Marfeel Says Dynamic Floor Pricing Sets Its SSP Apart

MarfeelGrupoZeta_2Even with a header bidding solution, there can still be money left on the table.

Spanish mobile optimization company Marfeel is looking to address that issue with the general launch of a supply-side platform Wednesday that sets dynamic floor prices. The product was in beta for the last two months.

“Basically, our platform tries to identify the highest CPM than an advertiser is willing to pay any day of the week at every minute of the day,” said Marfeel CEO and co-founder Xavi Beumala.

And that is an ever-changing variable. What an advertiser is prepared to shell out at one time of day could be vastly different from what it might pay at another.

In fact, Marfeel, who works with around 450 different publishers, including ABC, PopSugar, National Geographic and Men’s Health, has noticed a number of patterns in that regard.

Prices on the weekend are different from prices on weekdays, for example. Marfeel has also seen that the minimum an advertiser is willing to pay in the morning is sometimes as high as 10 times the CPMs on offer for the same traffic in the evening.

In other cases, certain advertisers might be willing to pay more for a certain type of user, say Android users over iOS users or vice versa. While header bidding allows publishers to see bid requests from all of its network and exchange partners at the same time, they could still miss out on ad revenue because their minimum is lower than the going rate in that particular situation.

The SSP gathers insights from across its publisher base – click-through rate, CPM, cost per click – to algorithmically predict the best price at any given time for any given cluster of users.

It’s part of what appeals to Enrique Blanc, director of strategic digital sales at Barcelona-based publishing conglomerate Grupo Zeta, which tested Marfeel’s SSP on several of its sites, including popular sports pub, where more than half of the traffic is mobile.

“We’ve worked with different platforms that allow us to define our strategy around floor pricing dictated by us,” Blanc said. “The drawback to them all is that they don’t make pricing recommendations at scale and doing it manually is incredibly time-consuming and far from optimized.”

Floor pricing isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing, but that’s what busy publishers end up having to do anyway, Beumala said. Most publishers will modify their desired floor price with their exchange partners on a weekly basis or maybe even every couple of days, although that’s usually only for their top publications, Beumala noted.

“But a floor price is something that keeps changing during the day,” he said. “In fact, the floor price can change hundreds of times during the same day.”

The hoped-for result of automated floor pricing is fewer impressions at higher prices and an ad-light experience that doesn’t leave the publisher high and dry revenuewise.

“There’s been a lot of noise around ad blockers and claims that ads are bad – and we do think that too much advertising can be damaging,” Beumala said. “But reducing the fill rate is good for the user experience, and at the end of the day, if there are fewer, less intrusive impressions, the quality of those impressions will be higher and loading times will be better.”

To that end, Marfeel uses lazy loading, the practice of only loading an ad when a user scrolls down into the viewport in an effort to help with viewability and latency.

Loading speed can be a major challenge for publisher “given the lack of appropriate mobile infrastructure that could support fast loading of both content and ads,” said Blanc, who noted that Grupo Zeta has seen seen revenue upticks of between 1.4x and 2.4x during its test of the Marfeel SSP.

In other news, Marfeel rolled out a solution for Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in late February. The philosophy behind it is somewhat similar to the logic behind automated floor pricing – neither is a one-and-done deal.

“It’s also like what happened in the past with native apps – everyone invested in them when they became mainstream a few years ago, but then no one really continued to improve on them,” Beumala said. “Publishers can’t just do [these things] once and then forget about them.”

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