My Results with Various Ad Networks: Revmob, Admob, iAd, Adcolony, Chartboost, AppLovin, AppFlurry and PlayHaven / Upsight, StartApp
Generating revenue from free applications is difficult. One great way to do this, aside from In App Purchases, is advertising. Advertising not only helps to generate revenue directly, but it can also serve as a constant reminder for your users that they should upgrade to a paid version of your app. The annoyance should be just enough to get them to want to pay for your game, without disrupting their experience and making them hate your app.
In the course of finding good ad networks, I have tried many of the most popular ones. Here are my results:
Admob: Admob used to be great. It was my first ad network and it made me a decent amount of money. When stacked against iAd, it was the dominant revenue generator. A few months ago… maybe around November 2012 or so, this changed dramatically. My eCPMs went from the $1 range falling as low as .02, and this lasted for several months. After months of very sad eCPMs through Admob, I decided that it wasn’t even worth the distraction that it caused my users to display these ads any more. I no longer use Admob. I have read that around that time Admob implemented some change that now requires users to click within a certain area in order for you to get paid for it. This is designed to avoid accidental clicks. Whether or not it does this, I do not know or care. What I do care about is that this is no longer a good source of Ad revenue.
iAd: While I am admittedly a huge fan of Apple and everything they do, I assure you that the fact that iAd has become my main and only banner provider is not due to any favoritism on my part towards Apple. iAd provides good fill rates and averages an eCPM of around $1 for its banner ads, generating me about $80 a week.
Revmob Banners I tried Revmob banners for a while, but wasn’t impressed with their eCPMs. I reverted back to iAd.
FULL SCREEN / INTERSTITIAL ADS
Note that since we are showing full screen ads, eCPMs are not comparable to those of banner networks. You can not constantly show full screen ads through out the app like you can with banner ads. Instead I show them on certain events, every few times or so— for example, every 3 times that a user starts a new game.
StartApp:StartApp was the newest entry to my advertising suite and is my current suggested ad provider. Overall, their ads are fairly easy to integrate and use. The ads look good and overlay nicely on top of your existing app, and most importantly, they are pulling the highest eCPMs that I’ve seen in a while at about $5 average. I know that this isn’t a an amazing eCPM, but after trying every other ad network out there and seeing sub $1 eCPMs, it is a relief to see something that is actually worth using. They offer several different ad types in addition to interstitials, but I have not used them personally.
I definitely recommend you give them a shot. If you sign up with this promo link, you’ll receive $100 free after your first 1,000 ad impressions. Pretty solid!
Sign Up here to get $100 bonus
Revmob: Revmob provides full screen ads for specific games and sometimes attempts to entice users’ curiosity with a message like “Get a FREE Game”. When they download the app that is shown, you get paid in the range of $1-$3. I have loved revmob in the past, but their eCPMs have shifted from $8+ down to around $1. If you want to try them, Sign up
AdColony: AdColony shows impressive video ads, lasting between 15 and 30 seconds long. Most are to advertise for apps. I really like the concept of AdColony and was very excited to get it integrated into my app. These ads can be rather annoying to users because they temporarily disrupt the user experience and cannot be dismissed. For this reason, these ads really cannot be shown very often, making eCPM even less comparable to other networks. AdColony succeeds in delivering great video ads to help promote advertisers products. I think the ad network has great potential. However, I think they have some fundamental flaws that prevent me from recommending its use to developers.
I do not believe they are compensating developers enough for their impressions. Adcolony pays the developer for each video viewed in full. With an eCPM of around $8, these ads generate a fraction of a cent for each view. Developers are not paid extra for generating clicks or installs.
This eCPM is too low for a few reasons. First, this is not your average ad impression, where the ad is displayed and your user may or may not actually pay attention to it. Most full screen ads will get dismissed without a look and banners will go without catching an eye. With AdColony, the user is pretty much guaranteed to be engaged and submersed fully in the ad. Even if the user does not download the game being advertised, the user gets a view of the game and gains an understanding of what the game / product is about. This, to me, has more value than 1/8 of a cent.
