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Singular reported that Facebook and Google are still the top performers when it comes to return on investment for marketing campaigns that place ads in mobile apps and games.

San Francisco-based Singular is a marketing intelligence company that optimizes more than $10 billion in annual ad spending. The annual Singular ROI Index sifted through $1.5 billion in ad spend and $2.7 billion in revenue to figure out which mobile ad networks are most effective by platform, region, and vertical category.

While Facebook won the global rankings, Google took top billing in all three key regional rankings: Europe, Middle East, and Africa; Asia Pacific; and the Americas.

Here’s some of the results in charts.


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The top ad networks for retention of users over time.

Above: The top ad networks for retention of users over time.

Image Credit: Singular

Big new player

Brands love Snapchat. Snap hit No. 3 for non-gaming categories in both iOS and Android after not making the list at all last year on Android.

Above: iOS ROI leaders by region

Image Credit: Singular


Line hits the index 3 times

Japan-based mobile messaging service Line ranked on just one index last year for the Line Ads Platform, which is how advertisers can target its 700 million users. This year, it ranked no fewer than three times, plus two honorable mentions.

Twitter resurgent

Twitter won no fewer than 11 rankings on various global, regional, and platform-specific charts, including second on iOS for retention: providing users/customers who stay engaged.

Above: iOS ROI by category

Image Credit: Singular

New models, new networks

Singular saw huge innovation over the last year in mobile. Fortnite publisher Epic has started to monetize game players directly, for example. Another innovator, BlueStacks, provides an emulator for playing mobile games on desktop, and its on-platform ad network is yielding significant ROI.

Above: Android ROI by region

Image Credit: Singular

Android vs. iOS: ad network volatility

A full third of the global Android index is brand new, while only two new networks joined the corresponding iOS index. Sixty percent of the multi-year winners on Android moved down, so new contenders are performing well.

Above: Android ROI by category

Image Credit: Singular


Unity is hard to beat

Unity powers half the games on the planet, and its ad network is also dominant, ranking third on Android and fourth on iOS globally — an impressive achievement.

Singular found one of the key differentiators between ad networks that do mobile app install campaigns is the ratio of clicks to installs. High-quality networks like Facebook and Google have very low click-to-install ratios: on the order of three to 10 clicks for each game or app install. Mid-tier networks tend to have many more clicks to each app install: 20, 30, or even 60.

What game publishers really want to watch out for are affiliate networks and low-quality ad partners that have enormous click-to-install ratios. It’s not uncommon to see over 1,000 impressions for each lonely install. Some have multiple thousands, and a few have tens of thousands. Clearly, ad fraud is a concern here, and when advertisers see numbers like this, they can be fairly certain that scammy networks are flooding them with clicks and trying to claim credit for organic app installs.

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