Best Practices for In-App Ad Quality in 2024

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IN-APP advertising has become an integral part of digital marketing strategies, offering highly targeted and impactful ways to achieve not just performance but also brand awareness KPIs. This approach involves delivering immersive ads directly to an engaged audience in an environment they are already familiar with. For brand advertisers, in-app advertising offers high levels of interest-based targeting and seamless integration into the user’s experience. From an app developer’s perspective, in-app advertising plays a crucial role in monetization strategies, providing a reliable revenue stream that—when done correctly—can complement and elevate user experience.

Whether you’re a brand advertiser aiming to maximize the impact of your ads, or an app developer looking to monetize your application effectively, honing your in-app strategy is crucial. Leveraging our experience at BRAVE in strategizing in-app advertising, we have compiled this list of best practices to ensure that in-app ads are not just seen but also make an impact.

I will divide this guide into tips for advertisers and tips for app developers (or app publishers). Though each one is positioned at a polar end of the supply chain, the objectives of both are similar: To maximize revenue while maintaining the app’s/brand’s reputation and identity.


In-App Advertising: The Effective Growth Strategy for Both Advertisers and App Developers

The advantages of in-app advertising extend well beyond monetization. For advertisers, it presents an unrivaled opportunity to foster brand awareness in an environment where users are already engaged and receptive. It’s about creating connections, sparking interest, and building lasting impressions that stay with users beyond the digital space.

For app developers who use a free-to-use model, in-app advertising is a perfect way to offer valuable services without compromising on quality or user experience. Furthermore, in-app advertising plays a key role in enhancing user engagement. By leveraging data analytics and connecting with the right demand partners, app developers can deliver personalized ad experiences that resonate with individual users’ preferences and behaviors. This level of personalization not only enhances the effectiveness of ad campaigns but also contributes to a richer, more engaging user experience.

Additionally, in-app advertising offers actionable insights into consumer behavior, granting advertisers and developers a deeper understanding of how users interact with ads. This data is invaluable for refining ad strategies, optimizing user engagement, and ultimately, driving better outcomes for both sides.

In essence, in-app advertising is more than just a revenue generator; it’s a dynamic platform for brand storytelling, user engagement, and data-driven insights. As you delve further into the nuances of in-app advertising, it becomes clear that mastering its mechanics and leveraging its full potential is key to unlocking success in your digital advertising strategy.


Best Practices for In-App Advertising Quality

Ensuring the quality of in-app advertising is paramount for both advertisers and publishers. Numerous pitfalls can damage any successful campaign or thriving app ecosystem. Here are some best practices tailored for each group to ensure that in-app advertising remains effective, engaging, and respectful of the user experience.


In-App Best Practices for Advertisers:

Protect Your Campaigns from Invalid Traffic (IVT)

IVT is any activity that doesn’t come from a real user with genuine interest. In the world of app monetization, IVT might indicate app downloads by non-authenticated entities. Often conflated with ad fraud, it may not always be malicious. Still, detecting all forms of IVT is essential to protecting ad spend and ensuring impressions are valid and viewable.

In recent years, invalid app traffic has become one of the biggest issues for brand advertisers running in-app campaigns. A State of Mobile Fraud report found that app install fraud increased by 40% (iOS) and 46% (Android) from H1 to H2, 2022. It skews metrics, drains budgets, and makes it impossible to reach brand awareness KPIs at scale.

To fortify in-app campaigns against Invalid Traffic (IVT), it’s pivotal for brand advertisers to partner with SSPs that utilize advanced fraud detection capabilities. This ensures the funneling of ad budgets towards authentic engagements. Make sure you prioritize partnerships with supply-side platform providers that are committed to transparency and employ machine learning for dynamic IVT identification.

Additionally, leveraging advanced targeting strategies by focusing on user segments more likely to exhibit authentic engagement can cut any exposure to IVT in the bud. SSP partners who regularly review and adjust these measures keep your defenses strong and effective.


Ensuring Brand Safety and Suitability

Ensuring brand suitability in in-app advertising is vital for maintaining a positive brand image. It involves aligning ads with apps that reflect the brand’s values and target audience preferences.

To ensure brand safety and suitability make sure your SSP follows these guidelines:

  • Employ advanced targeting to reach suitable demographics.
  • Use content filters to prevent ads from appearing in unsuitable apps.
  • Implement real-time monitoring tools for swift adjustments to ad placements.
  • Continuously optimize ad placements for brand alignment.


