Industry updates and news from the ad tech world

Meet our mediated partners: AdColony


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Every month we dedicate a blog to highlighting some of the many demand partners available to you through Fyber’s mediation platform. This month, we caught up with our friends over at AdColony to get their thoughts on where the mobile advertising industry is heading, their monetization tips for developers, and more.

Tell us a little about your company background and history. What sets AdColony apart?

AdColony started out as developer. We were a launch partner with Apple for the App Store back in June 2008. We made over 200 apps, the lion’s share of which were monetized through advertising. So we know first-hand what it’s like to make and run apps. We bring that core understanding to our conversations with potential partners and take a very consultative approach with our work.

We’re also laser-focused on mobile video advertising, and this focus is why we’re able to provide a best-in-class user experience to help publishers better target, acquire, engage, and monetize their users.

Tell us a little bit about your network.

AdColony reaches 500M+ MAU (monthly active users), more than 50% of which are in North America. We work with over 90% of the AdAge Top 100 Advertisers and 80% of the Top 100 Grossing Apps in the App Store. Our proprietary Instant-Play™ technology serves razor sharp, crystal-clear video ads instantly in HD across the world’s hottest apps.

Where do you see the mobile ad industry heading in the coming year?

Broadly speaking, as mobile video consumption continues to increase and mobile video ads continue to outperform other mobile ad formats, it’s not surprising that eMarketer’s most recent US Mobile Video Advertising Report shows mobile video outpacing other ad formats through 2019.

In the coming year, we’ll see the further growth of video advertising, as Fortune 500 brands and app developers continue to scale spend on mobile video to achieve their brand campaigns objectives and acquire loyal users for their apps, respectively.

What advice would you give to app developers just starting out? How can AdColony help app developers achieve their goals?

Driving user growth and monetization is critical. So it’s important to have your marketing and monetization strategy carefully thought out. From a monetization perspective, it’s really important for developers to start thinking about organic experiences that drive ad monetization that are non-intrusive and drive engagement and time spent by users in the app.

As for AdColony’s role, we have a great team with many, many years of experience to help our partners with integration recommendations, gameplay evaluation, etc. Publishers should definitely feel free to reach out to us for more specific questions about how we can help them reach their goals.

What are some common mistakes app developers should be aware of?

Launching the app without already having a well thought out ad monetization strategy in place is a common mistake. When, where, and how to show ads should be finalized during beta testing and be ready prior to global launch. A few years ago, it was common to save ad monetization for the second or third update after the app was live, but now it’s important to be ready at the time of launch in case of quick viral spread, app featuring, etc.

Do you have any tips for our developer clients on how to best integrate ads for maximum success?

In the case of a game developer, running interstitial videos between level changes is very popular and intuitive. Implementing our value exchange videos that reward users with premium content in exchange for watching videos to drive engagement and in-app purchases also makes a ton of sense. But going a deeper strategic level, what about the placement of these value exchange videos within the game’s content? The savvier game developers are finding great ways to merchandise the value exchange video ad placements that are deeply interconnected and woven into the gameplay. Even beyond this, one of the key things to think about as a developer is what to give as a reward to the player. Should it be hard currency or a unique booster or power-up? We find that the best rewards are unique (can’t be earned any other way), immediate (the player receives immediate benefit from the reward), and visual (the reward has a visual impact/representation in the game).

Thanks to AdColony for taking the time to share their thoughts with us! If you have any questions or are interested in getting started with Fyber’s mediation solution, please contact your account manager.

Companion apps: A look into the past, present, and future

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This year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) brought in 50,000 attendees to the Los Angeles Conference Center for the first time in a decade, and featured a wide range of exciting game previews for consoles, PCs, and mobile devices. One of the biggest announcements for both the gaming and mobile gaming communities was that of Fallout Shelter, an iOS companion app for the highly anticipated game Fallout 4, which will be available on PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4 in November of this year. While companion apps – mobile apps that are connected thematically or strategically to a console game – are nothing new, Fallout Shelter has made headlines by pushing mobile giant King’s Candy Crush Saga out of the number three spot on the top-grossing app chartFallout_Quote

This success will likely encourage other game publishers to follow suit and develop their own mobile companion apps, which will continue this year’s trend of strengthening the relationship between mobile and console gaming. Taking a look back into the origin of companion apps and games, it’s clear to see that there has been a fair amount of experimentation to varying levels of success. To get a clear look at what may be in store for the future of companion apps and what effects it will have on the mobile gaming industry as a whole, it’s useful to take a brief look at their history.

