July 5, 2011
As OSes get more sophisticated (see: iOS 5.0 and Android Honeycomb) and new devices continue to push the mobile tech envelope, user experience and overall aesthetics are becoming even more critical components of app design.
In short: higher quality hardware/software breeds higher quality apps.
To stand-out nowadays, in a much more polished app store, you need to ensure that all your p’s and q’s are in order before publishing your app, and that goes doubly for things like in-app advertising.
Dropping in ads as an after-thought just isn’t going to cut it anymore; not only do monotone, text based ads (the absolute ground-floor of mobile advertising) not engage users, they’re fast becoming outdated in a sea of rich media and iAd style interactive ads.
Take a look at 3 key benefits of building your apps with advertising in mind, and some basic tips to make your apps appealing to both users and advertisers alike.
1. User Flow
Most developers build their apps around a single idea or with a specific goal in mind – example: I like farts and I want as many fart sounds in one soundboard as humanly possible.
There are a few ways to go about this, but let’s just look at two possible executions: 1. A single paged, vertical list of the various sounds available, and 2. Multiple pages with illustrative tiles that users can scroll through horizontally. Both have their pros and cons from a development perspective, but also from an optimal ad placement perspective as well. With the former, anchoring a 320×50 display unit at the top or bottom of the screen, or incorporating the same unit throughout the list for every 4-5 sounds would be a great way to proceed. While you could have the same ad placement on the second application as well, the fact that users would be engaging with the whole screen means it would be a great opportunity to incorporate interstitials as well, like a 300×250 or fullscreen ad unit every 2-3 pages.
There are a variety of combinations you could employ. Whichever type of app you ended up building, you’d want to make sure you spent some time looking closely at user flow, how users would be engaging with the app, and obviously where they’re going to be spending most of their time to determine where the ideal location for an advertisement would be.
What you wouldn’t, under any circumstances, want to do, is build your app out in its entirety and realize that the only place to drop in an ad is on some settings or about us page that has space to accommodate it, but not enough traffic to justify it.
2. Ad Network Lead Time
Not only does building your app with advertising in mind mean you’re more likely to incorporate it more seamlessly into the UI/UX of the app, but it also gives you an opportunity to capture more exciting opportunities that require longer lead times.
Ad networks like to secure campaigns as far in advance as possible. For example, many networks were finalizing back-to-school campaigns before school even let out for the summer. So, if you’re waiting to drop in ads as the last piece of the app puzzle before you ship out to the app store, you may be missing out on many first-come, first-serve campaigns that are being secured months in advance of their launch.
Also, more technically involved integrations, like app re-skinning or rich media take over units, take slightly longer to integrate and test than regular display units. Therefore, the earlier you know you’re going to be releasing an ad-supported app, the earlier it can be brought to the attention of ad networks so they can factor that into the overall planning and execution of the campaign.
3. Incorporating Brand Safety
Another way you can ensure your app has the greatest appeal and access to premium inventory is by making a few conscious decisions regarding your target audience and app content.
Networks love apps that can cater to a wide variety of audiences, and tend to shy away from apps that include references to adult content (like violence, sex, alcohol, tobacco, profanity, etc.). Now that’s not to say that all apps have to be rated-G to get the best rates, but any app where a network can advertise Visa, Coke, Allstate, Warner Bros., Lexus, and the host of other brands and tier-one entities it receives RFPs (requests for proposals) from everyday, will tend to be featured in more campaign requests and be more regularly tapped for higher paying ads. Advertisers are constantly looking for the perfect place to target an audience that will be engaged and interested, so the more networks your app can work with, the better.
To sum it up, we’ll bring you back to our original example. A good way to think about it is if we had a choice to create both a fart-only soundboard and a funny sounds soundboard. Creating the two different applications would ensure that you have the best access to brand safe demand (in the latter app), while still fulfilling your dream of creating the greatest fart soundboard ever (in the former app). These two apps also ensure you’re tapping into the highest paying rates possible, because you had the foresight to design your app(s) with advertising in mind!
If you begin building your app for advertisers, you’re more likely to designate higher traffic areas for ads and can more easily incorporate different ad sizes and formats throughout your app, which will lead to a higher overall CTR. Higher engagement means happier users and, ultimately, more premium campaign dollars being sent your way.