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This article lists the top 15 mobile ad networks to acquire game players. Power ranking of apps was made by AppsFlyer.
Why are some games successful, and some never live up to the hype? Engaged users are the key – but where can you find them?
It is hardest to acquire the first users when nobody heard of your game yet. This is why you should think of promoting your app. The first step is choosing an ad network for your promotional campaign. We’re listing the top ad networks for acquiring Android and iOS players. Data used is from “AppsFlyer Performance Index”, which comes out two times a year.
Edition VIII is the most comprehensive to date, covering over 11,500 apps with a total of 20 billion installs and 39 billion app opens. The data is divided across 11 global regions, and for the first time – it includes Africa & Middle East.
Edition VIII covers the mobile media sources during the second half of 2018, including ROI, retargeting and growth rankings.
Let’s take a look at the top 15 mobile ad networks to acquire game players!
Best Mobile Ad Networks for marketers
Facebook Ads are widely used – there is no minimum budget and no special registration is needed. They still hold the top spot in all verticals and all regions – not surprising since Facebook has over 2,4 billion monthly active users.
Creating a new campaign consists of choosing your marketing objective, ad format, and target audience. When placing a campaign, it’s possible to have your ad shown on Instagram to reach more audience, even if you don’t have an Instagram account.
Placements: Facebook Feed, Facebook Right Column, Facebook Instant Articles, Facebook Marketplace, Facebook Stories, Messenger Stories, Instagram Stories, Instagram Feed, Audience Network Native, Banner and Interstitial, Sponsored Message, Messenger Inbox
File type: JPG or PNG
Image ratio: 9:16 to 16:9
Placements: Facebook Feed, Facebook Instant Articles, Facebook In-Stream Video, Facebook Marketplace, Facebook Stories, Messenger Stories, Facebook Suggested Video, Instagram Stories, Instagram Feed, Audience Network Native, Banner and Interstitial, Audience Network In-Stream Video, Audience Network Rewarded Video, Messenger Inbox
File type: most file types are supported
Image ratio: 9:16 to 16:9
This format allows to showcase up to 10 images or videos within a single ad, each with its own link
Placements: Facebook Feed, Facebook Right Column, Facebook Instant Articles, Facebook Marketplace, Facebook Stories, Messenger Stories, Instagram Stories, Instagram Feed, Audience Network Native, Banner and Interstitial, Messenger Inbox
File type: JPG or PNG
Recommended ratio: 1:1
Ad format that makes it easier for people to discover, browse and purchase products and services from their mobile devices
Placements: Facebook Feed, Instagram Feed
File type: image or video
Recommended ratio: 9:16 to 16:9
Locations – target ads to people based on locations (for example country, state, city, zip or postcode)
Age – target ads to people within a certain age range
Gender – target ads to women, men or both
Languages – target ads to users who speak certain languages
Detailed Targeting – include or exclude people from your audience, based on demographics, interests and/or behaviors
Connections – include or exclude people from your audience, based on connections to your Pages, apps or events
Custom Audiences – create a target audience using the information you provide or the information generated on Facebook’s products
Placement in Facebook Ads Manager:
Native, banner and interstitial
Guide for creating Facebook Ads can be found here.
2. Google Ads
Even though Google’s share in the non-organic app install pie increased by 23% worldwide, they are still second to Facebook. Google’s rise in the Index is the result of its focus on mobile. Mobile Ads on Google are displayed within the Google Search Network or Google Display Network.
In the US, 89% of smartphone users can be reached with Mobile Display Network. Every second, there are over 2.3 million searches performed on Google, and Google Ads are included in the majority of search results pages. Display network reaches approximately 90% of global internet users.
Different formats will appear on different devices or within them – in mobile browsers or within apps.
