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What Does SPO Mean for In-App Advertisers?

Team InMobi
3 min read
Posted on March 15, 2021

While many marketers are beginning to understand and appreciate supply path optimization (SPO) in the browser world, what does SPO mean for the brands and agencies that advertise in mobile apps? While the core principles of SPO remain the same throughout the overall programmatic advertising ecosystem, implementation looks different in app than it does on laptops/desktops or even in mobile web environments.  

For a more detailed look at what SPO stands for and what it means for mobile marketers, be sure to download your copy of InMobi’s SPO guidebook today

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Nuances of In-App SPO 

A blanket application of learnings from the web world onto in-app does not work, as the two ecosystems work on fundamentally different technologies. In-app is a closed and more complex ecosystem, with nuances like operating systems (Android, iOS, etc.), different supply side integrations (SDK vs. API) and different technical implementations (server-side vs. client-side ad serving), which do not exist in the web ecosystem. These differences result in intermediaries performing specific, and often critical, roles, and hence make supply path optimization difficult in the in-app world.  

Here are two examples that highlight what we mean: 

  1. Hybrid Supply Access Systems: The more complex implementation of header bidding in app, along with publisher reservations to move away from the widely accepted waterfall models, has led to the in-app supply ecosystem overall being a hybrid of waterfall and HB models. As a result, multiple direct and legitimate supply paths to the same inventory can co-exist, making it hard to evaluate the incremental value of each path. 
     
  2. Valuable Reselling: Each supply-side platform (SSP) SDK in the in-app ecosystem provides different capabilities around creative handling, data collection and passthrough, and support for third party measurement and verification solutions. With the supply paths being more specialized, access to certain pools of high-quality inventory becomes difficult and often expensive. Unlike in the web world where resellers only act as additional hops, resellers in the in-app world can unlock access paths for advertisers through technical innovation or by virtue of the scale of their distribution and operation.  

    Bundled SDK is one of the ways of reselling in which a technology partner helps SSPs increase their footprint among publishers. Other technology partners help covert non-standard mobile ad placements which cannot be bought programmatically into standard OpenRTB ad units. These, along with in-app OTT content syndicators and yield management partners, are examples of supply paths with intermediaries contributing positively to the ecosystem. 

It is worth noting that these are not the only nuances of in-app SPO to keep in mind. For a more detailed look at in-app SPO and its implementation, be sure to download a copy of InMobi Exchange’s Guide to SPO for Advertisers

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