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Top 9 Mobile Ad Networks to Monetize your App

We all come across app ads in our daily use of smartphones. Many mobile apps use advertising to make money. It’s fairly common for companies and entrepreneurs to turn to mobile ads to make money.

Mobile apps publish ads on their platform with the help of ad networks. This practice is a major part of mobile app monetization.

Google Ads is the most popular platform in this regard. Most publishers rely on it for app advertising.

As popular and commonplace as Google Ads is, there are other alternatives as well. A number of mobile ad networks allow companies to display ads on their native apps. These ad networks at times offer much better returns compared to Google Ads.

Anyone using a WooCommerce Android app builder must know the best paying mobile ad networks for future monetization opportunities.

This piece covers the best mobile ad networks companies can turn to.

In this blog

  1. What are the different mobile advertising business models?
  1. What factors should you consider when choosing a mobile ad network?
  2. Google AdSense
  3. Media.net
  4. App Samurai
  5. StartApp
  6. AdColony
  7. InMobi
  8. Clickadu
  9. Outbrain
  10. Flurry
  11. Frequently asked questions

What are the different mobile advertising business models?

So how do you monetize your app with ads? Is it as simple as displaying ads in your app?

Every mobile ad network offers a range of advertising business models. Each of these models will change the way you can monetize the ads that appear in your app. 

The following sections explain the different types of mobile advertising business models. 

#1: Cost per click (CPC)

A CPC advertising model implies that you will be paid every time a user clicks on an ad in your mobile app. This is perhaps the most popular advertising model because it suits both advertisers and publishers. 

Most ad networks offer CPC models, and it’s most likely to work if the ads in your app are relevant to your audience. Irrelevant ads will get crushed. It’s thus important for you to select an ad network that seamlessly fits the type of audience you serve. 

#2: Cost per mille (CPM)

CPM is an impressions-based model which structures advertising costs based on every thousand impressions of an ad. Let’s assume that the CPM cost for a particular ad is $2. This simply means that you as the ad publisher will be paid $2 for every type a thousand people view an ad in your app. 

CPM models are not action-based. If you have reliable and high traffic on your website and don’t want to miss out on ad revenue because of an audience mismatch, a CPM model is ideal. It ensures you receive ad revenue independent of how your app users engage with the ad. 

Keep in mind that your website needs to have serious traffic to make the CPM model work. If you only get a thousand visitors a month, or even a day, a CPM model may be ineffectual. This is ideal for big-traffic websites that get millions of visitors every month.

#3: Cost per install (CPI)

As the name suggests, a CPI model involves advertisers paying publishers for every app install referred. 

CPI campaigns are very popular amongst gaming apps. Again, CPI campaigns may not work for you unless the apps being promoted are not relevant to your audience. You should work with your ad network to make sure the apps being pushed via CPI campaigns are relevant to your users. 

Otherwise, it may be difficult for you to monetize your app as much as you’d like. 

#4: Cost per action (CPA)

CPA campaigns are essentially like CPI campaigns, except advertisers pay for every desired action that takes place via your mobile app. 

Let’s assume an advertiser wants to pay every time a visitor fills up a contact form. In this case, the desired action is lead generation. If a user from your app visits the advertiser’s landing page and performs the desired action. For app monetization purposes, you should again make sure that the ads are relevant to your target audience. 

#5: Cost per view (CPV)

A CPV model implies that advertisers pay for each impression their ad gets on a mobile app. This is the most appealing advertising business model for app publishers as they get paid every time a user sees an ad.

Advertisers generally go with CPV models when the traffic on an app is high and the audience is relevant to their products & services. Since advertisers are paying for each view, they ideally want to make sure that the ad is reaching the right audience. 

What factors should you consider when choosing a mobile ad network?

Choosing an ad network is not as simple as going with the platform that simply approves you as a publisher. There are many platforms around and you should choose one that offers you the best ad monetization opportunities. 

