Presented by AdColony

If you’re a mobile app developer today, you face a vast, LUMA-like ocean of choices when it comes to how you will make money.

While that appears to be a good thing — better than too few, right? — it’s difficult to land on a monetization strategy that will maximize your revenue while still meeting the needs of your users. Whether it’s in-app purchases, different ad formats and flow types, or a combination of both, publishers are looking for that Holy Grail that will maximize revenue but also boost engagement, decrease churn, and increase the lifetime value of its users.

To achieve this ideal combination, mobile publishers must choose an ad partner who can deliver — an ad network that is easy to integrate and manage, while at the same time provide competitive fill rates and revenue. These days, however, one of the most important factors is how much of a “white glove” approach they are capable of and willing to take.

As Brian Truman, the head of digital ad monetization at GSN Games, observes:

“Ad monetization is complex, and we as publishers are looking at user behavior and data every day. We want the best experience for our users. And things do go wrong; ads can cause crashes, or a third-party releases a new technology and the ad experience changes. When that happens — because it will — you need an ad partner that will respond quickly, that will do their diligence and get to the root of the problem, and then fix it. You need a partner that demonstrates that they care just as much as you do about your user’s experience.”

Despite the availability of this white-glove approach, publishers still might balk at the risk and cost associated with mobile advertising; specifically, installing a mobile ad SDK. There’s the opportunity cost if your dev team could be spending their time on another project, and the risk of underperformance. We know this quite well, and to encourage publishers to begin taking advantage of the benefits of mobile ads, we’ve launched a program that makes the decision easier to make because it includes incentives that mitigate that risk and cost.

The $5 million Advanced Monetization Program (AMP) offers any publisher who adopts its SDK into any app that has not been in the marketplace before 100 percent revenue share for 90 days, plus a 15 revenue user acquisition credit. Publishers can also receive up to 10 percent bonus on first-position waterfall deals, which according to Truman, is a key benefit.

“Every publisher, including us, is constantly trying to test and negotiate first-position waterfalls deals, because they are important. The 10 percent bonus is a clear signal to mobile app makers that AdColony wants to eliminate even more risk; it basically says: Hey, you gave us a shot by coming on board. Now see what we can do after you adopt the SDK.”

Right now, most of the demand is comprised of performance advertisers, that is, other mobile games. You might even say that the entire ad business on mobile is driven by other games, which if you think about it, is not ideal. Most publishers would, if given a choice, not show ads from other games — it’s a bit like putting an ad for McDonald’s inside of a Burger King. Still, that is the stage that we’re at, and many of the technologies and infrastructure today support that model and nothing else.

It won’t be long, though, before the mix of demand changes dramatically. Publishers want to branch out and start working more with non-game brands, and advertisers in other sectors are beginning to realize that mobile games are a great place to reach their audience. As that shift occurs, it’s important for ad networks (and publishers) to prepare themselves for a time in which ads from brands will take the larger share of ad impressions.

As the mix of demand changes, other aspects of mobile monetization will change, too — like points of entry, different stakeholders, and the way that users behave and interact with ads. We also must consider how high-tech companies like Facebook are using data, as well as new regulations (e.g., the ban on loot boxes) that can change your entire strategy in an instant. The way bidding works within the ecosystem will change, as will the way that ads are selected, optimized, and served to your users.

Throughout all this change, keep an eye on which players in that LUMA-like ocean are making choices and investing in areas that will benefit you as a publisher. Those who are working hand in hand with organizations like the IAB, MOAT, IAS, etc. to push the mobile ad industry in the right direction are the ones you can trust — and in a fast-growing space like this, trust and security go a long way.

David Pokress is EVP, Publishing at AdColony.

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