Key Points

  • Mobile publishing is the only place in digital advertising where ad networks still function as critical parts of the ecosystem.
  • Because most app advertising is still waterfall-based (unless you’re using in-app header bidding), app developers form long-term relationships with ad networks that deliver the best yield.
  • Managing your ad inventory and tech stack is complicated, which is why most publishers opt to simplify it by working with a complete monetization partner like Playwire.

Some say ad networks are a thing of the past. Like the ancient relics of ad tech — evidence of a time when the industry was full of black boxes and shadows. 

And they’re right… for the most part. 

Ad networks for the web are essentially obsolete, existing only within larger ad monetization solutions. However, ad networks for apps are alive and well.

If you’re a mobile publisher or app developer, you’ll need to learn how to choose the right ad network to maximize your ad revenue.

Don’t worry. As usual, we’ve got what you’re looking for.

In this post, we’ll break down everything you need to know to find the best of the best. Keep reading for our list of multiple ad networks for apps that are considered the best in the advertising space.

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Read the Ultimate Guide to Ad Networks For Publishers

What is an App Ad Network?

You may have heard rumors about ad networks — shady businesses that, in the early days of the digital ad space, bought inventory from publishers for pennies and resold it to advertisers at marked-up rates.

Again… those rumors are mostly true.

In this traditional model, publishers had no way of knowing for what price the ad network was selling their inventory. Likewise, advertisers didn’t know the original cost of the inventory. 

For both parties, it was a massive black box. In today’s transparent (and mostly programmatic advertising) market, this kind of secrecy doesn’t fly. In most modern app mediation platforms, ad networks work, but they function a bit differently. 

Ad networks for apps typically exist as a part of an app mediation solution’s larger ad exchange. Unlike traditional ad networks — which benefited from pricing disparities between the buy and sell side — these companies benefit from establishing long-term relationships with both publishers and advertisers. They profit per click, so their primary goal is to deliver value to their users.

What to Look for in an App Ad Network

Just because most of the shady standalone ad networks have vanished from the ad tech ecosystem, doesn’t mean all are created equal.

Here are some things to look out for —

  • Brand safety: One of the main reasons ad networks have such a bad reputation is because of their history of neglecting to protect users and in turn, publishers. Since app developers and publishers had no way of controlling who the ad network sold their ad inventory to, it would sometimes go to advertisers with ill intentions. Even though most modern ad networks have cleaned up their acts, it’s still a good idea to check their policies on fraud prevention and ad quality as well as to check out reviews from other users on G2 or TrustRadius.
  • Ad format compatibility: Not all ad networks will be compatible with your preferred ad format. Selecting an option that is not only compatible with, but also specializes in video ads, display ads, in-game ads, or native ads will have a big impact on your revenue potential and user experience.



The 6 Best Ad Networks for Apps are:

    1. AdMob
    2. Smaato
    3. Unity Ads
    4. InMobi
    5. TapJoy
    6. SmartyAds

The 6 Best Ad Networks for Apps

At Playwire, we’ve worked with a lot of the best ad networks for apps. So you can trust us when we say that some are better than others.

Take a look —


Google AdMob is an app monetization platform that provides publishers and developers with access to a built-in ad network as well as a full suite of revenue-driving tools.


Publisher Requirements:

Anyone can get started with AdMob as long as their app is compliant with the site’s content policies. Sign up on the website to begin the setup process.


Publisher Benefits:

  • Access to 30+ premium ad networks and demand sources
  • Automatic audience segmentation
  • Customizable creative templates



AdMob is among the best-rated app monetization platforms on this list. It has an 8.4 out of 10-star rating on TrustRadius and a 4.3 out of 5-star rating on G2.


Smaato is a highly-rated ad tech platform with a built-in web and mobile ad network and a tremendous reputation within the app mediation arena.


Publisher Requirements:

Smaato has strict anti-fraud and ad campaign quality systems in place to ensure brand safety. Provided your app meets the company’s standards, it will be approved for use on the platform.


Publisher Benefits:

  • Innovative in-app Unified Bidding for better fill rates
  • Access to an open marketplace — no subscription needed
  • Contextual targeting capabilities



Smaato is reputable and enjoys some of the best ratings on our list. It has a 4.4 out of 5-star rating on G2 and an 8.2 out of 10-star rating on TrustRadius.

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Unity Ads

Unity Ads is an app mediation platform with a built-in ad network and a comprehensive set of tools and functionalities that support app monetization.


Publisher Requirements:

Unity Ads has no minimum download or traffic requirements stated on its website. Any app publisher can get started after reviewing the technical documents that outline the installation and setup processes.


Publisher Benefits:

  • Advanced reporting tools accessible within their Monetize Dashboard
  • Compatible with a broad range of in-app ad formats
  • Access to a large ad exchange with more than 60 unique sources



Unity Ads is one of the highest-rated app mediation platforms on this list. It has a 4.4 out of 5-star rating on G2, where it was also a Spring 2023 Leader award winner.


InMobi is one of the foremost app monetization partners. Within the platform, developers can access a mobile ad network as well as a suite of other monetization tools designed to support mobile publishers. 


Publisher Requirements:

InMobi doesn’t list traffic or download requirements on its websites, but all apps will be subject to a content approval process. Provided your site meets the content standards, you should have no problem passing. 


Publisher Benefits:

  • Access to premium, global demand, including some of the largest brands in the world
  • Industry-leading mobile SDK (software development kit)
  • Compatible with a wide range of ad formats



InMobi enjoys positive reviews across reviewing sites. The platform has a 9.2 out of 10-star rating on TrustRadius and a 3.3 out of 5-star rating on G2.


TapJoy is a mobile offerwall solution for app developers. The solution includes an ad network for apps and a suite of other app monetization tools.


Publisher Requirements:

TapJoy doesn’t list any traffic or download requirements, and developers can sign up using the form on the website. 


Publisher Benefits:

  • Access to unique and advanced customizable offerwall
  • Ad revenue increases up to 30% higher than generic offerwalls
  • Unlocks high-value demand



Reviews of TapJoy are mixed — the platform has a 3.5 out of 5-star rating on G2 and 6.3 out of 10 stars on TrustRadius — but don’t worry.


SmartyAds is a cross-channel, full-stack programmatic advertising platform that provides a reputable ad network as well as an SSP in addition to a plethora of other monetization tools.


Publisher Requirements:

The platform doesn’t have minimum traffic or download requirements listed on its website.


Publisher Benefits:

  • A full-stack ad platform complete with an ad network and other monetization tools
  • Sophisticated reporting tools and user-friendly SSP dashboard
  • Advanced header bidding technology for better eCPMs



Unfortunately, SmartyAds doesn’t have enough reviews to draw any major conclusions, but the reviews the platform does have are positive. Its overall rating on G2 is 4 out of 5 stars.  

Get App Monetization Right With Playwire

There’s a lot to wade through when it comes to choosing the right ad network. And ad networks are just one tiny piece of the puzzle.

Managing your own tech stack within the complex ad space can be a nightmare. There are so many opportunities for failure, and the ad tech landscape is ever-changing. So the work is never done.

As for app versus web publishing, in-app advertising poses an entirely unique set of challenges that many publishers don’t have the time or resources to attack.

That’s why most publishers opt to work with a revenue partner like Playwire

When you team up with us, we do the dirty work for you. You can access the features and tools you need to reach your ad revenue goals without the headache. 

Want to get started? Contact us online to learn more.

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