Optimizing In-App Ad Formats and Types

From rewarded videos that incentivize user engagement, through interstitials that capture attention between app screens, to ads that blend seamlessly within the app environment, each format serves a unique purpose. Aligning these formats with your campaign goals can significantly enhance user engagement and campaign performance.


Targeting and Tracking for In-App Ad Personalization

The power of in-app advertising lies in its ability to leverage first-party user data for targeted ad experiences. By utilizing advanced targeting techniques based on user behavior, preferences, and demographics, coupled with real-time tracking, advertisers can craft personalized ad experiences that resonate deeply with their audience. This not only increases the relevance of your ads but also drives higher conversion rates.


In-App Best Practices for App Developers:

In-app advertising is one of the most popular app monetization strategies, and it shows no sign of slowing down. Predictions show that the in-app ad market size will reach $226 billion at a CAGR of 13.3% between 2023 and 2030).

US In-App Advertising Market

Integrating ads into the natural flow of your app, making it less disruptive to the user, is a crucial part of the monetization process. The best way to achieve this seamless integration is by leveraging user analytics. With increasingly sophisticated data measurement tools available, app developers now have unparalleled insight into user behavior. These insights pose a competitive edge against other channels that were negatively impacted by third-party cookie deprecation.

Let’s look at some best practices and how to implement them:


Test Ad Frequency

It is important to test different formats and pricing models to determine the most suitable ones for your app. Continuously measuring user behavior is also crucial in this process. Don’t hesitate to experiment with multiple ad platforms to identify the ones that generate a healthy CPM (Cost Per Thousand).

When testing the number of times to show an ad, be wary: more ads do not mean more revenue. A 2020 report found that for hyper-casual games the optimal frequency in terms of revenue and retention is between 2 and 3 in-app ads per minute. However, this does not mean that this is the best practice for apps in your category. Test, and find what works for you.

More frequent #InAppAds do not mean more revenue. For hyper-casual games, the optimal frequency is 2-3 #ads per minute. This does not mean that this is the best practice for apps in your category. Test, and find what works for you. Share on X


Check Your Viewability

Not checking viewability is a sure way to lose out on revenue. According to leading SSPs like Xandr, OpenX, and Rubicon, the ideal ad viewability score to aim for is above 70%. Scores between 50%-70% are acceptable while anything below 50% is considered too low. The higher your ad viewability rate, the greater the demand for your inventory will be.

Measure your app’s ad viewability following this formula:

how to calculate in app ad viewability BRAVE

There are several ways in which app developers can increase viewability rates:

  1. Increase the refresh rate speed and reduce ad latency.
  2. Optimize the layout and position of ads (more on that below).
  3. Follow viewability guidelines from trustworthy sources such as IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) and MRC (Media Rating Council).

Achieve Ad Placement Excellence

All marketers know that ad creatives are the most important factor in your monetization success. It’s vital to test every component of your ad, with multiple variations. But most importantly, Creatives shouldn’t disrupt the player’s experience. Here are tips on how creatives work here and now:

Players don’t hate ads: Research by Unity shows that 73% of app gamers worldwide have expressed contentment with the ad-based monetization model used in gaming apps.

A/B test ad placements: Ad placements go a long way toward determining success. Look into placing ads where they will have a real impact. To gauge the effectiveness of your ad placement strategy, conducting A/B tests is the way to go. While it’s common knowledge that rewarded ads perform well, it’s important to strategically place them for revenue optimization.


Focus on Interstitial Ads

Interstitial ads are considered one of the most effective in-app ad alternatives. Even though banner ads are smaller in size, they can be an eyesore when compared with a fullscreen ad that appears at natural transition points within the user flow. Interstitial ads work best when implemented at the end of a flow, such as at the end of a level in a gaming app.

Some benefits of in-app interstitial ads are: 

  1. Allow for more powerful user engagement (especially when an interactive element is presented).
  2. Excels at almost every metric from clickthrough to conversion rates.
  3. Can be monetized at a competitive CPM (Cost Per Thousand) due to their high appeal with brand advertisers.


Detect and Reduce IVT

Invalid traffic (IVT) poses a significant challenge to the integrity of in-app advertising. Publishers should invest in sophisticated fraud detection tools to identify and mitigate IVT. Maintaining transparency with advertisers about your efforts to combat fraud not only builds trust but also attracts quality advertisers to your platform, enhancing the overall quality of your ad inventory.

