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AOL launches SDK-based header bidding for mobile apps
The company says this is the first such offering that lets apps readily jump on the header bidding bandwagon.
To date, header bidding has mostly focused on providing publishers of websites with a way to conduct a unified auction for buyers of their space.
Today, AOL is announcing a beta launch of a header bidding solution for native apps. The company says that, to its knowledge, this is the first header bidding for apps that employs software development kits (SDKs), instead of a few solutions that require customized coding built into the app.
Called Smart Yield and similar to its web cousin, it provides a way for app publishers to conduct a unified auction of demand sources like ad exchanges, avoiding the waterfall-type sequence of auctions that many publishers feel shortchanges the value of their inventory.
It’s called a header bidding solution because it resembles what is happening with websites, where one common implementation calls the demand sources from the site’s browser header. But, AOL VP of Publisher Sales Pat McCormack acknowledged to me, the term “header bidding” is being used loosely here, since there are no browser headers in apps.
Instead, AOL’s solution requires that an app publisher employ their ONE by AOL software development kit (SDK), which more than 65,000 apps do. The SDK calls the demand sources and manages the auction, and the winner is sent to the publisher’s ad server.
AOL’s SDK was built on tech acquired when the company bought Millennial Media in 2015. McCormack noted that other providers of mobile/desktop web header bidding don’t offer SDK-based versions, because they don’t usually have their own SDKs.
The publishers can also use the AOL SDK with the SDKs of third-party ad networks, with the demand sources from all the SDKs participating in the auction (although there are no third-party demand sources beyond MoPub in this beta phase). Many app publishers employ 10 to 15 such SDKs. This means, of course, that AOL is offering its supply of advertisers in each auction.
Web-based header bidding was driven by Google’s waterfall auction, which publishers felt gave that tech giant an advantage. McCormack noted that, for apps, Twitter’s MoPub similarly retains an advantage for most app publishers, so Smart Yield commonly assembles the highest bid from demand sources before competing with MoPub, as visualized in this AOL illustration:
McCormack told me that there is no apparent latency in this solution, although he said custom coding in an app can slow load times. While AOL doesn’t yet have stats on how much more revenue app publishers make with this approach, it does say that mobile and desktop web publishers using its web header bidding solution found an average 53 percent increase in daily revenue.