2003: Companion apps with a cross-promotional function

When Nintendo released their Gamecube console in 2001, it supported a cable-link feature that wasn’t fully utilized until around 2003. Players were able to connect their portable Gameboy Advance systems to their Gamecube to play minigames, “upload” data from a sister game, or participate in other innovative gameplay. While smartphones had not yet been embraced by the majority of the population, the handheld Gameboy Advance served as a stand-in. This connectivity needed a literal wire, but it can be safely assumed that this type of game inspired later iterations of the companion app which would become entirely wireless with the inevitable smartphone takeover.

2009: Companion apps as a fan service

Many consider Champions Companion to be the first real companion app that fully utilized iOS. Connected to the game Champions Online, Champions Companion (released in 2009) started to shape the trend into what it is today. Players were able to “view the in-game news, view your friends list and friend activity streams, and even send and receive in-game emails”. The same year, WoW Armory set the stage for other “armory” type companion apps – essentially a database for information weapons, characters, etc. – to become popular. However, in 2011 World of Warcraft, removed its companion Facebook app in favor of of a web API, which prompted fans to take matters into their own hands and start production of user-generated companion apps.

2013: Companion apps as a marketing vehicle

With the release of Grand Theft Auto V, Rockstar Games also released not one but two separate companion apps. This was a milestone as it showcased the variety of possibilities within the genre. The first app, iFruit, was comprised of a custom car maker and a mini game, while the second app was a game guide.

2015: Companion apps as revenue generators

Today, the business model of creating companion apps as a way to market the core title seems to be more prevalent than past trends. Fallout Shelter has remained in the top spot for adoptions which has proven that it has served its purpose as a marketing tool, but the fact that it was also able to oust Candy Crush from its number three spot on the top-grossing charts hints that this game has become something much more. Some estimate that, in order to have made it to the number three spot on the top-grossing charts, Fallout Shelter brought in approximately one million dollars in daily revenue. The power of a big name IP is obvious when it comes to initial downloads by fans, but smart monetization mechanics are essential to becoming a top-grossing app.

Especially in scenarios when a developer’s target demographic is console or PC gamers, opt-in ad formats are a natural way monetize their companion app without fear of scaring their players away. While in-app purchases (IAPs) are already implemented in Fallout Shelter, it will be interesting to see if rewarded ad content will be integrated now that the game has staying power as a stand alone title. While it may sound counter-intuitive to include ads in an app that was originally designed as a marketing tool itself, there are strong indicators that some ad formats can actually strengthen the engagement that players have with a game. For example, a recent study conducted by Fyber in partnership with a major game publisher, shows that rewarded apps increase both the likelihood that a player will make an in-app purchase, and the likelihood that they will remain active in the game. No companion apps currently use this mechanic, but it would be a solid prediction that this may be the case in the future, as it has proven to work for top mobile game publishers.

Making mediation easy: Integrate ad networks in minutes with new mediation bundles

Creating a great app is challenging; integrating your mediation provider shouldn’t be. This is why Fyber is happy to announce that our new mediation bundles are available for all ad formats on iOS and Android!

Mediation bundles simplify the way you integrate and update your mediated ad networks so you can get your app to market faster. You can set up ad networks in minutes – check out the integration video below! This streamlined process makes Fyber the provider of choice for developer-friendly mediation.

It’s that easy. Our video shows how you can set up ad networks in minutes. Check it out!

How it works

Each of Fyber’s mediated ad networks has its own bundle with all the components you need for integration, including the adapter, the ad network SDK, and its associated libraries. It’s basically an ad network “bundle of joy” (and one that actually makes your life easier!) Simply download the bundles for the networks you want, connect them to your app, and watch your revenue grow.

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What other benefits do mediation bundles provide?

