Mobile SSP PubNative Launches After Raising Over $1M

Despite being considered strange bedfellows by some, native and programmatic continue to cozy up with one another.

PubNative, a mobile supply-side platform (SSP) and ad exchange for native advertising, launched on Tuesday. The platform uses an Application Programming Interface (API) and does not require mobile publishers to integrate a Software Development Kit (SDK).

PubNative's launch is backed by a seven-figure investment from AppLift, a mobile games marketing platform. Specific terms of the financing were not disclosed.

“Mobile advertising has to be native,” writes Ionut Ciobotaru, co-founder and managing director of PubNative, in a blog post announcing the launch. That’s a statement one would expect to hear from the co-founder of a native mobile ad exchange, but he’s not the only one thinking along those lines.

PubNative is the third mobile-focused native ad exchange to launch in the past 60 days, following InMobi and NativeX. A handful of others have launched in 2014, including one from OpenX, which also focuses on mobile. PubNative's will house in-app inventory from smartphones and tablets. 

Ciobotaru notes that despite its rise in popularity, native advertising has an identity problem. "There is a common misconception about its definition or what it entails," he writes, asserting that "native" is not interchangeable with "in-feed ads such as offered by Facebook."

“Native means perfectly fitting the design, the form and the function of the app developers have strived so hard to code and design, something which can only be partially achieved through templates,” Ciobotaru offers. That’s one reason the company is foregoing an SDK -- it contends SDKs aren’t customizable enough to fully support "native" ads.

Another issue with native advertising -- and one's that of particular importance in the programmatic world -- is scale. PubNative has partnered with over five DSPs to date, including AppLift, and claims that over 300 app advertisers are running over 5,000 campaigns on the exchange. To be clear, PubNative supports more than just programmatic trading.

No sense of scale from the supply side of PubNative's exchange has been revealed, but the supply side may not be solely responsible for “scale” issues in native.

Seth Hittman, CEO of Run, a cross-device ad platform, has observed that “native is way more hype than reality when it comes to something brands are looking to access programmatically.” He acknowledged that brands are taking about it but said that “not many [are] actually investing in it.”

PubNative has hit the ground running, however, and has launched with impressive “scale” of its own, at least in terms of a worldwide presence. The company is headquartered in Berlin, Germany with offices in San Francisco and Seoul, South Korea.

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