Top 10 ad networks – to acquire iOS users

This article will list 10 most successful ad networks to acquire iOS users. If you wanted to start a discussion in the room full of tech geeks, one of the questions you could ask [...]

December 21, 2018

11 min reading time

This article will list 10 most successful ad networks to acquire iOS users.

If you wanted to start a discussion in the room full of tech geeks, one of the questions you could ask is; what platform is better – iOS or Android? Without a doubt, both of them hold a significant share of the market; Each one of them comes with a different set of pros and cons for the specific network.

Mobile gaming industry is worth over 60 billion dollars.
Mobile gaming industry is worth over 60 billion dollars.

In the United States, 71% of total digital minutes users spend on mobile devices, and from that, 87% is spent in-apps versus mobile web. US adults spend an average of 2 hours and 25 minutes per day using mobile apps, and they engage with 7 apps daily! And 70% of mobile users play mobile games. That number expects to grow to 81% by 2020. Currently, 18% of overall internet traffic is coming from mobile devices, and it expects to grow to 44% in 2022.

Mobile gaming is industry bigger than box offices and McDonalds’s – with annual revenue of $60 billion. 45% of players open a game 5-10+ times each day, 55% will play for over an hour. The United States is one of the biggest mobile gaming markets in the world with almost 193 million players, and globally there are almost 2.1 billion mobile gamers, spread evenly across all demographics. Gaming is the category on which people tend to spend the most time, even more than on social apps. So, what tools to choose to monetize effectively?

Americans spend more and more time on the Internet using their mobile phones.
Americans spend more and more time on the Internet using their mobile phones.

This time we’re going to focus on the top 10 networks to acquire iOS users. To support our efforts, we’re going to use data sourced by Singular composed in Singular ROI (Return on Investment) Index.

Singular’s ROI index is basing on 315M installs distributed over 1.7K+ apps which brought in $1B+ in revenue. Data was collected from 1.2K+ mobile media partners. This study focused solely on the mobile marketing industry – the industry which is predicted to grow more than double in the following 5 years.

iOS – All verticals, all regions

Facebook still holds the top spot in all verticals and all regions – not surprising since Facebook has 1.15 billion monthly active users. Since acquiring Instagram 7 years ago, Facebook introduced advertising on that network too. Today, when placing a campaign, it’s possible to have your ad shown on Instagram, reaching more audience, even if you don’t have an account on that network. Instagram has over 1 billion monthly active users.

Formats of ads: Banner, Interstitial, Native, Rewarded video, In-stream video

Targeting: Age, Gender, Location, Device, Mobile OS, OS version, Interests, Mobile user language

Market: Global

Placement: Feeds, Instant Articles, In-stream video, Right column and Marketplace, also Stories and Messenger

Google’s mobile advertising network. Every second, there are 2.3 million searches performed on Google, and the majority of search results pages include Google ads. In a year, there is 2 trillion Google searches. 1.17 billion people use Google. Google’s market share for U.S. search is 75% in comparison of 10.89% in China. Display network reaches approximately 90% of global internet users. In the US 89% smartphone users are reached with Mobile display which is approximately 126 million users. 64% of users are reached everyday – and great option to acquire iOS users.

Formats of ads: Native, Video, Interstitial

Targeting: Country, Region, Carrier, Connection type, Mobile platform, OS version, Device, Audience (user profile data)

Market: Global

Placement: Youtube, Display Network, 3rd-Party Apps i Google Play

World’s leading real-time engine – it is used to create half of the world’s games. Unity Ads were launched in 2014 to help game developers with the monetization of their games with video ads. Unity is one of the most trusted companies in gaming with staying power backed by a network of over 1 billion gamers across the globe. It is a network with the highest ARPU (average revenue per user) of any global rewarded video ad network. Most favorable and engaging advertising format is rewarding video. Nearly 70% of users have a positive attitude towards mobile app reward, following with 52% for Social click-to-play and 51% for Skippable pre-roll. Unity also offers mediation of your ads to maximize your monetization, offering methods like traditional waterfalls or unified auction method.

