An ad network is an excellent way for mobile publishers to monetize their applications or mobile sites by selling ad space to advertisers. In this guide, we’ll explore the best mobile ad networks for publishers and what you should consider before choosing one.

Short in Time? These Are Our Top 5 Ad Networks for Mobile

  1. CodeFuel – Offers a complete holistic solution for publishers, with multiple ad formats and monetization options by enhancing engagement and user experience. Start Now! (read more)
  2. Bidease – A demand-side platform for mobile marketers based on programmatic technology. (read more)
  3. Smadex – Demand-side platform based on machine learning and first-party data. (read more)
  4. Golden Goose – Cost-per-action platform targeted to publishers and advertisers for mobile traffic monetization. (read more)
  5. Ad Colony – SSP platform for developers and publishers. (read more)

What’s an ad network, and how does it work for mobile?

A mobile ad network is an integrated platform that bridges advertisers with mobile app publishers. It enables developers to monetize their applications through passive income from mobile ads.

Mobile ad networks can cater to publishers or advertisers. When they are geared to publishers, they are called supply-side-platforms (SSP). When an ad network is geared to advertisers, it is called a demand-side platform (DSP).

Our Pick: The Top 5 Mobile Ad Networks for Mobile

CodeFuel

CodeFuel

CodeFuel is an all-in-one monetization platform that leverages high-intent ads, search and news for websites and mobile applications.
Features

  • Complete intent-based monetization for applications and mobile sites.
  • Offers search mediation via monetization pages.
  • Uses contextual targeting to present relevant shopping ads that encourage high intent users and increase conversions.
  • Multiple ad formats.
  • Supports multiple platforms and verticals.
  • Advanced tracking and analytics.
  • Centralized dashboard.

Pros

  • The highly relevant ads generate a higher yield for publishers while enhancing the user experience.
  • All-in-one solution. Search, shopping ads, and news for digital property.
  • Multiple integrations with MSN, Bing, Yahoo, AOL, and over a thousand quality publishers. Access to premium Google AdSense programs.

Cons

  • Best suited for publishers with middle to large user audiences.

Bidease

Bidease is a demand-side platform for mobile publishers. It offers an ad exchange, real-time bidding, and analytics.

Bidease

Features

  • Multiple ad types, playable, native, banners, interstitial and mobile video.
  • Transparent access to data for advertisers.
  • Personalized dashboard.
  • AI and machine learning-powered.
  • Anti-fraud and brand safety protocols.

Pros

  • Large inventory base.
  • Good tracking for key performance indicators.
  • Transparency for advertisers.

Cons

  • They don’t offer self-service.

Smadex

Smadex is a mobile DSP that offers premium inventory and real-time bidding. They offer transparency for advertisers and publishers, upper-funnel branding.

Smadex

Features

  • Transparent reporting for advertisers.
  • Multi-dimensional reporting.
  • Inventory forecasting.
  • Management options: fully managed, self-serve, or hybrid.
  • Multiple ad formats: banner, native, video, interstitial, playable.

Pros

  • Multiple business models
  • Strong technology.

Cons

  • Focused on large advertisers.

Golden Goose

This ad network for mobile offers over 600 mVAS services from around the world. They have a cost-per-action model.

Golden Goose

Features

  • CPA platform providing mobile traffic monetization tools for publishers and advertisers.
  • Fraud detection.
  • Pay per action.

Pros

  • Large inventory base.
  • Good support.
  • Fast approval process.
  • Non-intrusive ads.

Cons

  • Single payment mode.

AdColony

This ad network specializes in mobile advertising for app developers. Offers multiple formats. They started with a focus on gaming apps and later expanded to other types of mobile publishing advertising.

AdColony

Features

  • A platform for developers and publishers
  • Multiple ad formats
  • Ad mediation

Pros

  • Transparent
  • Large inventory

Cons

  • Not suitable for niche or specific products or services.

Other ad networks to consider:

AdMob

One of the largest Cost-per-Click networks offers tools to monetize apps and mobile websites. AdMob is primarily popular among small businesses and gaming companies.

