might help them figure out a profitable angle for you and them.
by (150 points)