Agencies and advertisers looking to buy mobile inventory are rapidly shifting away from 'blind' networks towards programmatic buys via Mobile DSPs demand-side platforms.
These include the fragmented nature of the mobile ecosystem compared to desktop, and people moving between app and web on their phone means that they can be treated as two separate individual.
So, what questions should you ask of the shiny suited salesman when they come knocking on the door offering use of their DSP?
How many and which RTB sources are they connected to? Does this include both App and Mobile web inventory? Is Mobile Rich Media included?
Access to a large amount of potential inventory is key in order for the DSP to have the best chance of seeking out effective impressions.
Does the platform allow the user to forecast available inventory at different CPM levels?
This is helpful for budget flighting and for assessing the scalability of campaigns.
3. Targeting ability
What is the breadth of available targeting criteria? Is Geo-targeting possible?
In addition to standard demographics you'd want to be able to target behaviourally by device, operating system, network operator, location etc in order to really hone in on your target audience.
4. Delivery Controls
What are they?e.g time of day, time of week?
This will allow you to focus budgets on key periods you believe your audience will be active.
Which third party data integrations are available? Can they generate audience segments within the platform? What are their solutions for tracking unique users given Cookie limitations?
While you would expect to be able to make use of the firsy party data you hold on your customers, not all DSP's will be integrated with third party data suppliers that you currently use or plan to use in the future.
Being able to use a broad range will help you hit niche audiences.
6. Bid Optimisation
How do they optimise a campaign? What is their max query per second? What are the options for setting goal optimization targets?
It is essential to be able to optimise over a large number of data points at any one time to deliver the best performance. Likewise, the platform should be scalable and allow for optimisation against a variety of goals such as CPC, CPA & CTR.
7. Budget delivery optimisation
Can they integrate/serve on mobile and tablet?
The debate rages about whether tablets are truly mobile but being able to serve appropriate formats across all devices will clearly broaden the possibility of hitting the audience you want.
8. Brand safety
Does your platform have inbuilt brand safety functions?
Some inventory on exchanges won't be suitable for your target audience so the DSP should have content verification processes available such as Adsafe or uKnow to filter out any undesirable sites or apps.
9. Rich media
Can you host third party adserving tags? Which Rich Media providers are you compatible with?
Look for integration with all key third party ad servers and ensure that any mobile Rich Media providers you work with can work alongside the DSP.
How frequently do reports update? Can they be exported in granular form?
Accessing real time reports and being able to export data in formats suitable for further analysis is key to making the most of your budgets and eliminating wastage.
While this isn't an exhaustive list it should help provide an understanding of the core capabilities of a DSP and allow for side-by-side comparisons.
It's also important to understand the personnel involved and the depth of experience the business has in this space. Don't just assume a desktop DSP will understand the nuances of mobile advertising.