The Basics of In-App Advertising

The majority of digital ad spending is now on mobile – in fact, mobile is set to account for over 72% of all digital ad spending. While a lot of that spending may be pointed towards browser ads, a significant portion is going on in-app ads. This article will whiz through the basic process of in-app advertising, and highlight some key points to consider.

The in-app advertising process

First, marketers determine their demographic and messaging. Next, marketers determine their goals for the advertising campaign, including spend and goals. Goals range from brand awareness to driving specific actions.

At the same time, app developers and publishers need to determine how they’ll generate ad revenue and how ads fit into the app’s user experience. For example, banner ads can be included in an app fairly unobtrusively, but more immersive formats like video typically provide greater ad revenue. App publishers need to consider how ads affect app usage, while also maximizing earnings.

Back to the advertisers. Once a campaign is finalized, it’s entered into an ad network’s campaign management system. From there, an ad ops team will review the campaign to ensure it meets the ad network’s quality standards. Creatives and campaigns that don’t adhere to compliance standards, publisher preferences or existing laws will be rejected. When a campaign is approved by ad ops, it’s placed in a queue on the ad server until the right time.

When a user opens up an app, the ad network’s SDK highlights that a particular person is ready to have an ad served to them. Based on the data available from the SDK, the ad network determines the most relevant ad and the one which offers the greatest payout to the app publisher.

Once an ad is served, it’s rendered on the app and shown to the end user. The whole process takes around 200 milliseconds. It’s important to note, however, that just because a mobile ad is served doesn’t mean it’s rendered. In the time it takes for the SDK to present a potential ad opportunity, someone may have left the app environment or scrolled past the advertising opportunity window.

Finally, there’s the reporting and payout period, which occurs either during or after the campaign. This is where advertisers and their partners determine how the campaign performed, and how much they owe based on performance.

Key considerations

Mobile web advertising is different to mobile in-app advertising. How ads are displayed varies significantly between a browser-based environment and a mobile app environment.

Choose the right ad format for the goal and target app. Sometimes lighter ad formats like banners are easy to integrate, and a lot of apps have available inventory. In contrast, video ads and ads with interactive end cards are ideal for generating clicks.

Use more than one source of ads, and leverage ad networks. Many apps now use waterfalls, in which different ad networks, exchanges, etc. are called in a sequential, static order until all ad opportunities are fulfilled.

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