This edition of Real-Time Banter features a conversation about mobile marketing with Dan Mosher, VP & GM of BrightRoll Exchange at Yahoo. Dan was interviewed by Jennifer Lum, Chief Strategy Officer for Adelphic.
Jennifer: What is BrightRoll Exchange?
Dan: The BrightRoll Exchange seamlessly connects large pools of inventory with all of our top buyers which includes DSPs, brands and agency trading desks. The exchange connects more than 100 DSPs to some of our highest quality inventory sources across video, display and native, where we bring in not only Yahoo owned an operated inventory, but other high quality inventory sources.
Is Yahoo O&O inventory already available in the exchange?
It’s already in the exchange. That was one of the key tenets of the deal when we signed it more than a year ago, and when we closed it, we made the Yahoo video inventory available in the exchange instantaneously. Yahoo display inventory has been available in the exchange for years. We have now rebranded the overall exchange, display, video and native, to the BrightRoll Exchange.
What is your role at BrightRoll?
I run the exchange business, which is all of the programmatic buyers on the exchange.
How has the role of the BrightRoll platform evolved since the Yahoo acquisition in 2014?
Well the biggest thing that we formalized after the acquisition was the separation of the BrightRoll DSP business from the BrightRoll Exchange business.. The way that each platform has evolved has been to add Yahoo’s display capabilities into what was core BrightRoll video capabilities. The BrightRoll DSP now provides multichannel access for all of our self service customers – access to all sorts of inventory across different sources using Yahoo data. That was the big evolution of the platform: Yahoo’s data is available for our DSP customers, and that they use on a customized basis for their campaigns. The BrightRoll Exchange has evolved to include display inventory, and now includes native inventory as well. We were able to bring on those high quality sources of inventory that were the Yahoo owned and operated inventory and we continued to upgrade our inventory sources post acquisition as well. The platform has really evolved around those facets, and now we have, on the Exchange side, one team that interacts with our top customers, no matter what type of format they want to buy, via display, native or video..
You mentioned that Yahoo audience data is now available through the BrightRoll DSP. Will Yahoo audience data become available through the BrightRoll Exchange?
Yes, it is available today, however, it’s not available in the same way that its available for our DSP customers, where they can pick, choose and customize the data segments that they want to use. Instead, we expose specific segments through the exchange to our top brand partners buying through a third party DSP via Deal ID. For example, we’ve recently provisioned an “LDA” deal (legal drinking age), where we use Yahoo data to create a segment of customers that is over 21. We know that the Yahoo data is extremely effective and precise, so we’ve had a couple of customers set up deal IDs on the BrightRoll Exchange where they were able to access only legal drinking age customers using the data. So there will be segments like that, specific deal IDs that might be behavioral or intent segments where we may pull in different elements, but its not going to be the broad-based way that it’s available on the DSP.
How has Flurry inventory data been integrated into the BrightRoll Exchange?
Flurry had three parts to its business when it was acquired by Yahoo. One was a display and video mobile inventory piece, a nascent native segment and the rich data that it receives based on having its analytics SDK installed on thousands of apps. We’ve integrated the Flurry mobile video inventory into the BrightRoll Exchange, so Flurry inventory is now available to any of our mobile video customers who are buying on the BrightRoll Exchange. The next step will be to include some of the native inventory that was previously available via Flurry, in the BrightRoll Exchange as well. Those are the pieces we’re most focused on. Flurry has its powerful SDK on thousands and thousands of apps, which gives our DSP buyers some interesting data insights but this is not available on the exchange today. These publishers are seeing the native advertisements perform better, and have better monetization capabilities. We are going to be able to leverage that native inventory in the BrightRoll Exchange in 2016.
Will the Flurry SDK become the unified mobile SDK for the supply side?
The Flurry SDK is where a lot of the development effort is going right now and we will continue to evolve and build it out. Because the third-party inventory and SDK footprint that we have today is quite extensive, the question now is, “How do we build more robust publisher tools that leverage some of the things we have in place?” Because Flurry has a set of publisher tools, BrightRoll on the video side has a set of publisher tools, and Yahoo has its own set of publishers, how do we bring all of those together as a seamless publisher offering? On the mobile side, Flurry and its SDK is clearly the most compelling piece that we have right now and we will double down on that for our supply side business.
How has publishers’ use of programmatic changed since you launched the BrightRoll Exchange?