Pros

  • Good quality inventory.
  • Multiple ad formats.
  • Good reporting and analytics.

Cons

  • Very low prices for impressions and clicks.
  • Tends to have security issues and allow sensitive ads oמ G-rated apps.

Smaato

It is a digital self-serving ad tech platform for publishers and advertisers.

Pros

  • Excellent control for publishers.
  • Good support team.
  • Premium inventory.

Cons

  • Inventory is a bit pricey.
  • The reporting dashboard is limited.
  • Lacks transparency about margins.

ironSource

It is a mobile app monetization and mobile advertising application. It is used primarily by enterprise-level companies.

Pros

  • Large video inventory.
  • Premium inventory in tier 1 countries.
  • Managed platform.

Cons

  • The anti-fraud control is very basic.
  • Poor inventory in small countries.
  • Expensive CPMs.

Taboola

It is a native advertising platform that publishes recommended content in various news sites and spaces.

Pros

  • Easy to set up campaigns.
  • Good support.
  • Many options for targeting.

Cons

  • The user interface is not easy to navigate, manage campaigns or view performance.
  • Doesn’t have performance whitelisting.
  • It is difficult to get traffic from a single region.

What to Consider When Choosing an Ad Network?

Choosing the right ad network for your business can be confusing. There are too many choices, and the jargon can further complicate things. Should you choose CPC or CPM? An extensive or niche ad network? Let’s review some key factors to take into account before signing up with an ad network:

The size of the network

Theoretically, an ad network with tens of thousands of advertisers can give you better performance than one with a thousand. A more extensive inventory means more options to match an ad to your website via contextual targeting.

A large pool of advertisers also means you can target a wider geographical area, increasing the chances for your inventory to be sold. Using a large ad network may also increase your profits. Since ad networks sell inventory to the highest bidder, you have more chances for high bidders when you have more advertisers.

However, the size of the network is not the only factor that matters. That’s what brings us to our second point.

Ad formats available

The ad format is even more critical in mobile advertising. An ad that is not fitting well with the phone’s small screen is a waste of money. Look for an ad network that offers multiple ad formats, standard display units, custom unis, text ads, rich media, video, interstitial, search box, and more.

If you are new and don’t know which format goes better with your application or mobile website, going with a network that offers multiple formats allows you to A/B test the ads for performance.

The quality of the ads

Technically, every ad the ad server algorithm serves you is highly related to the user preferences. But many times, this differs significantly from network to network.

Many publishers don’t care what ads are being served on their websites or apps. While it seems a good idea to increase profits, serving every ad that comes your way can hurt your brand. You can lose all the benefits from creating engaging content for your website or giving your application the best user experience.

Low-quality ads damage your user’s trust, and your reputation may suffer from associating with those types of ads. Users can drop your application like hot coals.

The technology behind the ad network

Look for a network that offers the best technology you can find. Publishers should look for features that not only maximize your yield but make your ad management easier. Features like a centralized ad management system, automated reporting tools, real-time updates, contextual targeting are some of the functions you may look for.

Switching from a legacy ad network to a network based on artificial intelligence and machine learning can help you reach higher-paying advertisers while enhancing your user experience.

Payment terms

Networks pay publishers in a variety of methods, for example, CPV (cost per view), CPM (cost per mile), CPC (cost per click), CPA (cost per action), or fixed costs.

You probably need to try different pricing models to check which one will give you the best revenue. Alternatively, signing with an ad network that offers other compensation models saves you from having to switch between networks when you want to try a new pricing model — you start a new campaign in your existing interface. 