On mobile phones or tablets
App promotion Ads
HTML 5 Ads
Within apps on mobile phones or tablets
App Promotion Ads
Image app promotion Ads
Video app promotion Ads
TrueView for app promotion Ads
Responsive display Ads
location, language, OS, devices, ad scheduling, keywords, site category options, placements, mobile app categories, topics, audiences (remarketing, interest categories, custom combinations, age, and gender)
Google Network is divided into groups so you can choose where your ad will appear
The Search Network results pages, other Google sites like Maps and Shopping, Google Play Store
The Display Network – Google sites like YouTube, Blogger, and Gmail, plus thousands of partner sites across the Internet
Biggest mobile ad network for apps, behind Facebook and Google. AppLovin provides a place where mobile developers can grow and monetize their apps.
According to Applovin, they process over 30 billion advertisement requests a day. They use real-time feedback to make effective marketing decisions across 1 billion mobile consumers worldwide – delivering results for publishers like Disney, Uber, Groupon, CBS, Hotels.com, Yelp, Zynga, King.com and others.
dimensions: 1024×768, 768×1024
file type: JPG, PNG, GIF
file type: JPG, PNG, GIF
Native Image: 1200×627
App Icon: 300 x 300 to 600 x 600
file type: JPG, PNG
Landscape Video: 570×320
Portrait Video: 320×570
File type: MP4, MOV
They enable you to engage your audience through a sample of your app. If you want to implement them, contact an AppLovin representative for further information.
Choose specific countries or one of the predefined groups (Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, Oceania, Western Europe)
– phone or tablet
All Versions, Specific Version
Placement: AppLovin partner network
4. Unity Ads
Unity is a well known real-time creation platform used to create half of the world’s games. Unity Ads was launched in 2014. Game developers can monetize their games, and advertisers reach target audiences across more than 1 billion unique devices.
Unity Ads is a network with the highest ARPU (average revenue per user) of any global rewarded video ad network. Rewarded video is the most favorable and engaging advertising format. Nearly 70% of users have a positive attitude towards in-app rewards.
Unity also has the option of mediating your ads to maximize your monetization – offering methods like traditional waterfalls or unified auction method.
To create a campaign, you need to complete the following 3 steps:
– add one or more creative packs
– add countries you would like to advertise in
– add tracking attribution links
Unity recommends a minimum campaign budget of $2,000 and a daily budget of $500 per country. To start advertising, you’ll need to add funds to your advertising account and the minimum deposit is $1000.
Best option would be to upload both the vertical and horizontal version so that Unity’s valuation algorithm can select the best orientation to display
Length: 30 seconds max.
recommended file size: 10 MB, maximum file size: 100 MB
Creative assets displayed at the end of an ad with a call to action for users to download the advertised product
format: JPG or PNG
resolution: 800 x 800 for square end card
otherwise, use 800 x 600-pixel resolution for landscape images and 600 x 800 for portrait images
Internet Connection – WiFi or cellular
Operating System – minimum OS version/maximum OS version
Device (Apple only)
Screen Size (Google only)
– small (at least 426 x 320 pixels)
– normal (at least 470 x 320 pixels)
– large (at least 640 x 480 pixels)
– xlarge (at least 960 x 720 pixels)
Screen Density (Google only)
– ldpi (120dpi)
– mdpi (160dpi)
– hdpi (240dpi)
– xhdpi (320dpi)
– xxhdpi (480dpi)
– xxxhdpi (640dpi)
Placement: Unity Ad Network, 3rd-Party Apps
5. Apple Search Ads
Focused only on iOS App Store, Apple Search Ads helps users discover your app within plenty of other ads. Two versions are available – depending on your needs, Apple Search Ads Basic and Apple Search Ads Advanced.
With over 70% of App Store visitors use search to discover apps and with 65% of downloads coming directly from App Store search, it is a valuable marketing tool.
It only exists for 2 years, ranking 10th in 2016. In 2017 it proved itself as a much better channel, ranking in 4th place. With $100 credit from Apple, you’ll be able to try Basic Search Ads for free.
You are eligible for a new account credit if you are a developer and registered account holder on App Store Connect.
