Ultimate Guide to App Advertising: Tools, Insights and Tips

ultimate guide app ads main

Mobile app advertising gained rapid momentum over the last couple of years. According to emarketer.com, $101 billion were spent on mobile internet ad globally last year. The sum is more than 5 times bigger than corresponding one in 2012. Moreover, it’s expected that increase will continue even though its growth pace may decelerate a little.

In the context of dashing market evolution and severe competition, it’s vital to identify the most effective mobile app advertisement methods. You need to learn how to advertise a mobile app and equip with the best possible sources and tools.

Mobile app advertising overview

How to advertise an app

There are several ways of mobile app advertising:

Website that gives users a clear sense of your mobile app;

Social Media: from organic Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram presence to paid ads on these social platforms;

App Store Optimization (ASO): it’s not only about keywords optimization. There is always room for a Store page improvement.  It’s always a good idea to A/B test your screenshots, icon, short description, and other store elements;

PR: events (eg: launch party), interviews, guest blogging;

Influencer endorsements: advice from an opinion leader who most certainly aligns with your target demographic might be really powerful;

App Store Search Ads is a straightforward and efficient way of advertising iPhone and iPad apps in the Store;

Traditional advertising: from media buying, in-app ads to discount offer in case of the app download.

Basic mobile advertising categories

Taking first steps in mobile advertising might be hard and confusing. Hundreds of new developers wonder how app advertising works, how to advertise on Android apps most effectively, how to conquer Apple App Store or how to make the most of in-app ads. Luckily, there are plenty of platforms and tools which can help you operate customer involvement and monetization.

Mobile advertising servers and supply side platforms (SSPs)

Such platforms as AdMob by Google, Appodeal, MoPub and many others give advertising networks a chance to fight for publishers.

Supply-side platforms automate ads selling process, they basically bring advertising space sellers and buyers together. SSPs act as a mediator which helps negotiate the highest possible price for mobile advertising space, it’s possible thanks to real-time bidding (automated auctions).

Why is it beneficial for advertisers (mobile apps publishers and developers) then? Well, they can identify price range, so there’s no way their app advertising cost will exceed the budget. Plus SSPs provide essential campaign metrics which can be used in future advertisement for apps.

Let alone transparency, time-saving and advanced efficiency of the advertising process.

 

Mobile advertising servers and SSPs SplitMetrics overview
Source: linkedin.com

Mobile affiliate networks

Mobile affiliate networks such as App Store Affiliate Programme, Amazon Mobile Associates API, ClickDealer, Cheetah Media Link, and others act as an intermediary for mobile app developers and performance-based advertising platforms. 

Generally, there are three main mobile affiliation players:

  • network (platform itself);
  • advertiser (mobile app developer, publisher);
  • ads space seller (webmaster or social media group owners).

A network searches for advertisers, choosing correspondent ads space, and paying a fee to advertisement space sellers. An advertiser in its turn forms an advertising offer. Consequently, ads space sellers publish relevant advertising on their website. 

Mobile affiliate networks advertising works according to one of these performance-based models:

Cost-per-action (CPA) model: media buyers are rewarded in case of mobile app installs or other in-app events;

Revenue Sharing model: media buyers take earnings portion that they gain for advertisers.


Mobile ads CPA explanation by SplitMetrics
Source: tractas.com

Mobile App Install Platforms

When it comes to mobile app installs increase such platforms as AppLovin, Clickky, Google Universal App Campaigns, ChartBoost, Facebook App Install Ads, and others go to bat for publishers.

All App Install Platforms are performance-based which means a publisher pays solely upon their mobile app install or after certain in-app events. This model can be formularized as CPI = Cost/Number of Installs.

Anyways, this effectiveness of App Install Platforms can be costly (somewhere from $3-10 per action). In addition to the above, publishers get way less control over traffic efficiency and caliber.

