As discussed in our first post on mobile advertising, the role of the mobile ad network has evolved over time, with the result being that most of the major network offer much the same service in terms of mediation between multiple ad networks, fill rates, eCPM (effective cost per mille / thousand), and provide most of the more popular and high-paying ad formats (videos, rewarded ads, interstitials, rich-media ads, etc.). However, there are a few companies that are branching outside of the current model, and are generating significant interest from app designers and publishers. We will discuss a few of them here.
Although rewarded ads have been a prominent staple of in-app advertising for some time, their use has generally been limited to mobile games. This is because the preferred way to reward users has been through “virtual currency”, a game-specific currency that can be used to purchase items, gain a life, unlock levels, or perform other upgrades within a particular game.
Despite these limitations, rewarded ads create a high level of user engagement, as it is the user choosing to view the ad (usually a video) in its entirety, and not skipping the ad after a few seconds, in order to receive their reward. Video ads tend to pay higher than static banner or other types of ads to begin with, and rewarded ads usually pay a bit more, due to the aforementioned user engagement which advertisers are keen to create in their target audiences.
Kiip (pronounced “keep”) is a mobile ad network founded in 2010, that focuses on rewarded ads, with rewards that are often more tangible than the “virtual currency” model found in many mobile games. The rewards are often coupons or free samples from various companies that appear strategically in certain app “moments” (such as completing a level in a game, or completing a run or workout activity in a fitness app). This has allowed the rewarded ad model to finally find a place outside of the mobile-game market.
Another type of mobile advertising mentioned in our first app monetization post, was the playable ad. Playables use streaming technology to play an existing game or app inside an interstitial frame (related to full-page interstitial ads). There are a few different companies that have created their own streaming technology to display these ads (most using HTML5).
mNectar was one of the first players in this emerging mobile advertising format, and boasts the ability to virtualize any game or app currently downloadable from the App Store or Google Play with no code or modifications beyond the integration of the SDK (which can be done through MoPub, Unity Ads, and a few other mobile ad networks). mNectar’s Spectra ADN (app delivery network) also allows streaming across any connection, not only for users connected to a WiFi network, but also boasts flawless streaming over lower bandwidth cellular networks such as LTE or even EDGE.
A number of the major mobile ad networks are attempting to make use of this format as well. InMobi is one such network, first developed in India, who have started offering playable ads as part of their ad network (after partnering with the app virtualization company Voxel in 2014). They offer 20 to 40 second interactive ads, with a call-to-action screen at the end (Install now). In 2014, Google also secretly acquired the app-streaming startup Agawi (any game, anywhere, instantly) and in December 2015, launched a beta of Test Flight Ads through AdMob. Originally targeted at developers (as the above networks have done), Test Flight Ads offered 60 second playable ads (streamed via HTML5).
Google has since pushed the playable ad beyond this model. Now integrated into the search engine, where apps found in organic searches already display an Install button, a few apps (and not just games) now also display a Try Now button, allowing a full 10 minutes of play (or use) directly in the browser or app (when connected to WiFi). Like Test Flight Ads, this new streaming service is still in beta, but is aimed directly at advertisers, and integrated not only with AdMob, but with AdWords as well (Google’s original non-mobile ad network). It is not hard to see Google quickly expanding beyond beta, and eventually offering this service to all games and apps available for download.
Digital Fractal Technologies is an Edmonton, Alberta based software-development company that focuses on data-driven mobile applications. We develop both cross-platform apps as well as native mobile applications. For a free app consultation, please contact us.