Following these best practices enables advertisers and publishers to collaboratively foster a healthy, effective, and user-friendly in-app advertising ecosystem. As we move forward, keeping these principles at the forefront of your strategy will be key to leveraging the full potential of in-app advertising, driving not just revenue, but also positive user experiences and brand loyalty.


Maintain a Fraud-Free Ad Environment

To entice and retain demand partners, ensuring the integrity of your advertising environment is paramount. A clean, fraud-free ecosystem not only boosts the confidence of advertisers but also enhances the overall value of your inventory. Here’s how to reinforce your defenses against ad fraud:

  1. Integrate sophisticated fraud detection solutions: Implement advanced ad fraud detection tools that leverage machine learning and real-time analytics to identify and mitigate fraudulent activities. These solutions should be capable of detecting a wide range of fraudulent behaviors, including bot traffic, click farms, and spoofed impressions.
  2. Monitoring and Run Reports: Establish a routine monitoring system that continuously scans for irregularities in traffic patterns, click rates, and conversion anomalies. Transparent reporting to your demand partners about the health of your inventory can further solidify trust and partnership loyalty.
  3. Collaborate with trusted third-party verifiers: Partner with third-party verification services that specialize in ad fraud detection. These entities can provide an additional layer of credibility to your platform by certifying your inventory as clean and trustworthy.
  4. Implement Strict Access Controls: Limit access to your ad-serving platforms to authorized personnel only. Employ robust authentication methods and monitor user activity to prevent unauthorized access that could lead to fraudulent ad placements.
  5. Educate Your Team: Ensure that your team is well-versed in the latest ad fraud trends and prevention techniques. Regular training sessions can empower your staff to better identify potential threats and take proactive measures to safeguard your platform.

By implementing these measures, you can create a secure and attractive environment for demand partners, ensuring the sustainability and profitability of your in-app advertising strategy. A clean ship not only navigates smoother waters but also attracts a higher caliber of companionship on its voyage.


In-App Regulatory Changes That Affect Both Brand Advertisers and App Developers

Advertisers and app publishers must now navigate a landscape where user consent is paramount. The ability to target and measure the effectiveness of in-app ads without infringing on user privacy has become a critical skill.

Adapting to these regulations requires a shift in mindset and tactics, but it also presents an opportunity to innovate and redefine engagement in a privacy-conscious world. As we move forward, staying informed and agile will be key to navigating the regulatory landscape, ensuring that in-app advertising continues to thrive in a way that respects user preferences and privacy. ​

Adapting to these regulatory changes involves several key strategies:

Embrace Privacy-First Advertising

Develop ad strategies that respect user privacy, leveraging context-based targeting and anonymized data to deliver relevant ads.

Invest in First-Party Data

With third-party data becoming less accessible, following the user’s journey between devices has become nearly impossible. Cultivating first-party relationships with users offers a direct channel for engagement and data collection, contingent on user consent.

Explore New Technologies

Tech partners who employ machine learning and predictive AI can help analyze behavioral patterns without compromising individual user identities. The insights you can glean are imperative to maintain the same level of ad targeting effectiveness.

The changes to IDFA and similar regulatory updates are not the end of the road for in-app advertising but rather a new beginning. Embracing these changes and prioritizing user privacy allows advertisers and app publishers to cultivate trust with audiences, ensuring the long-term sustainability of growth strategies.

The changes to #IDFA are not the end of the road for #InApp advertising. #UserPrivacy allows #Advertisers and #AppDevelopers to ensure the long-term sustainability of growth strategies. Share on X

In Conclusion

The in-app advertising landscape is ripe with both opportunities and challenges. Advertisers and app developers face a journey marked by continuous adaptation and innovation. Navigating this dynamic terrain requires a proactive approach, leveraging data-driven insights and embracing cutting-edge technologies to enhance user engagement and optimize ad performance.

In today’s dynamic mobile landscape, advertisers cannot afford to be complacent. They need to be proactive and agile, constantly adapting their strategies to stay ahead of the curve and cater to the changing preferences and behaviors of mobile users. Similarly, app publishers must prioritize ads that enhance user experience and content quality, rather than interrupting or disrupting the flow. To achieve this, there needs to be a more collaborative effort between advertisers, app developers, and technology providers, fostering an integrated, immersive, and impactful in-app advertising ecosystem that adds value to all stakeholders involved.

In conclusion, the future of in-app advertising in 2024 and beyond demands a collective effort, creativity, and commitment to excellence. Now is the time to strategize, innovate, and act.