Anyone who has been in the home-buying market has learned that with a finite amount of geographic territory available, selecting a desirable location will ensure a lasting and profitable investment.
The same principle is true of your mobile app monetization strategy. Your app’s real-estate is precious. When you consider that your app is a carefully planned environment with finite space available and displayed on limited screen sizes, sacrificing any portion of your app’s real-estate is a delicate matter. To help drive your app revenue using mobile ads, heed the three time-tested golden rules of real-estate:
Location, Location, Location. Where you place ads within your app is important – and their location within your app will impact your user experience as well as the value of what you get out of this monetization strategy.
How many ads is enough?
Without ads, your app is like a gated community – pristine and serene, but keeping the app running smoothly will either cost you out of pocket, or require other forms of income (e.g., subscription fees, paid downloads or in-app purchases). Add a single ad, and your app is like a quiet town with the lone landmark sign pointing to the nearest attraction. Alright if you want just enough clicks to keep the lights on. Quiet towns are charming that way. But too many ads, and your app becomes NYC’s Union Square – a distracting, dizzying zone with too many competing messages and a “lost” user wondering which way out.
The strategy for achieving the right balance without offending your users is to squeeze every opportunity out of the ads you do select. This means selecting the format and placement of each ad wisely, so that each one performs to their greatest ability.
The User’s App Journey
Your ad network likely supports multiple ad formats and it can be confusing trying to determine the style that will work best in your app. To get a clear idea of each ad’s unique benefit and appropriate place within your app, let’s walk through the App Usage Cycle:
This is the moment when the user opens your app, up until the moment when a user becomes fully immersed in activity. When the app is opened, you have the user’s attention as the app loads and the user navigates the Welcome screen. Ads best suited for the APP ENTRY stage:
- INTERSTITIAL – Industry Avg. CTR 4.2%
Visually compelling full-screen interstitials are best placed when an app is newly opened. At this stage, users can easily complete a call to action without leaving the app, and without disrupting their experience once fully engaged in app use.
- VIDEO AD – Industry Avg. CTR 8.78%
Video effectively captures attention before app use, and in-between game levels or app transitions.
- IN-APP ALERTS – Industry Avg. CTR 3% (Based on Leadbolt US traffic, SDK)
A concise offer alert can pop up in the app at any point during app usage, but it can be particularly effective when served as the app is opened – when users are not yet fully immersed in the app activity.
During Engagement, users are in the middle of enjoying the app. They are at their most focused during this stage. To avoid unwelcome distraction or interruption, ads should be targeted, relevant to the user’s interest and served up in an engaging format.
- MOBILE BANNER – Industry Avg. CTR 0.49%
A mobile advertising mainstay, banners are generally accepted as users expect to see some level of advertising in exchange for downloading an app for free. Banners are benign, but also not as compelling as other formats, as mobile users have become somewhat desensitized to their presence.
- AUDIO AD – Avg. Engagement Rate 27% (Based on Leadbolt US traffic, SDK)
Audio Ads rely on an audio message to capture the user’s attention, rather than a visual disruption. Like a radio ad, the user hears the message while continuing to use the app successfully. Some Audio Ads offer gyroscopic functionality, prompting users to shake the device to interact further with the ad, offering a fun spin to the experience.
- FLOATING AD – Avg. CTR 6.6% (Based on LeadBolt US traffic, SDK)
Floating ads offer a game-like experience where users are tempted to pop the branded bubbles that float across the screen. The novelty, combined with custom bubbles that match the app’s theme make this format fun to play.
- APP LIST (OFFER WALL) – Industry Avg. CTR 7.57%
Typically the least disruptive of all ad units, App Walls generate high revenue. App walls work well because they provide a benefit by suggesting more apps similar to the one the user just used. For games especially, app walls are relevant to the users’ interests and offer an experience the user is known to already enjoy.
This is when users have finished their app activity and closing the app before transitioning to the next phase of using their device.
- APP LIST – see above.
App Lists also work well during the EXIT phase, as users may be looking for additional apps to extend their activity after their first app experience has come to an end.
- RE-ENGAGEMENT ADS
A powerful way to drive repeat app usage, these ads remind users of an app that is already downloaded to visit again soon. Users can return to an app by tapping on a branded design.
As a general practice, it’s always best to rely on data. Use the analytics and reporting tools offered by your ad network to follow the trends and ad performance happening inside your app. Test to see which advertising styles your users respond to and optimize on those formats.
Dale Carr, the author of this article, is the founder and CEO of Leadbolt