Welcome to our new guide on mobile app monetization. If you have a mobile app available on Apple’s App Store, Google Play or any other Android store, you might want to monetize it somehow. There are many ways of earning money with your app and our new series will show you how to generate profit with your apps!

Please be aware that this guide will mostly focus on the perspective of app publishers and developers. We’ve created an overview of how to distinguish mobile advertising networks.

This first guide seeks to give you an introduction in mobile app monetization. After explaining the key terms associated with mobile app monetization, I’ll give you a short introduction to mobile advertising networks and how to choose the best one for your app.

During the next weeks we will cover other strategies like paid apps, in-app-purchases, subscription models, virtual currencies in social networks and merchandising. Make sure to sign up to our newsletter to stay updated!

The second part of the series discusses app monetization through paid apps and in-app purchases and can be found here.

Key Terms For Mobile App Monetization

Knowing the key terms for mobile app monetization is important in order to understand the differences amongst various mobile ad networks.

Ad Slot

The area in your app that is defined to show the advertisement (in the form of a banner). Ad slots can differ from “page” to “page” within your app.


Banners are graphical elements that display an advertisement in your app. MMA (Mobile Marketing Association) defines banners in four sizes:

Small: 120 x 20 pixels;2KB file size (animated GIF 3KB);
file formats supported GIF, JPG, PNG

Medium: 168 x 28 pixels; 4KB file size (animated GIF 6KB);
file formats supported GIF, JPG, PNG

Large: 216 x 36 pixels; 6KB file size (animated GIF 9KB);
file formats supported GIF, JPG, PNG

Extra Large: 300 x 50 pixels; 10KB file size (animated GIF 15KB);
file formats supported GIF, JPG, PNG


CPM stands for Cost Per Mille (Cost Per Thousand) and defines the price paid by an advertiser to show their ad 1000 times.


eCPM stands for effective Cost Per Mille and explains how much revenue you’ll get for displaying advertisements to 1000 people.
The formula for eCPM is “Total Earnings/Impressions x 1,000.”

Fill Rate

Fill Rate explains the percentage of ad requests (i.e. your app requesting to show an ad) that is actually filled with an ad. Mobile ad networks with a low Fill Rate may result in losing potential revenue.


Defines the moment when an ad is served to a user.


The moment when an app requests an ad from the ad server.

Screen Size

Screen size (also called resolution) defines the width x height of a mobile device’s visible screen measured in pixels.


SDK stands for software development kit and describes a short code snippet that needs to be included in your mobile app to display advertisements. SDKs may also offer tracking or other services.

Overview of Mobile Advertising Networks

There are many mobile advertising networks around and, in fact, the market is fairly fragmented and no network is dominant. When choosing an ad network for your app, you should decide based on different factors.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Mobile Advertising Network

  • Fill Rate
  • (e)CPM
  • Served Countries
  • Platform Availability
  • Forms of Advertisements Served (Image, rich media, etc.)

I’ve listed the websites of a few mobile ad networks below. Please be aware that there is no specific order!

Overview Mobile Ad Networks

Google AdMob

AdMob was acquired by Google in 2009. It’s integrated into Google’s AdWords platform and serves a huge audience. AdMob is available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7. Google’s mobile ad network serves interactive ad units and custom search ads.


InMobi serves standard and rich media ads on a global scale and integrates with iOS, Android and Windows Phone.


Madvertise offers innovative advertising formats such as rich media and pre-roll/video. It offers publishers real-time reporting and the SDK supports Android and iOS.


Smaato aggregates over 90 mobile ad networks worldwide and serves to over 230 countries all over the globe. Available formats are standard and rich media mobile ads. The SDK is available for many platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry and more.


Adfonic serves mobile ad advertisings on a global scale in form standard, rich media or video advertisements. The media buying platform now also offers a Mobile DSP as well as Real Time Bidding. The SDK is available for iOS and Android.


LeadBolt allows to monetize your mobile app in the three different phases of the app usage cycle: Upon installing the app, while using it and while it’s not active but installed. Standard and rich media ads are available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone amongst others.

Millennial Media

Millennial Media offers premium advertisers across every major vertical and serves ads through interactive video, rich media or banner ads. The SDK supports iOS, Android and Windows Phone amongst others.

This is only a short list of mobile ad networks and there are many more available. Please share your experiences with these or other networks in the comments section below and I’ll make sure to include them in this post.

How to Implement Multiple Mobile Ad Networks

If you want to implement multiple mobile ad networks in your app, AdWhirl is a great tool to improve your fill rate and eCPM. Based on priorities, you can select multiple ad networks and the SDK will choose the most profitable one in your app.

To Be Continued

During the next weeks we’ll talk about more strategies to monetize your mobile app besides displaying advertisements. There are many ways and some might work better for your app than others. This series will also talk about app user acquisition and mobile app marketing.

Do you want to monetize through paid apps or in-app purchases? Then check out the second part of our mobile app monetization series here.

Want to get started with app user acquisition now? Check out our infographic on App Store Optimization. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated!