How to choose a good mobile ad network
You probably have already tried a handful of mobile ad networks, spending the good part of a day every time to integrate them and have experienced so far both feelings of disappointment and satisfaction. If it helps, you are not the only one.
The road to building a successful app business is not an easy one and you have to constantly experiment with new ad networks and technologies to find the one that best matches your app’s unique needs.
It doesn’t have to be a painful experience though and here are 5 different angles to look at a mobile ad network before you decide to invest your time and give it a try.
Angle #1 – Fill Rate
A quick look at your mobile analytics provider will show the countries or regions the majority of your users are coming from.
Geography: If most of your users are coming from North America, for example, you should actively search for mobile ad networks that have a high fill rate in this region otherwise you will not be making money at your full potential.
Consistency: This is slightly tricky to evaluate beforehand, but aim for a monetization partner that in the last 3 months had consistently high fill rates in the regions you are most interested.
Many in-app advertising solutions have developed mediation technologies and partnerships with ad exchanges to combat these issues and while touting near 100% global fill rate, make sure you evaluate on hard numbers and not just marketing talk.
Angle #2 – eCPM
Choosing a mobile ad network based only on its average eCPM has a caveat because eCPM measures performance on a relative basis. Only when combined with the fill rate and your estimated monthly ad requests you can get a good sense of your expected earnings in absolute terms.
Have in mind that there are many factors that will cause significant fluctuations on eCPM, including the seasonality of advertising campaigns and the quality of traffic you send from your apps. You should anticipate fluctuations, especially if you are working with a single mobile ad network, and use the network’s average eCPM to get an “order-of-magnitude” feeling on what to expect.
Angle #3 – User Experience
People who download a free app are well-aware that it has to be funded somehow and they expect that the app might include a form of advertising.
App developers, however, have a choice whether they want to deliver a spammy user experience or interrupt the normal user flow to display ads and by choosing to do so they consciously take the risk that user retention can fall dramatically.
If quality user experience is important to your app, some mobile ad networks are more flexible than others and have started embracing native advertising technologies to offer developers more control on how and where ads get displayed.
Angle #4 – Technology
You can also evaluate a mobile ad network based on its technology.
SDK: A lightweight SDK that has been battle-tested enough will ensure your app’s performance will not be impaired at any time.
Dashboard: A fully-featured dashboard can enable thorough monitoring and effortless fine tuning which helps in both maximizing your revenues and increasing transparency.
Ad Server: This component is the most difficult to evaluate but among others, low-latency infrastructure and yield optimization algorithms are the backbone for a good eCPM, so you can use that as a proxy.
Angle #5 – Payment Options
We’ve covered previously the different payment options offered by major mobile ad networks and is important to be familiar with them well in advance in order to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Payment methods: Mobile ad networks often support a limited number of payment methods and you have to make sure your individual circumstances can be covered before you start integration.
Payment schedule: This is usually not a deal breaker, but some networks offer a faster payment schedule than others.
Experimenting with various solutions to find the ones that best match your needs is critical for a successful app monetization strategy but due to the sheer volume of mobile ad networks out there it can get quickly overwhelming.
Avocarrot have explored here 5 different dimensions that can hopefully help you get a well-rounded picture of any mobile ad network you come across and quickly decide whether or not you will invest some of your time to give it a try.