Second, we are actually taking a small risk when showing this sort of ad. We hurt our user experience MUCH more with AdColony than we do with a typical interstitial ad. They annoy users because they cannot be dismissed and the apps User Interface is completely disrupted. Further, there is certainly a chance that users may simply close out of your app the first time they see a video ad and never open it again.
AdColony needs to do two things. First, compensate more for each view. Second, pay the developer on top of their impression revenue when the ad generates a click or an install. Under the current model, an ad that generates 1000 views with a 100% click through or install ratio would only generate $8. This simply doesn’t provide the incentive to annoy our users and risk losing their interest.
Typical AdColony Revenue, was around $40 / week. I since have removed AdColony because of the problems noted above.
Vungle: This is a new video ad provider similar to adColony. They seem to be picking up on all the things that I think Ad Colony can do better. They keep ads to 15 seconds, allow the user to skip the ads, and allow the advertiser to run pay per install / per click and per view and compensate the developer in that same manner. This service looks promising. I have recently added this into my Android app and will post results when they are available.
Chartboost: This is another network that WAS a new addition to my advertising. It provides full screen ads, but they are for a specific app. The ads look great! They are overlaid over most of your existing screen and seem pretty non-intrusive since they don’t cover the screen entirely. They fly onto your screen with a neat animation and are dismissed in the same stylish manner. I received a welcome email from the site admin when I joined and we emailed back and forth about using their network in my apps. I was very excited to use this network produce results. I was disappointed. For an unknown reason, chartboost provided me with a very low eCPM. While I gave it 2-3x the number of impressions of my Revmob ads, it often generated me $0. The most I generated on a given day was $2, but this was a rarity. On the plus side, I do like their analytics… seeing the number of new installs that my app generated in real time was certainly a plus, but that is just not enough for me. In the end, I made the decision to remove Chartboost from my app and do not plan on adding it back in. For whatever reason their network just did not produce results for me.
AppFlood:AppFlood seems like a good service. I integrated it into one of my apps and let it run for about there days, but after about 13K impressions and only $17 in revenue (about $1.30 eCPM), I moved on. They only pay for installs, so even though I generated over 3K clicks, my low install rate (9 installs) led to a low eCPM.
AppLovin:AppLovin seems like a good alternative. When I first integrated them, they assured me that their eCPMs were a good bit higher than Revmobs– and when I first used them they were. Using both seems like a great revenue generator. The good eCPMs didn’t last long though. When I recently tried to give them one more shot, they ended up paying less than a dollar for over 11K ad impressions… a .08 eCPM. Not so super… AppLovin provides normal interstial ads as well as short video ads that are high quality and I expect would provide good revenue. For some reason the are failing to convert this into high eCPMs for us developers.
PlayHaven / Upsight I’ve heard good things about PlayHaven (now called Upsight) and I wanted to try their ad service out to see if I could pull the $6 or so eCPMs that I’ve heard they are pulling. I unfortunately did not make it past the integration stage. This isn’t because it was too difficult to do or I could follow the install guide, several things turned me off:
– I don’t like that their SDKs are not yet using ARC. I, myself, am far behind the curve on implementing ARC and even I have done this in all of my projects by now… It is a minor thing, but I just don’t see why a big API like this wouldn’t take these steps.
– I don’t like that I have to incorporate SBJson into my project instead of the built NSJSONSerialization classes.
Again, this is a small thing, but it seems lazy to me.
– The biggest problem I have with the API is how incredibly bloated it is. They could at least hide this by from us by providing a static library but they do not. Instead you have to copy at least 100 new source files into your project that all need to comile with every build.
– Not only is immenee size of the API evident during integration, a quick run of their example project will show you the same thing. This API is gigantic and does way more than just advertising. While some people may use some of this stuff, I will not. Their api allows you to do everything from In App Purchasing, registering for Push Notiications, analytics and even showing dynamic content popups. This stuff may be neat, but it just isn’t what I am looking for… I just want a simple method I call that shows an ad and pays me money.
I am always looking for new networks. If you have any ideas, please send them my way and post any results you’ve had below.
Also, if you are on a quest for high eCPMs, please check out this post on my new idea blog.
To sign up for StartApp, please follow this link.
If you haven’t signed up for Revmob yet, you can sign up here.
Nice post and VERY informative. Thanks!