Can Yahoo’s Flurry Compete Against Mobile Ad Offerings From Facebook And Twitter?

CanFlurryCompeteYahoo’s looking to befriend the devs.

During the company’s Jan. 27 Q4 2014 earnings call Marissa Mayer confirmed Yahoo’s plan to use its acquisition of mobile analytics platform Flurry and its SDK as a foundation for a soon-to-be-announced mobile ad network.

The Flurry SDK has been installed on more than 600,000 apps, in theory giving Yahoo access to roughly 1.6 billion devices. Mayer told investors that developers who have downloaded Flurry’s SDK will soon able to monetize video ads via BrightRoll, acquired late last year, and native ads through Yahoo Gemini.

App developers care about two things: analytics and monetization. Flurry would seem to provide both – if the developers are on board, that is.

There’s also the competition to consider. Facebook has a mobile monetization solution with Parse, the cloud-based app platform it bought in 2013, and Twitter’s chugging along with its developer platform, Fabric. Can Yahoo and its new ad platforms leader, Prashant Fuloria, compete?

Some players are optimistic.

“Flurry is an interesting product with great assets: smart people and interesting tech,” said Neil Sweeney, president and CEO and JUICE Mobile. “If they can carve out a unique value prop that leverages those assets while being different than Facebook and Twitter, they will be able to compete.”

Further details around Yahoo’s Flurry plans are sure to be announced at Yahoo’s mobile development conference coming up Feb. 19 in San Francisco.

In the meantime, AdExchanger asked several mobile execs to chime in on Yahoo’s mobile prospects. Can Flurry compete against the new mobile SDKs from Twitter and Facebook?

Chris Cunningham, head of US mobile, ironSource

“When Flurry started, it was the world’s largest analytics business – but that was three or four years ago, and mobile has evolved significantly since then. Many of the things that have become centerpoints of the mobile discussion – location, lat/long, cross-screen device IDs – didn’t exist back then when, frankly, the KPIs were more performance-driven. Facebook and Twitter know when you log in and brands feel comfortable giving them money because of their targeting capabilities. Facebook and Twitter have created a very competitive mobile offering that’s hard to compete with.

My question about Flurry’s SDK is, what data is it taking in? It’s hard for me to believe that an SDK from three years ago is as viable in today’s market.”

Bertrand Schmitt, CEO and co-founder, App Annie

“Any given developer is only going to integrate a limited number of SDKs in their app – their SDK wallet, so to speak. SDK adoption drives potential inventory acquisition for the advertising platforms they’re connected to.

Flurry doesn’t directly compete with Parse or Twitter/Fabric in terms of SDK functionality. They offer different value propositions to the developer. However, Flurry does compete with Parse and any other SDK for share of the developer’s SDK wallet.

Flurry already has great penetration amongst developers and I’m sure Yahoo will invest in making their free in-app analytics tools even more compelling in order to drive adoption. It was definitely a smart acquisition for Yahoo and it’ll be interesting to see how they can leverage and expand Flurry’s capabilities to their advantage in the future.”

Peter Hamilton, CEO, TUNE

“Flurry definitely has the footprint to connect to a massive number of apps. In fact, they have the largest SDK footprint to date. They will need to make some updates and developers will need to have incentive for updating SDKs to more recent versions, but Flurry can help connect Yahoo to an enormous amount of supply. I’m generally very optimistic about Yahoo’s potential position in mobile advertising and monetization.”

Michael Oiknine, CEO, Apsalar

“Is Flurry the savior? Unfortunately, I don’t see how.

Flurry does have great distribution on over 600,000 apps, but most of these apps use it for very simple publisher analytics. So, Yahoo’s bet is that a good portion of these apps will adopt a new SDK that will give them access to the new Yahoo mobile ad network, including Yahoo’s native and video solutions. And they might – but will they keep it or even use it?

We have seen many monetization SDKs on the market, and to win in that market, you have to offer better ad revenue, i.e., higher and growing, to publishers in the long run. I don’t see how Flurry will do that against Facebook, Google or even Twitter. What makes Facebook so successful isn’t Parse, but the quality of their targeting data – demo, intent and interest signals – being refreshed many times on a daily basis and across devices. Twitter also has very deterministic data refreshed daily, but the signals they’re capturing are probably less effective than Facebook’s signals.

Google also captures wonderful signals and has a big chunk of deterministic data thanks to people using different Google apps across devices, the most popular being Gmail, of course. It’s that daily user engagement, combined with depth of user data profiled across devices, that makes the returns for the FAN publishers so attractive.

I don’t see Flurry coming even close to that, otherwise their ad business would have sold for way more than it did last year.”

Nic Pantucci, president, Zenit Media

“Yahoo’s acquisition of Flurry last year made a lot of sense. It acquired a vast wealth of app user data that can help it in its bid to complete with Twitter’s and Facebook’s new SDKs. Positioned alongside their BrightRoll acquisition, it certainly seems that Yahoo may become a competitive force in the exciting and fast-moving mobile ad tech space.

It means they can present advertisers with a meaningful alternative to Facebook and Twitter solutions when seeking app installs or direct response. That being said, one has to wonder if that’s sufficient without a large existing owned-and-operated mobile property.”

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