Mobile ad networks can specialize in in-app advertising, android, iOS, tablet-only, mobile video, and so on. This is a very busy space -- but few stand out as much as the top six who have planted their mobile flag and began to capture brand market share.
It should be no surprise that Google is the number-one player in mobile. But will it be able to capture branding dollars as it has in the past with its purchased mobile platform Admob? Google’s Android software provides a great advantage to keep it as the top mobile player. Owning YouTube does not hurt Google either.
Google seems to work from search, direct response display, and application marketing due to the low price CPMs available on its mobile ad exchange. However, many of Google’s mobile ads have not been very appealing to brands. That began to change this fall, when it added three interstitials and an anchor ad to its platform.
Millennial Media (Nexage)
With the newly acquired Nexage, a mobile ad player, Millennial Media now provides real-time bidding on top of the already acquired Jumptap programmatic platform. The consolidation trend allows Millennial to add another 60,000+ mobile application developers to what’s already the second largest exchange. Nexage also has different ad units -- with more on the way -- that will appeal to brand advertisers.
Millennial will continue to lead from the front with its full-stack player, strong exchange, and deep agency relationships to move further into branding.
Apple iAd (Others)
Apple recently overhauled its iAd programmatic capabilities through partnerships with Rubicon Project for SSP and AdRoll for retargeting. The combination of these new partnerships with Apple’s first-party customer data sets makes the company quite powerful. Its build, buy and partner strategy seems to have all the pieces in place.
Apple has other partnerships to bring brand advertising to its platform. This includes MediaMath, GET IT Mobile, the Trade Desk, Accordant Media and Adelophic.
With a checkbook full of cash, Yahoo bought Flurry for the in-app analytics and mobile developer relationships on tablets and smartphone. Yahoo’s mobile ad exchange helps with audience buying using data and targeting with Flurry’s 600,000+ mobile applications. The two companies plan to work more closely together through programmatic buying and real-time bidding with their unique first-party data. Flurry will also enable Yahoo to make more investments to capture mobile programmatic brand advertising dollars.
International player InMobi has an amazing global reach (~700 million+) and is second to Facebook in size. InMobi is working with new rich-media ad formats and its exchange to help monetize premium publishers’ mobile inventory more effectively. Its new ad platform appeals to the bigger brand players moving into mobile.
Recently, InMobi partnered with the Rubicon Project to catch up to Google and Twitter to buy and sell mobile ads programmatically. This includes native mobile ads both in-stream and mobile display banners.
MoPub, which was purchased by Twitter in 2013, has been known as the world’s largest mobile ad server and RTB exchange. Using Twitter’s data and MoPub’s native ads, this exchange is now competing with Google and Millennial Media to have the most exchange inventory.
Others (Facebook and Smaato)
The six companies above have put their flag on the mobile mountain of brand advertising cash, while others like Facebook and Smaato are also looking to serve the world’s biggest brands with programmatic mobile solutions. It‘s too early to rule anyone out, but the biggest digital media companies are each investing billions into the mobile brand programmatic space.