How to Choose the Best In-App Ad Format


Not to be dramatic, but last year was damming for apps and smartphones – honestly, way too many scary scandals with companies that used apps to steal our data. Way too many. Do you remember when Apple loudly stated: “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.”? And then The Washington Post reporter slapped them with an article that showed an astonishing 5 400 hidden app trackers stealing data from his phone just in one week? And do you remember what happened next? Crickets. Also-tapping-lutely nothing, well, except for a substantial bump in the time we use our phones on a daily basis.

And on the marketer’s side of things, the sun wasn’t shining brighter either: we’ve had our own shockers with the ad stacking and spoofing, the “click farms” and boot imitated retargeting, the GIVT and SIVT. Horrifying. And you know what happened? We are now pouring more money into mobile advertising budgets than ever before. According to eMarketer last year was the turning point for the mobile when it finally won the race, leaving television behind. Having said that, 2019 was the year the US users bumped up the mobile use. It includes daily average to 3 hours 10 minutes with about jaw-dropping 90% of that time being in-app time. So, let’s just proclaim in-app advertising the King of Everything and start looking for the best in-app format. Though, before we dive into the in-app ad popularity contest, let’s spend a few minutes on tech.

Your Ad Servers and Your DSPs

Those who somehow think that any old ad server or DSP would work just fine as long as your campaign’s content and creativity are on point – should think again. The “who cares” sort of attitude towards choosing those two will inevitably result in disaster. Even those creating paragons of creative ad perfection still need precise targeting, analytics, smart predictions, on-point fraud detection, bot traffic prevention, and so on. Hence becoming extremely picky with your in-app ad-related partnerships, meaning choosing the right ad server, as well as the Demand-Side Platform, should be a top priority. Plus, in just a single year (2018-2019) the total number of devices with blockers skyrocketed from 142 to 615 million, meaning if we don’t want to be advertising to empty space in the near future, we need to step up our game and put forward a more considerable advertising plan, a good DPS and ad server can help us to do just that.

A great ad the network will guarantee you the option to choose the most popular ad format whatever it may be at any given time. Now, take these guys for a reference: along with all of the popular mobile ad formats, they offer the very necessary auto-resize for the in-app ads and they’ve built a library of much needed non-standard ad formats. Furthermore, their real-time stats help advertisers make highly informed decisions on ad campaigns and they work only with top ad exchanges and SSPs. There’s really not that much to be discussed or debated here: 1) find your ideal ad server and demand-side platform and 2) use the best in-demand ad formats they are offering. As simple as that.

Here are our picks for the top 4 Best In-App Ad Format so far:

Best Format #1: Video in-app ads 

The rules of the game haven’t changed in 2020, video continues to lead everywhere. Video is hands down a crucial part of any marketing strategy and those ignoring this format (if there are any) are sure to take their place in the pantheon of losers. Take Youtube for example – people sit through over one billion hours of YouTube every single day. Isn’t that an existing number for advertisers? Just like everywhere, else video is at the forth front of the in-app advertisement as well. If you want to reach and engage the majority of smartphone users – this one is the way to do it. In-app video ads are memorable and convey information to users in an easily digestible way. Storytelling shines through video advertisement, hence you’ll be able to easily boost engagement rates, increase conversion and exposure, boost sales, and raise brand awareness.

Learn more in detail

If you’re still on the fence somehow, here are a few more stats to nudge you over: more than 80% of businesses use video as a marketing tool. 75% of all video content is being watched on our smartphones and more than 70% will rather learn new info from a video than any other format. Facebook claims video content is 1.5 times is watched on the smartphone screen. Lastly, Wordstream made a staggering claim that over 90% of users watching video on mobile will share it.

Now, if you haven’t picked up our subtle hints – we think this one is the best. In-app video ad format deserves all of the praise, it provides solid results and much higher CTRs than native or banner ads. And, as for the inventory: video format accounts for around 50% of the in-app inventory with 60% being full-screen videos. Of course, there are a few drawbacks, most state the cost of producing good video content as a con, so resources might hold the creativity back a bit. The other one is good connectivity which is an absolute must for video content.  And that is it for the cons, meaning, if video works for the customers, it should work for advertisers.

Best Format #2: Interstitial in-app ads

This one is definitely a trending ad format. Interstitial in-app ads are best described as pop-ups; usually, they fully cover the screen forcing the user to take notice. They can appear whenever the advertiser wants, though if the advertiser in question. It doesn’t want people to passionately hate their brand. Maybe interstitials in-apps shouldn’t pup-up the middle of a movie, game or lifestream. During navigation or browsing between pages or in-between games are also crucial moments. It is great for communication, grabbing attention, or getting the message across. So, really, there’s no need to aggravate your potential clients by blocking the screen in the middle of their Candy Crush Saga.

Interstitial ads can be video interstitial, those, if made right, are unforgettable and ideal for promotion. Introducing new products, and boosting brand awareness. Then there are the ones with images that can be tapped, slid, clicked, etc. These are perfect for showcasing products, ticket sales, store samples, or displaying a clear call-to-action whatever it may be, etc.

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As for the drawbacks, as mentioned above, they can be intrusive, and your click-through rate may be inaccurate. Sometimes people finding it difficult to close interstitial in-apps. As for the cost, they can be quite costly, especially the video ones. And, since beautifully made highly creative ads are adored and show the highest CTR  – that is the benchmark for the interstitial.

Best Format #3: Native in-app ads

Design of Native in-app ads look like the app itself. Hence, they have more value. They are very versatile and designed to perfectly mimic the content. Ultimately native ads integrate with the app’s ecosystem and displayed as part of the app.  These ads are the least hated. They don’t disrupt the user experience on the app and often taken as a suggestion from the app owners. However, seen as a sort of “stamp of approval.” Hence, CTR is always impressed with the native in-app.  Plus native ads are highly shareable. 32% of consumers said they would share a native ad with their friends and family, according to Share Through. The drawbacks? Except for a bit more work you’ll be hard-pressed to find them.

Best Format #4: in-app ad gamification

Playable in-app ads would be a great addition to any marketing strategy. A short while ago, primarily used to advertise game apps. It helps users have a taste of what’s ahead. Nowadays many brands successfulyl implementated and adopted ad gamification. Over the last few years, most of the huge brands have jumped on board. Nike had great success with its “React Land” game to promote new shoes and they’ve been using gamified ads since. Also, there was a very memorable Kate Spade’s ‘Joy Walks’. It offered beautiful walks in Paris with the interactive GPS enabled mobile app. Here Paris was seen in augmented reality experience. Starbucks, MacDonald’s, Heineken, Coca-Cola – we’ve seen some great examples over the years.

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Customers love game-related advertising, because, as a rule, it doesn’t feel like an ad. While many marketers and CEOs still have their doubts, others make use of this amazing tool. In-app gamification and playable ads are innovative, offer realistic experiences that can boost engagement and increase awareness in a very fun, pleasant, and playful way.