Ad formats: Auto-generated ads (Ads are automatically created using metadata, screenshots and app previews provided in the App Store)
Apple Search Ads Plans:
– pay only for installs at a cost you choose
– intelligent automation
– minimal management
– for budgets up to 10,000 USD per app, per month
– choose keywords and audiences for your ads
– set your own bids and budgets
– detailed reports of all key metrics
Search Match (automatically matches the ad to the relevant searches)
Keywords (you can choose your own keywords or the ones Apple suggests)
Customer Types (you can show your ads to new customers, existing customers, users of your other apps or to everyone)
Demographics (gender, age-range)
Placement: Top of the relevant search results in the App Store
Give this Mobile Ad Networks a shot
Chartboost is the largest in-app monetization and mobile advertising platform. Chartboost’s SDK reaches over 900 million unique users every month across more than 300,000 mobile apps.
Through Chartboost Exchange, Ad Network and Influence, Chartboost empowers game developers to earn top eCPMs, while connecting advertisers to highly engaged audiences.
SDK from Chartboost is the highest integrated independent mobile ad SDK. Campaigns are easy to set up in a self-service dashboard that helps you target and acquire users who matter.
– Playable Ads
– Rewarded Video
– Interstitial Video
– Enriched Static with Animated GIFs
By Apps/By Players
– Genres (Action, Adventure, Card & Dice, Casino, Educational, Family & Board Games, Music, Puzzle, Racing, Role Playing, Simulation & Real Life, Sports, Strategy, Trivia, Non-Game)
– Game Audiences (Hardcore, Midcore, Casual)
– Audience Genders (Female Oriented, Male Oriented, Neutral Oriented)
Countries (Targeting all countries/Targeting some countries)
– there is a possibility to exclude a specific country
OS version (Minimum OS Version/Maximum OS Version)
Device Types (Targeting all device types/Targeting selected device types)
Connectivity (Targeting only devices on Wi-Fi networks)
Placement: 3-rd Party Apps
Focused on video mobile advertising, AdColony ad network reaches an audience of 1.4 billion engaged mobile users. With the 2nd largest SDK penetration of the Top 1000 apps on iOS and Android, AdColony’s focus is on high impact full-screen experiences that engage users and drives results for advertisers.
In 2017, AdColony partnered with NinthDecimal to provide better campaign planning, targeting, and measurements based on consumer attention and buying behaviors.
To start acquiring new users you need to contact an account executive for assistance.
AdColony recommends a 20 to 30 second creative as those have the strongest user engagement. They also offer video creation services
Dynamic End Card
Instant-Play™ Video – a video that instantly loads
Platform (iOS, Android)
Device (iPad, iPhone, Android Tablet)
Connection Type (WiFi, 4G)
Geography (Region, Country, City, DMA)
Content (games, entertainment, news…) and more
Placement: 3rd-Party Apps
Vungle offers different ad formats within its mobile-app network. Roughly half of Vungle’s business is in mobile games. Zain Jaffer, CEO of Vungle, describes it as a performance-based marketing channel. More than 25,000 app developers across iOS, Android and Windows work with Vungle.
In March of 2018, Vungle announced the global availability of Self-Serve Platform, which automatically converts uploaded video content into a variety of advertising creatives.
The platform supports multiple languages. Vungle serves more than 2 billion video ads impressions a month to more than 235 million unique consumers around the world.
Ad formats: (creatives templates)
Square Dynamic Interstitial
Vungle combines Nielsen DAR demographics data with their first-party and performance data
Device (phone or tablet)
Connection (all connection types or WiFi only)
Placement: 3-rd Party Apps (Vungle’s ad partners are: AdMob, MoPub, IronSource, Fyber, DoubleClick For Publishers, HeyZap)
IronSource, one of the 18 unicorn companies in Israel, is specialized for ads in the gaming industry. This is the biggest meditation platform when it comes to gaming. IronSources proprietary bid optimization technology and ROAS optimizer allow you to optimize bids across app, geo, and device. With one of the largest mobile video SDK’s in the industry (with over 80K integrations), they have a large amount of in-game supply in which to run AR ads directly to most engaged gamers. In 2017, they were the first company that launched AR ads for games.
Video & Carousel
Video & Full Screen
Video & Interactive End Card
Device Type (Phone, Tablet)
ironSource Mobile Ad Network
3-rd Party Apps
Liftoff is a full-service mobile app marketing and retargeting platform. It uses post-install data to optimize user acquisition and retention campaigns. Liftoff ad network is focused on actions beyond the install, with a database of over 2 billion unique, fraud-free mobile profiles.
