“Discussions of transparency and ethical ad tech will continue to dominate our industry,” says MoPub head of programmatic North America, Caitlin McGovern.
“At the end of the day, we all have a responsibility to provide a clean user experience and help ensure a marketer is reaching an actual human in a viewable environment. A lot of marketers and companies are manually reviewing every single app in the ecosystem and layering on their brand safety requirements,” she explains.
The Drum spoke to McGovern about how the issues around brand safety and transparency can be resolved, ahead of her appearance at Programmatic Punch NY.
What are the immediate issues with brand safety and transparency that the industry needs to address?
Overall, brand safety in-app has been approached in a way that’s more difficult for marketers to navigate. A lot of the agencies and brands have people manually vetting every mobile website and desktop site, but doing that in-app is more complex for a number of reasons. First, it requires downloading the app, which just takes more time, and second we’re no longer dealing with just content, such as news or social feeds. There are games, utilities, and entertainment apps and it becomes more time consuming to categorize and evaluate every app.
The biggest issue overall is education and agreement on scalable in-app standards. For example: what do key benchmarks look like for in-app compared to desktop or mobile web? How are consumers spending their time in mobile apps compared to mobile web, and what kind of content are they consuming? Is it time to re-think the value of verticals that may have been considered less brand-friendly in the past, such as gaming? What kind of ad formats produce the best results? The reality is that consumers are spending more and more of their time in mobile apps (over 88% of mobile time is spent in apps, according to the latest stats from App Annie), and audience across demographics are they highly engaged across all sorts of verticals. Marketers who focus only on major household name apps are missing out on reaching their audiences in a lot of other places.
Within the last ten years, it seems it has become easier for brands to identify and reach audiences, but harder to capture their attention. Why do you think that is?
I think it's been hard for brands to capture their audience's attention due to the type of inventory they are targeting and also the ad formats they are leveraging. Brands are not going to find their audience by white-listing a small sub-section of inventory; marketers need to diversify their inventory and understand that there is a wide range of apps that consumers use and genres such as gaming can be OK. Also, marketers cannot just take desktop creatives and apply them to the mobile space. Users in mobile need relevant content in an engaging format.
What does MoPub do different in terms of brand safety and transparency?
The inventory available on MoPub’s exchange (MoPub Marketplace) comes through MoPub’s SDK integration so we have full visibility and control, which gives us a high degree of confidence that we are sending our DSP partners high-quality supply. From a viewability stand point, we were one of the first in-app exchanges to really support this in an in-app environment, through viewability measurement providers Integral Ad Science and Moat. This entailed a lot of heavy lifting on our end of putting our viewability partners’ SDKs into MoPub's SDK, but this work helped mobile app publishers easily adopt viewability support. From the get-go, we have always supported transparency in the bid request to our DSP partners by providing as many signals as we can about the inventory to help buyers make the right decision.
Can brand safety ever be guaranteed?
It depends on the marketer. With in-app, it can be a little bit difficult to determine the brand safety piece. Everyone needs to continue to work on it and that does involve every little piece of content that is within that app. If you are looking at a news app, making sure that as a marketer you are not running against something that is maybe harmful to their brand and image from a news standpoint — that can be tough. I'm hopeful that at some point the industry will be able to do that, at scale.
MoPub is a sponsor for Programmatic Punch NY, with McGovern appearing as speaker on the panel ‘Transparency and brand safety’
Tickets are available to purchase now for the event on Wednesday 28 March 2018.