Tips From CodeFuel for Mobile Publisher Success

At CodeFuel, we are experts in mobile publishing, and over the years, we collected from our customers and researched what works and what doesn’t when monetizing apps and mobile sites. Whether you are trying to monetize your app or your mobile site, there are some tips to consider:

  • User engagement is critical: If user engagement is high, it means users are happy. This is especially true for app publishers. The more time the user spends in the app, the more likely they will purchase.
  • Reward loyal users: Discounts and perks can help convert users that are not comfortable with in-app purchases. Also, users visiting your mobile site are more likely to purchase if they are offered “mobile-only” promotions.
  • Create a community: People love to interact on their mobiles, and some sites and apps thrive with communities. Users tend to purchase more when they belong to an online community.

Checklist to create the perfect mobile advertising campaign

Answer these questions to have a campaign plan:

  1. What are your goals?
  2. Who is your target audience?
  3. Which ad format do you need?
  4. How long will the campaign last?
  5. Which devices will you target?
  6. How will you manage user data?

Once you answer these questions, you can proceed with the following steps:

1. Design the ads.

Focus on using high-quality graphics, especially if you are targeting iPads and tablets too. Your content copy should be compelling, crisp, and clear to encourage a call to action.

2. A/B test

Test different types of ads to check which works better. An assessment after launching the campaign can tell you how ads are performing.

Top 3 Best Ad Networks for Gaming

Everybody is familiar with ad networks like Google and Facebook, but there could be other networks where you can acquire high-level users for gaming apps.

Applovin

Applovin was rated #1 for ad spends on iOS and Android. Their platform attracts users on both systems for multiple types of ads. Applovin reaches 470 million mobile gamers.

Unity Ads

It offers a monetization solution specifically designed for gamers, enabling the integration of relevant ads in-game.

Vungle

It is a self-serve advertising platform. The platform offers tracking tools that help optimize ad spend by tracking KPIs in real-time.

Mobile Ad Formats

When choosing an ad network, it is vital to take into account what ad formats they offer. Here is a preview of different ad formats to help you decide:

1. Interstitial ads

These are full-screen that will appear in the interface of the app. They are usually displayed between app screens or different levels on a game app.

2. Banner ads

These are static or animated images placed inside an app’s interface. They are typically used for advertising a third-party product or promoting the expansion of the app’s functionality.

3. Native ads

These ads may consist of textual or video advertisements that can match the style and form of the application or site they are placed on.

4. OfferWall ads

These are static, dynamic, or interactive. They are typically displayed within a mobile app to provide users with offers to engage with. Mobile games and mobile e-shopping sites use this format for advertising promotions or other games from the same developer.

5. Rich media ads

These include video, audio, and interactive ads, encouraging viewers to engage or act on the content. They can be short (under one minute) videos. Video ads can be in-stream or out-stream. In-stream means that they are streaming inside an app, before, within, or after a video. Out-stream video ads are displayed on a web page inside the mobile app. These types of ads have the highest engagement rates.

6. Push notifications

These ads can catch your audience’s attention when they are not using the app—for instance, sending notifications based on location triggers.

7. Click-to-download ads 

When users click on these ads, they are directed to Google Play or Apple Store to download the advertised application.

8. Click-to-call and click-to-message ads

You can see these types of ads in social media, usually prompting users to click on the ad to send a Whatsapp message or call the advertiser.

9. Search ads

These ads catch your audience’s attention and remind them to use your app while the user is searching for relevant keywords and categories.

10. Social media ads

These ads promote your application directly on their social media feed, for instance, sponsored Facebook posts.

Mobile Advertising Business Models

Mobile advertising can take different forms. They may include:

Cost per click (CPC)

Publishers get paid each time a user clicks on the ad unit. This is the best model for advertisers because they only pay when they take an active interest in the ad.

Cost per mille (CPM)

In this model, publishers get paid for every 1000 ad impressions. This model is best suitable for publishers because the revenue doesn’t depend on the ad’s number of clicks. The publisher can even forecast revenue if the site or app has a steady user base with reasonably stable traffic.

Cost per view (CPV)

In this model, the publisher gets paid each time a user views the video ad. Mobile ad networks provide advertisers with video ad campaigns. Every time a user watches a certain percentage of a video ad (usually half), the advertiser charges.

