Jim Payne, the ex-CEO and Co-founder of mobile app monetization platform, MoPub, which now belongs to Twitter, is launching a new start-up to enable mobile publishers to sell their inventory programmatically. Dubbed MAX for Mobile Ad eXchange, the new platform launched this week following successful beta testing.
The company attracted an initial funding round of $3.5 million led by Payne’s own investment fund, Breakpoint Capital, and participation from angel investors Brian Long of TapCommerce.
Additionally, game studios Miniclip and MobilityWare, which were also clients of the MAX platform, have participated in the funding round. Although unusual, Payne explained that “they’re just really excited about the concept of programmatic enablement and solving some of the problems that have been lingering in the mobile ecosystem for a long time.”
The new platform basically connects publishers with various demand sources in an OpenRTB space. Meanwhile, MAX makes its money by charging a platform fee.
As soon as there’s an ad request through MAX, the SDK asks all buyers to generate a live bid. The highest bidder then wins.
This is called parallel bidding – a variation on in-app header bidding, which has been picking up over the last year. Dan Sack, CEO of MAX explains:
“By bringing all of the bidders into one room on mobile, publishers are able to drive up demand for their inventory. Our platform allows publishers to work directly with as many key programmatic buyers as possible, including demand-side platforms.”
Until now, no mechanism existed for publishers to share inventory in real-time. Traditionally, this required them to give up some of their gross ad spend to an exchange, according to Sacks.
“But the days of gigantic margins, hidden fees, buy-side fees and ad networks not exposing publisher fees – that’s all crashing down right now,” he adds.
The new platform does not require publishers to replace their existing tech stack.
At launch, the company is working with 12 publishers, 20 DSPs and a few exchanges and networks. MAX will use the funding to boost growth of its engineering team to 15 employees (it currently has 10). In addition, the company plans to expand into Europe and Asia over the next few years.