App Monetization

App Monetization


The use of ad mediation in mobile apps has become the mainstream in the last few years. One ad-network can’t have demand to give you good fill-rates and high CPMs for all your user segments and all the geographic locations where you have users. In addition, mediation allows you to add more ad-networks and increase demand for your ad inventory. As you might remember from “Introduction to Economics” – with fixed supply and increasing demand the price goes up. If you want to evaluate different mediation platforms check this post comparing 6 different mediation platforms.

Use placements/zones/areas for placements

Most mediation platforms has a feature called placements or zones or areas. This is designed so that if you have different areas where ads are presented in your app, you can give them names when implementing the SDK and later on refer to them from the mediation platform. This has a few benefits:

  • You will be able to see reporting for each placement separately
  • The mediation auto-pilot will optimize for each placement individually giving the optimization more precision
  • When setting up a manual waterfalls you can set specific one for each placement

Use placements for segments, testing, impression frequency and ad types

Advanced publishers often use the placements feature for other purposes to enjoy the same benefits mentioned above. Here are a few ideas:

Segments – Let’s say that you could create a segment of users who respond well to videos it would have made sense to show them only video ads. Alternatively, if you had a segment of users that don’t perform well for CPI campaigns – it would make more sense to create a waterfall for these users that gives higher pirority for brand oriented ad-networks such as Mediabrix and Hyper MX.

Testing – optimizing and trying different things is a standard practice in mobile these days. The only way to test different setups is to differentiate group A from group B by duplicating all your placements and marking them A and B repsectively.

Impression frequency – serving different placement every time an ad is presented to the same unique users can give you visibility into your eCPM decay and allow you to optimize your impression frequency.

Ad types – this one goes without saying. Differentiate your videos from interestitials.

Some of the advanced segments mentioned above requires the use of SOOMLA TRACEBACK which also allows to test different ad setups and monitor eCPM decay without jumping through hoops

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Don’t put all your eggs in the auto-pilot basket

Most mediation platforms have 3 modes:

  • Automatically allowing the mediation platform to select the best provider
  • Manually configuring the waterfall
  • Mixed – manual for the top countries and automatic for smaller ones

The automatic approach means that the mediation platform will check each of the ad networks every day to see which one provided the best eCPM and then prioritize the waterfall based on that number. The problem with the auto-pilot approach is that it is based on yesterday’s data. Moreover, in many cases the lower performing network will get switched to the top of the waterfall due to randomness in small numbers. The companies that make the most amount of ad revenue in the world often takes things into their own hands. You should at least experiment with this approach.

Disable the network that gave you the mediation

Most mediation platforms are owned by ad-networks. This creates an immediate conflict of interest. The mediation should be an unbiased, neutral 3rd party while the ad-networks compete with each other for more inventory. What is a publisher to do? Try to find a setting in your mediation platform that eliminates the owning ad-network from the auction. This way you are still enjoying a free mediation but you can be sure that it’s neutral. Important note – make sure you have a catch-all ad network or an SSP if you use this trick. Otherwise you will end up with a low fill rate.

Multiple CPM floors to force ad-network bidding

This is the most advanced trick in this post and requires you to do some prep work on the ad-networks. Basically every ad-network can apply a CPM floor. Some of them allow you to control this from their dashboard while others have the control on their side so you have to call and ask for it. What you want to do with this setting is to create 2 or 3 CPM floor levels under different App IDs or placements and then enter them into the mediation in different positions in the waterfall. Let’s see this simplified example with 2 ad-networks.

Example of a waterfall multiple CPM floors:

  • 1st priority – network A floor $20
  • 2nd priority – network B floor $20
  • 3rd priority – network A floor $15
  • 4th priority – network B floor $15
  • 5th priority – network A floor $10
  • 6th priority – network B floor $10

This means that if either ad-network has an ad that will pay more than $20 they will get to serve it. If none has it, the waterfall goes down to 3rd and 4th priority and checks if there is an ad that will pay $15 or more and so forrth. This method forces ad-networks into an auction that increases the price you get for your inventory.

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App Monetization


We already covered the emergence of rewarded video ads in mobile games and the importance of focusing on opt-in ratio to increase the number of first impressions you get.

Opt-In Ratio – the number of unique users who watch rewarded videos in a given day, divided by the number of total unique users in the same day.

List of ideas for improving opt-in ratio for rewarded video

Here you can find a few game design suggestions to improve the number of people opting in to videos. However, we don’t recommend implementing all of them. The way to use this list is to set up a system like SOOMLA TRACEBACK that allows you to measure opt-in on a segment and cohort level and then try different methods for different segments while monitoring the improvement through the system.