Bundles are also designed to be reliable and flexible because they are:

  • Certified to work: All of Fyber’s mediation bundles are thoroughly tested and certified by our 12-person internal team of mediation and QA engineers. We’re dedicated to working closely with our mediated partners to eliminate common integration errors and ensure that our product sets the bar for quality and reliability.
  • Flexible and customised: Integrate bundles for only the ad networks you want and minimise unnecessary files that weigh down your app.
  • Less integration work: Bundles include the right SDK and adapter versions in one place, eliminating the chance of version mismatch.

Download the bundles and try for yourself!

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More to come!
Fyber’s mediation bundles are just one part of our overarching mission to make app monetization smarter, easier, and better. We are continually working to ensure that developers have access to the mediated ad networks and product features that they want, all in the most streamlined way possible. Stay tuned for more exciting product updates and offerings from Fyber in the coming weeks.

Q & A with Alex Kogon and Michael Palotas – Selenium meetup at Fyber

Scalability and QA test automation have long been a hot topic for fast-growing tech companies. How do you handle, in a quick and efficient manner, your product or platform tests when they reach thousands? How do you ensure that no unexpected crashes or bugs result once the product is live? Quality assurance should be an integral part of any ad tech product development process, however, the question is: Which tool should you use for quality assurance tests and how should you arrange the testing funnel in an agile software development life cycle?

IMG_20150528_184716Fyber was lucky enough not only to host the first Berlin Selenium QA meetup, but also to interview with not one, but two, fantastically knowledgeable Selenium users, test engineering and development experts, and software industry veterans: Alex Kogon and Michael Palotas.

For those that have never heard of Selenium, can you explain what it is and how it fits into the real world of automation?

Alex: Selenium is an open source, widely-used standard that allows you to interact with the web pages exactly as a user would. It allows you to write automated scripts to replace manual QA testing with automated testing, that loads the browser, interacts with the browser, does everything that a user would. If you have QA engineer loading one browser manually, he would have to repeat the process with a number of browsers and multiple times, while automated testing allows you to run continuously against as many different environments as you want to. It has been around for about five years, but has become the standard in the ecosystem.

Michael: It fits in the overall automation world; it is at the very top of the testing pyramid, on top of Selenium there is only manual testing. In my opinion, Selenium’s place is functional regression. I would leave usability and performance tests to other tools or manual testing.

What in your opinion is key to creating a successful test automation strategy?

Alex: I think that the most important thing for continuous integration is that it has to be as fast as possible, so tune your tests to run as fast as possible and use the environment that performs as fast as possible. The problem is that many people use Sauce Labs, and it runs slowly because of the number of users at any given time. Others choose to use AWS, which is also slow, so if you build your own dedicated Selenium grid that provides the best possible performance, it might cost you more money but you’ll get a much better integration. When a developer changes something, they are supposed to wait until all the changes are integrated to see the result, but if it takes three hours to run the tests, they’ll be unable to check every little change to the code.

Michael: The key is to look at the topic of test automation holistically. I often find that the grid level automation is sitting with the QA teams; it usually is decoupled from the developer’s job. Where test automation fails is not in choosing the tool, but in looking at the testing pyramid in the wrong way. There must be a very close communication and collaboration between teams to set up an automation strategy that follows that test road. In an agile setup it is easier, especially if you have in-house testers, rather than teams that operate on different continents, for example. The more integrated the testing and developing processes are, the better; it’s about looking at it as a whole.

What is the likely future for Selenium, specifically with the shift towards mobile?

Alex: Selenium is just a protocol, but when you learn about Selenium, it’s usually related to web browser driving. There is Appium, which has the same type of interface, but you use different selectors. Instead of using selectors that give you objects on a web page, you use selectors that give you elements in the Android or iOS interface. I haven’t worked with it myself, but it looks quite interesting. Selenium was written for web, but all that matters is the user interface elements as objects, so as long as you can allow user interface elements as objects and are able interact with them, then you can use it.