Mobile advertising average CPI by SearchAdsHQ
Source: dparlor.com

Such advertising tools and platforms abundance make life easier there is no denying. On the other hand, it’s easy to find yourself in a tangle trying to figure out how to advertise apps in the best possible way.

However, Facebook advertising, App Store Search Ads, and in-app advertising stand out among all available options because of their laser focus targeting, potency, and visual appeal. Millions of successful campaigns worldwide prove them to be worth trying. 

How to advertise an app on Facebook

Lots of publishers still opt for Facebook despite the exuberance of mobile advertising platforms. It’s hardly surprising as Facebook can boast impressive targeting potential and enormous user base (more than 700 million mobile users every day).

For sure, such platforms as AdWords and Twitter enjoy the attention of considerable part of mobile publishers and have certain advantages over Facebook. For example, AdWords can boast excellent timing of advertising impression, banners appear when a customer is looking for something related. Twitter in its turn offers better average click-through rates.

Nevertheless, mobile apps advertised on Facebook show great results. Facebook remains one of the best ways to advertise an app due to:

  • the number of active users;
  • cost-effective bidding prices and impressions;
  • larger reach for a much better price;
  • impressive average engagement rate;
  • powerful overall traffic referrals;
  • amazing optimization for mobile.

Ads creation is a matter of minutes but there should be no rush, publishers are to act reasonably to create a killer advertising campaign and therefore minimize advertising costs.

Advertising on Facebook have 3 principal formats:

Advertising on the right side of News Feed;

News Feed Ad on a Desktop;

Mobile News Feed Ad.

facebook ads mobile news feed 2

Source: Appness.com

Video or photo in-app advertising can take many forms all of which are characterized by visual aspects, relevance, utility, and call-to-action. The most popular and effective ones are:

  • multi-product advertising which demonstrate several products or services within a single ad;
  • local ads is an excellent option for enterprises with a physical location;
  • event advertising boosts certain occasion and events;
  • the retargeting ad which is based on users’ recent search requests;
  • boosted post which started as an organic one on company’s  Facebook homepage and eventually was promoted.

A massive Facebook mobile advertising campaign might remind gambling as it has a potential of turning into a budget-draining disaster. To play it as safe as possible a publisher has to be smart. Here are a few tips on how one can make the most of their Facebook ad campaign.

Inspect your perfect users thoroughly

For a successful mobile advertising campaign, you need to literally take roots in demographics, interests, and behaviors of your users. Narrow down this portrayal as much as you can. Don’t forget people who are curious of your competitors.

Use catchy content for app advertisements

Catchy image or video is the most important attention grabber once your advertising campaign is live. There are three pillars of smash image: eye appeal, relevance, and high quality. It’s also preferable to diversify in-app ads layout for different apps, apply hacks that work for a specific category.

Make your text speak

Excellent text is another mobile advertising success core ingredient. Highlight the features your users love the most, use capitals in moderation and don’t forget about the call to action.

Let’s deconstruct a fine example of Facebook mobile in-app ad.

Facebook mobile ads analysis by SplitMetrics
Source: Ignitesocialmedia.com

This mobile ad showcases the service without losing cohesiveness. The publisher didn’t miss the opportunity of using 4 images with different headlines on a carousel.  

The banner is quite effective thanks to minimal pictures, consistent colors, and suitable text which define what kind of meal can be delivered by the service. 50% discount is an incentive used in ad body to trigger the download, as it gives a clear benefit to a user.

App Store Optimization Matters

Don’t forget about App Store optimization no matter if you’re focused on lifestyle, entertainment, news, or game app advertising. After all, store page is an eventual decision-making destination. SplitMetrics is a platform that can help you ran A/B tests of all App Store or Google Play page elements optimizing their impact. 

Most importantly, test. Keep testing even when you achieved your primary aims as the sky is the limit.

One more mobile app advertising option emerged lately within Facebook. According to the Wall Street Journal, 140 media companies and celebrities now are assigned to creating videos via Facebook live-streaming service.