1 – Guide users to watch a video as part of the tutorial

The rational here is simple. D0 is the only day where you have 100% retention. Guiding users to watch a video in the tutorial allows you to get a lot of 1st impressions and also teaches users that rewarded videos are an integral part of the experience.

2 – Daily offer that require users to watch a video

Once users come back, a nice way to promote the videos to them is to offer some special benefit, bonus screens or game advancement in the form of a daily promotion.

3 – Surprise box in exchange for a video

Many users like to get a surprise box in the game. Making the surprise box the reward of watching a ad is a great way to incentivize more users to engage with the ads.

4 – Lives for video views

Many games has energy mechanic built into them. It could be lives, energy, fuel or any other resource that is consumed with every attempt of the user. Users who want longer sessions usually have to pay but in many cases rewarded video can be offered as an alternative to payment for the non-payers segment.

5 – Save Me / Revive

Games often offer an option to keep playing from the last point by watching a video ad

In many action or arcade games ther user is able to play until some tragic event kills his character. This is the perfect opportunity to offer him an opportunity to keep playing from the same point in exchange for watching a video ad.

6 – Virtual currency for video completion

Another popular place to introduce the value exchange is inside the store of the game. The user can buy coing with money or he can get some for free if he watches some video ads.

7 – Double virtual currency collection for a limited time

Future play offers a 2x profit doubler for a period of 4 hours in exchange for a video viewMany games have coin collection mechanics into their games. In game design these are known as ‘pools’. The option to double the effectiveness of a pool is very appealing to a player and creates an incentive to watch an ad. Futureplay is one company that did a nice job with this option in their game Farm Away.

8 – Remove other ads in return for video view

Another option for introducing rewarded video is to offer the user an interruption free session in return for watching a single ad. You can see examples of this option here.

9 – Accelerate delivery/building time in return for video

Some games have built in waiting periods. This is specifically true for games in the strategy, simulation and racing genres. In these games the user have to wait for some action to be completed and is offered to pay to accelerate. Another option would be to give him an option to accelerate the action by watching a video ad.

10 – Users that don’t opt-in for videos – show them other ads

The final tip wouldn’t directly improve the opt-in rate to rewarded video but it is important just the same. About 2% if your game users pay for In-App Purchases, A typical opt-in ration might be 25%-40% and games that have optimized their opt-in ratio might get to 80%. This still leaves at least 20% of your users that are not contributing any monetization. To these users, you can show interstitials, banners and native ads to round up the monetization.

If you want to improve your opt-in rate to rewarded videos try these ideas and monitor which one works using SOOMLA Traceback.

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App Monetization, Resource


There is a lot to be learned from the success of others and this is why case studies can be really effective if they are done well. However, it’s not always easy to find good case studies that don’t have a strong bias and are not too sales oriented. Here are 3 case studies I think any game publisher should read especially as ads are becoming a critical component in the app monetization mix.

Adding rewarded video in IAP heavy games – Next games

Unity did a very good case study with Next Games. The games themselves are high production quality games and one of them is also based on strong IP – The Walking Dead is an award winning TV series by AMC. With this kind of investment you can imagine that the games monetize mainly with IAP. However, Next games made a strategic decision to have rewarded video designed carefully into the game. In Compass Point West – they would have a wagon coming into the screen and offering players an incentive to watch a video. The players loved the wagon and the result is that Next game are seeing an ARPDAU of $0.06 from ads alone without any negative impact on IAP revenue. From an LTV perspective this translates to a full $1 of Ad LTV. So if their IAP LTV is $3, The combined LTV would be $4. This is critical for companies who do paid marketing and trying to constantly get the CPI below the LTV.

Take away points:

  • Video ads that are thoughtfully designed into the game work better.
  • Ads can yield $0.06 ARPDAU and $1 Ad LTV without hurting IAP revenue.
  • For companies who relay on paid marketing an extra $1 in LTV is critical for being ROI positive

Ad supported clicker games can do effective user acquisition

The next case study is also from Unity but it covers a very different type of game. FuturePlay creates clicker games that are relaying mostly on ads. 70%-75% according to Jami’s statement in a Panel from Casual Connect Amsterdam. Here the challenge was different – creating enough monetization to rise above the neccessary bar for paid marketing. Futureplay integrated video ads into the core loop of the game and was able to get as much as 80% opt-in ratio. More over, the combined ARPDAU they reached was $0.15. So roughly 10 cents from ads and 5 cents from IAP on a daily basis. With good retention KPIs such as 40%, 20% and 10% for d1/d7/d30, these $0.15 translates into $2.23 in LTV according to this calculator. This LTV is high enough to allow FuturePlay to do paid user acquisition. So they are an advertiser and a publisher at the same time.

