What the hell is mediation?

We explain the difference between those supplying ads, those finding space for them, and those selling that ad space. And where Mediation sits amidst all of this.

What the hell is mediation?

You’ve published your game. Brilliant. Your hard work is out in the world. Players are downloading it and loving it. And now you’re eager to earn some much rewarded cash. There are multiple ways to make money from your game (you could do a one-off purchase or maybe make it free with in-app purchases). But one of the biggest sources of revenue? You guessed it. Ads.

You make money through ads by selling the ‘advertising space’ in your game (this is called an ad placement). You put your ad placement for auction on different networks (a bit like marketplaces). But working with so many different networks can be tedious. How do you coordinate with multiple networks? How do you make sure you’re getting the best price?

That’s where a mediation partner comes in. They help you make the most of your advertising space. But there’s a lot more to it than that.

Let’s dive in.

Get familiar with some terms

Before we get started, we need to describe a couple of jargon-y bits with you. It’ll make it easier to explain just how mediation works.

Demand side: The people making the ad

This is someone who wants to buy your advertising space. This could be anyone: an app, a coffee chain, a fashion outlet. They have an advert for their brand at the ready and they just need to find the perfect place to advertise to their target customer. They’ll usually have different marketing goals in mind (like getting the customer to visit their website, or installing their app). And they’ll always want the best deal possible.

Brands will typically work with an Ad Network or Exchange (and not directly with you, despite you showing their ads). They’ll pay them for the outcome (so be it impressions, clicks or installs). Networks or Exchanges take a fee and the rest of the money made is then passed onto you.

An ad network or exchange: The people who push the ad to lots of places

These are slightly different from each other. But in general, they’re the ones representing the advertisers.

An ad network is pretty simple. They gather all those ads and then go find the correct ad placement to reach the right target audience.

An exchange is a marketplace. Here, advertisers come together and bid for all the ad placements available. Exchanges work programmatically, which means that all of their bids are in real-time with no manual effort.

It’s a little like the stock exchange. If you wanted to invest your money in a company, you’d go to an exchange to buy shares. And those exchanges make billions of transactions possible in microseconds. Same here. But instead of money, it’s adverts.

Supply Side: That’s you

This is someone who has placements in their game that they want to open up to advertisers. We usually call this ‘ad inventory’. You’ll work with different ad networks or exchanges, letting them know you have advertising space up for grabs. They’ll then bid for that space (on behalf of the ‘demand side’).

The only issue here is that you can work with multiple different ad networks. So it can be tricky to find out which one is offering the best price.

Mediation: The people on your side

(This is us) A mediator is someone who steps in between the exchange and you. And they help you get the best price for the ad space you’re selling. They host a bidding auction on your behalf to sell your ad space.

There are two different ways they can auction your ad space, either through in-app header bidding or a waterfall model. We’ve chatted a lot about this in our other blog, here. In case you want all of the nitty gritty details on how these work.

Let’s talk you through the process

Let’s walk you through how Mediation works. We’ll keep this purely about the gaming industry for the sake of this blog. But this happens across all types of apps.

Imagine a brand wants to get new visitors to their app. That brand will work on adverts for their campaign, test them, and then find the perfect place to advertise their game. They’re going to care about:

  • Audience types: they want their target audience to be playing your game and will see the ad.
  • Click-through-rate or engagement rate: they want to make sure players are clicking their ad.
  • Bid prices: and they want to make sure that they’re getting the best deal possible, for the best audience.

Meanwhile, you have an advertising space you want to sell. But how do the two of you pair up? There are two ways to go about this.

You could work directly with Ad Networks. They do all of the complicated math of connecting the brands to your users. But you’ll be working with lots of different networks, all coming in with ad responses for your placements.

Or you could use a mediation platform. These perform auctions on your behalf. And after a few bidding ways, they make sure you always get the highest bid. The difference here if you only work directly with the mediation platform. That’s all.

How mediation helps

The main, and most obvious reason, is it saves you a bunch of faff and time. You only need to talk to one guy, download one SDK, and review everything in one central place. But there’s more to it. So here are some of the benefits to going with a mediation provider. 

They tend to use In-App Header Bidding and Waterfall
We’ve actually written a blog around this, which you can read through here. But in short, there are typically two main ways to sell your ad space.

  • Waterfall: You choose which networks to work with (specifically what order you want to see the bids from) and set an amount you’ll accept. It’s great if you only want to work with specific networks. Not so great, as you can miss a higher bid lower down in the list.

  • In-App Header Bidding: Every network gets a chance. So you’ll get the highest bid, every single time. You can still set some rules in place, too.

So you get higher Fill Rates, Ad quality, and eCPMs
With the model above, you’ll have better fill rates, with your mediation partner working with so many partners. The ad quality will be better, as you don’t need to settle. And you’ll get better eCPMs (how much money you make per thousand impressions).

Everything is in one place
Because you’re managing this in one platform, you can see all of your reports, stats, rules and user flows in one place. Everything is together. You can easily control your user ad experience, you can automate auction logic, without logging in and faffing with lots of different places.

Get in touch to learn more

We could talk for hours about mediation. It’s what we do. But to save you reading an essay, feel free to get in touch with us. We’d love to have a chat.

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