Key Points

  • In-app advertising can appear fairly complex and deter publishers or app owners who could generate serious revenue.
  • If you take your time or work with an app monetization partner, effective mobile app advertising is achievable.
  • This quick guide covers the basics of what you're going to need to know.

Everybody wants a piece of the financial pie that mobile app advertising has become. This growing industry - expected to reach $339 billion in global ad spend by 2023 - is helping app publishers all over the world turn their fledgling apps into full-fledged businesses.

But to do mobile advertising, you're going to have to learn a few things about ads and ad tech. There's a pretty particular meta-language involved in the ad tech industry, and it often deters early-stage app publishers from diving in and really building something great.

Don't let that happen to you. It doesn't have to happen to you. All you have to do is read this quick guide to get the basics of mobile app advertising. Read on.

Once you've learned the basics, you may want to turn to the pros to build a more advanced revenue machine. That's precisely what the Playwire team does for countless app publishers, and we're ready to do it for you, too. Contact us to learn more.

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The Complete Guide to App Advertising

The Complete Guide to App Advertising

Types of Mobile App Ads

To start out with mobile app advertising, you should first understand which kinds of mobile app ads exist. That way, you can get a picture of what you would be OK with running inside your app. Here are a few of the most common types of in-app ads:

Banner Ads

These are what many people think of as classic ads. In apps, they're usually display banners along the top or bottom of the viewport. They usually contain a static image for ad creative.

Native Ads

Native ads are designed to look and feel like the rest of the content inside your app. Although native ads will be clearly marked as app advertisements, they should not be all that different from the articles or videos your app contains. The key difference, of course, is that these pieces of content actually advertise a product or service.


Interstitial ads appear between phases of the user experience. They occupy the whole screen and can be static images or video ads. If you have a mobile game, for example, an interstitial ad may run in between levels or as a game is loading or ending.

Rewarded Ads

These are ads that encourage participation from your mobile users. In exchange for viewing the ad, the user gets something in return. The reward is often an in-game item or life, free premium content, or something similar, depending on the nature of the app.

Gamified Ads

This is mobile advertising that operates as mini-games. They're particularly handy for increasing engagement with a brand, which means buyers will pay a premium to run a gamified ad in your app.

This is not an exhaustive list, but if you understand at least these options, you have plenty of basic and premium ad units to choose from as you build your mobile app advertising strategy.

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App Advertising Resource Center

The Complete App Advertising Resource Center

Ways to Sell Mobile App Ad Space

Perhaps we should zoom out a bit to better understand how ads are going to appear inside your mobile app in the first place. Most in-app ads are sold programmatically, but bigger app publishers need to consider header bidding and direct sales, too.

Mediation Partners

Mediation partners combine the demand of several mobile ad networks into one simple SDK integration. They take a cut of the ad revenue that flows through them, but they provide value to app publishers by centralizing ad network access. That cuts down on the number of required SDK integrations to reach that level of demand, and partners typically add an algorithmic function to optimize CPMs for publishers who use their mobile ad platforms.

There are dozens of mediation partners in the app space, and you don't have to pick just one. You can integrate several and test them over time to reach the ideal blend of demand generation for your app's ad inventory.

Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic advertising automates much of the traditional process of selling ads. To do programmatic advertising for your app, you will have to select a few ad tech tools and configure them to run automatic auctions for your ad inventory every time a user initiates an ad call inside your app.

Header Bidding

Header bidding isn't completely distinct from programmatic advertising - it's a way to do programmatic advertising that can increase your revenue by a lot. Traditionally, programmatic auctions select the first acceptable bid for a piece of inventory. Header bidding selects the best bid. That translates to higher revenue.

Direct Sales

Direct sales is the oldie-but-goodie of digital advertising. While programmatic techniques can scale with your app as it grows, direct sales can speak to your relationships with bigger buyers who will pay premium prices for a direct line to your app's user base. Investing in a direct sales team can be expensive, but building or outsourcing one can pay off enormously if you do it right.

Things You'll Need

You could fill a pretty big toolbox if you had one of every type of ad tech tool available. And while these tools tend to have real use cases for app publishers, you won't need all of them to start out. Here are the basic things you'll need to do mobile app advertising:

Ad Server

To serve ads within your app, you're going to need an ad server. Many programmatic advertising partners and supply-side platforms (SSPs) have their own servers as an added bonus of working with them. Google AdMob does, too. However, there are standalone servers to consider, especially as your mobile advertising needs become more complex.


You already have an SDK for your app itself, but to incorporate the programmatic systems and other tools we're discussing here, you need to be prepared to integrate a few other SDKs into your build.

Playwire: Your Mobile App Advertising Partner

There's more, of course, but those are the basics of mobile app advertising. Getting everything set up and running is the first big step, but once you've done that, you're going to have to keep tweaking and optimizing everything to keep your revenue turned up to maximum volume.

Or, maybe you don't have to do that. If you partner with Playwire, we'll get our mobile app advertising experts to do all of that while you focus on creating the best app in your vertical. Together, we'll grow your revenue into something great.

To learn more or get started, contact Playwire online today.

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