Mobile App Developer’s Guide to Traffic Monetization – Clickky

Your mobile app can turn into a lucrative business. All you have to do is monetize your mobile traffic right — that includes choosing reliable monetization partners and ensuring that ads being served without hampering user experience. Let’s talk about what every mobile publisher should know: the pros and cons of different integration types, the strategy for choosing an advertising platform and how to analyze the results.

  1. The technology of serving ads: SDK, API and tags
  2. Choosing an advertising partner
  3. Tracking and analyzing the results
  4. Conclusions

The Technology of Serving Ads: SDK, API & Tags

First things first: think about how you’re going to connect your app to advertisers who would want to serve their ads in your application. You need to receive data on the type and format of ads, the size, dimensions, orientation and other parameters of advertisement. At the same time, advertisers need to get data about your app users, their devices, operating systems, geolocation, interests, as well as the number of views and clicks the ad gets.

All this information can be transmitted with the help of a piece of code, integrated into the application. Essentially, this is the means of communication between the publisher (app developer), their ad server, which handles ad requests and serves ads, received from the advertiser. There are several options to have this done: by using API (Application Programming Interface), SDK (Software Development Kit) or tags. All three methods have their pros and cons.

API enables the interaction between your application and the technology that your advertiser uses — usually, server to server ad network connection. While API accomplishes all the required tasks and ensures the transmission of data, it’s a type of integration that requires some investment and manual work to set up a dedicated ad server, which would request ads and serve them back to your app. Additionally, API leaves it to the advertiser, to send the data to the ad server about the device resolution, ad orientation, size, OS and users’ IP manually. This slows the process down and makes it more prone to errors. Additionally, API can transmit less data on ad targeting and conversion attribution, especially comparing to SDK.

On the other hand, API is more lightweight. Because additional parameters are added for each specific case, API weighs almost nothing and offers the better flexibility of ad content – an advantage for serving ad formats like native ads.

Comparing to API, SDK offers a more streamlined process. If you’re not into customization of all ads in your app, SDK is the way to go. This piece of code already contains predefined templates for ad offers, which makes it weigh more. It’s also less flexible regarding the additional parameters of ads. Be ready that every monetization solution will have its own SDK, plus app analytics services have their own SDK. Integrating all those SDK will slow your app down. However, take into the account that with SDK, advertisers can track views and clicks better and attribute more actions to users with more certainty. This is why SDK is a preferred by advertisers and, therefore there are far more campaigns available through an SDK integration. To use it, you need to download the particular SDK of the monetization solution, initialize it, add required advertisement formats and test it by completing in-app actions. Thus, as detailed integration guides are available for most monetization solutions, you’ll be able to get customized ads right into your app without any additional input.

The third option is the integration via iFrame or JS (JavaScript) tags. The tags perform the same function as SDK and API – they tell the app which ad to serve. The big advantage of JS tags is their flexibility: such formats as video, playable and native ads are highly customizable via the HTML snippet, which is what the tag essentially is. You add the tag of a certain advertisement format to all pages of the site, where you want to display advertisement and that is it. Note, however, that it will slow down the page load.

Now that the JS tags have evolved and just like SDK, they can support the industry iAB and privacy standards, they’re another legitimate option for app developers for integrating ads into their apps. You can also use JS tags for mediation purposes and connect any ad network to the platform you already use (such as AdMob or MoPub). By doing this, you create a waterfall, and if one advertising partner does not have an ad to serve, the next one is called. This increases the probability of unfilled impressions allocation.

Main takeaways:

  • Before choosing your monetization partner, decide which integration option suits you best in terms of control ad customization and required time investment.
  • If you want to get customized ads and ready to do manual work, choose API integration.
  • If you’d like to spend minimum time on customizing ads and get access to more offers, integrate via SDK.
  • Use JS tags to customize ad parameters and serve video, native and playable ads; remember, JS tags don’t solve the problems of mediation optimization.

Choose Your Monetization Partner

When you established which type of integration is more convenient for you, it’s time to look at your monetization options. As a rule, the main challenge for an app developer is fill rate. Few apps manage to get 100% of all ad placements filled at all times. The vast majority has to connect to several partners and balance the cost of placement with the ability of advertiser send back the requested number of ads.

You might be tempted to choose the easy path and work only via Google AdMob. But consider that Google doesn’t cover all the app verticals (for example, gambling and certain types of games, alcohol ads, adult content, healthcare and medicines, financial services, etc.) If you work in these verticals and want to serve relevant ads to your audience or simply you’d like to improve the fill rate and get more high-paying advertisers, you’ll need to find more monetization partners.

That’s where you meet the main players on the market: ad networks, ad exchanges, supply-side platforms and affiliate networks, which in their turn can connect to ad exchanges and RTB marketplaces to trade inventory or impressions with demand partners. The complex landscape of the market gets more confusing when the companies use interchangeable terms to describe the services they provide. In any case, the selection of the monetization platform should be subject to a thorough analysis. To make the right decision, find answers for the following questions:

  • Is it a performance marketing platform, where advertisers purchase inventory or programmatic auction, where impressions are traded for the highest bid?
  • What is the payment model of the advertising platform? Does it work by eCPM, CPI, CPA? For publishers, getting paid for impressions is more beneficial, than for installs or in-app actions;
  • How easy is it to withdraw payment? What is the minimal sum available for withdrawal?
  • What are the verticals (app categories) where the ad platform is particularly strong?
  • What are the primary geolocations, where ad platform performs best?
  • What is the quality of the support service? Is it available 24/7 and helpful in resolving your issues?

Tracking & Analyzing the Results

To define the strengths and weaknesses of an app, both in terms of user experience and monetization potential, it’s absolutely necessary to rely on analytics. App developers should track in-app events and correctly attribute them to specific users. This serves two purposes: it helps to optimize advertising for user interests and deliver better results for advertisers, hence getting more profit in the end; and secondly, it helps to find out which channels supplied the most active users, which helps to correct the user acquisition strategy and focus on attracting paying users. With real-time app analytics, conversion funnels, retention analytics and navigation paths, it’s far easier to test assumptions and substantiate them with data.

Some of the most reputable analytics services on the market are the following:

  • Appsee
  • Appsflyer
  • Localytics
  • Mixpanel
  • Tune

Note that all of them work via SDK integration, so it’s necessary to add another piece of code to your app to make attribution work.


App monetization is easier than you think. Just start with the basics to make the right choice of your monetization partner. Provided you make the right selection, you can count on receiving guidance over integration options and advice on the data you need to track and share.

Above article has been provided by one of the leading Mobile Monetization & User Aquisition Network, Clickky

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