Michael: The mobile topic, of course, is something that is being addressed by Selenium by developing tools such as Appium and Selendroid. There are already possibilities for Selenium to address mobile; it’s not yet perfect, but Selenium will have to move away from exclusively working with web browser testing and will eventually have to have mobile devices seamlessly integrated into their service. I am hoping that this is the route Selenium will take.

End to end tests are notorious for being brittle and slow. What is the best approach in carrying out the necessary tests, but not slowing down the testing process?

Michael: One thing is to have as few tests on the top level as possible, which still means you will have a few hundred tests to run. Another thing is the scaling aspect; make sure that you have a scalable infrastructure. I, personally, have set up an in-house grid with enough horsepower to allow scaling. As for the performance part, a big enough grid would mean that your test execution time equals the time that it takes you to run the longest test. Of course, that is theoretically speaking, it would be a matter of a few minutes. Companies often start without a grid or scaling in mind, and then when they think they reached a certain size they just throw in a Selenium grid and the whole thing explodes; nothing works, tests become brittle, they pass, they fail, nobody knows why. When you take a deeper look, you’ll see that tests weren’t written in an atomic way. Test data management is very important; when you have to run a thousand tests at the same time, you need each test to have its own dataset. This is not something you should think about when scaling becomes necessary, but something to consider from day one. A good rule of thumb is to use Selenium when you need the very top layer of the testing pyramid evaluated. When you need the visual part tested, the consistency level testing, as part of your user acceptance test for a web product. Selenium is paramount for these type of tests. However, for algorithm tests, there is no need for Selenium. Always remember, the fewer tests you have on the higher level, the better.

If I am new to Selenium, where do you suggest I start?

Alex: I don’t think that writing Selenium is very difficult at all, of course it depends on how much technical knowledge you possess. If you are a tester who knows how to drive a web browser but you never got to see the HTML code behind it, it may be a little bit difficult, but most important is to have the aptitude and the will to learn. I think the problem is that many developers don’t want to be test developers. But to be a good tester, you have to be a good developer. There are quite a few people in testing who are not developers and they perform just fine, but once you go into creating architecture that allows you to maintain your system more affordably, that’s where you have to know coding. Selenium testing is quite simple, but knowing how to maintain it properly requires a good level of software skills.

Michael: Bad news is, unfortunately, there is no good documentation for Selenium right now (laughs). A good starting point is still the Selenium HQ website, just to get a feel for it. Pick a language you are comfortable with, assuming that you are comfortable with any one coding language. Selenium is great because it supports most coding languages. Install Selenium and play around with it; and if you don’t understand something, Google it or attend the meetups in Berlin!

 

New case study: Complementing IAP with rewarded ads

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According to a recent report by eMarketer, in-app advertising and in-app purchases continue to rise in popularity as methods of monetization, while the paid download model has demonstrated a marked decline. Advertising is still the most popular business model by far (more than twice as common than IAP), but in-app purchases (or “IAP”), when executed correctly by the right type of app, can be a strong source of revenue for the developer.

However, the question is, can developers have the best of both worlds? Can they utilize both business models, in tandem, to maximize their returns? In our latest case study featuring Fyber’s client, a leading international publisher of mobile and social games, we explore:

o  Whether the implementation of rewarded ads increases or decreases the likelihood of an in-app purchase
o  How in-app ads affect engagement metrics, such as logins, storyline completion, etc.
o  The effect that in-app ads have on user retention

Download the study to read the full story.

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Case study: Getting UA right

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In our latest case study, we take a look at how Social Point – Spain’s largest mobile game studio – achieved success by working with Fyber to execute a smart and targeted user acquisition strategy. A leading developer of top-grossing mobile and social games, Social Point’s games have garnered over 50M monthly active users and more 100 million downloads. In this study, we’ll examine how Social Point:

o  Earned the #2 rank amongst US Android games for their title, Monster Legends
o  Influenced 66% of acquired users to complete the game’s tutorial
o  Achieved an average ROI of 7-10% per user

Download the study to read the full story.

Hot topics @ ad:tech – (Un)truth in advertising

As ad:tech San Francisco drew to a close last week, one of the last keynote addresses actually attracted one of the largest crowds: The panel focusing on ad fraud. This topic was top-of-mind throughout the conference, and the speakers at the address provided compelling insights into mitigating the risk of non-human traffic, fraud, and viewability.

