Damon Marshall, vice president of SupersonicAds, has been working in the game industry since 2005 and finds it to be an exciting industry. He has seen it constantly change time and time again. With all the changes, it can be hard to keep up with the best ways to monetize. He provides a guideline to navigating ad monetization in this article.
In the ever-changing landscape of ad monetization, it is no wonder that many app developers become confused and/or intimidated by the number of ad platforms, ad networks, ad products, and integration options in front of them when considering their ad monetization strategy. Whether you are heavily invested in monetizing your app with ads, or you prefer a “plug and play” solution, here are a few questions to ask yourself when devising your path forward:
Which Ad formats are Right for My App?
Display, video, static, rewards-based, interstitial, pre-roll, post-roll, offerwall, achievement ads, native ads, rich media, and hundreds of other ad formats can get confusing. Which ones should you employ? For those that take ad monetization seriously, the answer is: test MANY! Different ads appeal to different audiences, and it is up to the developer to determine which ads are right for their app. One size DOES NOT fit all. There are platforms in the marketplace that can support multiple ad units and allow you to seamlessly test them all. Ad monetization is like any other product in your app, and you need to test different ad formats to ensure you are delivering the best-performing ads to your audience while maintaining an optimal user experience.
Which Ad Networks Will Serve Me Best?
Once you have figured out which ad formats are right for your users, it’s time to figure out who to partner with to fill your inventory. Some of the bigger mobile publishers have their own direct sales force (think EA, Disney, NYTimes), but many do not. If you have a decent amount of traffic, you most likely have been contacted by tens, if not hundreds, of ad networks wanting access to your audience. Which network is right for you? Do you want (or even know how to) negotiate direct relationships with these networks? For those developers that don’t want to bother with the networks directly, there are ad SDKs that incorporate multiple ad networks into a single SDK, providing developers with a “plug and play” solution. For developers that are more invested in ad monetization, direct relationships might be the way to go.
The fact is that with a decent-sized audience, the best path forward is to work with multiple ad networks. No one ad network can fill 100 percent of your inventory, and no single network will always have the highest paying ads. Finally, networks usually have a limited number of ad units available to you, so in order to get the right mix, work with multiple ad networks and let them compete for your eyeballs.
What is the Best Way to Integrate These Ad Networks into my App?
SDK or API? There are pros and cons to each. Some ad products require an SDK, and those that do usually deliver premium ad units. Server-to-server solutions also exists, but many networks prefer not to be mediated in this fashion because they don’t have direct access to your audience, and the ad product may get modified from its original form. The point here is that you should understand the preferred method in which each ad network wishes to be integrated and pick those that match your preferred integration preferences.
Ok, I have picked my ad products, I have identified the ad networks I want to work with, and I know how I am going to integrate them. What now?
GREAT QUESTION! There are platforms that can help put it all together for you. They are referred to as “mediation platforms,” or in some cases “ad servers,” or more recently: Supply-Side-Platforms. The level of investment you make in your ad monetization strategy determines how you will use a mediation platform. Here, you want to understand how these mediation platforms optimize the campaigns you are getting from each ad network so that you can make the most amount of money once you go live with ads. Supersonic operates a mediation platform called Ultra, which has been chosen by publishers like EA, SocialPoint, Wooga, and 100s of others to help optimize their ad monetization amongst the many networks and ad products they work with.
Some mediation platforms are better than others….focus on the technology that powers the mediation layer. Does it optimize in real time? Is it too manual? Does the platform pull the best performing ads from each network, or merely waterfall from one network to the next? Do your homework and find the one that fits you best!