Top iPhone Ad Networks for Publishers

by Brook Lenox on December 11, 2010

How do you monetize your iPhone applications?

One way is to display ads in your apps. You integrate your apps with a mobile ad network. They serve ads in your apps and send you a check monthly.  Below is a list of iPhone app ad networks for publishers, with what I think are their strengths and weaknesses.

iAds for Publishers

iAds is currently my favorite ad network.     

High eCPMs

They consistently deliver high CPMs. CPM stands for “cost per thousand”.  It is the cost an advertiser is willing to pay for 1,000 ad impressions. It can also be estimated if an advertiser is paying per click. Then it’s called an eCPM (or effective CPM).

I think iAds drives high eCPMs because:

1) Advertisers like being associated with the Apple brand,
2) Apple has lots of anonymous user information that they can use to target ads, and
3) The iAd experience is a rich media experience completely in-app.  This creates a more effective ad unit and drives up eCPM.  

Marketing Focused Team

It’s a bit more of an intangible, but their team is marketing focused.  These guys are really smart marketers. When we talk about how to improve ad performance they get it and always bring valuable ideas to the table. 

Would Like Higher Fill Rates

Fill rate is the % of ads returned for the amount of ad requests you send a network. Because iAds is so new they are still ramping up advertisers. I’d like to be able to serve more of their ads. I’ve already seen their fill rate increase over the past 3 months and I expect this to continue.

Google / Admob

Google and Admob both have Publisher solutions. Since Google acquired Admob they are becoming more and more connected. On top of that, they share several similar features.

High Fill Rate

If you are not filling all your ad requests, you are losing money. Both Google and Admob have nearly 100% fill rates at very high volumes.

Sales Focused Team

I’ve noticed that Google (and Admob as well) are more number driven. More sales person like, than marketing person like. They can help you analyze the numbers which can be quite helpful, but sometimes it ends there.

Would Like Higher eCPMs

AdSense is a very powerful web advertising network based on content. It doesn’t perfectly transfer over to the word of iPhone apps.  Google can’t simply scrape an app for content.  So Google is in the process of figuring out how to target the app to the advertiser. As a result eCPMs suffer.  

Millennial Media

Medium eCPMs / Fill Rates

In my experience, Millennial has offered medium eCPMs and fill rates. I’ve seen higher fill rates with Google and higher eCPMs with iAds. But as your impressions grow, a network like Millennial is indispensable, because they can increase your overall eCPM and revenue.

Hybrid Brand / ROI Focused Campaigns

Millennial being mobile focused has done a good job of marketing itself to both app developers and brands. iPhone app developers’ love that they can track conversions and will focus on driving down cost per download. Brands like Millennial because they know mobile and are developing rich media solutions to engage mobile users.

Would like an increase in both eCPMs and fill rates

It’s pretty simple. I’d like to see an increase in both eCPMs and fill rates with Millennial.


You might also look into:

  • Jumptap
  • InMobi


Compared to even two years ago, you’ve got many many choices as an iPhone app publisher.  Hope this helps you know a little more about what you’re getting before you dive in.

Best of luck!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelley February 15, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Hey there – I have been researching – is there a $1 million minimum spend to be in the iAd network or can this be used as a local developer?

Brook Lenox February 25, 2011 at 1:11 pm

@ Kelley – it was $1M. Now it is $500k.

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