Trick or Treat: 5 Hidden Secrets of In-app Mobile Advertising


Halloween is upon us, and it got us thinking about the many myths and illusions surrounding the business of app monetization and in-app mobile advertising.  On a holiday when it’s customary to masquerade, we want to take this opportunity to draw back the curtain of illusion to encourage and inform mobile app marketers with proven ways to succeed.  No tricks, no treats, just straight-talk:

Clear the Cobwebs; Use Made-for -Mobile Creative Assets

Don’t repurpose existing web or print creative and think it will work for mobile.  App users prefer ads that are created specifically to fit their mobile experience, taking into account an app’s unique environment, the form and function of the device, as well as utilizing the various mobile ad formats that can add value to their experience (e.g., rewarded mobile video ads, also known as “incentivized” ads that offer in-app perks in exchange for watching the video ad).

Mobile ad formats offer several functional details that enhance the ad interaction, such as vertical orientation and auto-orientation to adjust the display shape to the screen as we hold our devices.  Limited screen space means every word, image and button color choice is important and deserves attention.

Consider a mobile strategy early in the media planning stages, and prepare for it during asset production.

Find Mobile Users Where They Lurk (Hint:  In Apps)

Media buyers and planners must consider the entire mobile landscape in order to reach quality mobile users.  Deciding whether to run campaigns inside mobile apps, or across the mobile web is often the first consideration.  While both environments have their rightful place in a media budget, recent data shows that mobile users are spending more of their mobile media time using apps, versus surfing the mobile web.  While mobile games represent a large slice of the app landscape, high value users are engaged in all kinds of apps, not just games.  There are apps in every genre that have amassed massive users – including social media apps, music and entertainment apps, utility and productivity, and others.

Target Wisely

While refining your targeting strategy is helpful for filtering for specific kinds of users that meet your criteria, narrowing the pool too early in your campaign has the potential to significantly limit your reach.  A broad targeting strategy is ideal when starting a campaign, as it allows you to cast a wide net of users.  From there, you can track where your most valuable users are coming from, and adjust your targeting parameters using this knowledge.  Start broadly, then optimize according where your LTVs (Lifetime Value of Customers) are coming from.

The Secret Power of Mobile Native Ads

Mobile native ads are one of the industry’s best kept secrets, and yet they needn’t be mysterious.  “Native” refers to the placement of the ad inside an app, not the ad format itself.  Native ads can refer to any ad format – mobile video ads, display ads, or custom ad experiences – that are placed inside an app in an area that complements the user flow, or at the very least does not disrupt it.  It’s not a pop-up that will block content or interrupt one’s path.  It won’t hog valuable mobile real estate on screen, float across your screen, or start playing automatically.  Simply put, native ads are thoughtfully placed within an app experience in such a way that they “fit in” more elegantly. A mobile user must opt-in to engage, and therefore native ads attract users who are genuinely interested in the ad content, and cause fewer accidental clicks.


Taking native ads one step further, working closely with your mobile ad network partner and tapping into their direct relationships with app publishers allows marketers to build custom native ad interactions.  In games for example, your product, logo or mascot can be worked into the game experience – similar to product placement strategies utilized in film and TV.


Become a Wizard

The power to achieve massive results is in your hands – using a scientific approach is the best way to test campaigns to see which attributes lead to higher conversions.  Further, paying attention to campaign attribution data will reveal which sources are bringing in the most valuable users.  When you see the patterns, you are able to refine and optimize your campaign creatives, as well as scale with the ad network partners who deliver results. Testing, monitoring and analyzing the data on an ongoing basis is essential to becoming efficient with your ad spending while achieving high performance results.

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MarketingTrick or Treat: 5 Hidden Secrets of In-app Mobile Advertising