Even before the global pandemic, app use was on the rise, and it’s still rising. Users now spend 6 times more time on apps than they do using their browser, according to eMarketer, with time spent on apps up 25% compared to 3 years ago.
Along with that comes myriad ways to monetize your app with Google Ad Manager. In this article, we’re going to look at Google Ad Manager’s new upgraded features for apps.
Google Ad Manager’s Upgraded Ad Formats
These are some of the formats available in Ad Manager (image from Google):
Some of these are similar to desktop and web browsing formats. Banners/sticky ads, also known as anchor ads, click to the top or bottom of a webpage. Interstitials are shown to a user when they navigate from one page to another, while native ads mirror the site’s style when displaying.
Native ads for apps
Native ads come in three main types, namely display, video and download, and are designed to match the look and feel of the site in order to provide a more pleasant user experience. Display and video ads are the same as on desktop and mobile web, where you can show high quality and engaging text, images, and video.
Download, sometimes called install, is more specific to apps and advertises other apps for download, either another of your apps or one from another publisher. In all cases, with a professional style applied, users spend more time looking at natives and consequently they perform better from a revenue perspective.
Conversion rates are higher and along with that, surveyed users report a higher level of recall of the ads they saw. Native ads give you more control over ads and can even experiment with different styles to see which performs better. Advertisers also tend to like native styles and in some cases will work with you to build ads that both look good and perform well on an individual site.
Rewarded ads are not shared with mobile and desktop web, but are specifically for apps. They are most often seen in games when a user is offered something in exchange for viewing the ad (either wholly or in part). The ‘reward’ the user is offered is usually something with an in-game value, such as extra lives, in-game cash, level-ups, power-ups, etc. You can see a lot of rewarded ads in viral video games like Fortnite, etc.
The advantage of rewarded ads is that users actively want to let the ads play, which of course means more value for the advertiser. Users feel they are getting something in return for watching the ads, even though the reward is not of tangible value. Ads like these do very well in user satisfaction surveys.
It’s important to note that rewarded ads aren’t just for games; more and more publishers are using rewarded ads to offer premium content to users (more articles, extended wifi time, free downloads, music, etc).
The other good thing about providing this ‘rewarding’ experience to users is user retention. Users appreciate the fair exchange and will return. As before, rewarded ads can take several forms. Playable ads allow users to try a level of a new game, there are ads that allow users to select the reward they want as well as more familiar display and video ads.
While interstitial ads are discouraged on web browsers (and prevented in some cases), this is not the case with apps. Whether you implement these using a rewarded setup as discussed above or simply as a display between pages of content, interstitial ads perform considerably better than standard mobile banner ads.
As with display ads though, be careful about placing too many interstitials in your app. Users will not return if the time spent interacting with ads (either viewing or closing) is too high in proportion to the amount spent viewing content.
In-article and in-feed
These are similar across apps and the web. In-article ads appear in between paragraphs of content, whereas in-feed appear in between items in a feed, particularly on social content.
These are out-stream videos, meaning that instead of playing before video content made by publishers, they are stand-alone video ads that can use display slots. They automatically play when 50% of the video is in view, and pause again when the user scrolls past.
As soon as the video starts playing, an impression is counted, and should the user leave more than 50% in frame, the ad will continue to play until the end when it will just show an end card and a button to click through to the advertiser’s site.
Banner ads come in three types; fixed size, smart (adapts to fit the width of the mobile device, height of 50), and adaptive (adjusts the size of the available banner based on performance, both for height and width).
The use of adaptive banners eliminates the need for custom code while still displaying a banner that fits seamlessly to the bottom of the screen, improving app look and feel. Advertisers like these banners too, with Google reporting a 20% uplift in revenue compared to standard fixed banners.
This is a new format from Google. These are designed to show instead (or over the top of) loading and initialization screens, thereby monetizing a space that the user would otherwise be sitting and waiting for. You can see what this looks like below (photo from Google):
At the top, your branding is shown with the app icon and name. Below will be the ad, with a transparent background indicating what the app is doing in the background.
Web pages can be crawled for keywords in mobile & desktop mode, giving advertisers the ability to target ads on a contextual basis. This has not historically been so easy with apps. With content URL, you can link to a webpage that relates to the app page. For example, if you have a website accompanying your app with similar sections or pages, link the app pages to them using Content URL.
Google then crawls this page for keywords that can then be passed to the advertisers, meaning more contextual ads, happier advertisers, and more revenue. There’s also an option to use content URL even if there is no exactly matching page on the web. Content URL has two options for matching: exact (as above) and contextual.
For contextual mapping, instead of passing a URL to Google you can pass a text string, containing your own keywords. Google then decides what URL would be most appropriate to map.
Google Ad Manager has been around for a while and it’s still evolving. The updated features that have just gone live are designed to get publishers and app developers more ad revenue from their applications, so they’re worth taking note of if you’ve got an Android or iOS application in the works.