Key Points

  • App mediation isn’t what it used to be, and that’s a good thing.
  • Time and technology have transformed the game, although some app mediation partners are stuck in the old ways.
  • Today, publisher-centric options like Playwire offer a more lucrative path for app publishers.

In the relatively short time since apps became a well-known feature of daily life, a lot has changed on the advertising side of apps. App mediation was a rough business in the early days, but new leaders have emerged in the space. These leaders have risen to the top because they have offered not just new approaches, but better approaches.

That isn’t to say that the old way isn’t still around — lots of app mediation partners still put publishers through the outdated and inefficient methods of the early days — but there is something better to be had in the app publishing space in 2022.

That’s what this article is about. Below, we examine the then vs. now of app mediation. Read on.

Playwire was around back then, and we have invested heavily in making the new, better “now” a reality for publishers. If you want to be a part of that, we want to hear from you. Contact our team today.

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New Financial Mechanisms in App Mediation

One of the most significant recent developments in app mediation has been all about the numbers. It’s the way app mediation partners bring revenue to publishers. The old way was not even a little bit publisher friendly.

Here’s how it worked back then (and, unfortunately, still works for the vast majority of mediation partners): The mediation partner does an auction for the publishers’ inventory, and the best bid wins — unless the mediation partner would like to bid on that inventory themselves, in which case they can grab it. Then, they resell the inventory for as much as possible and keep the difference. In this instance, the mediation partner is incentivized not to maximize publisher yield, but to increase their margin.

In many cases, this model results in the partner making less than the publisher for the sale of the publisher’s inventory. It incentivizes the so-called “partner” to get rock-bottom bids for the publisher’s inventory.

At Playwire, we have decided to be a publisher-centric company, and that old model doesn’t fit that description. So, we’ve developed a new model. We take a predefined percentage of the revenue our publishers earn for their inventory. That means we only make more money when the publisher makes more money. That’s how we always make sure publishers come first.

Performance Is No Longer the Only Meaningful Metric

To this day, performance is the primary metric in app mediation. We should take a step back to explain: The vast majority of mediation partners operate on a cost per acquisition (CPA) basis. In the app space, that usually means downloads of the apps being advertised are the only metric. This is the performance model. 

There are a few problems with this arrangement. First, the publisher has no idea how much money they’re going to make for at least a few days. That’s because someone might download the app or make a purchase a few days later when they’re further down the funnel. Second, it completely leaves out metrics that are extremely valuable to many of the biggest brands in the world.

More specifically, it leaves out the value of brand awareness. Apps have audiences, and advertisers want access to those audiences. Performance-based models don’t account for that. 

But Playwire does. We have brought header bidding, Google Open Bidding, and Amazon TAM into the app mediation mix to make sure our publishers get all of the available demand. Then, we layer in our direct demand, which is generated by our global direct sales team. That translates to higher CPMs, more demand for your inventory and more predictable revenue.

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Publishers Can (and Should) Come First in App Mediation

One of the most systemic and, honestly, insidious problems with the old way of doing app mediation is that it creates an environment that is unfavorable to the publisher. This whole ecosystem begins with the publisher who has created a desirable app, but others have historically stepped in to take a cut of the revenue and leave only scraps for the publisher.

That’s just not how we do business. For Playwire, the publisher is our primary partner, and that’s reflected in our app mediation operations. We make sure the other mediation partners, supply-side platforms (SSPs) and agencies are paying their fair share to participate, and we’re paying attention to what is going on market-wide. That way, we have benchmarks to know what maximum app revenue looks like. Then, we do what it takes to get our publishers there.

Today’s App Mediation Should Be Simple

Ad tech is inherently a little complicated. But when app mediation was new, it was outrageously complicated. Even today, if you work with more than one mediation partner, you’re in for a difficult time. You have to go into every single mediation partner, create and add tags, create integrations and make sure every piece of this process works together.

It’s still that way. So, what has changed? It’s about who manages all of it. Through both automation and human management, Playwire takes care of all of the complexities of app mediation so our publishers can focus on creating great content and building their audiences. It’s not that it’s less complicated — it’s just less complicated for you if you work with Playwire.

Playwire: The ‘Now’ and ‘Next’ in App Mediation

Although we still feel like a young company, Playwire was around for the “then” of app mediation. We participated in it and did the best with what was available, but we saw the problems. And over the years, we have invested a lot of money, time and effort into ushering in the now.

To show for it, we have systems that truly benefit publishers, revenue models that value brand over performance and fully managed app mediation. It’s better for publishers, and that’s what we are all about — always.

We’re here with a better now for app mediation, and we’re always working to make sure our publishers are a key part of what’s next, too. If you want that kind of partnership, all you have to do is get in touch with us. Contact Playwire online to get started.

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