Formats of ads: Non-rewarded, Rewarded, Banner

Targeting: Device, Connection, Operating system, Country, Behavioral and more

Market: Global

Placement: Unity Ad Network, 3rd-party apps

Focused only on iOS App Store, Apple Search Ads helps users discover your app within plenty of other ads. There is also a simpler version of this channel – Search Ads Basic, aimed at smaller developers. With over 70 percent of App store visitors use search to discover apps and with 65% of downloads coming directly from App Store search, it’s a valuable marketing tool. It only exists for 2 years, ranking 10th in 2016, in 2017 proved as a much better channel for high ROI users, ranking on the 4th place.

Formats of ads: Auto-generated ads from creatives

Targeting: iOS version, Device (iPhone/iPad), Location, Gender, Age, New/existing customers from other apps from the same advertiser

Market: Global, Basic plan (currently only United States)

Placement: Top of the relevant search results in the App Store

Vungle offers different ad formats within their mobile-app network. Roughly half of their business is games. Zain Jaffer, CEO of Vungle, describes Vungle as performance-based marketing channel. With videos – main format of ads – they’re helping a lot of mobile publishers to generate more traffic and acquire new users. In March of 2018 they announced the global availability of their Self-Serve Platform which automatically converts uploaded video content into a variety of advertising creatives. Platform comes with support for multiple languages like Simplified Chinese or Korean. Vungle works with more than 25,000 app developers across iOS, Android and Windows. They increase brand awareness, market share and direct response by delivering over 2 billion video ads impressions a month to more than 235 million unique consumers around the world.

Formats of ads: Video ads opt-in or auto-play, Skippable or non-skippable and Rewarded or non-rewarded

Targeting: Vungle combines Nielsen DAR demographic data with their first-party and performance data to filter list by age, cohorts, gender, platform…

Market: Global

Placement: 3rd-Party Apps (Corona Labs, Cocos, Unity, Adobe Air)

Mobile marketing channel focused on advertising and building a revenue base. Their focus is on connecting the developers of all sizes to their ideal customer so they can get discovered. This channel analyzes all ad campaign results to focus the campaign on the users who are most likely to interact with the app. According to Applovin, they process over 30 billion advertisement requests a day and use real-time feedback to make effective marketing decisions across 1 billion mobile consumers worldwide – delivering results for publishers like Disney, Uber, Groupon, CBS,, Yelp, Zynga, and and others.

Formats of ads: Video, Playable, Native, Interstitial, Banner

Targeting: Demographics, Device Model and more

Market: Global

Placement: 3rd-Party Apps

Focused on video mobile advertising, AdColony reaches an audience of 1.4 billion engaged mobile users. It is one of the largest mobile ad networks globally. 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, drive results for advertisers, and monetize publishers. Displays on phones improved in the last few years and AdColony recognized that with focusing on the mobile video format – in feed, vertical or edge-to-edge landscape, reaching over 1,5 billion monthly active users. In 2017 they partnered with NinthDecimal to provide better campaign planning, targeting and measurements based on consumer attention and buying behaviours.

Formats of ads: Banners, In-app, Incentivized, Interstitial, Rewarded video, Rich media, video

Targeting: Platform, Device, Connection Type, Geography, Demographics, Content

Market: Global

Placement: 3rd-Party Apps

In comparison to 2016., ROI on Twitter improved significantly. In 2016 Twitter placed 13th on the ROI Index, and in 2017 improved to 8th place. Twitter Ads is Twitter’s advertising channel that offers a variety of targeting options for reaching your audience – in this list only Google and Facebook provide similar options. Twitter has around 300 million monthly active users that send more than 500 million Tweets each day. With 80% of Twitter’s user access the app from their mobile device – this is a great opportunity for everybody looking to acquire mobile users.

Formats of ads: Banners, In-app, Incentivized, Interstitial, Rewarded video, Rich media, Video

Targeting: Mobile OS, OS version, Device (iPhone/iPad), Location, Gender, Age, Mobile connection type, Username (based on the people who they follow), Interest, Tailored audiences, TV targeting, Event Targeting

Market: Global

Placement: all on Twitter, Publisher Network, Twitter Profile, Twitter Search, Twitter Timeline

IronSource, one of the 18 unicorn companies in Israel specialized for ads in the gaming industry. When it comes to gaming, this is the biggest mediation platform. IronSource helps app developers to reach more audience – they claim to be the largest in-app video network and a data-driven user acquisition platform. With one of largest mobile video SDK in the industry, with over 80K integrations, they have large amount of in-game supply in which to run AR ads directly to today’s most engaged gamers. In 2017, they were the first company that launched AR ads for games.

