How to Build Your Waterfall

Eli Hotoveli
Senior Supply Sales & Business Delvelopment Manager
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So you’re a mobile publisher and you want to maximize your revenue from your ad space. Ideally, you want the first bidder to offer the highest bid, right? But if you work with multiple partners, you can’t guarantee that the highest bid will come first. How do you create order? Programmatic already makes it easier, but it’s not enough. You need a way to organize all of your demand partners – a way to make the most revenue possible from your inventory. You need to build your waterfall.

What Is a Waterfall?

If waterfalling aka “daisy chaining” is new to you, it’s a method to manage your demand partners, prioritizing them according to the eCPM and fill rate. By working first with those who offer the highest bids, and then moving down to lower bids, you not only maximize revenue, you can generate revenue from every impression. Here are 3 tips to help you get started.

3 Tips to Help You Build Your Waterfall


Tip #1: Put Guaranteed Deals at the Top of Your Waterfall

The top of your waterfall should be made up mostly of guaranteed buys and direct sales. Prioritize these above indirect, with programmatic partners next in your waterfall. By doing so, you’ll guarantee a certain amount of revenue in advance and remove some of the uncertainty of programmatic monetization. Just keep in mind that direct sales require more work and effort.

Tip #2 Get Specific with Segmentation

Segment according to publication/app, country/geo, OS, ad size, and ad type (banners, interstitial, native, video…). The more specific you get, the more money you can make. If you look at the average eCPM of your demand partners, across all segments, you might be missing out. For example, a demand partner (network) might be performing much better on Android than on iOS. Looking at the average and segmenting this way, rather than sending more Android impressions and less iOS impressions, is simply losing money. You need to remember that these rates change all the time, so the more specific you get, and more frequently you optimize, the more revenue you receive.

Tip #3 Use Your Leftover Inventory, But Know When to Stop

If you have multiple apps, cross-promote on your own apps. There is a give and take between ads and user experience. Chances are your users don’t love ads, and running ads on your app, might result in some users removing it. Try and find the minimum eCPM that makes it “worthwhile” to display an ad.

Even with these tips, your waterfall might not always work as you want it to. Why? While using programmatic RTB has many benefits, you don’t really know the real rate, you’re actually depending on previous experiences you’ve had with specific partners, and you’re counting on that to create the best order of bids. Typically, publishers take results from the last 7 days, analyzing the average rate they received for each partner to create their waterfall, but in doing so, there’s a strong chance that they’re losing out on revenue. So how can you do it better?

Here’s your bonus tip – The most beneficial thing you can do when building your waterfall is using an automated system to simplify the process and automatically optimize your inventory. Instead of analyzing week-old data, a smart mediation tool like Mobfox’s Autopilot, can do this for you automatically on an hourly-basis. You know what else it can do for you? Put guaranteed deals at the top of your waterfall, segment your inventory, and maximize your remnant traffic. That’s right, it can do all the aforementioned tips.

That being said, you’ll still want contact with a human, an account manager, to help you achieve your monetization goals. An experienced account manager can monitor, give tips, answer questions and clear uncertainties, so you can find the right balance of creating a fantastic user experience and maximizing revenue from your app.

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