Integrate in-app ads without annoying users

In-app advertising is a favorite way for U.S. developers to monetize mobile apps, especially free apps. Still, many struggle to integrate ads in a way that drives clicks without undermining the user experience. Maximize revenue while keeping users happy by avoiding the seven deadly sins of in-app advertising.

1. Forgetting to filter

Nobody wants to see porn or gambling ads in decidedly PG games. Conversely, there’s a steep disconnect when “adult” apps promote diapers or teen zit cream. Compelling ads that resonate with users are those that complement your app. (For example, recipes in lifestyle apps or fall boots for fashion-forward users.)

Apply filters to improve ad relevancy.

Worried about limiting your opportunities for monetization? Don’t be. More big brands are jumping on the bandwagon with over $13 billion currently spent on mobile advertising, according to Juniper Research’s In-App, Mobile Internet & Messaging Strategies 2013-2018 report. By 2018, that number’s expected to reach $39 billion. The reason is simple: Where consumers go, advertisers follow. Since 61% of Americans own smartphones per Pew Research, the increased interest comes as no big shock.

Fueling mobile ad spend this holiday season is Facebook’s success, reporting 49% of its advertising revenue came from mobile usage in Q3, up 8% from Q2. A study by Fiksu has also determined that mobile advertising outperforms traditional ads, and the cost per engagement of mobile app advertising is 10 times lower than paid search marketing.

Point is, you have a lot of options through ad mediation. You can afford to be picky.

2. Bad button placement

Many developers inadvertently inflate clicks by placing ads a bit too close to their own buttons. Accidentally opening an app store or mobile website link is extremely frustrating for users who have to navigate back to your app. Ensure the best experience possible by taking time to know where ads will appear in relation to your calls to actions.

3. Obnoxious overlays

Ads should be as unobtrusive as possible. Unless you’re serving a full-screen interstitial ad, don’t cover your content.

4. Thinking one size fits all

Device screen sizes run the gamut. While it’s not realistic to plan for all of them, it is smart to specify alternate ad sizes that adapt to larger screens or different orientations.

5. Neglecting the test drive

Do the ads in your app reflect poorly on you? Does the ad deliver on its promise to users or simply dump them into a mobile site where they need to hunt and peck to find the information they want? The best way to ensure your users are getting the best experience is to actually click the ads within your app.

6. Using ads as punishment

Many users endure ads in free apps and pay a premium to remove them. But there’s really no reason for users to see ads as a punishment. Think about where ads make sense within your app experience. Are there natural breaks in gameplay between levels, for instance, where serving an ad or video seems natural? Take advantage of these opportunities.

With rich media (games, movie trailers, video, etc) gaining popularity and driving higher engagement, we expect ads to get more fun for users in the very near future. Just don’t overdo it. Force users to watch a video or see a full-screen ad more frequently than every three or four minutes and they’re likely to give up on your app.

7. Ignoring analytics

Fire and forget is a dangerous practice in the app store and for your monetization efforts. To make money from mobile ads, you have to peek in on your fill rate and eCPM and see when new offers are available from advertisers. Optimize your efforts based on your business insights and continuously check in to see which ad formats, brands and ad networks deliver the greatest returns.

Kii helps developers turn mobile apps into global businesses. The Kii Ads SDK integrates with popular mobile ad networks with a few lines of native code. Give it a try by signing up for a free Kii Cloud account at

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