Monetizing Your Mobile App: Ad Networks

From the mundane “Get Your Family to Download Your App” to the off the wall “Create Beer Coasters” join us on a 52-week journey of some of the top ways to promote and market your mobile application.

Week 19

The Basics of Mobile App Ad Networks

If you’ve ever used a free app, it’s likely that you’ve wondered how the developer can afford to give out their product for no money whatsoever. For some, the answer is advertising. Similar to broadcast television networks, these apps work on the premise of selling ad impressions to companies looking to showcase their products and services. With that in mind, this week we’re looking at how to choose an ad network and how to start making money from in-app advertising.

What Ad Network Should I Use?

It should be said that no ad network is perfect for each and every app. With that in mind, it’s important to carefully review a network before selecting it to monetize your app. However, the stiff competition in the ad network industry makes it a buyer’s marketplace, so any given network’s sales staff will be more than willing to talk with you about the unique benefits and advantages of their offerings. In some ways, choosing a network is like buying a car – it pays to know what you want, to shop around, and to carefully compare benefits. With that in mind, here are a few of the most popular mobile ad networks in use today.

Millenial Media

With a listing on the New York Stock Exchange, Millennial Media is certainly one of the largest companies dedicated solely to mobile-based advertising. With a global reach and a catalogue of big-name advertisers, Millennial Media offers the support and technical resources you may need if you’re just beginning to dip your toes in app monetization.

If your app is a mobile game, TapJoy might be a good ad network for you. TapJoy is unique in its ability to gamify ad engagement – for example, say a user is playing your game and needs an extra life. With the TapJoy SDK, you can offer the user an extra life if they view a brief advertisement. Through this, you can get users to choose to see the ads, as opposed to forcing it on them.  Due to this, the network is particularly favored by game developers because it allows them to keep users engaged while also generating revenue from their actions.

Flurry prides itself on the extensive demographic insights of its ad network offerings. The company’s analytic tools are effectively an industry standard, so you’ll be able to target your app’s ads to a very specific audience if need be. Flurry is ideal for the app publisher that knows exactly who their audience is.

All this aside, it’s important to know that there are dozens of different mobile ad networks available today. As with any business decision, it’s essential to do research and make an informed decision before moving ahead.

How Do I Start Using Ads?

Once you have selected an ad network, you’ll typically need to download their software development kit (SDK) in order to integrate their network with your app. This SDK contains the software needed to connect your app with the network’s servers, allowing the app to show the ads and thus generate revenue. Typically, there is a different SDK used for each individual platform – therefore, if you’re running ads on both the iOS and Android versions of your app, you’ll need to download and integrate their respective SDKs.

How Do I Get Paid?  

The frequency and method of ad revenue payouts varies from network to network. However, generally speaking, your revenue will be released for payment after a set period of time (some networks post the amount every week, while others pay out on a month-to-month basis). Depending on the network, the funds may come through electronic transfers or PayPal. If all else fails, many networks can send checks through the mail.

Can I Screen What Ads Show Up In My App?

Most ad networks allow you to target and control what ads run in your applications – after all, you don’t want to show material from your competitors, or unwittingly run a beer ad in a kid’s puzzle game. By and large, you can control what ads run in your application by targeting certain demographics – for instance, age, location, interest, and device type.

How Many Ads Can Be Displayed In My App? 

In truth, you can display as many ads as you can manage to fit on the screen. However, for the sake of your users, you may only want to display one or two at a time, at most.

Can I Put Ads for Other Products I Own In My App?

Presently, Millennial Media allows you to cross-promote between apps that you own. Other ad networks I looked at didn’t mention very much on this subject, but that should not be taken as an outright confirmation or denial of the possibility for cross-production promotion with apps you publish.If I Charge Money For My App, Can I Still Run Ads In It?

Technically, yes, it is possible to run ads in a paid app. However, the fact of the matter is that users have come to expect one of two experiences when downloading an app; either an ad-free experience when they pay for the app, or having to view ads if the app is free. In short, running ads in a paid app is possible, but dangerous.

Although ad networks are great, they aren’t the only way to monetize your app. Next week we’ll take a look at app sponsorships.

As always, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay in the loop.

The 52 Week Series of Marketing Mobile Applications
Week 1: Talk to Friends & Family
Week 2: Picking the Right Name for Your App
Week 3: App Store Optimization
Week 4: Submitting Your App to Review Sites, Blogs, and Directories
Week 5: Using Video to Promote Your App
Week 6: Creating a Microsite
Week 7: Creating a Press Kit
Week 8: Creating a Marketing Plan
Week 9: Social Media: Facebook
Week 10: Social Media: Twitter
Week 11: Social Media: Other Platforms
Week 12: Social Media: Managing Your Social Media Presence
Week 13: Social Media: Reaching out to Bloggers & Reviewers
Week 14: Finding What Makes Your App Unique
Week 15: The Ins, Outs, Ups, and Downs of App Review Requests
Week 16: Using Promo Codes
Week 17: What To Do When You Start Getting Reviews
Week 18: Monetizing Your Mobile App: Pay Per Download


Sam Allen

Sam Allen

Samuel is something of a marketing Swiss Army knife. He enjoys helping clients build their web presence and visual identity through design, SEO, and good ol' fashioned content. A photographer by trade, he's had work published in the New York Times and the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

One Response

  1. Hello Sam,

    Nice article! There are also other ways for monetizing your app without ads, have a look at Pollfish and let me know your thoughts!

    Kind Regards


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