Litfoff’s platform is available after you contact their representative through the contact form.
Liftoff trademark is Liftoff Dynamic Ads – a way of generating creatives personalized for specific geos, OS’s and screen sizes that saves your team hours of designing ads.
Liftoff builds lookalike audiences by identifying the demographics and interests of your most engaged users and then targeting them.
Placement: 3-rd Party Apps (Liftoff Partner Ad Network)
Have you heard of this mobile ad networks?
11. Digital Turbine
Digital Turbine is both a Mobile Delivery Platform and an App Advertising Platform. An App Advertising Platform connects advertisers and agencies with new customers on the largest global telecom partners around the world.
It bypasses app stores and goes device-to-device with sponsored recommendations and native preloads. Digital Turbine delivered over 1 billion sponsored app installs and has partnered with 70% of the top apps on Google Play.
If you’re looking for global reach and scale, with access to over 150 million devices in more than 190 countries, Digital Turbine is a good choice for you.
Ad Formats: Dynamic Preloads, Recommendation Wizard, Dynamic Installs, Native App Preloads
Placements: Digital Turbine Ad Network (30+ world’s leading mobile operators)
AppLike is a direct traffic mobile user acquisition platform. AppLike collects the age and gender data of their users. It is also possible to target users based on specific games they are currently playing. AppLike recommends games to their users through video ads placed as content in their app AppLike.
Through AppLike app, users earn money by installing and testing Android apps and games. In reality, users earn virtual coins they can redeem for Google Play and Amazon gift cards or credit for PayPal accounts. A maximum of 10 games is recommended to the users (based on their social and app usage data).
Rewarded Video (Video creatives have a 3x higher Click-Through-Rate than static banners.)
Placement: 3-rd Party Apps (Partner Platforms)
Tapjoy is a mobile advertising channel founded in 2007, with 500M+ data points, 50+ proprietary, first-party data segments, and 1B+ App installs. It has 600 million global monthly active users (125 million only in the United States).
With an 85% average completion rate, a 5% average click-through rate and a 10-seconds average user watching time per ad – it is the ideal advertising channels for mobile gaming.
In exchange for premium content, customers can choose advertisements or offers that are appealing to them.
Customizable interface that blends into the game experience (with a range of options – from colors and currency icon to transition)
Direct Play/Rewarded Video
– ad units that take over the whole screen and play the video automatically, without the user pressing the “play” button
– ads that completely fill the entire mobile screen
– only PPV, rich media and CPC ad types are supported through the full-page ad unit
ad sizes: 320×250, 748×720, 1000×490
Other ad-unit Types
– such as “Message to Earn” and “Native to Earn”
– iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Windows
– All Countries/Selected Countries/US DMA Only
iOS Device Versions
– All iOS Versions/some iOS Versions
Android Device Versions
– All Android Versions/Some Android Versions
– All Connection Types/Wi-Fi Only/3G Only
Placement: 3-rd Party Apps
An image and video messaging app developed in 2011, it became famous for the video feature ‘Stories’ (later copied by Facebook and Instagram). In 2018, almost a quarter of Americans used Snapchat – this puts it ahead of LinkedIn, Twitter and WhatsApp.
Most of the social network’s growth was driven by advances in India, Eastern Europe, and Australia. There are over 3 billion snaps sent every day, and Snapchat Stories are reportedly viewed 10 billion times a day. Ads were introduced in 2015 – via the ad feature platform “Discover”.
It allows publishers to advertise their third-party short-form content. With Discover, users browse different content from partners like CNN, The Food Network, Cosmopolitan, DailyMail, Yahoo! News…
Ad formats: Snap Ads, Collection Ads, Story Ads, AR Lenses, Filters
Interests & Behaviors – target Snapchatters based on the things they like and do
Demographics – targeting by age, gender, and categories like household income or parental status
Location – country, location categories like “universities”, radius around specific addresses
Custom Audiences – retargeted Snapchatters who have already seen your ads or engaged with your business
Lookalikes – expand your reach by finding Snapchatters similar to your existing customers
Placement: Snapchat Ad Network
Fyber’s network offers scale and direct access to 10K+ top-ranking apps with over 1.2B monthly active users, through a direct, in-app SDK integration. Fyber offers a variety of high impact, high viewability formats with high completion rates.