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Today, both advertisers and their partners are forced to acknowledge that fraud is a topic of continued concern. As mobile advertising traffic increases in volume – soon expected to exceed display – ad fraud has become a costly problem that advertisers have to tackle. Despite enormous growth potential in the mobile market, there are serious challenges of trust within the digital supply chain. To combat this mistrust, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) organized a task force comprised of 36 national industry players committed to identifying where the highest inventory of non-human traffic is coming from.

The scope of this problem is great; according to recent research, a concerning 50% of 3rd party ad views were attributed to non-human traffic, while 23% of video ads were associated with fraudulent bot traffic. Faced with this stark reality, marketers are poised to lose $6.3B to non-human traffic by the end of 2015.

That said, another key problem that plagues the mobile advertising industry is transparency. The movement of ad dollars from traditional formats towards mobile programmatic has invited fraud into the ecosystem. With fewer verifications and checkpoints in place, there is less insurance of where mobile traffic is coming from. The panelists agreed that advertisers are wary to scale their budgets in the digital space because of the pervasiveness of ad fraud, especially because the highest CPM/CPC inventory has the greatest propensity for fraudulent behavior.

According to panelist Suzanne Sypulski, Director of Ad Ops at The Wall St. Journal, clients need to be educated on the risks and cost of ad fraud and align themselves with partners who take have safeguards built into their ad tech. There was an overwhelming consensus that the best way to combat fraud was for brands to demand greater transparency and take ownership of their data and technology by establishing backend checks. Simultaneously, ad networks, publishers, supply side platforms, and agencies need to buy traffic from trusted monitored marketplaces (which have an average of only 4% fraud, as opposed to 16-20% fraud in open exchanges) and have technologists on staff to assess traffic quality.

Key themes of vigilance and education on best practices resonated throughout the panel’s discussion of prospective solutions for mobile and programmatic ad fraud. In addition, it was noted that using specific CPA or CPE metrics (or even the speculated concept of CPH, cost-per-human) which directly target business initiatives, increases operational efficiency by ensuring that partners are driving traffic based on quality, rather than solely seeking to maximize fill. Lastly, the panel agreed that bringing together key constituents in all parts of the advertising funnel opens the dialogue and facilitates the creation of industry benchmarks to help recognize signs of fraud (e.g. high volume click habits between midnight-7am are usually fraudulent). This system of checks and balances allows all parties to navigate the layers between the buyer and publisher and be proactive about detection.

Looking to the future, Michael Kelly, Sr. Media & Consumer Comm. Mgr at American Licorice Company, reminded everyone, “spoofing location data is the newest thing in mobile ad fraud. As mobile video takes hold, it will be where the black hats focus next.”  As a whole, the panel was able to offer high-level advice on how advertisers, vendors, and everyone in between should be cognizant to prevent the infiltration of fraudulent activity.

Hot topics @ ad:tech – Protecting your brand in the age of programmatic

Ad-tech headerAs you might imagine, much of the buzz at this week’s ad:tech SF conference focused on the rise of programmatic media buying and what this shift means for advertisers. This topic was hotly discussed during the panel “Protecting Your Brand in the Age of Programmatic”, featuring Tremor’s Video’s President of Publisher Platforms, Manish Jha, Turner Broadcasting’s SVP Ad Operations & Chief Data Scientist, Stephano Kim, and Google’s Ruth Kirschner, Director of Media Platform Sales.

The explosion of video and emergence of digital

Jha noted early in the panel that the explosive consumption of video content by consumers was part of what attracted him to his position at Tremor. “There are 1.5 million people in the US,” he shared, “who only subscribe to broadband and don’t have TV.” He explained that this trend means there’s a large, emerging audience of consumers who simply can’t be reached through traditional television advertising, which has long been the “go-to medium” for brands. As a result, more and more brands are turning to digital channels to disseminate their message.

Why programmatic?

