10 Questions Marketers Should Ask Before Testing A Media Source

By Solange Baki | October 12, 2020

Solange Baki is a Growth Marketing Manager at Bumble, where she oversees global paid user acquisition campaigns. With several years of digital marketing knowledge under her belt, Solange holds a deep holistic understanding of the programmatic ecosystem. Currently, Solange manages third-party networks for Badoo and Bumble.

Learn more about Mobile Hero Solange Baki.

Adding new media sources to your paid acquisition portfolio is the secret to keeping your app ahead of the game. This strategy unlocks new ways to reach a bigger audience and ensures a diversification strategy so you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket.

But before you test new media sources, it is crucial to understand where users spend their screen-time. Users interact with mobile devices in multiple ways; some prefer the mobile web to apps, even. All touchpoints are viable options for reaching new users. With the right mix of media sources, app marketers can build a holistic, paid acquisition approach while paving the way for new traffic and more momentum.

How do you know what media source to consider for a test? I will cover the ten questions app marketers should ask before taking the plunge, covering elements like platform capabilities, inventory sources, and more.

1. What is their unique selling proposition?

Most demand-side platforms (DSPs) provide access to relatively similar inventory, considering that they integrate with major supply-side partners (SSPs). However, each DSP has a differentiator among its competitors, such as customer service, transparency, targeting capabilities, or their algorithm’s efficiency for optimizing post-install event conversion goals. Understanding the strength of each DSP provides a better understanding of how their unique selling proposition (USP) fits into your paid acquisition strategy.

Beyond programmatic buying, multiple media sources can unlock new channels of reaching your audience beyond the main inventory–like pre-install technology, OEM placements, or video and influencer networks. While a unique inventory or ad format can offer new ways to acquire an audience, knowing a partner’s USP will help identify the right network for your paid acquisition activity.

2. What does the user experience look like when they see the ad?

When working with a new partner, first ask them about the user experience when they serve your ad. This question provides clarity on their funnel and how their user experience matches your performance goals.

A DSPs USP often leads to different user experiences. For example, some might focus on in-app inventory, while others do a better job with native placements — but each of these types serve different ads that may not match with your expectations.

The same can be said for networks that specialize in affiliates, or with video. Each provides a different type of inventory, ad format, and, consequently, a different user experience.

Offerwalls are another example. Offerwalls are in-app adverts that monetize via incentivization — that is, users are rewarded for their engagement. Though users are often happy to participate (and used to this style of advertising) you might not think that offerwalls are suitable for your app, or may not work with the ways your app makes revenue.

3. What are the networks targeting and optimization capabilities?

Network targeting and optimization capabilities are a significant differentiator among media sources. Let’s say demographic targeting is an essential component of your app promotion. You will want to choose a media source that can target or exclude a demographic group. Targeting technology is especially important because it’s rare to find media buying platforms with access to user demographic data. And if they don’t, fear not! There are other options to target your users, like pushing audiences through your MMP or optimizing your post-install event goal. 

Regardless of the payout model (CPM, CPI, or CPA), a media source with the ability to optimize post-install events is essential for app promotion. Seek out media sources that are designed specifically for brand goals or even non-app clients. Understand the tech behind the network or platform and decide whether this is the right channel for your app or not.

4. Is the service managed or self-serve?

The decision of whether you should test a managed or self-serve media buying platform is entirely up to your preference, but remember: each model has its pros and cons.

A managed service can be very convenient if the resources in your marketing team are limited. But if you oversee multiple media sources simultaneously, it can be time-consuming to set up and optimize each campaign manually.

Meanwhile, if you are looking to have more control over your media buying spend and feel more comfortable being involved in the setup of your campaigns, self-serve could be the choice for you.

5. What level of transparency do they offer?

DSPs usually provide the most granular transparency available, like SSP and bundle ID data. However, if you would like to test other networks beyond programmatic buying, it can become challenging to trace down exactly where you are spending your budgets.

To overcome this, you need to ask for access. Your new partner should be able to provide you with a dashboard with the right reporting, with granular data through macros on the attribution link or server-to-server integration.

Importantly, establishing transparency with your media sources helps prevent fraud, and allows you to optimize efficiently based on your media buying chain’s best-performing components.

6. Do they integrate with your MMP?

Prevent future headaches from a technical standpoint. Before testing any media source, make sure they are integrated with your mobile measurement partner (MMP) to provide you with spend data. 

Receiving spend data depends on the payout model a media source can offer; media sources that present CPI and CPA buying models can share ad cost through macros, while DSPs require integration to have costs drawn into your internal platform.

7. How long and what volumes are required during the learning and exploration phase?

Every media source’s algorithm becomes more efficient over time. But there is usually a learning and exploration phase to get ad-buying up to speed, where it’s common to see fluctuations in performance. 

From the start, create a clear target of the conversions required for the media source’s algorithm to start optimizing your event goal. This is crucial in setting the right daily spend that you feel comfortable investing with during this fickle phase. 

In the case of CPI or CPA networks, it’s good practice to ask what sort of volumes to expect with your given max CPI or CPA with your targeted audience. This way, you prevent disappointments and potentially increase your bids at multiple points of the tests.

8. How do they fight against fraud?

Both marketers and media sources should be together working toward preventing fraudulent activity. A reliable source will be transparent regarding the internal or third-party anti-fraud tools that they use, and the percentage of fraud present in their inventory.

9. Do they provide any creative service?

This question is not essential, but it is an excellent plus for securing a long-term partnership with your media source. Look for partners that support the creation and modification of your creative assets. This extra perk will ensure your assets are suitable to their channel and significantly boost specific ad formats’ performance.

10. Can they provide case studies with other apps within your vertical?

Case studies are insightful resources that help you to understand what other app companies have achieved with your new partner.

Some media sources specialize in specific verticals and might be entering new ones; for scenarios like this, you should test performance activity with a source that is familiar with your vertical nuances. Requesting case studies will provide a better understanding of what you can expect from the partner that you are considering.

That’s all from Solange! For more Mobile Heroes excellence, read up on past blogs that share key industry knowledge. You can also meet the Mobile Heroes on our dedicated website.