We launched the BrightRoll Exchange in 2010, and that was really early days in exchanges. I’d say, and I remember this because I was making all of the calls to publishers back then trying to convince them to expose their inventory on our exchange, that they were worried about exchanges in general and thought they might commoditize their inventory. Early on, publishers were reluctant to make their inventory available on the exchange. The views have evolved quite a bit in the last five years. I think most publishers now look at offering their inventory programmatically, through an exchange, as a key facet of how they go to market, and how they monetize. It’s been a method for publishers to lessen the reliance on a direct sales force in some cases, because they can monetize through exchanges. Exchange technology has evolved in a way where a publisher can expose its inventory via private marketplace and have the same level of control that they’ve always had when they were just selling it in-house and didn’t have to adapt or expose it to any exchanges. It’s now a key part of every publisher’s go to market. Some will expose 10 percent of their inventory, whereas some will expose 90 percent of their inventory. It really depends on the publishers themselves, but the views have changed quite a bit, and I think it’s because there is a lot more control and tools they can use to make sure that their inventory is exposed only to the buyers that they deem to be acceptable upfront.
How does BrightRoll address fraudulent traffic?
We have recently launched a partnership with White Ops, which is one of the top anti-fraud companies in the video space. We now have White Ops technology running on every request that we see from any publisher. We’ve deployed that across all of our video impressions and to make sure that no impressions or very few impressions are delivered against invalid traffic. We also have our own internal tools that we’ve been developing for years to assess invalid traffic. We have our internal tools because no one tool is a panacea, but White Ops is one of the top vendors we could’ve worked with. That augments the tools that we already had in-house, but we feel like that puts us in a good position to really assess and make sure we’re limiting and reducing dramatically the amount of invalid traffic that buyers are seeing.
Have you found that different tactics are required to address fraud in mobile versus desktop?
Yes, definitely. The technology is very different in mobile. The way that fraud manifests itself in mobile is different in terms of the type of things that fraudsters do. Third-party vendors aren’t necessarily up to speed on mobile yet, so I think it’s like any technology we’ve looked at. We looked at viewability early on. If we looked at Nielsen and comScore assessments of different traffic, mobile was always a follower on a lot of those things, and I think in the fraud side it seems to be as well, where the third-party vendors aren’t as strong. Our internal publisher team has a lot of really good tools at its disposal to evaluate mobile traffic and look for any inconsistencies that we might deem to be evidence of fraud. We are using all of our internal tools to evaluate mobile traffic. We are evaluating third-party vendors to see when there will be one where we can layer on mobile like we’ve done with desktop.
What is the split in demand that you’re seeing between open exchange, private marketplace and programmatic direct, specifically with mobile demand?
We’ve seen quite an evolution over the last couple of years. We’ve just launched a private marketplace, in earnest, on the video side of our exchange over the last couple of months, and that’s for both mobile and desktop. We’ve seen already that programmatic direct and private marketplaces are 20-30 percent of exchange revenue so it’s gone from zero to 20-30 percent over the last couple of months, which is a large increase. Some of the buyers that we work with who have been doing private marketplaces for a while say they took it up to 40 percent, in some cases. So, we think right now we’re at 25 percent private marketplace. I think that can continue to take up at least up to a third of the business as buyers are more and more interested accessing specific pools of inventory where they know more up front about the inventory than when just buying it in the open exchange. In some cases they’ve done a specific deal with the publisher and we are just instrumenting that deal through our exchange, or more likely, they are accessing curated packages of inventory that provides a specific type of function and/or a specific purpose within a campaign.
PMPs and programmatic direct represent a different control mechanism, not only to control but to lock in inventory during a period of high demand and also influence consistency around pricing.
Right. One of the big promises of PMP and programmatic direct is the ability to negotiate the price up front, within a certain range. We still have programmatic direct relationships where there could be multiple bidders and there’s some type of bidding happening, but within a specific range and they have a sense up front of what the pricing is that they’re going to try to achieve. In some cases to get that privilege they have to pay up higher than what they would have otherwise in the open exchange but they trade that for visibility and comfort that their campaigns will deliver.
Two more questions, they’re both personal and fun. First question, do you use an iPhone or an Android?
I use an iPhone. I used to be an Android user. Tod Sacerdoti, the CEO and founder of BrightRoll, is an avid Apple fan boy and gave me a lot of crap about my Android phone. I think I finally succumbed sometime in 2012, when the iPhone 5 rolled out and I had to try it.
Does the entire BrightRoll management team use iPhones?
Most of the BrightRoll management team uses an iPhone, I would postulate. I think a couple of the holdouts were told to get on the bus! But Yahoo as a company really encourages iPhones as well because of the prevalence of our apps. iOS is still a better monetization platform from what we understand on a per-user basis, and so I think most of the people around here, from my assessment, seem to have iPhone versus Androids.
What is the first app you open everyday?
Well it has to be the Yahoo! Mail app because that’s certainly the app that I check most frequently, not only first thing in the morning, but also during the day. It has gone through a lot of evolutions over even the last 16 months that we’ve been here, it’s been upgraded significantly. But really I’m just checking to see what my numbers were the day before, and I get a good email every morning bright and early so that’s the first thing I check when I wake up. “How did we do revenue-wise yesterday?”
Thank you very much Dan, it was really great speaking with you.