The following points highlight some of the factors you should consider while choosing a mobile ad network:

  • Monetization potential: The first step is to see which ad network promises the most monetization potential for your app. You can evaluate this by analyzing the advertisers connected with the ad network and their compatibility with your app’s audience.
  • Your app traffic: Ad networks have their own criteria for accepting publishers to their network. One of the main criteria is the average traffic an app gets. If your traffic is too low, it might be futile to join the ad network as you may get rejected.  
  • Ad integration requirements: Most ad networks provide an SDK that allows publishers to display ads in their apps. In some cases, the integration of the ad network with your app may be difficult. You should thus go through the required documentation to see how easy or difficult it would be to integrate the ad network with your app. 
  • Ad network reporting & analytics: The ad network you choose should provide detailed analytics for the ads being displayed on the app. This includes information about ad impressions, clicks, conversions, and so on. These analytics are crucial for helping you optimize ad positioning within your app to maximize monetization opportunities.

#1 – Google AdSense

Google AdSense is the most popular mobile ad network in the world. It was known as AdMob until Google acquired and rebranded it as AdSense.

Anyone using ads for monetization in the digital world has come across Google Ads and AdSense at some point.

It marks the beginning of every entrepreneur and company’s efforts to make money online.

Google AdSense is partly popular because it doesn’t just publish ads on high traffic websites and apps. It partners with young websites and apps and doesn’t use traffic as a criteria to leave others out.

This open nature of Google AdSense makes it the most common mobile ad network in the world. It publishes ads in a number of formats from search and native to display and video platforms.

There are special eligibility criteria publishers must meet to get approved on Google AdSense and publish ads.

Why choose Google AdSense?

For many native apps new to the market, Google AdSense is perhaps the only option. This is because of its simple eligibility criteria. Other top mobile ad networks have a higher entry point.

Another reason is its easy integration with any given platform. It is typically very simple to integrate AdSense with a mobile app. Furthermore, it works seamlessly with Analytics and allows publishers to study and find ways to optimize revenue.

A common critique of AdSense is that it doesn’t bring in great returns for publishers. This ends up becoming a big reason many publishers look for other ad networks after they reach a certain traffic threshold.

Also read: How to create an affordable mobile app and still make money?

#2 – Media.net

Media.net began as a direct alternative to AdSense. It works with advertisers and publishers looking to tap into the reach of Yahoo and Bing.

Just like AdSense, Media.net has tremendous reach across different online platforms in the market. This is because of its connection with two of the biggest mainstream search engines besides Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Publishers generally use both AdSense and Media.net together to maximize revenues. This becomes necessary for apps who depend on app ads for monetization.

Generally publishers find AdSense and Media.net fairly comparable. There are not great differences in revenue from either of the two. This is natural given their connection to search engines.

Media.net has a record of bringing fairly innovative add-ons to the world of advertising. The D2S advertising model was started by Media.net to optimize ad placement based on user intent. Other features such as pinned ads for infinite scrolls and ad assimilation make it a good bet for app monetization.

Ideally, publishers should not display ads from different ad networks. This is purely to protect user experience. Too many ads can severely harm app user experience. Someone using a mobile app builder online for Android must understand this basic idea.

#3 – App Samurai

App Samurai is a leading mobile app advertising platform. It finds many takers amongst both publishers and advertisers. Brands like Nike have used App Samurai to reach a wider audience.

It is one of the best mobile ad networks for publishers because of a feature-rich analytics platform. This allows publishers to see exactly how they can make the most of the ads that get published on their apps.

Many ad publishers look for ways to optimize placement and strategy to maximize revenue. This is especially true for companies that depend solely on ads for making money with their app.

Advertisers also get a ton of analytics options. This helps them connect with the right publishers to promote their ads. It is ultimately a win-win platform for both publishers and advertisers. The platform provides a range of different app metrics to study how ads are performing with app users.

After working with AdSense and Media.net, apps can try their hand with App Samurai and see if their returns increase. It offers a fairly wide range of ads, from banner ads to videos and playables. Furthermore, it has a competitive eCPM that makes it an attractive option to publishers.

#4 – StartApp

StartApp is a publisher-centric ad network geared towards maximizing revenue for mobile apps. It puts in place a number of strategies and tools to enhance CPM, optimize fill rates, and find the relevant audience for a given ad.

