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In-app advertising 101: why you need to target apps

By Alex Khan, Managing Director, APAC

April 16, 2019 | 5 min read

To make any advertising campaign a success, you need to start by targeting people where they are spending their time. In 2019, this is undoubtedly in apps. With users spending less time on major media (i.e., TV, radio, and print), mobile devices are where users can be found — especially in APAC. In Singapore, for example, the average user spends more than three hours per day using apps. That daily figure is on the rise around the region.


With those high usage figures, in-app advertising is the perfect medium for advertisers. Here's why in-app advertising is so effective and what you can do to make your in-app campaigns a success.

It's no contest: In-app advertising vs. mobile web

Mobile devices are very personal. People bring them everywhere and use them as an essential part of their day-to-day activities. Even in moments of downtime, smartphones are the go-to distraction that people turn toward. This attachment to smartphones is part of the reason why mobile advertising is so effective. However, it's specifically in-app advertising that's the ideal way to advertise to smartphone users.

When targeting users through smartphones, advertising on mobile web is limited in impact. Cookies, which are used to track users across the web, decay within 24 hours on popular browsers like Safari. Apps target individual users via their device’s unique ID. These device IDs last for around 21 months and offer far more accuracy when it comes to targeting.

Making the most of each ad format

Apps are dynamic, meaning that it's possible to target people at the right time in the right place. To make in-app advertising especially effective, it's important to gain an understanding of the different in-app ad formats. There are a number of different options involving both video and display. Here are some of the biggest ones to consider for your creatives:

  • Banner Ads: These might be the oldest ad format available, but they're also one of the most reliable. Different sizes are available and designing creatives for this format is relatively simple. If you're looking to reach a wide audience, then banner ads are the way to go.
  • Native Ads: These are designed to seamlessly match the look and feel of the content within an app. This format isn't disruptive and is growing in popularity, particularly within news and social media apps.
  • Interstitial Ads: These full-screen ads show up during a content break, such as in-between news articles or levels in a game. Since they take up the whole screen, interstitial ads have the potential to be highly engaging.
  • Interstitial Video Ads: These ads behave like their display ad counterpart, except they offer full-screen video.
  • Instream Video Ads: To reach the fast-growing audience of mobile video viewers, this format is ideal. These ads play before, after, or during the video content within the app's native video player.
  • Rewarded Video Ads: This can be an extremely effective ad format depending on your campaign. Users are asked to watch a video in order to receive an in-app reward (e.g., extra lives, more virtual currency, etc). Since this format is opt-in, these ads are both engaging and well-liked by users.

Work with the right partners

To make in-app advertising campaigns truly successful, it's especially important to work with a partner that can best connect you with relevant inventory in the regions you want to target. This partner should give you the right tools for targeting and offer sophisticated campaign management options. Another important consideration is finding a partner that's committed to protecting your mobile investments by actively combating fraud.

Most importantly, the right partner should have directly-sourced inventory at scale, which you can leverage together with well-crafted creatives to bring your campaigns to engaged audiences worldwide.

Alex Khan is managing director, APAC at Smaato.

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