In April 2018, the mobile adtech world heralded the launch of Open Measurement SDK (OM SDK). In August 2018, Intowow became just the fifth company in the world to achieve OM SDK certification. Our close working relationship with the IAB and our dedication to publisher-first solutions motivated us to be an early adopter, and the certification is already paying dividends by making new programmatic demand available for our app publisher partners.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the industry body charged with managing and distributing OM SDK certifications, describes OM SDK as “a set of tools designed to seamlessly facilitate third-party viewability and verification measurement for ads served in mobile app environments —without various measurement provider SDKs and systems previously required.” As comprehensive as that definition is, for many readers it probably creates more questions than it answers. Let’s break it down.
How Does It Work?
We can think of OM SDK as a container that carries the data that everyone needs from the publisher/impression, eliminating the need for each viewability vendor to use its own container. Because all of the viewability vendors have agreed to OM SDK data standards, publishers who achieve OM SDK certification or partner with a certified SSP can access all demand that is verified by Moat, IAS, comScore, and/or DoubleVerify. Not only does this streamline transactions, but it consolidates otherwise fragmented inventory, creating more measurable impression opportunities. From the demand side, working with OM SDK-certified inventory alleviates the need for DSPs and ad networks to seek vendor-specific inventory.
What Problems Does It Solve?
First, a bit of background. In-app environments don’t behave like websites, so web viewability tracking tools tend to be unreliable in-app. As a result, in-app viewability reporting requires verification from one or more third-party vendors. The option for app publishers and demand partners to integrate more than one viewability vendor SDK created the core problem that OM SDK solves.
While publishers are free to work with just one viewability vendor, doing so severely limits the amount of ad demand that they have access to. Challenges arise when a publisher wants to work with a demand partner but they don’t have a common viewability vendor. In this case, the demand side is likely to ask the publisher to integrate their preferred vendor SDK. This is a tough decision for publishers. Onboarding multiple SDKs can be problematic for at least three reasons:
- Increased App Size – Publishers are hesitant to increase the file size of their apps because users are sensitive to the storage space on their devices. Adding multiple viewability SDKs gradually makes app file sizes climb.
- Time is Money – SDK integrations require valuable engineering hours, forcing publishers to choose between internal projects and new SDK integrations.
- Lapses in Reporting – Over time, SDKs and the app will be updated on a rolling basis, and each app update requires a ramping up period during which users update to the latest versions. Inconsistencies in ramp up behavior by users causes lapses in reporting, frustrating demand partners.
While all these stakeholders had a strong interest in resolving these challenges, the situation was complicated by the fact that there are so many stakeholders and some potentially differing technology. Finding that resolution required a lot of dedication from the viewability vendors along with the help of a couple of mobile giants.
The OM SDK initiative has been a long time coming, with a variety of industry stakeholders contributing to establish and test the new technology. The founding members for OM SDK – Google, Moat, Integrated Ad Sciences (IAS), DoubleVerify, comScore, and Pandora – “contributed insights, technology, and other major contributions throughout the development of the SDK,” according to Dennis Buccheim, SVP and GM of the IAB Tech Lab. Going forward, IAB will be the sole evaluator and certifier of OM SDK applicants.
When Will We See the Benefits?
Early adopting publishers and SSPs are already beginning to see the benefits of their OM SDK readiness as it gives them access to demand that is certified by any of the four major vendors, regardless whether they had previously integrated those individual SDKs. As great as that sounds, the reality of most industrywide adoption periods is that they take a long time and OM SDK is no exception. It’s not yet clear how exactly when full adoption might be achieved, but it’s realistic to expect it to take two years or more. As of this writing (Oct 2018), only 11 companies have achieved OM SDK certification.
With a huge new opportunity on the horizon, publishers and SSPs should be rushing to gain OM SDK certification. As mentioned in the opening, Intowow publishers are already accessing greater demand that’s impacting bottom lines. Change is coming. While industry adoption will take time, expect to hear growing praise for OM SDK as more companies are certified, demand providers gain access to valuable, previously unavailable inventory, and more ad dollars flow into publisher bank accounts.