Take away points:

  • Clicker games are a good platform for high paying rewarded videos
  • By integrating rewarded videos well you can reach 80% opt-in ratio
  • Even if ads make the majority of your revenue you can still have LTV as high as $2 and acquire users through paid channels

To read the full case study – click here

Even games with almost no IAP can have ROI positive UA campaigns

The last case study is about Gram Games. The company had phanomenal success with their game 1010 and are pioneers in the new trend of companies who are both a publisher and an advertiser. The case study points out that Gram was able to acquire users at scale with a reported CPI of $1 in US and grow to 20M users world wide. The relatively low CPI is possible for casual titles with wide appeal and a familiar gameplay. To reach an LTV higher than $1 in US, Gram games are relaying mostly on ads as a monetization strategy. The gameplay they created retains users for a very long time and 14% of their users stay after the first month. In other words, their retention is 40% better than 40/20/10 which is considered a very good retention. This means that even with a $0.05 ARPDAU they can get to $1 LTV. While having LTV = CPI is not profitable on it’s own, games like 1010! typically get an organic boost when acquiring users through paid channels.

Take away points:

  • Games with excellent retention can get over $1 LTV from ads only.
  • If your game has wide appeal and super casual gameplay you can buy users at $1 CPI
  • Super casual games with mass appeal often get an organic boost on their media spend


If your company has over 15% ad revenue and is marketing the game through paid channels you need powerful ad traceback tools like SOOMLA TRACEBACK.

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Analytics, App Monetization

there are many things even the experts don't know about life time value - here are 5 of them. this image is a header image for the blogpost

You might have heard some industry experts talk about LTV (life time value) and how important it is. Here are 5 things even some of the experts don’t know about LTV.

1 – Life time value (LTV) is not just for marketing campaigns

You might have heard that you need to know your life time value to do marketing. This is correct but there are actually more reasons. The first reason for for calculating LTV is related to the early design phase. Before you even start making the game you should analyze the potential LTV based on benchmarks from similar games. This important for fundraising as well as for choosing the right games to build. The second reason is even more important. LTV is the one KPI that wraps both ARPDAU and retention and it is highly correlated with long term success. By actively tracking LTV your team will be focused on the right thing when making decisions about the game and monetization techniques.

2 – There is no real life time value – only predicted life time value

Knowing the real LTV requires waiting a very long time – technically you will have to wait a lifetime. You can assume some maximal lifetime – in games 180 days and 365 days are common values for the maximal lifetime. These time frames are just too long to make any meaningful decisions about marketing, product or monetization. Lets say you made a new feature and want to know if you should keep it or not – waiting 180 days for a decision is just impractical. Whenever someone is talking about life time value he means the predicted life time value. That’s the only parameter you can actually work with. To predict yours, you can use one of these 6 LTV calculators

3 – You can succeed with low LTV but not with declining LTV

There are successful games with LTVs as high as $20 or as low as $0.3. You can succeed with low lifetime value and many games have – this is especially true if you are able to constantly increase it. However, you can’t succeed if your LTV is declining – it means that something is fundamentally broken with your game.

4 – Most companies have both CPI > LTV and CPI < LTV

LTV has to be greater than CPI! There are a ton of articles that explain that If your get the basic formula right you are golden. In fact, there was even a conference with that name ( In real life however, you can’t be golden in all segments so the trick is more around finding your golden segments and expanding on them. If your app uses ads, you will need to trace ad LTV per segment using a traceback platform.

5 – In successful games most of the life time value is created after day 30

If you build a life time value spreadsheet and play around with the numbers you will soon see that typically the first 30 days contribute between 25% to 50% of the total life time value. Plugging in the known ratios of 40%,20%,10% for d1, d7 and d30 retention shows that the yield in days 31 to 180 is twice as much as your first 30 days. This means that you should invest time in giving your most loyal users reasons to play for a really long time. King has mastered that art well and Candy Crush has 1,880 levels in the game. I’m sure they are working on some new ones as we speak.

Plugging in 40%, 20% and 10% as the values for d1, d7 and d30 retention shows us that only one third of the LTV is generated in the first 7 days.


If your game uses ads and you want to track the LTV per cohort, segment and testing groups, you need a traceback platform. Check out SOOMLA Traceback – Ad LTV as a Service.

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Analytics, App Monetization

measuring your ad revenue in mobile apps is a tricky business and many publishers makes mistakes doing so. Here are the 5 most common ones.

This post is about the mistakes that mobile app publishers are making when measuring their ad based monetization. Whether your company is using general purpose analytics, attribution, the mediation dashboard or in-house BI to track your revenue from advertising you are probably making at least one of these mistakes.

