Axel Springer’s news app upday launched in 2016 and is now among the most impressive growth stories in the European news business. The app combines a unique news recommendation engine with journalistic competence, and quickly became a go-to destination for clean and brand-safe information. upday now reaches more than 25M monthly unique users in 16 European countries. And those users are highly engaged — on average they use upday five minutes per day, generating in excess of 550m visits per month.
To help optimize its approach to programmatic ad sales, upday turned to Google Ad Manager and in less than a year, grew their programmatic revenues by over 150% (H1 2019 vs. H1 2018).
Building out an approach to programmatic
From the start, upday developed a dynamic and growing direct advertising business. However, they also wanted to tap the huge potential of programmatic. To do so, the upday team partnered with multiple programmatic demand sources, such as Google, Facebook, and Yahoo!, and worked to balance them with their existing direct business. Initially, they used a waterfall setup to control competition between their programmatic ad sources, but found that managing it was too complicated in their existing third-party ad server. In addition, their setup did not allow upday to implement mobile friendly ad formats like native ads.
Google’s ad tech platform works super reliably, the team provides great service and Google Ad Manager leaves us all the flexibility we need as an agile startup.
, Chief Revenue Officer, upday
Shifting to dynamic mediation
The upday team realized they needed a more sophisticated solution to manage their programmatic ads, so they decided to switch to Ad Manager as their primary ad server. Ad Manager’s ad network mediation and Open Bidding solutions provided upday the capabilities they needed to continue growing their advertising revenue and simplify the monetization for their app.
Within a couple of weeks after the switch, upday was able to launch a range of new ad formats, including highly effective native ads. They placed native ads in their high-traffic “Top News” or “My News” sections. This change improved user experience by adding non-intrusive and relevant ads to their app, and increased advertiser results delivering click-through-rates way above industry averages.
The biggest benefit of switching to Ad Manager for upday was the ability to put all their advertising demand into competition. Using ad network mediation and Open Bidding (fka Exchange Bidding), Ad Manager increased competition for upday’s app inventory by having directly sold ads compete with all their programmatic demand sources. Now they are able to deploy all their ad formats across all their international markets, regardless of device type, segment, or deal type — direct sold or programmatic.
Making the most of programmatic
This update to their programmatic strategy led to impressive growth in revenue — more than doubling programmatic revenues in less than a year — and a shift in their monetization model. Going forward, upday will invest in Programmatic Guaranteed to continue growing their advertising business.
“Programmatic now stands for 70% of our revenue and Google’s excellent ad tech is an important pillar of this successful development,” says Nowobilska.