Q&A with Maggie Mesa, Head of Mobile at OpenX

Adotas presents a Q&A with Maggie Mesa, Head of Mobile at OpenX. Maggie shares her thoughts on how publishers/developers approach topics like ad fraud, viewability, and safety. She shares her insights on trends in mobile today.


Q: What are some exciting developments happening in mobile, today?

A: The growth of mobile in the programmatic ecosystem has been astounding. Mobile advertising spend overall has been projected to surpass TV spend in the US this year, and by next year, eMarketer has predicted that mobile will make up over 80% of all programmatic spend. At OpenX, our business has made this shift, and earlier this year, both revenue and volume on our exchange were higher on mobile than they were on desktop, the culmination of a steady shift to mobile that we’ve seen for a few years now.

Another exciting development has been around opt-in video. This format, also known as rewarded video, has become one of the fastest growing and most promising formats in all of advertising, and we’re seeing both advertisers and publishers start to embrace it.


Q: What trends in mobile did OpenX see that encouraged the launch of the opt-in video exchange?

A: The most important trend around opt-in video is that it’s what we call a win-win-win, where the advertiser, publisher, and consumer all benefit, and this is incredibly rare in the advertising world. On the advertiser side, they are seeing high completion rates and practically 100% viewability. For consumers, they have shown that this is by far and away their most preferred form of advertising, and Mary Meeker reported that it ranked even higher than formats like skippable pre-roll. For publishers, the fact that it is so consumer friendly is great, and then outside of that, it brings in premium CPMs.

The other exciting thing we’re seeing is that non-gaming publishers are starting to embrace the format as a strategy to retain users.  Gaming publishers realized early on that this format was good for their users, and now the industry is realizing that there are so many other possibilities in addition to gaming. Whether this is a paywalled news site using opt-in video to offer free articles, or a retail app providing consumers a shopping discount for engaging with a video ad, there is a lot of opportunity.


Q: What challenges do you currently see in the mobile ad tech space, and how do you see the industry overcoming these challenges?

A: Fraud is one challenge that we’re seeing. There are some of the same challenges on mobile that we see on desktop, and then there are some unique mobile challenges too, such as having bots download apps, where performance advertisers think they are getting downloads, when they really aren’t (or advertisers just think they are reaching a larger audience than they really are). In-app measurement has also been a challenge — even measuring simple things like viewability has been a hassle until recently. At OpenX, we have put quality at the forefront of everything we do, and have pledged more than $25 million toward various quality initiatives. This can encompass everything from vetting publisher/developer partners to turning down specific types of inventory from entering our exchange, In addition, we’ve developed proprietary tools to scan ad creatives, and block malicious behaviors such as forced redirects that are used to artificially drive install numbers.

Brands understanding the value of mobile app is also a challenge. There is still hesitation on the brand advertisers side to invest significantly in the mobile app environment even though that’s where consumers are spending more and more of their time when on mobile devices. Getting more brand dollars flowing through the system needs to happen, but first mobile app will need to improve measurement and help brands understand the value / ROI they’ll see.


Q: What’s the next big development you anticipate happening in mobile advertising?

A: Going back to the growth of mobile programmatic as a category, part of that growth is taking ad formats that were never able to be bought or sold programmatically and figuring out how to get them into the programmatic ecosystem. Opt-in video is one example, but we can also look at things like rich media, which has been popular in mobile for years, but has never really entered the world or programmatic.

There are also huge opportunities internationally. In countries like Japan or other parts of APAC, particularly Southeast Asia, mobile advertising is absolutely enormous, and the growth in these particular regions will have a huge impact on mobile overall.

Finally – we mentioned ad fraud earlier, but quality is going to continue to be a major topic of conversation. Some of the largest brands in the world, such as P&G and Unilever, have been very vocal about the need to restore quality and trust, and with so much of programmatic turning to mobile, in many ways it will be up to the mobile ecosystem to help show these large brand marketers that they can feel comfortable increasing their spend and investment.  


About Maggie
Maggie Mesa is Vice President of Mobile Business Development at OpenX, where she heads a team responsible for leading mobile partnerships. Maggie brings over ten years of experience building publisher partnerships and helping publishers to monetize great content to OpenX. Maggie began her digital advertising career as an Account Executive at Etology and since then has led publisher development teams at AdBrite, Inneractive, and most recently at Manage.com, a DSP, and mobile publisher platform. Maggie was named one of Business Insider’s “Most Powerful Women in Mobile Advertising” in 2016.


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