1 – Week by Week Testing instead of A/B testing

From what I have seen so far this one is a fail for 100% of the mobile app publishers I have talked with. Lets say you want to test a new feature that increases the number of allowed rewarded videos from 3 to 5. There is a right way and wrong way to do it. A/B split is pretty easy to implement on Google play due to their controlled roll-out feature and on iOS it’s not that hard either. However, when it comes to ad revenue companies use week by week testing. In other words they implement something and compare the ad-revenue of this week vs. last week. Here are a few reasons why this is wrong:

  • There could be campaign changes between week 1 and week 2 – campaigns go up and down on the ad-network side all the time if week 2 was better due to a big campaign you might think it’s because the changes you made. A/B tests eliminate that
  • Your user behavior and usage volume might be impacted by real world events like a holiday weekend or a big sporting event – with A/B tests the events impact both groups so it’s a fair test
  • With week by week testing you have to go “all-in” and you don’t even know if the revenue change came from the group who received the change
  • It’s almost impossible to reach statistical significance with week by week testing

The reason why companies don’t implement A/B testing for ad-revenue is that doing so without a specialized ad revenue tracking solution is very complex. However, optimizing with week by week testing is very limited.

2 – Assuming all users are worth the same

Most mobile app publishers assign very specific value to each user when it comes to IAP revenue but fail to do the same for ad revenue. The typical approach is to assume all users are worth the same amount of revenue. This is in-fact very far from reality. First of all, not all users even see ads when it-comes to rewarded videos and even if you look at the group that does see ads there are users that install a few apps and are worth more than $10 while others who only watch the videos end up not generating any revenue.

3 – Not measuring your eCPM decay

“The 1st impression of a user is worth the same amount of money as the 10th impression” – FALSE. The performance of the 1st impression is higher and so the CPM that advertisers are paying in RTB are higher and the eCPMs you are getting from the rewarded video network is also higher for the first impression from the very same reason. As the same users sees more and more impressions in the same day he becomes blind to the ads and the CPM decays. Assuming that all the impressions are worth the same amount of money is a common mistake by mobile app companies.

4 – Focusing on impressions rather than Opt-in ratio

Rewarded video became one of the biggest sources of advertising revenue for mobile app companies. However, it’s important to understand that this is an opt-in type of interaction. With some games, only 10% of the users choose to see the ads while in others it can be as high as 70%. Since the 1st impression pays a lot more than the subsequent impressions, focusing on increasing the number of impressions is a mistake. Companies should focus on increasing the Opt-in ratio instead

5 – Not tracking churn by campaign creative

The last mistake is related to the relationship between ads and churn. There are 2 type of ad interaction that can cause your users to churn:

  • Ads that have a negative experience – are deceptive or have low quality creative
  • Ads of competing apps might steer your users away from your app

Not tracking the impact of different ad creatives placed by the ad-networks in your app could be dangerous.


If you want to improve the way you are measuring your ad revenues and stop making these 5 mistakes – check out SOOMLA Traceback – Ad revenue tracking platform.

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App Monetization, Video

5 in app advertising tips based on the session that Christian Calderon, CRO of Ketchapp gave at Postback

In a recent talk at Postback event, Christian Calderon gave a very interesting presentation about Ketchapp’s approach to in app advertising. Christian recently joined the Ketchapp team after leading Dots monetization for about 2 years. There is a lot to be learned from him so if you have 15 minutes – I highly recommend viewing this video.

Mobile ad spend per user is growing

Companies who are condiering in app advertising as a source of monetization should study this chart closely. If you felt like CPMs were high in the last 12 months. This chart says it will increase by almost 2x in the next 3 years.

the mobile ads market forecasts says that average ad spend per mobile users will increase almost 2x in the next 3 years

Mediation is a “must have” not a “nice to have”

In his talk, Calderon explains that mediation is the way to aggregate demand and create a competitive situation between the ad networks. This is important in oder to maximize your yield. To learn about the pros and cons of the top mediation platform refer to this comparison.

Advertisers pay more for the 1st impression and eCPM decays after

This is an important point to understand. Since eCPM levels are driven by performance and conversion rates, the first impression is usually paying a lot more than the 10th impression. Smart buyers like Machine Zone are focusing on the first impression and are willing to pay premium CPMs for that one. To analyze eCPM decay for your app you need a specialized tracking tool like SOOMLA TRACEBACK.

CPM decay means that the first impression a user sees in the day is the one that will yield the most revenue and the revenue for subsequent impressions drops

Adoption rate (aka Opt-in rate) is linear with revenue

Adoption rate or Opt-in rate is how many users out of your daily active users get to see ads. In other words, how many 1st impressions you have. Calderon hints that in both Dots and Ketchapp focusing on the opt-in rate is part of the secret sauce to high yield from your in app advertising.