Presumably, it’s aimed at the gradual integration of advertising into this relatively new feature.

What you need to know about in-app advertising

In-app advertising comes into sharp focus in the light of the latest studies. Forbes states that in-app ads click-throughs rate exceeds the mobile Web one (0.58% compared to 0.23%). Moreover, time spent on mobile apps growth constantly.

That’s why it’s important to learn how to advertise in apps. There are several types of in-app advertisements developers can use:

  • Static or animated in-app banner is the cheapest option which can be used on any screen. It can be integrated without particular efforts. Unfortunately, this in-app ad format lacks efficiency and usually falls a prey to “banner blindness” syndrome;

 

Animated in-app banner SplitMetrics example
Mobile advertising banner example by SplitMetrics
Source: mobileads.com
  • Interstitials are in-app ads covering the entire device screen providing more space for a broader message. It draws attention thanks to interactive media content and highly proficient visuals, videos, store locators, etc. All these results in impressive in-app ads conversion and impressions rate. There is a drawback though, this in-app advertising format is slightly intrusive;

 

Expandable ads example of SplitMetrics
Source: mobileads.com
  • Expandable in-app ads combine two previous types, a banner turns into an interstitial upon user’s click. It is highly informative without being too intrusive. On the other hand, these in-app ads may be confusing for some inexperienced users.

 

Expandable in-app advertising sample by SplitMetrics
Source: mobileads.com
  • In-app video ad is one of the most popular and effective formats of last years. It’s entertaining and highly engaging. Conversely, the production cost of this in-app advertising is high and some users find it distracting when a video is placed incongruously.

 

Video advertising case by SplitMetrics
Source: mobileads.com
  • Native in-app ads can take any form or size, this kind of mobile ad is integrated into an app thus customers treat it as a part of usage flow. This seamless user experience results in better ad engagement and click-through growth. Nevertheless, in-app ads adaptation takes a lot of work and consideration due to loads of possible options.

 

Native ads examples by SearchAdsHQ
Source: mobileads.com

Choosing the rights in-app ads partners is the first thing publishers should take care of once they decided to advertise in mobile apps. This predetermines the fate of ads success. Certain aspects are to be considered during decision-making process:  

  • how a mobile ad network sources its inventory for in-app ads;
  • can a partner reach your target audience via in-app advertising;
  • how they deal with click fraud advertising in apps;
  • preferable in-app cost model (CPM, CPC or CPA);
  • whether partner’s information on audience segments is updated for your in-app ads;
  • which algorithms are used to target users of your interest within in-app ads campaign;
  • partner’s privacy policy regarding in-app advertising;
  • what kind of in-app ad units can be used (video, banners, interstitials, etc.);
  • whether partner provides dashboards or app analytics.

Another secret behind in-app ads is geo-targeting which predetermines core audience reach. Data access and its applicability across the ecosystem is another key to in-app ads productivity besides enhanced location insights.

What concerns in-app advertising cost ‘Kenshoo Mobile App Advertising Trends Report’ asserts that average in-app CPM for both android & iOS amounts to about $5 while average in-app CPC is about $.4. A price of installs generated by in-app banners is usually lower but it brings slightly untargeted users. Furthermore, according to HootSuite 54% of users don’t find such in-app banners credible enough to click.

Yet, little by little users become jaded with thoughtless in-app advertising. Don’t forget about the importance of in-app ads relevance to secure from annoyance and interest loss.

Search Ads as a key to App Store search success

Apple announced App Store Search Ads launch along with iOS 10 emergence last year. Publishers finally got a chance to advertise their apps in the App Store itself. With no doubt, it’s wonderful news as over 65% of downloads come directly from searches on the Store.

App Store Search Ads work principles are similar to Google Dynamic Search Ads. Eventually, your ad is shown on the top of App Store search results, it’s fueled by Apple’s algorithm which processes your app metadata and determines how relevant your mobile ad is to a store surfer’s search query.

