supersonic-logoThe mobile advertising system has exploded — but it’s also left many overwhelmed and confused. In this series titled “Maximizing Mobile Ad Monetization” and presented by Supersonic, publishers learn how to take back the reins and navigate the intricacies of mobile advertising. See the whole series here.

With less than five percent of app users making IAPs, and paid apps falling further behind its more profitable F2P sibling, conversations around mobile monetization are shifting. It’s no longer a discussion about ‘why’ you should advertise, but ‘how’ — and more importantly, doing so while maintaining a smooth and engaging user experience.

Below we’ll dive into several tips to help craft a friendly mobile advertising experience, successfully turning ad formats into app features.

1. Diversify your ad formats

When introducing mobile ads into your app, aim to develop a premium experience — one that is dynamic like your users and offers a variety of formats. With an optimized mix of video, display, and other custom options, you open up a larger set of inventory and prevent ad fatigue. In other words, all your eggs won’t be in one basket.

Engagement for each type of ad will vary per user segment. So observe performance on click and completion rates, and adjust for your audience accordingly.

2. Find the best placements

Before aimlessly plugging in ads and testing a thousand trials to see what sticks, ask yourself: what does your app flow look like? Where can advertising be included to create new or enhanced experiences?

Start by identifying screens that carry users from one app loop to the next. These stages are more conducive for positive ad engagement. Here are some rules of thumb:

Interstitials: Pair these with transitions within your app; areas that help ‘bridge’ the user’s attention in downtimes. You will typically find these in pause menus, loading screens, and other natural breaks. It’s important you place these where the user will not be surprised by an ad.

Banners: Avoid banner placement near UI elements, buttons, and where any app action may be performed. This can result in accidental clicks, creating an unstable app flow. You can find these ads in similar stages as the interstitial format, commonly located at the top or bottom of the screen separated by a border.

Video ads: Areas between levels and other natural pauses work best for video ads. Space these units out as it does not make sense to show a 15- to 30-second clip for every minute of app use. Video ads easily command high eCPMs and are getting instrumentally more effective as brand video creative get better.

Native: A format that’s popular with feed-based and social apps, native ads look natural and are most effective when integrated into the app content itself. They blend in and do not interrupt the user experience, but are difficult to scale.

Rewarded: Connect rewarded ads with areas and stages where users can earn premium content. Scenarios include viewing an ad to: win new lives, speed up rest mechanics after a level, get in-game currency, etc. Make sure the reward is something substantial enough to warrant a 30-second video view or install action.

Whether you show an interstitial after three screen transitions or a video ad after every level, keep it natural to the app’s scheme. When all is said and done, monitor areas where your ads may be underperforming or even hurting retention to make the best adjustments.

3. Personalize ad segmentation

Once your units are in place, personalize your ad experiences. This entails creating rules and placement guidelines based on each one of your user segments. Why create an ad experience for the lowest common denominator when you can optimize for every user type?

You can get quite granular with this. For example, if you want to keep your ‘whales’ happy but still monetize the ‘dolphins’ and the ‘minnows’, segment paying users to receive less ads than users who don’t make any IAPs at all. You can also control which type of ads and formats each segment sees. For high spenders, serving them only cross app promotion ads can help retain them within your own ecosystem of other app titles. You get the idea. Get creative with your segmentations and A/B test each variation.

4. Ensure ad serving relevance

To provide a contextual experience for your users, create an app policy that clearly understands who your users are, what they do in your app and how they engage content. Share this data with your ad partners to get deeper insight and alignment into the most relevant creatives, formats, and categories. This will optimize ad serving and improve overall ad performance as a result of better targeting.

At scale, it’s nearly impossible to ensure each ad will be completely relevant to every user. You can however manage how many times a specific ad creative is shown. This is called frequency capping. The idea is that if a user does not engage an ad the first several times it is displayed, it’s probably irrelevant, at least to that specific user. Caps are generally set to three views per user, per day. This can be enabled through ad mediation platforms and be adjusted for every user segment and network you are integrating with.

5. Give users control

As banner ads fade in the presence of more engaging formats, users who are given control over their ads report having significantly better overall app experiences.

Try not to confuse opt-in/out with ‘ad control’. A user may opt-in to view an ad but then quickly change their mind. It’s important to provide options to view, silence, or even skip the ad, or it begins to feel forced. Simply including an X button, a volume dial, or a countdown timer on some formats does wonders in this regard.

If you want more interactivity, explore controllable ads like rewarded video and playable ads. Users actively pursue these formats in exchange for in-game goods or brief demos, generating click-throughs that advertisers love and payouts that developers crave. Options to skip these ads make them less intrusive and all the more engaging.

Methods of rewarding users for viewing ads have proven advantageous beyond just user experience. Publishers state a noteworthy increase in retention and LTV by utilizing rewarded content to further progress into the app or game.

For many developers, advertising is one of the most scalable opportunities on the table. But finding the right harmony between user experience and advertising can often feel like walking a tightrope. Make sure the right strategies are in place and you’ll find yourself balancing across just fine.

Got more tips you’d like to see? Share with us in the comments below or on Twitter @SupersonicAds.

Terry Koh is the Content Marketing Manager at Supersonic. Supersonic is a leading mobile monetization and marketing platform trusted by the world’s top publishers and advertisers.

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