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How to navigate the choppy waters of mobile advertising

Mobile advertising has exploded, with eMarketer estimating that marketers will spend $100bn on mobile ads in 2016, up from $69bn in 2015. With more and more dollars flowing in to mobile advertising, new ad opportunities have been placed under a microscope, resulting in companies like Apple and Google potentially enabling consumers to block mobile ads.

But rest easy – ad blocking won’t kill mobile advertising, just as it hasn’t killed display advertising. And in-app ads are a big part of the reason why mobile advertising will continue to thrive, no matter the regulatory and logistical challenges put in front of advertisers.

As consumers’ mobile habits continue to shift from browsing the mobile web to in-app experiences, it is expected that mobile ad blocking will have, at best, a marginal impact on digital ad growth. Furthermore, in-app advertising should continue to grow, even if mobile ad blocking were to gain traction, since it is difficult for ad blocking tools to penetrate apps.

The scrutiny of mobile advertising won’t go away any time soon. There is simply too much money and too much advertiser and publisher demand in the market for mobile ad growth’s rapid rise to suddenly reverse.

No matter what the latest furor is in the mobile ad ecosystem, one thing remains the same: there are principles for how marketers can engage, acquire and retain new and existing users on mobile devices. Here are some best practices to help you maximize your in-app ad revenue and expand your user base:

Not all demand is created equal. Diversify your advertising partner portfolio to maximize your revenue and have the highest fill rate possible. Remember that certain partners will perform differently for you based on how elements such as geography and audience demographic align with a marketer’s campaign goals. There are many ad networks and DSPs worldwide and an exchange or mediation partner can be a huge asset. MobFox, is an example of an exchange which offers you a connection to multiple demand sources that bid on your inventory and maximizes your revenue potential by delivering access to all of this demand through one single SDK.

Take advantage of high-earning ad units. The evolution of mobile has led to more creative and technical capability offerings from in-app advertising. Simultaneously, advertisers are constantly looking for ways to keep users interested and engaged in their ad content. Work with an ad partner that can bring you knowledge of native, rich media and other special ad formats that enhance your user experience. For example, although banner ads typically represent a significant amount of in-app advertising demand, rich media units garner 3-5X higher eCPMs.

Note that native advertising, which is a more engaging and less intrusive ad format than banner ads, is quickly becoming a major source of revenue for developers. Native is not a new concept, but the ability to scale it within the mobile app environment has been a hot topic and has pushed the industry’s best to innovate their platforms and offer a scalable mobile native ad solution. This is important to know as advertisers are willing to place higher bids on an ad unit that blends in seamlessly with a publisher’s site and content, therefore leading to more clicks.

Don’t take metrics at face value. Refining and optimizing your in-app ad strategy requires time and an analytical approach to the data you’ve been given. As a rule of thumb, allocate more inventory to the demand partner who can provide you with a higher eCPM beyond a certain fill rate threshold. Combine this strategy with backfill partners who can provide you 100% fill rate for what goes unsold.

Analyze not only fill but also eCPM; a partner might provide you 100 per cent fill rate, however their eCPM may not be competitive in the market. Try and allocate more inventory to exchanges with a price floor set, as exchanges can bring diverse demand through 100+ DSPs and putting certain restrictions in place will ensure you get the highest dollar for each impression. Make sure to continue to track the fill rate.

Never compromise the UX. Did you know that a majority of users would prefer, and are receptive to, in-app advertising if in return, they can use your app at no cost? To create a great user experience, pay attention to the following before implementing in-app ads:

Timing: When the ad is placed. Serving a full-screen ad at the end of a level or game play is a natural progression for the user and receives higher engagement rates.

Placement: Don’t overcrowd your real estate. During the ad set-up process, make sure you clearly identify what type of ad unit you are requesting based on the placement so an advertiser knows what they are getting.

Frequency: How often you display an ad. Don’t inundate your users and remember that displaying an ad every 30 seconds is an industry best practice and recommended.

Design your emails for mobile. By now, most marketers have mastered desktop-based email marketing best practices. But mobile email best practices remain perplexing for many digital marketers. It’s important to ensure your email creative is optimized for mobile. That means clean, simple designs sans a lot of embedded links; simple, short copy; and no multi-layered images that can eat up the battery life of mobile devices. Complexity has no value when it comes to email creative in the mobile era. Make it a point to understand the various laws and regulations that govern email marketing activities and work with a credible marketing partner that can help guide you through this evolving maze while ensuring your campaign reaches ROI targets.

Reduce the Number of Hoops. Maximize eCPM and reduce the number of hands an ad passes through before served on your app by working with a trusted ad partner that is closer to the advertiser. Doing so will limit the amount of redirected ads and will also allow you to get the consultation and strategic direction necessary to take your in-app ad inventory to the next level.

Assi Suprasky is EVP of mobile at Matomy Media Group