How do you go about choosing an ad network to monetize your app? Ad networks typically specialize in specific ad formats, payment models, geographic regions, and advertiser types. Each has its unique strengths and weaknesses, and no network offers a complete solution to suit everyone’s needs.

In order to maximize an app’s monetization potential, app developers have to monetize it through numerous ad networks. However, logging into multiple ad networks on a daily basis to manage monetization is ineffective. A mediation solution solves this by providing a single SDK through which app developers can mediate between ads from different networks.

What’s the catch?

Mediation solutions are intended to result in an optimal yield for app developers. The issue lies in the fact that most mediation solutions make no money from serving ads from external sources. They merely act as the middleman. While a free service might sound good, it means they need to make money some other way. The vast majority of mediation solutions prioritize their own internal demand (i.e. the advertisers and DSPs directly integrated with their exchange) over ads from external networks, meaning app developers often don’t get the best service.

The solution is transparency

Once you plug in numerous ad networks as your demand sources, you want to ensure fair competition between them in order to maximise your eCPM. All networks should have equal odds of filling your ad requests, and be chosen based on their performance, resulting in the highest-paying ad in each case. This is done through what’s known as a waterfall: a list of integrated networks, prioritized by their historic revenue potential. When choosing a network, the mediation solution starts at the top of the waterfall, requesting ads from the network, and moves down the priority list if the network’s ad pool is exhausted or the payout is too low.

A properly functioning waterfall requires full transparency regarding each ad network’s contribution. The available data should be as granular as possible, and allow you to compare between networks that are extremely diverse in terms of their size and specialization.

Unfortunately, only a fraction of big players in the mediation market provide full visibility on the performance of each ad network per traffic segment (e.g. the performance in a specific country, or of a certain ad format). This lack of transparency leaves you with no guarantee that your ad server’s strategy is serving your best interests.

Ease of use & flexibility are instrumental too

The other vital elements necessary to make the most of your mediation solution are ease of use and flexibility. You want to be able to not only see what’s going on, but also make necessary adjustments quickly and seamlessly. Given today’s technology and high standards for app monetization, there’s no reason to constantly monitor numbers in real time and adjust your waterfall and other settings manually — your mediation solution should be able to do this for you.

On top of this, your mediation solution needs to offer flexibility. Things change frequently. Some ad formats or placements stop working, while new ones start working well. Sometimes ad networks’ performance may decrease as new ad networks with good potential pop up. There are a lot of possibilities and it is crucial to be able to respond quickly and independently.

The ideal mediation solution should be fully automated and completely modular. You have to be able to override or change all the mediation and ad serving settings effectively on your own. This includes easily modifying the list of networks you’re integrated with, the apps you’re monetizing, and the formats and placements you use in each app. You also need the ability to add direct deals you have closed yourself with advertisers, or in-house ads for cross promotion, to your waterfall.

Choose your mediation partner carefully

In order to maximize your profits from advertising in your apps, you’ll need a mediation solution. However, you must choose your mediation partner carefully.

A good mediation solution should optimize revenues by providing good coverage for your users worldwide, stay objective, and let the best ad win in each auction for your impressions. It should save you time by being easy to set up and having a good default automated algorithm. Finally, but also most importantly, a good mediation solution should provide full transparency and control in order to maximize your app’s monetization potential.


This piece was originally featured on Business of Apps. You can also read it in Chinese via ChinaZ.