Cheat Sheet: What is an SDK? Why Do They Matter in the World of Mobile Advertising?

Group shot of people collaborating in an office setting. The PubMatic logo is shown
By PubMatic
July 30, 2015


There are a host of technical terms and acronyms invading the world of advertising and media. One you may be hearing more frequently is “SDK.” SDK stands for a Software Development Kit, and one reason why people are talking about it is because it’s playing an increasingly critical role in publishers’ efforts to monetize mobile in-app inventory. A well-implemented SDK can boost the value of mobile app inventory and create a much more dynamic in-app ad experience.

To help shed some light on topic of SDK Advertising we have compiled a plain language cheat sheet that explains what SDKs are and what they do.

What is an SDK?
An SDK (Software Development Kit) is a set of software development tools that helps developers to build apps for a specific software platform, like iOS or Android. An SDK may contain APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), technical documentation, sample code, and other tools that help a developer to complete her work.

How are SDKs different from APIs?
Another term that is used a lot in the mobile advertising world is API, which stands for Application Programming Interface. The API is not a kit, it’s simply a clear set of rules, or protocols, for interacting with a system. As long as a programmer knows how to use the right protocols they can successfully accomplish the tasks they want to complete on the platform. An API is like a recipe, it’s a set of clear instructions. Companies often use APIs to give external parties access to their data or systems. An SDK is more like a box of cake mix. It has everything you’ll need to make a cake quickly and easily.

How are SDKs used in mobile advertising?
A publisher can use an SDK for mobile advertising to serve ads in an app on an Apple or Android device. Many apps do not have browser-like capabilities. Therefore, in-app advertising uses SDKs to render the different types of ads such as rich media and native.

Does PubMatic offer Publishers an SDK?
Yes, PubMatic’s OpenBid offers SDKs for publishers working on a variety of platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows, and more. The PubMatic SDKs allow publishers to serve more valuable ad impressions in their apps. This is because the SDK can help the app to gather critical data, like location or device type, which can boost the value of mobile ad inventory. PubMatic research uncovered the value of this data to mobile impressions. Once the publisher implements the PubMatic SDK they can serve all ad formats within an app such as display, rich media, video, and native. Our SDKs can even enable an in-app ad to change from profile to landscape, in response to how a user is holding and viewing the mobile device screen.

For more information on the PubMatic SDK click here.