If someone had told you 10 years ago that mobile advertising—more specifically, in-app advertising—would become the best way for publishers to monetize their businesses, would you have believed them?
According to Forbes, ads in apps get a much higher CTR (0.58%) than ads on the mobile Web (0.23%), while Emarketer reports that a staggering $101 billion was spent just on mobile ads last year, on a global level.
This only goes to show that mobile ads have surely come a long way during the past decade, and we can’t really say that we’re surprised. With more and more people spending time on their phones, it was only natural for advertising to evolve in the “mobile direction”.
Of course, once the world of mobile ads experienced a boom, every publisher worth their salt wanted to be a part of it. And why wouldn’t they? If done right, in-app advertising can become a valuable source of income AND help you keep your users interested in the business you are promoting for longer periods of time.
… But that’s only if you manage to do it right.
No matter how well they perform, in-app ads are, well, still ads, and the majority of people using their favorite app will find them completely redundant and annoying. Granted, they are more engaging and dynamic than anything found on the mobile Web, but if you decide to go down this road, then you need to truly pay attention to everything from formats to creatives and optimization.
In today’s blog post, we’ll cover six tips—best practices, if you will—that you can apply in your next in-app campaign to create ads that work and that your audience won’t have a choice but to love.
1. Experiment with different ad formats
Sometimes, our budget and goals won’t allow us to try out different ad formats and see exactly what our audience loves the most, but in those cases when you have all the freedom in the world, you shouldn’t shy away from testing out different ad formats. Why? Well, mostly because each of them have their own advantages which advertisers can leverage to get the results they want. Here
Classic banner ads—Although probably the least used type of in-app ads nowadays, banners still present a good choice for anyone who wants to run a large-scale campaign, at a low cost. Additionally, users don’t find them too intrusive, which is always a plus.
Interstitial ads—When used the right way, interstitials can have a higher CTR than classic banner ads. However, one of their biggest benefits is that they appear during natural breaks within the app, meaning that they don’t interfere with the user experience. They also come in a full-screen format, which has been known to have the largest visual impact on the user.
Video ads—According to the Forrester report, video ad spending will reach $103 billion by 2023, compared to 2018’s $91 billion. Videos are easy to consume, easy to share, and more engaging than any other ad formats available, so it’s no wonder that they have amassed such popularity among users worldwide. Rewarded video ads have the highest viewability out of all video ads, simply because they offer something (rewards) in exchange for users’ attention.
Native ads—Because they fit into their surroundings perfectly (i.e. look like other posts on a certain platform), native ads are a good way to draw someone’s attention without being annoying. They might be a bit tricky to master at first, because you really have to figure out which tone and design to use, but once you have this in the tips of your fingers, you’re golden.
Playable ads—When it comes to games, these are your best bet. Playable ads offer a short preview of sorts during which users can play the game you’re promoting, but to see more, need to click on the link within the ad itself. They might require a bit more effort on the development side, but hey—once users start pouring in, it will be worth it.
Pre-roll ads—Usually between 15 to 60 seconds long, these advertisements play directly before a video you choose to watch. The main problem with them is that on some platforms (such as Twitter) they are skippable, which is why you need to put additional effort into them, so that they’d grab your users’ attention right from the start.
2. Choose the perfect ad placement
Although deciding where you’re going to place your ad might seem like an easy decision, it is anything but. You can’t just do it on a whim, but rather really think it through, because it should never even occur to your users that your ad might have been misplaced.
So, how do you do it? How do you make sure to avoid overwhelming your users with ads and letting them experience the app in peace?
Devote some of your time to analysis and competition research. See what your competitors are doing and how they are placing their ads, and then analyze what would be the best solution in your case. But, more importantly, put yourself in your users’ shoes and think about whether or not you would enjoy the ad placement you have chosen. Don’t forget: you want it to be as natural, engaging, and interesting as possible, so that your users would want to click on it.
3. Optimize your creatives for the app
As tempting as it may be to reuse the creatives you designed for a desktop campaign (for, say, display ads), don’t give into that temptation. Every ad format has different specifications, and you need to take into consideration the environment your ad will appear in and on what type of screen. Believe it or not, all of this can affect in-app ad engagement.
As for video ads, remember that a lot of ads are viewed with sound off, which means that you will want to make sure that your ad makes sense even if the sound isn’t playing. It’s also good to know that the most effective ads are able to engage users in the first three to four seconds by showing, so make the opening of your ad the best it can be.
4. Target your ads whenever you can
We can’t stress this enough, but targeting ads increases the chances of your product/service reaching the right audience and you eventually selling what you’re offering to them. Plus, the majority of users nowadays spend more time in apps than in mobile web pages.
So, before you create your in-app campaign, do a detailed research to find out more about what type of users you are dealing with and where their interests lie. Then, use search history, geographic location, gender interests, and any other data you can get your hands on to target your ads as specifically as possible. That way, you’ll be able to reach potential users in places where they spend most of their time on their mobile devices and create better engagement opportunities for your ads.
5. The shorter the ads, the better results
Grabbing someone’s attention isn’t easy an easy task—keeping it, though? Even less so. You need to be interesting, you need to be different, but more importantly, you need to be succinct if you want your users to stick around and engage with your business for longer periods of time.
When it comes to video ads, you have about 30 seconds to present what you’re offering in the best possible way. Any longer and your viewers will most likely abandon your ad, without blinking twice, due to getting annoyed or not having enough time to finish watching the video. Of course, the length of your video will depend on the platform you are using, but do try to keep it as short as possible, because it’s been proven time and again that shorter video ads provide better results.
The best thing to do is go all out in the first couple of seconds, because that’s when you’ll have higher chances of grabbing their attention. Incidentally, this is also the best time to show off your branding in the video, while your users are still “hyped” about it.
6. Make the experience as simple as possible
As important as ad optimization is, what happens after your users click on an ad matters, too. They want to end up on a landing page that has all the information about your product/service, i.e. that delivers on the promise made by your CTA. Aside from matching the style of the ad, this landing page should be as easy to navigate as possible, and not take up more time than necessary.
Whatever you decide to do with your landing page, make sure that it happens in no more than a couple of clicks/taps. Help your users find what they need fast, without unnecessary detours, because this will bring them a step closer to conversion rather than funnel abandonment.
In-app mobile ads are the present and future of advertising, and they hold enormous potential for any business out there—if done right. What does that mean? It means that you can’t just dive into it without a plan or preparation. It means that you have to dedicate some time to research, analysis, and testing, until you figure out what works and what doesn’t. It means putting yourself in your users’ shoes and always doing everything with them in mind.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with ad formats available and to target users based on more than one criteria, and don’t forget that your ads need to be as engaging and straight-to-the-point as they can be. It’s hard work, without a doubt, and will keep you busy for days to come, but if you put real effort into all of it, the results will eventually pay off.
Is there something you do when it comes to in-app ads that we haven’t mentioned? If so, let us know via comments or a message!