Following the success of our recent posts comparing ad-networks, offer wall providers and push notification platforms I’m happy to provide you this research about the leading mediation platforms. We reviewed many candidates and only included platforms with demonstrated market traction and selected to include only platforms that have at least one thing that is unique and great about them.
I highly recommend reading this list alongside our post about the difference between ad-mediation, SSP and ad-server.
We reviewed each of the different providers from a few aspects:
- Do they mediate on the client side, server side or both
- Platform and Game Engine support
- Ad format specialization – video, banner or interstitials
- Monetization technique – do they charge a fee or place their own ads in return for a free service
- Reporting user interface – can you understand what needs to be done for optimization
- Ad network support – how many ad networks from the top 20 they support and are there any big providers missing
- Special features worth mentioning
We ended up with two lists: one for video mediation and one for banner and interstitial mediation. Here are the top 3 in each category.
|Video Oriented||Banner Oriented|
|Ironsource ( formerly Supersonic)||Mopub|
Fyber took a strategic decision to put gaming publishers at the focus of the company. Their mediation platform definitely deserves a premium spot in the top 6 list. They focus mostly on SDK level mediation and support every meaningful video ad provider with the exception of Supersonic / Ironsource. Their list for banners and interstitials on the SDK side is a bit shorter but they can source these ads by making the inventory available through their SSP platform. Fyber’s hodling company RNTS recently bought Heyzap and Inneractive but so far they seem to be keeping the brands and the platforms separate.
Fyber’s monetization technique is to make the inventory available to their ad-network. This is the most popular method today but it creates a conflict of interest for the mediation providers who can’t maintain neutrality
Fyber’s reporting interface is easy to use and include important KPIs and metrics. It includes information about active users that is important for publishers to track impression frequency but it fails to track the opt-in ratio and doesn’t provide a good way to track the waterfall optimization. The ability to view performance by segment is also lacking.
Their Unique Advantage: Best coverage for video networks and best coverage for top 20 ad-networks
Platform support: iOS, Android, Unity, Adobe
Ad networks supported out of top 20: 13
Total ad networks supported: 16
Until recently Heyzap was an independent provider with no ad-network affiliation but since the begining of the year they are in the same family as Fyber and Inneractive and they are all held by RNTS. Their video network coverage is excellent and is done mostly on the client side through SDK adapters. They also have a nice support of interstitial and banner providers.
Fyber monetization technique is to place ads from their own ad-network which is mostly coming from placing the inventory for RTB. They also added demand from Fyber as a default setting in waterfall.
Heyzap’s reporting dashboard is very graphic and includes good visualization of the waterfall configuration alongside the historic eCPM and fill rates. It’s a bit lacking on the metrics and doesn’t include any data on unique users so it’s impossible to analyze ad frequency, opt-in and segments.
Their Unique Advantage: Waterfall visualization and interface simplicity
Platform support: iOS, Android, Unity, Adobe, Cordova, Buildbox
Ad networks supported out of top 20: 9
Total ad networks supported: 12
Supersonic mediation started as a rewarded video platform but since the acquisition by Ironsource the company have added interstitial and banner support. However, their focus still remains on mediating video through SDK adapters and the only provider not supported on that front is Fyber (and vice versa).
Like Fyber, the mediation technique here is also by placing ads from both Supersonic and Ironsource own demand sources.
The reporting interface is not as shiny as others but still effective. It includes 2 important metrics not supplied in some of the other platforms:
- The number of active users – this allows to optimize the ad frequency
- The number of “engaged users” – these are users who engaged with the rewarded video (opted in)
Another cool feature is that the management section indicates the historic eCPM of each ad-network and makes it easy to make waterfall management decisions. The platform is still missing a good visualization that includes fill rate alongside eCPM and the priority that the algorithm gave the ad-networks. Another miss is the lack of breakdown to segments in the reporting dashboard.
Their Unique Advantage: Reporting per user and indication of historic eCPM in auto-pilot mode
Platform support: iOS, Android, Unity, Adobe
Ad networks supported out of top 20: 12
Total ad networks supported: 13
Like the ad-network, Admob’s mediation is better for banners and interstitials and not as good for rewarded video. Their coverage on the video side is lacking Mediabrix and Tapjoy but for banners and interstitials they have the best coverage for both SDK based integrations as well as S2S.
Their monetization method is to place their on ads in the bidding mix. These ads are coming from advertisers on Admob and from Adsense as well so their backfill sometimes includes text ads that might look very random in the context of your app.
Their reporting interface is not good. Google’s line of visually boring reports is a topic on it’s own but on top of that there are some serious challenges in getting the information you will need to see in order to understand what actions to take. The only hope is that Firebase is going to fix all that but we will have to wait and see.
Their Unique Advantage: The widest ad-network coverage
Platform support: iOS, Android, WP7
Ad networks supported out of top 20: 12
Total ad networks supported: 43
Appodeal is a fast growing startup who already made a name for itself in the mediation space. The company doesn’t have an attached ad-network so can maintain unbiased position and focus on helping the publishers. It support all ad-formats and covers all the important players for banners, interstitials and native ads. On the video side they are missing Fyber, Mediabrix and Supersonic Ads.
One of the unique features about Appodeal is the ability to create custom segments and apply a different logic in this segment. For example, you can decide that females will see less ads or that people with older devices will not get video ads. Another important feature that is not available in all other platforms is the ability to define house ads for cross promotion or direct campaigns. There are also some great features for small developers like auto-registration and advanced payment.
The way Appodeal makes money is by brokering your backfill inventory. This means that when there is no fill from the ad-networks you selected, Appodeal will allow place the inventory on an exchange and allow other networks to bid on it. From this revenue, Appodeal will take their commission.
The reporting interface of Appodeal is simple and effective but it’s lacking on a few aspects. The ability to see the number of clicks is an important feature that other platforms don’t have. However, there is no visibility to the actual waterfall configuration that was set up in a specific day. The ability to track impressions per user and to monitor opt-in ratios for rewarded ads is also missing.
Their Unique Advantage: Segmentation feature and other advanced capabilities
Platform support: iOS, Android, Unity, Adobe, Cocos2d-x, Cordova, Marmalade, tvOS
Ad networks supported out of top 20: 11 through SDK and 2 more through S2S
Total ad networks supported: 25
Mopub are combining an SSP with mediation in the same SDK. The company was acquired by Twitter in 2013 so adding your SDK allows you to receive ads from Twitter advertisers like Facebook Audience Networks gives you exposure to FB advertisers. The platform focus is on banners and interstitials more than on rewarded video. On the video networks they are missing: Applovin, Fyber, Mediabrix and Supersonic and on the banner and interstitial side they are missing Flurry.
Mopub monetization method is to bundle their SSP along side the ad mediation so they get access to the inventory and can get their cut through the ads they are placing.
The dashboard offered for managing the ad-networks is good overall and makes all the main functions easily accessible. The reporting is pretty good but lacking a few features to understand what’s happening on a user level.
Their Unique Advantage: Best access to RTB ads
Platform support: iOS, Android
Ad networks supported out of top 20: 10 through SDK and 1 more through S2S
Total ad networks supported: 11 through SDK and 9 more through S2S
These are the top 6 but there are plenty of other platforms out there so feel free to explore and try others. One platform that was pretty close to getting included is Ampiri by Glyspa we recommend checking it out as well.
We also wrote up a full post on the comparison between ad networks here or download the full comparison spreadsheet below for free.