Key Points

  • Mobile ad exchanges are a marketplace that connects app developers with advertisers interested in their ad inventory.
  • They are most often part of another tool or offering - not a standalone product.
  • While they are not comprehensive ad revenue solutions, mobile ad exchanges can be part of a well-optimized ad revenue strategy.

Ad exchanges have been around for a while now, and they have changed a lot over the years. One of the most notable changes was when mobile app advertising became a major industry that was driving massive revenue for the app developers who knew how to create a winning app revenue strategy. Around that time, mobile ad exchanges were born.

But what are mobile ad exchanges? How do they work, and are they relevant in 2022? These are all great questions, and the Playwire team answers them in the post below. Here's everything you need to know.

If you're reading about mobile ad exchanges, you're thinking about your app's revenue. That's a good thing, but you need to know that little mistakes can leave app revenue on the table. Want to partner with the team that will maximize your app revenue on every ad impression? Contact Playwire.

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Ad Exchange Guide

Ad Exchanges: The Complete Guide for Publishers

Defining Mobile Ad Exchanges

What Is a Mobile Ad Exchange?

While they typically exist as part of another tool these days, mobile ad exchanges are digital marketplaces in which mobile publishers sell their ad space, and advertisers purchase it. This exchange is usually done programmatically - meaning it's automated.

There are dozens of tools that have the capabilities associated with mobile ad exchanges, and they all have access to a unique set of advertisers and publishers looking to get the most bang for their advertising buck and sell their inventory at the highest possible CPMs, respectively.

Many mobile ad exchanges can facilitate the programmatic buying and selling of in-app display and video ad inventory, and they're often part of larger exchanges that do desktop, over-the-top (OTT), and more

Mobile Ad Exchanges Rarely Exist on Their Own

When you're thinking about mobile ad exchanges, it's important to understand that you shouldn't picture them as standalone tools. At one point, that would have been an accurate depiction. But over time, larger companies and other platforms have seen the monetary potential in-app ad exchanges and have absorbed them. 

The result? It's not easy to find a standalone mobile ad exchange these days. Instead, you are much more likely to find supply-side platforms (SSPs), ad servers, and similar tools that offer access to a mobile ad exchange as part of their services.

How Mobile Ad Exchanges Work

Mobile ad exchanges work in much the same way as desktop ad exchanges. The basic idea is that you integrate the mobile ad exchange or exchanges you want to incorporate into your demand strategy into your software development kit (SDK). 

From there, your impressions enter the mobile ad exchange and go up for auction among the advertisers who are involved with the exchange. Advertisers programmatically bid on your ad impressions, and a bid is selected based on the auction rules you set when you integrated the exchange into your SDK.

Finally, the mobile ads are served to the app user who initiated the app in the beginning. And because this is programmatic advertising at its best, all of that takes place in a fraction of a second. At scale, that can mean thousands of auctions per day - and plenty of revenue rolling in.

Most mobile ad exchanges aren't charging publishers a fee to use them. Instead, they're taking a cut of each dollar that is spent inside of them. It's a small cut, but it adds up with scale. It also means that mobile ad exchanges are incentivized to support high CPMs for app developers - the more you make, the more they make.

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Ad Exchange Resource Center

Check out all the available resources in The Complete Ad Exchange Resource Center

Do App Developers Need to Use Ad Exchanges?

The natural next question, of course, is this: Do I need to use a mobile ad exchange? The answer won't be the same for every app developer, but in general, it's a good idea to have at least one mobile ad exchange card in your deck of demand sources.

Why? Primarily, it's because ad exchanges offer broad demand that can sweep up any inventory that is left unsold after you factor in other, more profitable demand sources. And the CPMs can still be quite high when you use app ad exchanges.

Mobile Ad Exchanges: Just One Piece of the App Revenue Puzzle

Although mobile ad exchanges aren't exactly a standalone product you can find and implement as part of your revenue strategy, they do exist as part of other offerings and tools. And they're a key part of many app developers' ad monetization strategies.

Should a mobile ad exchange be part of your strategy? That's going to depend on a lot of factors that are unique to you, your app, your audience, and your needs. At Playwire, we take all of those factors into consideration as we build you the perfect revenue amplification strategy. We know exchanges are just one piece of the puzzle, and we're tuned in to all of the other pieces so we can build you a truly excellent revenue plan.

Are you an app publisher ready to start making more from your apps? You're ready to contact Playwire. Reach out to our expert team online today.

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