How to Optimize Your Mobile Ads (Part 2 of 3)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
By: Bryan Atwood

We’re excited to continue our ‘How to Optimize Your Mobile Ads’ series with Part II this week.  As we mentioned in Part I (where we covered optimal strategies for ad networks), we’ve learned a few tricks from MoPub users about maximizing ad revenue – without sacrificing your in-app user experience.

In Part II, we answer many of your questions specifically around best practices for banner advertisements. Where is the best place to put a banner ad?  How often should I rotate the ad?  Which screen should I put the ad on within my app?

The following are our tips for making the most out of your banner ads.

1. Repetition pays off
As the user navigates, use the same banner unit so that an ad is consistently shown.

As we talked about in our previous post, you shouldn’t maximize impressions, you should maximize clicks.  Any ad that is shown that is not clicked actually loses value for you.  The publishers with the highest clickthrough rates (3-5%) and highest CPMs ($3-6) all have one thing in common: they use the same banner unit as the user traverses the app.  Users typically fly through your menus.  Trying to load a new ad for each page means that the user will move on before the ad has been loaded.  If instead the same ad view is used, it will be displayed for the maximum time on screen so that the user will be more inclined to click the ad.

Here’s an example from Com2Us in one of their games, Slice It! .  Notice how the same banner unit is displayed while the user navigates the app.  Because of this placement, they have a very high clickthrough rate since the ads are not cycled too often.
Also, if the page is scrollable, make sure the banner ad is always shown.  If a banner is off the screen, the user can’t click it and the impression is wasted.

2. Work around the user’s core task
Place banners either in-game or post-task.  Do not place ads on pre-task pages.

Users typically interact with applications very differently than web sites.  Most times they fire up an app because they want to get something done: check sports scores, get directions, or play a game.  Placing a banner ad on a screen before the user has started a task will almost guarantee that it won’t get clicked.  There is a large jump in clicks on banner ads when the user has finished a task.  Similarly, if the user is mid-game or in browsing mode, an ad will have a higher click through rate since the main purpose of opening the app has been completed.

The only exception to placing a banner pre-task is if you follow rule #1 and use the same ad banner for the subsequent pages.

3. Don’t refresh too often
We have observed longer refreshes are better.

Contrary to our expectations, we see that the optimal refresh rate for some of our publishers is two minutes or longer.  One publisher has a 10% clickthrough rate with ads that never refresh.  In this case, we tried lowering the refresh to 90 seconds.  But even though more ads were shown, the overall revenue dropped below what they were showing before.

With MoPub, you can experiment with the refresh rate, but we have consistently seen a 60-120 second refresh rate is optimal depending on your specific application and ad types.

4. Avoid annoying users with accidental clicks
Banners perform the same whether at the top or bottom, but in general keep away from your main controls since users (and advertisers) hate accidental clicks.

Users will notice banners whether they are at the top or the bottom and we see the same clickthrough rates in both locations.  However, they hate clicking on ads when they are trying to do something else.  If your app has a set of controls that is concentrated at the bottom of the app, make sure the banner is at the top, and vice versa.  This will lead to happier users, happier advertisers, and happier publishers.  Everyone is happy!

Thanks to Com2Us for sharing their Slice It! success story.  Got tips that you want to share on the blog?  Shoot us an email at marketing@www.mopub.com.

Stay tuned for Part III: Optimal strategies for handling and optimizing your full-screen, rich media and video advertisements.

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