Apple Search Ads examples by SearchAdsHQ
Source: incipia.co

You can manually enter keywords which have passed Store battlefield test or use automatic Apple Search Match targeting method which is enabled by default.

App Store Search Ads keeps evolving since its launch last October:

  • Apple Search Ads country list: Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom were added to storefronts;
  • campaign group manager role emerged;
  • groups, settings, and keywords duplication were introduced.

Nevertheless, Search Ads attracts a good deal of criticism for its unideal usability and quite limited functionality.

Search Ads HQ address these issues address these issues offering a platform which integrates App Store ads features, mobile attribution data, and analytics. The tool automates deactivation process of ineffective and failing campaigns while qualifying efficient ones.

Against all odds App Store Search Ads and Search Ads HQ are the most advanced and promising advertising methods for iOS apps.

 

Optimize My Search Ads with SAHQ

 

The platform became critical for mobile advertising on iOS devices showing impactful CPI rates. Being the only App Store advertising platform, Apple Search Ads gives new apps an unprecedented chance of competing with major players and fighting for qualified downloads from the App Store. Taking into consideration that iOS users are generally thought to be the most active mobile users, it’s worth implementing App Store Search Ads into your mobile marketing strategy while it’s still a hot new thing. 

How to track ads efficiency

Every publisher searches for the most effective ways of mobile advertising there is no denying. These insights are essential for boosting in-app purchases, establishing users loyalty, targeting ads better, and distributing marketing budget proficiently.

The market swarms with advertising analytics and tracking platforms. AppsFlyer, Tune, App Annie, Adjust, Kochava, and Tune are the leading ones. When it comes to Apple Search Ads advanced analytics Search Ads HQ is probably the most complex solution.

Measurement becomes vital when customers start to install and use your mobile app, that’s how a publisher can predict each step of the funnel. Here are some of the key metrics:

  • cost-per-action helps identify the price of a user who is actually interested in your most valuable post-install events, thereafter, the one who generates your profit;
  • install-to-action rate shows the proportion of installs which result in post-install events purchase (in-app purchases for instance), it can help you estimate overall performance of your app;
  • key characteristics of your paying user: age, sex, location, interests, etc. This information will undoubtedly help you with future targeting.

Analytics is an integral element of your user acquisition success, it assists in making the best use of every marketing cent you spend.

How to advertise your app for free

Even though paid advertising is a must if you want to compete with industry leaders, there are still ways how one can promote their mobile apps at zero cost. Here are a few decent options:

  • launch a microsite or teaser website;
  • start a blog or podcast;
  • share unique content via social media;
  • pitch to websites reviewing apps;
  • participate in contests and apply for awards;
  • recruit customers ‘manually’, find out where to find them;
  • get presentation opportunities at relevant events;
  • be quick and diligent in resolving negative reviews;
  • make your email signature effective and optimized;
  • trigger sharing process integrating social within the app.

Mobile advertising trends

Taking into consideration that only about 2 out of 7,3 billion people in the world have a smartphone, mobile advertising growth will continue despite the fact that this sector is already outpacing other ones. Therefore, we can expect new markets emergence.

New tendencies transpire with mobile advertising growth, such as protection from mobile ad fraud and mobile ad blocking. The latter represents a significant problem for publishers as the rate of ad blocking users on mobile skyrocketed.

Mobile advertising trends according to SplitMetrics
Source: nordic.businessinsider.com

Above all, users tend to get rid of mobile apps which abuse irrelevant in-app advertising. That’s why publishers and developers should adopt less intrusive media.

For all that, programmatic advertising still runs the show. It’s crucial to identify what works for your mobile app and adapt to global trends. The field offers dozens of various adjuvant tools and platforms, publishers should choose wisely picking the ones that will supercharge their marketing strategies and boost their store performance.