Formats of ads: Interstitials (iOS, Android), Offerwall (Android) or Rewarded Video (iOS, Android) and Native (iOS, Android)

Targeting: Country, Device Type and more

Market: Global

Placement: ironSource Mobile ad network, 3-rd party apps, additional online advertising companies

Tapjoy is mobile advertising channel founded in 2007, with 500M+ data points, 50+ proprietary, first part data segments and 1B+ App installs. It has 600 million global monthly active users (125 million only in the United States). With an average completion rate of 85%, 5% average click-through rate and with average 10 seconds spent on watching the ad it is one of very attractive advertising channels for mobile gaming. In exchange for premium content, customers can choose advertisements or offers that are appealing to them.

Formats of ads: Offerwall Plus, Direct Play/Rewarded Video, Interstitial, Other ad-unit Types

Targeting: demographics, ad behavioral, device type and more

Market: Global

Placement: 3-rd party apps

Mentioned categories

Formats of Ads

Banner Ads

Banner ads are smaller ads that appear at the top or bottom of the screen. They perform the least well of all formats and they are not that often used anymore.


Native ads are popular in both mobile apps and on the mobile web. These ads are favoured for their integration into content, allowing for uninterrupted user experience. They are integrated with the rest of the content (for example, news feed or in between levels of a game).


Interstitial ads are ads that completely fill the entire mobile screen, and can be found in various areas of an application, including, but not limited to at launch, after main menu screens, and after a user completes a level. Each platform will offer different ad sizes.

Rewarded video

Rewarded video is a specific type of video ad that is shown in exchange for a reward, such as unlocking a life to continue playing or for in-game currency. They are also called incentivized ads.

Playable ad

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.

Direct Play

Direct play is ad unit that takes over the whole screen and plays a video that starts automatically without the user pressing a “play” button.


Offerwall ads give users choice to select their preferred ad experience in return for in-app currency. More customizable ad experience.


With more and more data being generated and analyzed, platforms are offering more options for specific targeting of your audience. Some simpler options are age or region, but today marketers are targeting the audience based on their gaming history, what device they use etc. Some regions, like EU, have certain obstacles with data manipulation – GDPR was introduced earlier this year and it brought changes how and for what for can user data be used. Targeting is an important factor helping you to acquire iOS users.


Most of the platforms are globally oriented, but there are still a few big regions that are more attractive because of the larger user base and more lucrative offers.


There are different ways in which ads are placed in-app or game. On Facebook and Google ads are most often integrated in the rest of the content (native ads), and in games we’re seeing more and more playable, video or rewarded ads.

Supporting data

The Singular ROI Index ranks the top-performing mobile media sources on iOS and Android by 30 day ROI, leveraging the larges set of revenue, cost and fraud data in the industry. It combines a proven scoring methodology (quality + scale) with the advanced insights of Singular’s 2017 Fraud Index. The quality factor is based on ROI or revenue divided by cost, the scale factor is based on total ad spend and the fraud factor is penalty based on the percentage of fraudulent installs driven by the media source.


In this article we listed top 10 networks to acquire iOS users. Facebook holds the first place as the largest social network, but advertising channels for mobile gaming industry are experiencing significant growth. There is more data sourced everyday and targeting options are becoming more and more sophisticate. There is a variety of ads to choose from, from interactive to rewarded video ads to help you to acquire iOS users.

One of the important factors to think about is geography, more about choosing the right GEO for your next campaign you can read in our blog post.

About Udonis:

We are an award-winning marketing agency specialized in mobile apps & games. We help scale products that people love, keeping the attention on data and results. Have questions, need help to acquire iOS users? 🤗 Email us at!

Udonis Inc. conducts 300+ split tests every day. We share top insights only on our monthly newsletter.

Slavica Grgić

I'm Slavica, Social Marketing Manager at Udonis. If I'm not writing new blog posts, I'm making sure that everything is picture perfect.