Focusing on adoption rate or opt-in rate means that you are getting more 1st impressions and optimizing your in app advertising
Improving the adoption rate requires 2 things:
  • Good ways to measure it in different segments so you can identify opportunities and track progress
  • Iterating and testing new ideas that are focused on increasing the adoption rate

Understanding the business side of of in app advertising is critical

The last tip that we can learn is that ad-based monetization requires more than just plugging the ads SDK and waiting for the revenue to come. There is much to be achieved by developing a relationship with the ad providers, tweaking the deals you are getting and negotiating with them. In his slides, he explains that there are 3 pieces that makes a good ad-partner and one of them is their ability to work with you and get you the deals you need.

If you want to apply a data driven approach to ad revenue you need tools to help you measure the opt-in ratio and eCPM decay. Check out SOOMLA Traceback – Ad LTV as a Service.

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App Monetization

Adding ads as an app monetization source can be complex - here is a checklist to help you

There are many companies who are adding in-game advertising these days. Apps that have built in-game currencies are now adding rewarded videos and offer walls and more casual games are relaying more on native ads, banners, static interstitials and video interstitials. If your company is considering ad based monetization here is the ultimate checklist of things to do:

1 – Identify potential hooks for ad-integration

The first step in this process is to figure out what are good places to put ads in the game. For rewarded video you are looking for virtual goods that the user might want so you can give them in return for a video view. You would need 2 or 3 virtual goods like that. For example in a match 3 game it could be both lives and boosters. You also need to figure out in what times would you prompt the user to let him know about the option. Integrating interstitials, static or video, is more straight forward and just requires you to figure out some break points. Banners are a bit trickier. You want to make sure they are not confusing the users into false clicks.

2 – Integrate a few ad networks

You should plan on using multiple networks. At least 3 for video ads and probably 2 more for banners and interstitials if you are doing both. By adding more than one network you are making sure that if one network doesn’t have an ad to serve the other ad-network can serve an ad instead. This is often referred to as the waterfall. Ad-networks will often have strengths and weaknesses in different countries and ad-formats so combining a few allows you to pick the best one for each situation. You can build a basic waterfall system in-house but if you are serious about monetizing with ads you should use a mediation platform.

3 – Use a mediation platform

A mediation platform goes beyond the basic waterfall in 3 ways:

  • It dynamically configures the waterfall based on historic results of the ad-networks
  • It allows to plugin in real time time bids that might yield higher eCPMs
  • Managing providers becomes much more plug and play

For a comparison between different mediation platforms – use this link.

4 – A/B test the impact on other KPIs

Once you go live, you should check the impact the ads have on KPIs such as retention and conversion to paying users. You want to make sure you manage these and minimize the negative impact of these. It’s highly recommended to track the impact individually for each ad-network, ad-format and campaign type. This requires specialized analytics platform.

5 – Set up analytics for advertising revenues

By nature, ad-networks keep their cards close to the vest. Getting data out of them is not easy and requires specialized analytics platforms such as SOOMLA TRACEBACK. Some of the things you would want to track:

  • Aggregated revenue numbers per country and segment as well as ARPDAU and ARPU
  • Impact on other KPIs at different exposure levels and by different ad-networks
  • Compare revenue in different configurations of the waterfall
  • Ad LTV of specific cohorts and user segments

6 – Check reviews and forums

Advertising can negatively impact reviews and might lead to retaliation by user base. In games that rely on balancing of the economy it’s also good to check the forums and monitor for indications of balance problems.

7 – Periodically call the ad-networks to improve terms

The default deal you would get from the ad-networks is far from optimal. Publishers that do well with ad revenue are known to call on ad-networks to ask for better terms. You will discover that getting 10% or 20% more by simply asking is not uncommon. Once you get a decent volume of impressions it’s also possible to apply leverage like telling your rep at the ad-network know that you are switching them to the bottom of the waterfall or adding other sources that promised you better terms.


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App Monetization, Research, Resource

the top 6 mobile ad mediation platforms compared and reviewed in great detail. The image includes the logos of Ironsource, Mopub, Fyber, Appodeal, Heyzap and AdmobFollowing the success of our recent posts comparing ad-networks, offer wall providers and push notification platforms I’m happy to provide you this research about the leading mediation platforms. We reviewed many candidates and only included platforms with demonstrated market traction and selected to include only platforms that have at least one thing that is unique and great about them.

I highly recommend reading this list alongside our post about the difference between ad-mediation, SSP and ad-server.

