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Mobile in-app transparency may finally be improving, at least among the top sellers

Feb 7, 2019 7:56:30 AM

Pixalate recently released the Q3 2018 Seller Trust Indexes, which rank the overall quality of programmatic sellers across desktop and mobile web (GSTI), mobile in-app (MSTI), and cross-device video (VSTI).

The index rankings and scores are a compilation of key variables, including invalid traffic for both GIVT and SIVT, reach, transparency, and more. Pixalate has been publishing the indexes for several years now, so we decided to take a look back at some historical data to identify some industry-wide trends.

See the Indexes

Key takeaways from the MSTI:

  • Top mobile in-app sellers have become increasingly transparent

    • Potential response to calls for more transparency within mobile

  • ‘Transparency’ score among top MSTI companies has increased every quarter for the past year

  • Widening gap between the top-ranking companies and lower-ranking companies

    • Some companies are meeting the call for more transparency, but not all

Mobile in-app transparency has become a priority for top sellers

We aggregated the top MSTI performances (those that have an overall ranking of 1-5) against those that ranked further down the list (ranked 26-30) to see how they fared in the ‘Transparency’ department over the last 12 months:


This chart shows that in Q4 2017, the companies that ranked 1-5 had only slightly better ‘Transparency’ scores than those that ranked 26-30 (the difference was just 0.8).

However, at the start of 2018, companies that had high overall rankings on the MSTI had significantly better scores in the ‘Transparency’ category as well (86 vs. 77.9, for a difference of 8.1). In Q2 2018, the gap widened yet again (87.6 vs. 77.7, difference of 9.9).

In our most recent indexes, Q3 2018, those that ranked 1-5 on the MSTI slightly improved their average transparency scores (up to 87.9), while those that ranked 26-30 also saw a slight uptick, up to 79.9 — but the gap remains significantly larger than it was a year ago.

Here’s how we define ‘transparency’ for our index: “Availability of device and user information. For example, a seller with a high device identification percentage will score high on this scale.”

The industry wanted mobile to be more transparent; our data shows it may finally be happening

In a recent report highlighting the top challenges advertising face in mobile marketing and targeting, eMarketer noted that a “lack of transparency of publisher data is a huge issue for mobile marketers, and it contributes to ad fraud and poor targeting.”

That report came out in early 2018. Have the top in-app sellers since heeded the call?

A year ago, companies that ranked at the top of the mobile in-app seller quality rankings were not noticeably more transparent than those ranked closer to the bottom. But according to our data, that has started to change.

So how transparent are your mobile in-app sellers? Find out by downloading the latest Mobile Seller Trust Index.See the Indexes

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