In-app advertising is a way to monetise app usage by displaying third party adverts within the app. It creates a revenue stream for the developer which in turn allows the user to access the app for free.
However, all too often the ad experience delivered is annoying and puts users off the app altogether – limiting app usage and future earning potential.
But it needn’t be so. Thinking about just how consumers want to use your app and making the ads something that, at best, enhances their experience (and, at worst, doesn’t ruin it) can make all the difference. Here’s what you need to consider.1. Careful placement
How and where to display ads in apps is a big deal. While you want them to be noticed and, ideally, clicked on, you don’t want them to be too intrusive, or to spoil the overall experience of the app or get in the way of what the app user is actually trying to achieve (remember, they haven’t come to see the ads).
To achieve this, you need to ask yourself where does it work best? Where you place an ad to get best results in an ecommerce app will be different to where you place it in a gaming app. You need to check out what others do in your field and, as we shall come to later, test what works for your users.
What you want to avoid are ads that intrude and are irritating from the moment they appear. Think about whether you want them to stop the task at hand totally, and so lay over the centre or whole screen, or to be more like banners that are there, wooing the user to click on them at some point.2. Timing is everything
When the ads appear, how frequently they appear and how long they appear for are dependent on your users. Is it ideal to pop an ad right at the start or is it better to wait? Again, it depends on what your app is doing, but always remember that the ad will intrude so don’t drop it in at a vital part of the user’s app usage.
The final element of timing is how long does the ad appear for? This needs to be looked at carefully against what the app is used for and how the user behaves. It has to be displayed long enough to garner interest and facilitate clicks or action, but it needs to not linger too long. One way around this is the for the ad to be user-cleared, so that it has a dwell time then an ‘X’ appears that allows the user to clear the ad and continue if they wish.
3. Target the ads
An important and often missed consideration is trying to select ads based on the type of app being used, the demographics of the typical app users and general content of the app. While games apps tend to push other games through ads, is that really effective as they are already playing a game? And what if you aren’t operating gaming apps: what are the users of your app likely to be interested in?
Understanding who your users are, or who they are going to be, is vital when looking to ad fund. Put things up there that your users will genuinely find interesting and potentially useful and they are likely to click. If not they will dump your app.
4. Choose formats that fit
As with targeting the kind of content that suits your demographic, you need to also consider what content format is likely to work best for them too. Will a video work best at the display point? Are banners going to not interfere as much? These are questions you need to ask yourself while looking at the ad targeting considerations. And, as ever, keep testing and trialling to see what works best.
5. Native ads
Ad publishers now offer native ads enabling publishers to render ads that are seamless with content, or that take advantage of app features like swipe gestures and 3D animation. You can use this technology to implement highly custom renderings that take full advantage of the native code on Android and iOS. They also mean that ads are no longer confined to a box like a traditional banner ad, but are an integral and seamless part of your app.
6. Make sure they are age appropriate
Along with making the adverts fit in with the demographic of your app users and with the look and feel of the app (as well as how and when it is likely to be used), you also need to look at making sure that your ads are age appropriate for the app. It’s a basic requisite of app store hosting, but you must pay attention to it or you may find your ads aren’t suitable and your app is suspended.
7. Reward viewers
The world of ad-funding, be it in apps or anywhere else, is inexorably shifting towards being something that people watch in return for some kind of reward. While interesting content and fun ads as outlined above are part of that, why not go the whole hog and offer your audience bonus points, in-app currency, coupons or offers? If you get the targeting right and the content is appropriate and interesting, getting a reward for clicking on it can be the last bit of bait needed to carry the user through.
8. Analyse and adjust
And finally, do what you what do with all aspects of user-facing technology: test and test and test again – and keep on testing. You need to see what works where, for how long, and what it achieves and keep tweaking and changing so that the ad experience in your apps becomes as honed as the app itself.
Here, analytics gives you everything you need to make informed decisions. You get access to impressions, clicks, click-through rates, CPM, CPC, CPA, Fill rate, interaction rate, and more. Do banners work better or are Interstitials giving you more results? Which ad wins? What kind of innovative placements are you using?
App analytics helps you see and measure which ad formats are working best. They help you make decisions that matter and slowly work your way to an optimised app experience for your users while simultaneously making your app a money-making machine.