We reviewed each of the different providers from a few aspects:

  • Do they mediate on the client side, server side or both
  • Platform and Game Engine support
  • Ad format specialization – video, banner or interstitials
  • Monetization technique – do they charge a fee or place their own ads in return for a free service
  • Reporting user interface – can you understand what needs to be done for optimization
  • Ad network support – how many ad networks from the top 20 they support and are there any big providers missing
  • Special features worth mentioning

We ended up with two lists: one for video mediation and one for banner and interstitial mediation. Here are the top 3 in each category.

Video Oriented Banner Oriented
Fyber Admob
Heyzap Appodeal
Ironsource ( formerly Supersonic) Mopub


If your app is monetizing through ads you should get better tools to track your ad-revenue. Check out SOOMLA Traceback – Ad LTV as a Service.

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the logo of fyber, an ad mediation platform for mobile apps with a focus on mobile games and rewarded video


Fyber took a strategic decision to put gaming publishers at the focus of the company. Their mediation platform definitely deserves a premium spot in the top 6 list. They focus mostly on SDK level mediation and support every meaningful video ad provider with the exception of Supersonic / Ironsource. Their list for banners and interstitials on the SDK side is a bit shorter but they can source these ads by making the inventory available through their SSP platform. Fyber’s hodling company RNTS recently bought Heyzap and Inneractive but so far they seem to be keeping the brands and the platforms separate.

Fyber’s monetization technique is to make the inventory available to their ad-network. This is the most popular method today but it creates a conflict of interest for the mediation providers who can’t maintain neutrality

Fyber’s reporting interface is easy to use and include important KPIs and metrics. It includes information about active users that is important for publishers to track impression frequency but it fails to track the opt-in ratio and doesn’t provide a good way to track the waterfall optimization. The ability to view performance by segment is also lacking.

Their Unique Advantage: Best coverage for video networks and best coverage for top 20 ad-networks

Platform support: iOS, Android, Unity, Adobe

Ad networks supported out of top 20: 13

Total ad networks supported: 16

the logo image of mediation provider heyzap, the company was recently bought by RNTS who are also the owner of fyber

Heyzap (Acquired by RNTS/Fyber)

Until recently Heyzap was an independant provider with no ad-network affiliation but since the begining of the year they are in the same family as Fyber and Inneractive and they are all held by RNTS. Their video network coverage is excelent and is done mostly on the client side through SDK adapters. They also have a nice support of interstitial and banner providers.

Fyber monetization technique is to place ads from their own ad-network which is mostly coming from placing the inventory for RTB. They also added demand from Fyber as a default setting in waterfall.

Heyzap’s reporting dashboard is very graphic and includes good visualization of the waterfall configuration alongside the historic eCPM and fill rates. It’s a bit lacking on the metrics and doesn’t include any data on unique users so it’s impossible to analyze ad frequency, opt-in and segments.

Their Unique Advantage: Waterfall visualization and interface simplicity

Platform support: iOS, Android, Unity, Adobe, Cordova, Buildbox

Ad networks supported out of top 20: 9

Total ad networks supported: 12

Ironsource (formerly Supersonic)ironsource mediation platform came to the company via the acquisition of supersonic. The platform is focus on rewarded video and doing well especially in the gaming sector

Supersonic mediation started as a rewarded video platform but since the acquisition by Ironsource the company have added interstitial and banner support. However, their focus still remains on mediating video through SDK adapters and the only provider not supported on that front is Fyber (and vice versa).

Like Fyber, the mediation technique here is also by placing ads from both Supersonic and Ironsource own demand sources.

The reporting interface is not as shiny as others but still effective. It includes 2 important metrics not supplied in some of the other platforms:

  • The number of active users – this allows to optimize the ad frequency
  • The number of “engaged users” – these are users who engaged with the rewarded video (opted in)

Another cool feature is that the management section indicates the historic eCPM of each ad-network and makes it easy to make waterfall management decisions. The platform is still missing a good visualization that includes fill rate alongside eCPM and the priority that the algorithm gave the ad-networks. Another miss is the lack of breakdown to segments in the reporting dashboard.

Their Unique Advantage: Reporting per user and indication of historic eCPM in auto-pilot mode

Platform support: iOS, Android, Unity, Adobe

Ad networks supported out of top 20: 12

Total ad networks supported: 13

admob by google is a popular ad mediation platform with great network coverage

Admob by Google

Like the ad-network, Admob’s mediation is better for banners and interstitials and not as good for rewarded video. Their coverage on the video side is lacking Mediabrix and Tapjoy but for banners and interstitials they have the best coverage for both SDK based integrations as well as S2S.

Their monetization method is to place their on ads in the bidding mix. These ads are coming from advertisers on Admob and from Adsense as well so their backfill sometimes includes text ads that might look very random in the context of your app.

