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IronSource’s LevelPlay helps mobile game and app devs score bigger ad revenues

IronSource is introducing LevelPlay as a broadly available tool that can help smaller mobile game and app developers generate higher revenues from advertising.

Launched a year ago, LevelPlay is an in-app bidding tool that is now automatically enabled for every developer, giving them instant access to all bidding networks. In the past, only the biggest publishers had access to it as the company refined the technology for automating monetization.

In-app bidding flattens the traditional ad waterfall, allowing every demand source to bid for an available impression simultaneously in real-time. In the past, using the waterfall concept, the bidding wasn’t nearly as fast or efficient. By shifting to the real-time simultaneous bidding, the tech is faster and increases competition for available ad impressions, which in turn can lead to an increase in revenue.

It means that at the very last second, LevelPlay can insert an ad in a game that will generate more money than might otherwise have happened with a different ad. LevelPlay helps create more competition among advertisers to insert ads into developers’ apps and games. But one of the dangers is that it can slow the app or game down, so it has to be handled just right.

“We’ve been working very hard with publishers to promote this agenda for all the industry to take the next step,” said Nimrod Zuta, vice president of product at IronSource, said in an interview with GamesBeat. “And we believe we’ve made it. The result should be better monetization for app and game companies.”

It comes at an important time as mobile advertising faces a lot of uncertainty now because Apple has decided to make targeting individual users harder in the name of protecting user privacy. In a few months, Apple is effectively retiring the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA).

Because of that change, targeting individual users will be harder, so it’s not easy for companies to decide whether to bid to get a particular ad in front of a particular user. But companies will still have some ways to determine that an advertiser should bid on a user, based on where the user is, the time of day that the user is active, and other tidbits of information that are still available, Zuta said.

Above: IronSource’s LevelPlay.

“This is independent of IDFA, and we believe bidding is a very good option for developers,” Zuta said. “We expect there will be fluctuations in the market. So it will be hard to optimize your setup. At least on the bidding side, you know that things are democratized and we are adding value.”

Now that the tech has been thoroughly tested, IronSource is ready to open it up to more game and app developers. In addition, the company announced that Facebook Audience Network is now in open beta, allowing any developer using the IronSource mediation platform to access one of the industry’s largest bidders, and utilize this demand source without any pre-approval necessary.

Zuta said that any developer will now get  get equal access to the in-app bidding technology, along with access to premium demand sources like Facebook Audience Network.

“What’s exciting here is the access to Facebook Audience Network bidding for any publisher without any manual approval,” Zuta said. “This is being offered in a more democratized and competitive way.”

Previously, access to the in-app bidding technology within the IronSource mediation platform was only open to select developers, who had to be pre-approved to use the technology.

The upgrades to LevelPlay allow any developer to download the SDK and have bidding up and running instantly, for major ad units such as rewarded video and interstitials. All bidding networks on the LevelPlay platform are automatically available, including Facebook Audience Network, meaning any developer can include the demand source in just a few clicks.

Zuta said that in-app bidding is fast becoming the industry standard for monetization. Today, 50% of the company’s mediation impressions are running through an in-app bidding environment. This should grow further with the widening of access to in-app bidding.

Bidding is increasingly replacing the waterfall as the preferred setup for ad monetization as it helps maximize revenue while saving valuable time for ad operations teams.

“We are at the point where we are confident that any publisher out there will see success with bidding,” Zuta said.

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