But why the shift to programmatic? Across the panel, a key theme seemed to resonate: efficiency and effectiveness. Kirschner noted that a programmatic strategy – when executed properly – actually provides advertisers with a much more effective way to market. She explained, “programmatic is essentially infusing data into your buy, enabling you to reach your audience one-to-one and at scale. It allows you to reach the right person, at the right time, with the right creative.” Jha echoed this sentiment, adding that programmatic provides a terrific opportunity for buyers to gain more efficiency, since it enables them to buy into specific audiences.

Managing your brand and mitigating risk

As is often the case when programmatic is discussed, the word “risk” wasn’t far behind. Kirschner noted that when it comes to mitigating risk, advertisers have lots of tools available to them to help target and set the context for their campaign – for example, whitelisting or blacklisting, or setting appropriate geo-targets. When the conversation shifted to viewability, Kim shared his stance that “it’s not about making the ad more viewable, but moving to a more native experience that the user is interested in” and will therefore drive engagement. While the panel was unanimous in their support for the development and exploration of more native and engaging formats, Jha also commented that the industry should “strike a balance and ensure that the pendulum doesn’t swing too far. There should always be a clear delineation between publisher content and the ad.”

Next week

Check back next week when we continue our recap of hot topics from this year’s ad:tech SF, and take a look at how fraud (the “big bad wolf” of the ad tech world) was discussed at the conference.

 

Fyber partners with Chartboost, offering access to games-only interstitial, video, & rewarded video demand

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We’re excited to announce that Fyber’s mediation platform now offers support for Chartboost, providing our clients access to more leading, high-quality demand. Established in 2011, Chartboost offers a large network of games-only interstitial, video, and rewarded video ads on both iOS and Android.

“Partnering with Fyber was a natural fit for Chartboost,” said Clay Kellogg, CRO of Chartboost. “Offering access through Fyber’s mediation layer allows developers to tap into our extensive network of games-only demand, while benefiting from the ease of management and optimization features provided by Fyber’s platform.”

Fyber’s supply side platform offers developers access to both its leading ad network mediation platform, as well as additional demand from the Fyber Programmatic Exchange, all through a single unified SDK. The mediation platform makes it easier for developers to manage, optimize, and prioritize multiple demand streams from a central dashboard, which in turn boosts fill and maximizes revenue. In addition, Fyber’s predictive algorithm helps developers go beyond the traditional waterfall model to ensure that they are always served with the highest-paying ads.

“Fyber’s mediation product allows us to effectively manage and optimize all of our demand sources in one place,” said Drew Kirchhoff, Product Development at Yodo1. “We’re excited that Fyber’s partnership with Chartboost, who has also been a partner of Yodo1, will allow us to work with yet another strong demand source through Fyber’s platform.”

If you’re interested in working with Chartboost through Fyber’s mediation platform, please contact your account manager.

New: Mediation bundles make mediation integration easier, more flexible, more reliable

Fyber wants to make ad monetization as streamlined as possible. This is why we’re proud to introduce our new mediation bundles for the integration of your mediated ad networks. Bundles are currently available for all mediated ad networks on iOS – Android is coming soon!

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How it works

The mediation bundles will simplify the way you integrate and update your mediated ad networks. Each bundle includes all the components you need for integration, including the adapter, the mediated network SDK, and its associated libraries. Simply download the bundles you want, connect them to your app, and watch your revenue grow.

Why use mediation bundles?

The bundles will help get your app to market quicker with less errors. Here’s how:

  • Streamlined, one-stop-shop for integrations: Bundles provide automatic access to the right SDK and adapter versions in one place, eliminating the chance of version mismatch.
  • Certified to work: All bundles are diligently tested and certified by our large internal team of mediation and QA engineers. We’re dedicated to working closely with our mediated partners and committing resources to ensure that our product sets the bar for quality and reliability.

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  • Flexible and customized: Bundles are unique because they’re designed to be fully customizable: Download and integrate bundles for only the ad networks you want to work with. This helps avoid unnecessary files that weigh down your app.

How does this affect me as a developer?

Your engineers will love the new streamlined integration process. To help you understand how mediation bundles will change and improve the way you handle mediation integration and updates, we’ve prepared an FAQ for you and your team. If you’re ready to get started, follow the download links below. For any additional questions, please contact your account manager.

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