Their reporting interface is not good. Google’s line of visually boring reports is a topic on it’s own but on top of that there are some serious challenges in getting the information you will need to see in order to understand what actions to take. The only hope is that Firebase is going to fix all that but we will have to wait and see.

Their Unique Advantage: The widest ad-network coverage

Platform support: iOS, Android, WP7

Ad networks supported out of top 20: 12

Total ad networks supported: 43

AppodealAppodeal are an up and coming mediation player with nice features and great features for small developers

Appodeal is a fast growing startup who already made a name for itself in the mediation space. The company doesn’t have an attached ad-network so can maintain unbiased position and focus on helping the publishers. It support all ad-formats and covers all the important players for banners, interstitials and native ads. On the video side they are missing Fyber, Mediabrix and Supersonic Ads.

One of the unique features about Appodeal is the ability to create custom segments and apply a different logic in this segment. For example, you can decide that females will see less ads or that people with older devices will not get video ads. Another important feature that is not available in all other platforms is the ability to define house ads for cross promotion or direct campaigns. There are also some great features for small developers like auto-registration and advanced payment.

The way Appodeal makes money is by brokering your backfill inventory. This means that when there is no fill from the ad-networks you selected, Appodeal will allow place the inventory on an exchange and allow other networks to bid on it. From this revenue, Appodeal will take their commission.

The reporting interface of Appodeal is simple and effective but it’s lacking on a few aspects. The ability to see the number of clicks is an important feature that other platforms don’t have. However, there is no visibility to the actual waterfall configuration that was set up in a specific day. The ability to track impressions per user and to monitor opt-in ratios for rewarded ads is also missing.

Their Unique AdvantageSegmentation feature and other advanced capabilities

Platform support: iOS, Android, Unity, Adobe, Cocos2d-x, Cordova, Marmalade, tvOS

Ad networks supported out of top 20: 11 through SDK and 2 more through S2S

Total ad networks supported: 25

Mopubmopub mediation and SSP platform provides a combination of ad network optimization alongside access to RTB markets

Mopub are combining an SSP with mediation in the same SDK. The company was acquired by Twitter in 2013 so adding your SDK allows you to receive ads from Twitter advertisers like Facebook Audience Networks gives you exposure to FB advertisers. The platform focus is on banners and interstitials more than on rewarded video. On the video networks they are missing: Applovin, Fyber, Mediabrix and Supersonic and on the banner and interstitial side they are missing Flurry.

Mopub monetization method is to bundle their SSP along side the ad mediation so they get access to the inventory and can get their cut through the ads they are placing.

The dashboard offered for managing the ad-networks is good overall and makes all the main functions easily accessible. The reporting is pretty good but lacking a few features to understand what’s happening on a user level.

Their Unique Advantage: Best access to RTB ads

Platform support: iOS, Android

Ad networks supported out of top 20: 10 through SDK and 1 more through S2S

Total ad networks supported: 11 through SDK and 9 more through S2S


These are the top 6 but there are plenty of other platforms out there so feel free to explore and try others. One platform that was pretty close to getting included is Ampiri by Glyspa we recommend checking it out as well.


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Analytics, App Monetization

knowing who is advertising in your app could have multiple benefits for you

In-app ads are getting more and more popular these days. The increase in CPI levels alongside the penetration of brands have made it possible to build a successful ad-support app company and many are doing so. Given this trend, it’s becoming increasingly important to understand who is advertising in your app but that’s not an easy task today. Most likely, an app developer will be using ad-networks to place ads in his apps and so this setup doesn’t allow the him to get reports on the identity of the advertisers.

Verify that you are not helping your direct competitors

One reason to track the ads in your app and reveal the advertisers’ identity is to make sure you are not helping your direct competitors. You might be able to manually check this by opening your app and using it yourself until ads are shown but keep in mind that the ads you see in one country are different than the ads shown in another country and sometimes campaigns even change by time of day. To do this right you need a 24/7 operation in 249 countries which is quite impossible to do manually. Luckily, there are several tools to do this. On mobile web, Adclarity and GeoEdge are providing this service and for Mobile Apps you can check SOOMLA Traceback.

