Q&A: Mozoo’s Max Pepe on his Company’s AI-Driven Meta-SSP for Mobile

One of the more interesting deals of the summer was Mozoo’s acquisition of AdinCube, a mobile meta-SSP. Here Max Pepe, Mozoo’s Marketing and Innovation Director, explains how a meta-SSP works and what it delivers for publishers, alongside the potential for the growth of direct response (DR) campaigns in video advertising.

Mozoo recently acquired AdinCube, a meta-SSP. Could you explain how the technology works?

We knew that AdinCube had an exemplary reputation in the in-app monetisation space. By integrating its advanced AI technology into our existing monetisation platform, it has allowed Mozoo to become the first fully unbiased one-stop solution for ad revenue optimisation, which we believe delivers higher yield compared to any alternative. We have achieved this through one simple integration (two lines of code), providing a meta SDK that feeds demand from every available source and buying metric on the market, and gives app publishers automatic access to all ad networks and exchanges. The solution is entirely unbiased and fully agnostic while optimising towards publishers’ commercial objectives; acting like a market wide real-time ad-revenue comparison engine.

Our unique optimisation algorithms are routed in aviation technology. Etienne Rugeri (co-founder, CTO of AdinCube) spent six years of his career working for chartered airlines, optimising crucial operations (such as fuel consumption) and building business applications for pilots, before moving into ad tech. Among many projects, Etienne built automated platforms that would optimise fuel consumption for aircraft. These statistically analysed the previous two years’ fuel usage to assist crews in deciding how much to take on board for a certain journey, considering all possible variables. Deeply conditioned by the importance of aviation accuracy – from both a commercial and operational standpoint – AdinCube’s SDK uses advanced predictive optimisation algorithms and multi-level machine learning to predict the future. It does this by anticipating revenue from all cost per install (CPI), cost per click (CPC), and cost per acquisition (CPA) campaigns on the market. It then puts these in commercial competition with cost per thousand-impressions (CPM) campaigns, unlocking a far wider scope of potential income.

So far, every publisher that has integrated the technology has seen between a 30 – 200 percent average increase in revenue from their traffic, instantly.

Header bidding takes demand from various sources and makes them compete against one another – could you explain how a meta-SSP is different?

The key differences between a meta-SDK and header bidding, is that the former combines all SDK’s, ad networks and exchanges in one and is a client side implementation. Like header bidding it remains neutral, but the optimisation is carried out using AI technology and predictive machine learning that sits on the ad revenue optimiser’s servers. The algorithms dictate the order in which an SDK or ad network is called (in real-time at the moment an impression is served), for which format and at which floor, all based on highly accurate predictions. It is a highly intelligent solution that solves the inherent inefficiencies experienced by the old waterfall system.

A meta-SDK is also purpose built for in-app, whereas header bidding is only available on mobile-web. Although header bidding is efficient for mobile web publishers, the optimisation process usually happens in parallel with a call to the publisher’s ad server, where the holistic auction is run and cleared. As a result there is still a need for technical human intervention, a drain on time and resource, and ultimate yield still relies on the quality of in-house analysts.

Over the last few years we have increasingly seen video advertising to achieve things like app installs, yet outside of the mobile world we haven’t seen a huge amount of direct response (DR) spend coming into video. Why has this been and do you think it’s likely to change in the future?

Perhaps our childhood experience of TV advertising has programmed us to believe that the sole purpose of video (for advertisers) is to act as qualitative brand marketing, and unless you’re slam-you-in-the-face injury lawyers with an 0800 number, there’s no room for DR within video. Of course this isn’t true, but technology companies need to work closely with brands to demonstrate that DR can be successfully executed using video, and that the negative stigma that surrounds it is unwarranted.

The lack of uptake outside the realms of app install CPI is largely due to the age-old mobile-first issue – advertisers are still using videos built for TV. Even if we step beyond the physical size issue, the creative itself needs to be adapted in order to effectively capture the modern mobile users’ engagement. Production value, speed of message, storyline, structure, authenticity, ease of CTA are all factors that need to be designed with users’ circumstances and environment in mind, if video is to correctly be used as DR.

There is an historic, familiar comparison here, to the days when advertisers would take standard desktop banners and simply deploy them on mobile – much to the annoyance of users, and the benefit of ad blockers. It’s the same issue with DR, you can’t just lift what works on one channel and dump it on another.

In the case of mobile video, the biggest change will be the creative approach to DR. We’re likely to see an increase in DR video spend following the launch of numerous platforms that allow brands to create interactive, native CTAs, that enhance the user experience, actively encourage engagement, and support multiple CTAs. The brilliance of this is that the video suddenly becomes an interactive micro-site within itself, stimulating emotion and encouraging response.

The industry also needs to realise that authenticity and organic production value – which are in stark contrast to the glossy video sheen still preferred by most brands – have greater power to resonate with modern audiences, capture attention, and as a result are more effective for DR purposes.

What’s the single greatest challenge facing the mobile video ecosystem today?

The biggest overarching challenge is a lack of innovation in formats and creative production. In-stream, outstream, rewarded and native video formats, all have specific merits but are still not truly solving viewability and performance in tandem.

It’s surprising that brands continue to opt for the ‘tell them what we do and sell it’ style of old. There are so many boundaries that aren’t being pushed creatively. For example, in our always-on connected world, we should be telling sequential stories with 15 – 30 second video ads that unfold over three to six different ‘episodes’. These could be disseminated to users chronologically, monitoring engagement at each stage, all leading to a finale that compels a viewer to interact further with the brand, collect a voucher or make a purchase.

I’m delighted that technology now exists that gives publishers visibility and transparency over which ads generate the highest revenue, so they can optimise accordingly. This gives advertisers an even better chance to prove how innovative formats and creatives can, and will, generate greater yield. If we enable publishers to save time and make, considerably more, revenue from high performing video ads, the whole industry flourishes – consumers continue to be delighted by high quality free content, and advertisers engage eyeballs and consequently boost sales.

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