With direct tracking of viewability, completion, and click-through-rates, you’ll easily see how your ads are performing and devise ways of engaging with mobile audiences.
Ad Formats: Landscape video, Square video, Rewarded video, Vertical video, Interstitial video, MREC video
Targeting: demographic, behavioral and ad engagement data. “Build-your-own” audience capabilities are also available to generate packages according to device IDs, parameter filtering, cookie syncing, and whitelists/blacklists.
Placement: Fyber’s Ad Network (more than 10K+ SDK-integrated mobile apps from the world’s top publishers)
Formats of Ads
Banner ads are smaller ads that appear at the top or bottom of the screen. Of all ad formats, they perform the worst and thus are not often used anymore.
Native ads are popular in both mobile apps and on the mobile web. These ads are favored because they are integrated into content (for example, news feed or in between levels of a game), allowing for uninterrupted user experience.
Interstitial ads are ads that completely fill the entire mobile screen. They can be found in various areas of an application, including, but not limited to at launch, after main menu screens, and after level completion. Each platform will offer different ad sizes.
Rewarded video is a specific type of ad that is shown in exchange for a reward (unlocking a life to continue playing or in-game currency). They are also called incentivized ads.
Playable ads are interactive ads that users engage with by playing a part of a game or by using an app before downloading. These ads are effective at increasing conversion rates, user retention, and revenue.
Ad units that take over the whole screen and play the video automatically, without the user pressing the “play” button.
Offerwall ads give users the choice to select their preferred ad experience in return for in-app currency. It’s the most customizable ad experience.
With more and more data being generated and analyzed, platforms are offering more options for specific targeting of your audience. Some basic options are age and region, but now marketers are targeting audiences based on their gaming history, what device they use, etc.
Some regions, like the EU, have certain obstacles for data manipulation – GDPR was introduced in 2018 and limited how/what for user data can be collected. Targeting is an important factor helping you to acquire users.
There are different ways in which ads are placed in-app or game. On Facebook and Google, ads are most often integrated into the rest of the content (native ads). In games, we’re seeing more and more playable, video or rewarded ads.
In this article, we listed mobile ad networks based on the AppsFlyer Performance Index.
AppsFlyer Performance Index is the most comprehensive report card on the performance of mobile media sources for the first half of 2018.
In the period of January to June of 2018, 250 media ad networks were evaluated, each with a minimum of 50,000 attributed installs.
Overall number of installs was 14.5 billion. The number of apps analyzed was 8,200, and the total number of app opens was 25 billion.
Power Ranking is Volume and Retention ranking combined. The ranking of the media sources was based mostly on the total number of non-fraudulent installs each of them had; and the number of apps running with a specific source in a given region or category.
Thoughts on mobile ad networks
In 2019, the question is no longer “is mobile marketing important?”, but “how do I use it to my advantage?”. The ‘build it and they will come’ mentality doesn’t apply to the fast-paced world of mobile. Proper advertising is just as important as the product alone.
Games are present in our lives more than ever – according to Google, we spend more than 1 hour on mobile games every day. Mobile games are used while relaxing, while watching TV or before sleeping.
Each of the ad networks listed in this article has a specific advantage for advertising games. Some ad networks require registration and are available only upon contacting their representatives.
Others are completely self-service. Each network has different ad formats, placements and targeting options available.
Facebook is leading the list, followed by Google Ads. One of the biggest names on this list is Unity, here in 4th place. It is not surprising since Unity is the leading real-time creation platform used to create half of the world’s games.
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In 2018 & 2019, Udonis Inc. served over 14.1 billion ads & acquired over 50 million users for mobile apps & games. We’re recognized as a leading mobile marketing agency by 5 major marketing review firms. We helped over 20 mobile apps & games reach the top charts. Want to know how we make it look so effortless? Meet us to find out.