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How to Overcome 5 Mobile Ad Challenges

Andrew Gerhart
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Problems and Solutions

You don’t have to look for very long to find an ad on a mobile device. Open your favorite app, game, or website and you’ll likely find some form of advertising. Why? These ads are often the main source of revenue for apps and sites, allowing the content to remain free. Truth is, without revenue from mobile ads, many apps wouldn’t exist, or the content would be hidden behind paywalls, only accessible via subscription. However, ads can become a pest if not implemented properly; they can clutter mobile pages, sometimes to the point of being overwhelming. For this reason, some publishers are hesitant to implement ads in their new app.

A few common objections include:

  • Ads cause slow load times
  • Ads lower quality
  • Ads are distracting
  • Ads infringe on user privacy
  • Ads require too many SDKs

Read on as we share ways to combat these hurdles when running mobile ads.

 

Slow Load Times

Slow Load TimesSlower load times in apps and sites are caused by additional calls that must be made to third party URLs, and additional files and code that must be downloaded to the device. Placing multiple ads haphazardly in a mobile website or app can negatively affect load time, which in turn, disrupts the user experience. The good news is that there are ways to severely reduce, or completely eliminate any latency concerns.

A few tips:

  1. Use a SDK that has pre-caching. This feature allows you to call for an ad before you’re ready to show it to the user, making the requests in the background and eliminating latency concerns.
  2. Implement ads tastefully and naturally. Slapping an interstitial when the app opens may not be the best choice. If the ad is presented in between levels of a game, or in a natural break, the latency and user experience impact can be minimized. With rewarded video, the user opts in to the advertising, choosing to watch a video ad in exchange for in-app currency.
  3. Monitor partners, use timeouts. Most platforms will have default timeout settings for specific connections, which can be monitored and adjusted to improve performance. Identify your slow partners and use timeouts to cut them off before they slow down your user experience.

 

Lowers Quality

There is a misconception among publishers that implementing ads cheapens their site or app in the user’s eyes. However, ads have become so ubiquitous that unless a website or app goes overboard, it generally doesn’t factor into the user’s impression of the site. Rather, metrics like functionality and content far outweigh ad usage in rating overall quality. To reiterate, a publisher has complete control over where and how often they place ads. Ads shouldn’t take away from the presentation and quality if used correctly. The type of ads also play a role in qualty, and the ad industry has come a long way. With interactive ads like MRAID and VPAID, ad agencies are creating beautiful and deeply engaging advertisements.

A few tips:

  • Enable MRAID and VPAID technology for interactive ad experiences.
  • Ensure your ad provider is blocking categories responsible for low quality ads: flashing, annoying, popups, inappropriate content, etc.
  • Replace static ads with higher quality and engaging video advertisements.

 

Distracting

DistractingProtecting the user experience is a key concern for all publishers. They want to ensure that ads don’t drive users away from their primary reason for downloading the app — to consume the content or interact with the app. However, mobile ads can be as intrusive or unobtrusive as the publisher wants. They can choose to cram multiple ads into the display and subject their users to constant ad popups; or conversely, they can choose to strategically place ads within the design to prevent user distraction. In addition, the advancements in programmatic ad targeting further helps to integrate and blend ads easily into the content. If Tom is a few miles from a Starbucks, chances are he wouldn’t be too upset to see a 20% off coupon for the local coffee store. This is an example of ad targeting when device ID, lat/long, and other information is made available to marketers.

A few tips:

  1. Pass through as much data about your users as possible, as it will improve the contextual relevance of the ads.
  2. Ad placement shouldn’t be an afterthought, it should be a part of the app design. Integrate ads seamlessly into the app’s design and flow, so as not to interrupt the user experience
  3. Rewarded video is a great way to introduce unobtrusive advertising within an app.

 

Privacy
Publishers are, and should be, privy to the importance of protecting user privacy. Because many ads now implement ad tracking capabilities that allow advertisers to track user behavior, publishers have become wary of using ads in their content space. While they are right to be concerned about their users’ privacy, new settings have been established to allow users to take control of when they can be tracked. These privacy controls can be passed in the ad request to notify the advertiser that they cannot track the user or store their information.

A few tips:

  • Understand what privacy controls are available to you as the content owner, and use them to suit your needs.
  • If desired, use privacy controls passed in the ad request to prevent the advertiser from tracking the user or storing their information.
  • Be upfront and transparent with your users regarding what information is tracked and passed through to advertisers.

 

Too Many SDKs

Too Many SDKsAs the mobile market grows, the number of in-app advertising companies grows in parallel. There is certainly no shortage of monetization options for an app developer. The challenge for app developers, and growing pain-point, is that most companies offering an in-app monetization solution require you to integrate their SDK. While necessary in many cases, integrating an SDK into your app is time consuming, requires technical resources, is not always trivial, and requires updates on a regular basis. App developers have become very selective regarding the number of SDKs they’ll integrate, and the value exchanged for the integration.

A few tips:

  • Use a mediation platform that offers server-side (API) connections to ad networks, eliminating the need for certain SDKs.
  • Look for partners, and SDKs, that offer robust solutions packaged into one SDK, as opposed to integrating multiple SDKs for each one.
  • Understand the true value of each SDK integration and measure the results post-live.
  • Understand the release and update cycle of each SDK partner and what will be required moving forward.

 

Takeaway

The mobile ad industry can be confusing and overwhelming for publishers, especially when they hear about the challenges associated with using ads in their sites or apps. With the proper education, publishers can dramatically reduce these challenges and enhance user experiences. Knowing how to counter these challenges can serve as the first step in generating a steady stream of revenue via mobile advertising.