Tear Down These Walled Gardens

Sep 29, 2021
By: Ben Holmes

When it comes to Digital Marketing, the same attributes that make those “Walled Gardens” attractive can also be the ones that come back to bite you. But what if I told you there was a way to get the benefits of a Walled Garden without having those problematic “Walls”? At Digital Turbine, we can offer those benefits – and give you another option besides Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple.

The Benefits of the Walled Garden

A “Walled Garden” is an ad network that 1) owns the audience, 2) owns the ad server, and 3) owns the data. By having one “throat” to go through, the benefits for the advertiser are easy to see. After all, it takes a lot of the guesswork out of programmatic QA. 

First, they provide a large reach. There is no argument that the entities above will be able to provide you a garden full of viable users. Second, there is easy targeting. Walled Gardens offer a plethora of options to help find the right users for your app. And finally, there is one Ad Tech Tax. You won’t be paying multiple vendors.

How Those Walls Protect The Garden More Than You

While a walled garden is easy for an advertiser and can reap the campaign results desired – it comes with issues mainly centered on the level of control that is given to the Walled Garden:

  1. Self-attribution: A Walled Garden has the power to do it’s own attribution calculations. While it’s debatable if their intent is to dupe marketers, it does create some inconsistencies. For example, Facebook has a default attribution window of 28 days post-click. Now while we can argue whether that Facebook ad was influencing behavior 3 weeks downstream, it’s not proving incrementality. In a way, Walled Gardens can grade their own homework – and there’s not much advertisers can do about it.
  2. No Transparency: Along those lines, Walled Gardens also can control their own campaign performance metrics – which often come with their own methods and definitions that differ from other networks. This makes it impossible to compare performance. Also, the advertiser has very little recourse to dispute any potential errors. This is why it took years before Facebook was challenged despite major miscalculations on average video watch time
  3. Play By Their Rules: Another thing that Walled Gardens can do is set activation requirements that other networks can’t. For example, let’s suppose an advertiser wanted to calculate true attribution. The only way to do this would be to provide Facebook with a complete list of all their buyers and then let Facebook calculate the ROI. In other words, in order to get that calculation, advertisers would be literally handing over data about their customers to Facebook. 
  4. Compete Directly With Them: The last problematic issue with Walled Gardens is that their ad networks are not their only interest. They all have interest in acquiring users to scroll content and buy products outside of their advertising platform. So even if they don’t compete with you directly, they still are competing with you for the user’s attention.

The Walled Garden Without Walls

As metrics, attribution, and transparency become critical for advertisers heading into 2022, Digital Turbine can present another type of Walled Garden – one that offers the garden without any of the problems that the walls might cause. First, due to our relationship with carriers and OEMs (including At&t, Verizon, and Samsung), we can offer a reach that rivals what the duopoly has. 

Beyond that, we can offer audiences others can’t find due to Digital Turbine’s Ignite platform,  our on-device tech which activates our patented SingleTap technology. This unique audience access provides a level of insight that seamlessly integrates with our supply to optimize campaigns and take the guesswork out of targeting. And finally, because we own our own SDK footprint, we can cut 15-30% of the ad tech tax marketers are forced to pay. 

We also offer some big differences in the level of transparency that other Walled Gardens are unable or unwilling to match. The table below shows all the different metrics you can get through our level of insight that allows you to properly evaluate and optimize your campaign. 

And finally, we aren’t in competition for user’s attention. Our ad stack is built for telcos to help them power your advertising. This independence allows us to be more opaque in our pricing, metrics, and rules than a traditional Walled Garden. 

So if you are looking for a better “View” into your Garden – try our DSP. The first and only one without walls.

By Ben Holmes
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