This article lists top 15 mobile ad networks to acquire game players in a power ranking of apps by AppsFlyer.
Why are some games successful, and some never live up to the hype? Engaged users are the key – but where will you find users, especially if you’re just starting in the game or app business?
First users are the hardest to find – nobody heard of your game yet. That’s why you should think of promoting the app. The first step would be choosing an ad network for your promotional campaign. That is why we listed top ad networks for acquiring Android and iOS game players. Data we used is from “AppsFlyer Performance Index”, which comes out two times a year.
If you already have some successful games, think about cross-promotion. Cross-promotion is where you use one game to promote another.
AppsFlyer is a global leader in mobile attribution and marketing analytics. First one was released in 2015. In the latest publication, 14.5 billion of installs and 250 media ad networks are analyzed. AppsFlyer only included media that met strict conditions for anti-fraud practices and low fraud rate.
Let’s take a look at top 15 mobile ad networks to acquire game players!
Facebook Ads are widely used – there is no minimum budget and no special registration is needed. Facebook still holds the top spot in all verticals and all regions – not surprising since Facebook has 2,3 billion monthly active users. Creating a new campaign will consist of choosing your marketing objective, ad format and audience you wish to target. 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
Find more information about image ads here
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
Find more information about image ads here
– this format allows to showcase up to 10 images or video 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
File type: JPG or PNG
Recommended ratio: 1:1
Find more information about carousel ads here
– ad format that makes it easier for people to discover, browse and purchase products and services from their mobile device
Placements: Facebook Feed, Instagram Feed
File type: image or video
Recommended ratio: 9:16 to 16:9
Find more information about collection ads here
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 a certain languages
Detailed Targeting – include or exclude people from an 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 – target audiences of people you already know created from the information you provide or from information generated on Facebook’s products
- Instant Articles
- In-stream videos
- Right column
- Native, banner and interstitial
- In-stream videos
- Rewarded videos
- Sponsored messages
2. Google Ads
Google is still second to Facebook, despite Google’s share in the non-organic app install pie increased by 23% worldwide. Google’s rise in the Index is the result of the search giant’s focus on mobile. Mobile Ads on Google are displayed within the
Depending on where they appear – 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, a
Google Network is divided into groups so you can choose where your ad will appear
The Search Network
The Display Network – Google sites like YouTube, Blogger, and Gmail, plus thousands of partner sites across the Internet
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 -available upon contact of AppLovin representative for further information.
– you can 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. 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
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 the metadata, screenshots and app previews provided on 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
– 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
5. Unity Ads
Unity is a world known real-time creation platform used to create half of the world’s games, and 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. Most favorable and engaging advertising format is rewarded video. Nearly 70% of users have a positive attitude towards in-app rewards. Unity also offers mediation of your ads to maximize your monetization, offering methods like traditional waterfalls or unified auction method.
To create the 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.
– the best option would be to upload the vertical and horizontal video so the Unity’s valuation algorithm selects the best orientation to display
length: 30 seconds max.
recommended file size: 10 MB, maximum file size: 100 MB
– end cards are 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
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
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. IronSources proprietary bid optimization technology and ROAS optimizer allow you to optimize bids across
Video & Carousel
Video & Full Screen
Video & Interactive End Card
Device Type (Phone, Tablet)
ironSource Mobile Ad Network
3-rd 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 Vungle 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 comes with support for multiple languages like Simplified Chinese or Korean. Vungle servers 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 demographic 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)
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. Campaign is 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,
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)
Placement: 3-rd Party Apps
CrossInstall is a programmatic interactive mobile-only ad platform focused on personalized ads. The worldwide reach of CrossInstall across iOS & Google Play is over 2 billion unique device profiles per month. CrossInstall custom-built and data optimized playable ads and performance-based bidder helps mobile advertisers to grow. In 2018, CrossInstall partnered with Facebook to show
– CrossInstall doesn’t list what targeting options they have on their website (more information is avaliable upon contact)
Facebook (Facebook Audience Network, Facebook NewsFeed)
Google (Google UAC, Google Instant Play)
The Trade Desk
10. Twitter Ads
Twitter has around 300 million users that send more than 500 million Tweets each day. With 80% of Twitter’s user accessing the app from mobile device – this is a great opportunity for everybody looking to acquire mobile users.
A great advantage of Twitter Ads is that there is no minimum campaign spend. You can choose a daily budget for your ads. But Twitter recommends starting with at least $30/day to consistently reach audiences.
Ad Formats: Full, Full landscape, Banner, Native, Medium rectangle
Demographics (gender, age)
Location, language, technology
Audience features (refine your audience by selecting features to include or exclude in addition to demographics)
Additional options (target the people who follow your account on Twitter)
Profiles and Tweet detail pages
Twitter Audience Platform
(specific format of ads depending on your campaign objective – these are formats for app installs)
320×480 – Mobile portrait interstitial
480×320 – Mobile landscape interstitial
300×250 – Mobile, tablet
320×50 – Mobile leaderboard
This image and video messaging app
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, categories like household income or parental status
Location – country, location category (like “universities”), radius around a 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
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, drive 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
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
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 the database of over 2 billion unique, fraud-free mobile profiles.
Liftoff trademark is Liftoff Dynamic Ads – a way of generating creatives personalized for specific
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)
Rewarded Video (Video creatives have a 3x higher Click-Through-Rate than static banners.)
Placement: 3-rd Party Apps (Partner Platforms)
– a 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 a video that starts automatically without the user pressing a “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
Formats of 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 favored 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 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.
Direct play is
Offerwall ads give users choice to select their preferred
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 now 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 in 2018 and it brought changes how and what for can user data be used. 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), and in
In this article, mobile ad networks were listed based on the AppsFlyer Performance Index.
AppsFlyer Performance Index is most comprehensive report card on the performance of mobile media sources in 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. Number of apps analyzed was 8,200, and total of app opens was 25 billion.
Power Ranking is Volume and Retention ranking combined. Ranking of the media sources based mostly on the total number of non-fraudulent installs each was attributed for and the number of apps running with a specific source in a given region or a category.
In 2019, the question is no longer is mobile marketing important, but how do I use it for my advantage. “Build it and they will come” can’t apply in the fast world of mobile, right 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.
So why aren’t you advertising on mobile – to acquire more game players?
Each of the ad networks listed in this article has a specific advantage for advertising a game. Some ad networks
Facebook is leading the list, followed by Google Ads. Unity Ads is one of the biggest names on this list, here on the 5th place, while on the power ranking for the app category it was on the 13th place. It is not surprising since the Unity is leading real-time creation platform used to create half of the world’s games, and Unity Ads was launched in 2014.
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