Industry Exposed #19: Bidstalk "Mobile Adtech Is Moving Towards Automation and Machine Buying, But It Is Also Increasing Entry Barriers"

By Johana Leeflang | July 10th, 2015


Welcome back to our Industry Exposed series! For this installment, we have an insider guest: Vaibhav Gupta, co-founder and CEO of mobile DSP Bidstalk. The company was acquired by AppLift in May 2015, and, since then, Vai joined the AppLift management team as Chief Innovation Officer, on top of his responsibilities at Bidstalk. After the dust of the acquisition settled, we took some time to sit down with Vai and talk about the current mobile programmatic advertising landscape, and what lies ahead for the world of RTB trading.

Vaibhav- BidstalkAn advertising technologist and a trailblazer, Vaibhav, together with his team, is building Bidstalk to be the one-stop white labeled RTB solution for advertisers, publishers, and agencies. Earlier, he was CTO of the India Operations at Airpush, where he redefined mobile advertising with innovative technological practices and business strategy. He has set afloat various innovative products with Golive Mobile,, Cerner and Gete, an e-com start-up. Vaibhav is a knowledge specialist in mobile advertising, real-time bidding, display advertising, and business modeling & analytics. 

Q: Can you briefly present Bidstalk and its business model?

Bidstalk is a leading enterprise-level RTB platform which offers a white label DSP interface that connects to global supply from all the leading SSPs and ad exchanges of the world. It’s proprietary, patent-pending bidding algorithms, optimization rules engine and state-of-the-art fraud detection tools give the advertisers maximum bang for the buck as well as an enriching advertising experience to end users. Bidstalk currently powers more than 50 DSPs across the world and connects to more than 30 leading SSPs and ad exchanges, such as Mopub, Doubleclick, Rubicon, Nexage, Smaato, Pubmatic, OpenX, Brightroll to name a few.

Bidstalk’s vision is to convert the programmatic and media trading ecosystem into an open, transparent and easy-to-access system and enable different media businesses to trade media in their own, unique way.

In terms of business model, Bidstalk is a SaaS platform charging platform fees based on usage. The white-label business line goes on after our acquisition by AppLift.

Q: Which issues facing mobile advertisers led you to found the company?

I have been into advertising since 2004 and, since then, I’ve witnessed the various cycles of online adtech, which mobile is now following closely. Today, I can say that mobile adtech is moving towards automation and machine buying, but it is also increasing entry barriers for new as well as existing players. With Bidstalk, we are reducing that entry barrier and empowering anyone to trade media over RTB.

Q: What motivated your decision to get acquired by AppLift in May 2015?

AppLift is a global comprehensive mobile app marketing platform with a strong leadership team and a vision larger than meets the eye. We also discovered a company with whom we share same DNA, market vision, and get-things-done mentality. And, obviously, AppLift and Bidstalk have complementing businesses as well as a unique positioning in the market.

Q: Where do you see the strongest synergies between the two companies?

Bidstalk brings an unparalleled RTB infrastructure to AppLift, which now enables their advertisers to perform efficient and transparent programmatic media buying at scale and on a self-serve basis through their platform DataLift. The infrastructure also benefits from AppLift’s proprietary Lifetime Value (LTV) optimization algorithm, which optimizes the buys all along the user funnel, from impression to post-install event, in order to get maximum ROI on mobile marketing spend.

On the other side, AppLift brings us a vast international setup, with 5 additional offices across 3 continents, as well as experience, best practices, and manpower in the fields of sales and marketing.

Q: What have been the strongest developments in the mobile programmatic ecosystem in the past two years?

The mobile programmatic ecosystem is progressing very fast and has grown significantly over the last 24 months. For instance, the rise of Over-the-Top (OTT) TV and video along with mobile usage is already evident.

Just to give a few examples of the strength of programmatic:

  • Traffic on ad exchanges has increased from 5-6Bn per day a couple of years back to 40Bn per day today.
  • The bid depth (also aka fill rate) over RTB platforms has improved by almost 300%.
  • Access to analytics tools has improved from just 1-2 companies to a plethora of options. The incumbent platforms (Apple and Google) have also improved their mobile analytics capabilities significantly.
  • Various innovative advertising format such as native and in-game videos have evolved in the last couple of years and benefit from a significant market share now.
  • Last but not the least, companies like Facebook and Yahoo! entered the programmatic space and acquired various companies such as LiveRail, Brightroll, Flurry etc

Q: Where do you think the mobile RTB world will be headed in the next months?

From a technology standpoint, I strongly believe mobile RTB will become the standard through which most of mobile inventory will be sold. Brands have been active adopters of RTB lately and they will continue to shift budgets towards it. Premium programmatic will evolve further and large publishers will trade inventory over private marketplaces. RTB will lose its reputation of only being about remnant inventory :) 

Lastly, native ads will become easily tradable programmatically and most of mobile inventory will be native.

Q: What are the main specificities of the Asian market when it comes to programmatic media buying?

APAC is a mobile-first market and the fastest-growing programmatic advertising market. As a few recent studies show, Asia Pacific has witnessed a significant 70% growth in programmatic media buying over the last year. This is being propelled by growth in the Chinese market, which saw a 400%+ increase in the number of programmatic ads served.


Q: How do you generally see programmatic evolve at the global level in coming years?

Here are just a few of the most important trends likely to impact programmatic:

  • Data is without doubt one of most important aspects of programmatic buying. Market players will find new ways to use data such as TV, weather, location, etc.
  • Newer ad units such as video and native will take the front seat and provide large inventory, offering improved mobile user experiences.
  • More (if not most) publishers will move towards programmatic for their ad monetization strategy.
  • Premium programmatic buying (direct deals) will rise and there will be more marketplaces to trade those deals on.
  • Cloud services will play an increasing role in the digital advertising sector, offering flexibility, scalability and speed of implementation. 

Our thanks go to Vai for his time!

Do you have any questions on the future of programmatic? Leave them below and we will make sure to get Vai's answer for you!

Johana Leeflang
Johana Leeflang is Leading EMEA Events and Community at AppLift. Johana writes about mobile marketing trends and in-depth market analysis. When she is not digging deep into mobile marketing, Johana enjoys dancing salsa, listening to old-school R&B and hip-hop and traveling; her favorite holiday destination is Milos, Greece for its beautiful beaches and lovely people. Connect with her on LinkedIn here