In our new series of articles titled INsider Questions, we have sought out some of the industry’s top figureheads to see what they think advertisers should be asking performance marketers to eke more out of their campaigns. 

Each feature will cover a different topic and for today’s piece Fred Hsu, chief executive, has provided the most important questions that he feels advertisers should be asking when it comes to the art of real-time bidding in mobile. 

What are the latest developments in real-time bidding online that are driving its rapid uptake?

Real-time bidding has displaced the closed-loop, traditional mobile ad network model for the same reasons financial markets have reached their level of programmatic maturity – liquidity, efficiency, scale and automation.  While it took nearly a decade for the desktop advertising model to become programmatic, mobile started it off right. These days, there are mobile ad exchanges springing about on a monthly basis.

Are marketers effectively able to harness the big data that real-time bidding provides?

There are many use cases, but within the realm of mobile advertising, big data enables hyper-targeting.  It’s no surprise why Facebook’s mobile ad products are so successful.  They have a huge big-data user profile, from which they can allow advertisers to anonymously hyper-target down to gender, age, interest, education and more.  If you make that kind of data available to marketers, combined with other data attributes such as surfing behaviour, you have a powerful and sticky marketing platform.

Can you ensure that the data is secure?

It is essential to how both a sound technical infrastructure and technical policy.  No matter how tight policy language is, no contract will ever truly ensure the proper encryption, storage requirements and data retention policy unless those systems are subject to audit rights by 3rd party certification entities, even your own advertiser.  Those audit rights may be from advertiser to DSP, DSP to exchange, exchange to publisher.  Ultimately, the advertiser customer should be able to obtain full transparency down to the device identifier, site or app his or her advertisement was being placed on, and how that ad transaction was securely being delivered. 

In the growing personalisation debate, what data is being held?

All programmatic exchanges, DSPs, trading desks and large direct programmatic advertisers have both a legal and moral commitment to protect privacy.  In the States we take the protection of personal data very seriously, including ensuring proper COPPRA-compliance in the US (laws against advertising to children under 13), and in the EU Safe-Harbor requirements.  If there is a need to store personal data, that data should never be exposed in an open ad exchange environment.

What are the current limitations to real-time bidding and are they being worked on?

Two looming issues remain top of my board’s mind when it comes to RTB for mobile: First, the explosion of new mobile ad exchanges out of everywhere from India to China to South America, and the need to properly vet them from a technical, security and transparency perspective on behalf of the end advertiser.  Is this a new exchange representing mostly chat or utility apps?  What kind of ad inventory am I getting myself and my advertiser into? 

Second, an increasingly opaque network of trading desks, DSPs and middle-men is increasing the amount of complaints from top-end mobile advertisers.  For example, Advertiser X finds out that she is allocating money to 2-3 DSPs and trading desks, each purchasing on the same exchange and effectively driving up her unit-cost as she effectively bids against herself. 

In another example, Advertiser Y finds out from his customer service department that an advertisement for his app was being displayed on a lewd, spammy, or otherwise previously blacklisted piece of inventory.  All these problems can be solved with full transparency and being accountable to your advertiser from a full audit perspective down to each delivered ad impression.  If there isn’t that capability, the advertiser must ask himself whether he may be throwing money into a black hole.