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The Lure of Mediation

UPDATE: I love blogging because from time to time someone corrects my ignorance and I become smarter. I just received a lovely email indicating that AdMeld is now selling directly to agencies. While my source KNOWS STUFF, I am emailing Ben Barokas for comment. Shit, when did I turn into a reporter?

I am amazed at how many companies – ad networks, DSPs, and others, are considering getting into the mediation business these days.

The lure of mediation is obvious: If you see 100% of a sites inventory, you are seeing a much higher frequency of impressions, giving you more opportunities to monetize, you are potentially seeing some users that didn’t have the frequency to reach you in the daisy chain (super profitable), and you have more information about the absolute frequency of users (how many ads they have seen on the site).

This leads to a number of great monetization improvements:

  • You can front-run inventory
  • You have insight into the aggregate value of users
  • You can front-run inventory
  • You can front-run inventory
  • You can front-run inventory
  • You can front-run inventory

The terrible thing about mediation is that with great power comes great responsibility.

I feel like a proper mediation platform offers a few things to publishers:

  • A responsibility to maximize yield for the publisher – i.e. not front-running inventory
  • A responsibilty to offer transparent reporting

Many of the best known mediation platforms – AdMeld, Pubmatic, etc. – explicitly do not sell to non-ad networks. This allows them to report transparently on ad network performance with no risk of conflict and desire to front-run inventory. This also means that there is no difference between maximizing yield for them vs. maximizing yield for the publisher.

If I were an ad network, I would love to offer a mediation platform, because I want to front-run inventory, but the offering is so disingenous to customers, it is hard to imagine that it is a sustainable business.


One Response to “The Lure of Mediation”

  1. Pete Says:

    Reading this blog reminds me of how little I know about the ad business. What exactly is mediation?