Cost per Action (CPA)

Publishers get paid every time a viewer completes a pre-set action, for example, downloading the advertised app or completing a registration form. This model benefits both businesses and publishers. Publishers can monetize their inventory faster, and the model offers more options for advertisers too.

Fixed cost

The publisher sells the ad inventory for a fixed price for a specific amount of time. This model is not so common and typically involves selling inventory directly to advertisers.

Why do mobile publishers need an ad network?

Mobile advertising, In-app advertising, in particular, is a growing trend. According to Statista, the global mobile advertising spending was $276.21 billion in 2020, from $230 billion in 2019. The market is expected to reach $341 billion in 2024.

Mobile Advertising Spending

Source

App revenue is also soaring. Despite the pandemic, mobile advertising spending in the US reached $96 billion and is expected to reach $117 billion in 2021.

US Mobile Advertising Spending

Source

There is a huge potential for revenue in mobile advertising. If you are thinking of monetizing via mobile ads, consider using an ad network. The web sells your ad space to marketers and advertisers, getting the highest paying possible bids for your space. When using an ad network, you sell the ad space in your app or mobile website and generate passive income.

An ad network provides revenue while enhancing the user experience by showing related ads. As a publisher, you’ll want a network that protects your reputation by serving highly targeted advertising in various ad formats.

Benefits of in-app advertising

If you want to know how to do in-app advertising effectively, check here.

As we mentioned above, in-app advertising is steadily growing. Mobile apps provide a way to reach consumers where they are, on their phones. They capture consumers’ attention and encourage conversions while the user is consuming content or actively browsing for products or services.

In-app advertising typically offers a higher click-through rate than web advertising, ranging from 0.1% to 0.2% for desktop ads. Additionally, in-app ads get higher click-throughs than mobile web ads. 0.58% in apps vs. 0.23% in mobile web.

Finally, running ads through an ad network is more effective than using a Demand-side platform. Click-through rates on ads placed by ad networks are 0.6% vs. 0.11% in exchanges.

What is mediation in mobile advertising?

Mediation is the process of connecting ad networks within a single software. This system browses the networks for the advertisers with the best eCPM and features them on your site.

A mediation single software kit (SDK) optimizes the ad bidding. If you want to sign up for multiple ad platforms, choose one that offers mediation to get the highest yield.

FAQs

How effective is mobile advertising?

Mobile advertising has significant advantages over other channels. A Czech research found out that mobile ads are 30 times more effective than Internet ads. The average mobile response is 2.72% and can reach 11.8% for the most successful campaign. In comparison, an average Internet campaign has a 0.02% average.

What are programmatic advertising and real-time bidding?

Programmatic advertising is the buying and selling of advertising via advanced software. All types of advertisements are traded via programmatic advertising, not only mobile. For mobile, though, programmatic advertising happens through real-time bidding (RTB). Real-time consists of a live auction in which the demand-side advertising platforms bid on personal impressions from an advertising exchange.

What is the difference between an SSP, a DSP, and an ad exchange?

Demand-Side Platforms (DSP) are advertising trading desks that provide advertisers with a dashboard to buy mobile advertising inventory. The platform bids on mobile advertising inventory on behalf of advertisers.

Ad exchanges are the digital marketplace that acts as an intermediary between advertisers and publishers. They present the inventory from publishers to advertisers.

A Supply-Side Platform (SSP) is similar to a DSP but from the publisher’s side. They use programmatic technology to sell publishers’ inventory.

What is premium inventory, and how can I get it?

Premium inventory is the highest quality inventory for advertisers, belonging to apps and sites with a large user base and quality content. These popular apps and sites are often strict about the types of ads they allow.

How CodeFuel increases engagement and conversions for mobile publishers

CodeFuel offers an innovative and comprehensive solution that leverages intent-based contextual targeting for mobile advertising. It provides news, searches, and shopping ads to monetize your application or mobile site. By focusing on the user intent, advertising gets high relevancy and converts more.

Ready to increase the revenue of your mobile app or site? Sign up for CodeFuel