Monitor ad integrity

Another reason to know what ads are running is to enforce policies you may have in-place with regards to ads been shown. In ad-supported apps, ads are part of the overall experience and ads that are in-appropriate would damage your brand, lead to bad reviews and hurt your retention. Here are some of the ads you want to weed out:

  • Inappropriate ads such as ads with nudity
  • Ads with deceiving UX and false promises
  • Offensive ads

Understand what’s driving the eCPM you are getting

Knowing what campaigns are been run by ad-networks allows you to improve your monetization strategy and up your ad-operations game. Lets think about a situation where you are using Vungle and Unity Ads and Vungle’s eCPMs have been higher in the last few days and they are on top of the waterfall. Tomorrow, their biggest campaign might end and the eCPMs would drop. If you would wait for the ad-mediation to pick up on this change you might get 2 days of low eCPMs until the waterfall configuration is changed by the mediation auto-pilot. Knowing about a campaign that just ended would allow you to respond more quickly.

Get ideas for direct deals you can make

You might have heard that direct deals with advertisers can bring higher monetization levels by cutting out the middle man. Knowing who is currently advertising in your app can give you tips about the best advertisers for your app and can give you the information that the advertiser would ask about.

If you are using ad networks to monetize your app you should check out SOOMLA TRACEBACK. In addition to advertising revenue attribution you can also get information about the campaigns running in your app.

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Analytics, App Monetization

calculating the ROI of cross promotion activity is complex and requires a powerful analytics service

Once your company has been in the mobile app space long enough it will normally have more than one app and you will start promoting one app within another. This is normally referred to as cross promotion or cross promo for short. In reality, you are simply advertising one of your app inside another and you are reducing the advertising space that you could have given ad-networks. There is a clear trade off between cross promotion and ad revenue so once you start attributing your advertising revenue, you would want to also get a grip on your cross promotion ROI.

Example of cross promotion ROI calculation

Lets think about a single user journey. You paid $3 CPI to bring him to your first app, he generated $1 in the first app that had aggressive cross-promo ads. Over 2 months of playing he watched 500 cross promo ad impressions and then eventually installed your second app where he generated additional $5 in from buying in-app products of the second app. The total he paid you is $6 on a $3 marketing investment. In high level this was a good user but we are interested in the cross promotion ROI. We need to look at each app individually:

The first app lost ad revenue on the cross-promo

When we are looking at the story from the perspective of the first app we realize that there is more to it. The first app paid $3 and only received $1 direct revenues. If we don’t assign any revenue to the cross promotion ads the manager of the first app will stop the campaign that brought this user. Furthermore, the 500 ad-impressions could have generated a few dollars from those 500 ad impressions if it weren’t for the cross-promo ads.

The second app received a free install

The story of the second app is that the $5 generated usually comes with a significant marketing cost. While the manager of the second app could claim $5 to his profit, the reality is that some of this revenue should be claimed by the first app. Lets see how much exactly using two different methods

Use affiliation model to assign a share of the revenue

The first option is to simply decide that a portion of the revenue generated by the second app will be considered as generated by the first app in return for the cross promotion. The origin of this method is in affiliation models and the typical split is between 30% to 50% for the app that brought the traffic. If we go back to our example and use a 50-50 split, the first app would claim $2.5 from the $5 generated in the second app. The ROI analysis will be as follows:

  • The first app spent $3 and received $3.5 – profit of $0.5
  • The cross-promo ads yielded $2.5 on 500 impressions – eCPM of $5
  • The second app spent $2.5 and generated $5 – profit of $2.5

This method is a bit complex and requires the internal BI to track user activities between different apps. In addition, the time that might pass until the 2nd app generated the revenue could be long which makes it hard to relay on.

Assigning a CPI value based on market price

Another method is more inline with how the mobile app economy operates today. Simply decide on a CPI value that the 2nd app is willing to pay based on what they are currently paying. If the 2nd app normally pays $4 CPI, that should be the price. The ROI analysis in our example will there for be:

  • The first app spent $3 and received $5 ($1+$4) – profit of $2
  • The cross-promo ads yielded $4 on 500 impressions – eCPM of $8
  • The second app spent $4 and generated $5 – profit of $1

Prioritizing cross promotion in your mediation platform

Another aspect to consider here is the waterfall configuration. In both methods the ROI analysis we did also yielded an eCPM figure. This figure should be used in the mediation configuration of the first app. If you have providers that can pay higher eCPM they should get higher priority as they will yield more revenue from the company for the same impressions.

Attribution aspects – who brought the install

The example we used is simplified in the sense that the user was only exposed to ads of the second app in the first app. In reality however, he is also likely to get exposed to the second app in other channels. To avoid a situation of double compensation it is advised to apply the same logic you are using when attributing your regular/external campaigns. Typically this is means last click attribution with a 30-day attribution window for clicks and optional 7-day attribution window for impressions.

Another important measurement aspect is to be able to count the cross-promo impressions and differentiate them from the regular ad impressions.

If you want attribute your ad revenue and be able to track cross promotion ROI you should check out SOOMLA Traceback – Ad LTV as a Service.

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