One main drawback of the platform is interstitial advertising. In other words ads generally pop-up on a screen and interrupt the action of an app user.

This drives some publishers away from the ad network despite its decent CPM rates. Despite these drawbacks, StartApp still manages to help apps make money. This is because unlike other ads, ignoring interstitial ads is more difficult. Users are exposed directly to an ad and this can help both publishers and advertisers achieve their objectives.

StartApp  has served ads on over 800k mobile apps and currently represents a network of one billion monthly active users. Someone starting a WordPress app for Android and iOS must consider trying out StartApp at some point.

#5 –  AdColony

AdColony is one of the older mobile app ad networks with a history of partnering with big brands like ABC News and Glu.

It provides publishers the opportunity to publish ads on Android, iOS, and Windows devices. This is a great addition for apps with multi-platform capabilities.

Also read: Should You Go for an Android App or iOS App or Both?

The best part of AdColony is that it allows publishers to set the text, font, and colors of the ads on their platforms. This is helpful for a number of reasons. For one, publishers can ensure the ad is as optimal it should be to engage the app audience.

Remember publishers have an incentive to make people click on an ad. This feature makes app advertising much more beneficial for both advertisers and publishers.

CPM is the most popular revenue model for publishers on AdColony. This is especially true  for those who get a lot of app traffic. AdColony offers publishers the option of other revenue models as well such as CPC, CPA, CPI, and so on.

#6 – InMobi

InMobi is one of the biggest mobile ad networks based out of India. It provides a single platform for publishers and advertisers to make full use of contextual advertising.

InMobi is a common fixture in every other list of mobile ad networks and considered a trusted platform for mobile advertising.  Anyone using a mobile app builder for Android is likely to consider InMobi for in-app advertising.

Also read: How to choose the right mobile app builder?

One of the qualities of InMobi is its focus on contextual advertising. The audience is only shown relevant ads, not any random advert.

This works well for both publishers and advertisers. Working with InMobi can mean greater returns for publishers and relevant traction for advertisers.

The platform currently deals with display, video, and native ads. Some of the big brands that use InMobi as publishers include Wattpad and Blackberry.

#7  – Clickadu

ClickAdu is a relatively new app ad platform. However, its numbers are very strong and a big reason behind its popularity amongst publishers and advertisers.

The media ad network manages to generate over 2B ad impressions every day and a whopping 3.3M conversions in the same time. These numbers make it an attractive proposition for advertisers looking to make a big splash in the market.

Its primary ad formats are: instant message, pre-video roll, pop-under, skim, push notifications, and InPage push. Each of these ad formats offers something unique to advertisers and publishers. Anyone trying to create an app with a WooCommerce Android app builder can monetize an app with these formats.

ClickAdu is one of the highest paying mobile ad networks for publishers. Its unique ad formats manage to extract high value from advertisers and contribute to a higher CPM value for publishers.

#8 – Outbrain

Outbrain is one of leading mobile ad networks as well as one of the highest paying for publishers. It is generally more common to see an article from Outbrain on a news or content website. It however provides mobile advertising services to advertisers as well.

The USP of Outbrain is its size. It is one of the biggest advertising platforms in the world. Advertisers looking to build a global audience are best served working with Outbrain.

It is compatible with both Android and iOS and publishes ads in banners and carousel formats.

Companies looking for the best CPC mobile ad networks generally choose Outbrain. It is one of the best paying mobile ad networks in that regard.

Also read: Mobile App Marketing Success Secrets for 2020

#9 – Flurry

Flurry is fairly popular as one of the top mobile app analytics tools. It is a great option for advertisers and publishers in the mobile app domain.

Flurry became part of Yahoo in 2014. It has since then become a single platform for publishers and advertisers to analyze and deploy campaigns.

The platform allows publishers to advertise app inventory to advertisers in real-time. This brings an overall transparency in the monetization process and allows publishers to get the right market price.

Anyone running a WordPress mobile app for Android and iOS should consider using Flurry for advertising.

Some FAQs regarding mobile ad networks

mobile ad networks FAQs

Q1: What are mobile ad networks?

Mobile ad networks enable companies running mobile apps and websites to publish ads on their platforms. The names mentioned in this list are examples of ad networks.

The returns a publisher gets can depend on a number of factors. CPM and CPC values keep changing based on general consumer demand. Platforms where publishers can auction ad inventory can help provide the best returns. However, this only works if publishers have something special to offer in terms of their audience demographic.

Q3: How should I identify the best mobile ad networks?

Your choice of ad network should keep changing based on your app usage. If your app is new and has only a few thousand downloads, using basic ad networks like AdSense is your only option. You can later graduate to a more niche ad platform where advertisers understand the special value of your audience demographic.

Q4: Which are the top three mobile ad networks?

Google AdSense, Media.net and Flurry are the top three mobile ad networks in terms of sheer quality. In terms of pure value, there is no permanent top three. For a beginner in the app world, AdSense is the only and best option. For an app with a valuable user demographic, other networks provide greater value.

Q5: How can I integrate a mobile ad network with my gaming app?

Each ad network has a different integration process with mobile apps. Gaming apps are no different. Generally, companies have to add some code to their app in order to publish ads. The exact process can however differ.

Ad networks have a range of different models to pay their publishers. These models are explained in the following points –

  • Cost per click: In a CPC model, publishers are paid every time someone clicks on an app. This is probably the most popular model of app ad monetization. Publishers don’t need to worry about the actions of a user after they click on an ad
  • Cost per action: In a CPA model, publishers are paid every time users perform a specific action. This action can vary. From buying a product to installing an app, publishers are only paid when users go through an ad and perform a specific action. Payout in a CPA model is naturally higher because making people perform an action is much more difficult for a publisher and beneficial for an advertiser
  • Cost per mile (CPM): Publishers are paid every time an ad is shown to 1000 people. This is a great way for publishers that get a lot of traffic to make money. Even if no one clicks on the ad, publishers are still paid for every 1000 impressions. The list in the previous section covers the top CPM mobile ad networks.

Q7: What are the benefits of signing up with a mobile ad network?

If your plan to monetize your app is showing ads, signing up for an ad network has a lot of advantages. Here are the six main benefits of a mobile ad network:

  • Connect with advertisers: Finding advertisers on your own may be a huge challenge. If you sign up with a mobile ad network though, you can be connected to thousands of advertisers who are willing to display ads in your app. 
  • Better ad targeting: Ad networks are designed to connect the advertisers with the right publishers. You can thus rest assured that your app will not display irrelevant ads which hamper your app’s user experience. 
  • Managed ad display: You don’t have to worry about curating the ads that are displayed on your app. The ad network will automatically select ads that are relevant to your app. You can simply focus on growing your app traffic and downloads. 
  • In-depth analytics: You can view ad impressions, clicks, and other actions on a dedicated dashboard provided by the ad network. 
  • Multiple business models: Most ad networks provide multiple business models such as CPC, CPM, CPV, and so on. This will allow you to choose the best advertising business model for your app. 
  • Cost benchmarking: Once you know how much advertisers are willing to pay, you can start your own advertising program and directly offer advertisers ad space within your app. Mobile ad networks can help you benchmark your app’s monetization and ad potential. 

There are other revenue models as well. These represent the most popular revenue models currently used by companies for app monetization.

Also read: How should entrepreneurs build apps to save time and earn money?

In conclusion

Mobile ad networks are the medium through which companies and entrepreneurs are able to monetize their apps.

This piece primarily seeks to break the perception that AdSense is the only top mobile ad network around. The ad networks listed here are a perfectly viable option to the traditional options publishers currently use.

The list here covers the best mobile ad networks in the market. The latter sections also provide insight into the most basic questions people have about mobile ad networks.

While app advertising is a good way to monetize an app, it is wise to deploy other channels of monetization. For example, offering in-app purchases is a good option besides using advertising.

Diversification of incoming streams generally helps and mobile app monetization is no different. Given how consumers today are learning to ignore ads instinctively, preparing another app monetization channel makes a lot of sense.

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