With 90% of apps now free, your best chance of generating steady revenue with your app is to include in-app ads. Sadly, by integrating in-app ads, you’re most likely ticking off your users (just look at the recent meteoric rise of ad blockers). So, if you are like most devs, you’re kinda stuck. You had to integrate in-app ads, but you probably don’t want to ask your users what they think of them. However, when implemented correctly, in-app ads can be huge revenue and retention difference makers. Thus, with a little strategy tweaking, you don’t have to settle for the negative consequences of implementing in-app ads.

At Adscend Media, we’ve seen thousands of publishers monetize with ads successfully, without angering their users. We know that ads are still capable of generating revenue AND contributing to a positive user experience. To achieve this happy medium, you have to first analyze your current in-app ads to learn about potential pain points they may be causing your users. Then, you need to work on ensuring that your ads deliver real value for users. So, how about we start that process right now?

9 Reasons Why Users Hate Your In-App Ads

  • There’s No Incentive to Click: Your users may be generous, but they are not THAT generous. Sure, they will make a purchase from your ads if they are interested, but they won’t simply make a purchase just to help you out. If you want users to scratch your back, you have to scratch theirs. This practice will soon become the norm of in-app ads, with recent studies showing that users overwhelmingly prefer to be rewarded for clicking on ads.
  • Your Ads are Too Small: Is that an ad for Disneyland? Dentures? Daytona 500? With smaller in-app banner sizes requiring department store reading glasses, your users can’t often tell what your banner ads are even selling. In-app banners are often too small, killing your chances for a conversion while bugging your users at the same time. We wonder why anyone would go the banner route anymore, as most mobile banner clicks are accidental anyway.
  • They’re Too Tough to Close Out: It’s bad enough that you served an ad to your users, now they can’t close out of it! Can you hear their collective screaming? If you have an ad unit with a glitchy or tough to find close button, you will definitely raise some user blood pressure.
  • There’s No Relation: You’re pumped to be using your new running app. Ah, you just ran your first 5K! Congrats. You go to view your time and see an ad for Dunkin Donuts. It’s like they don’t even know you. SMH running app, SMH. Sadly, this happens all too often with in-app ads, as the majority of users feel that mobile ads aren’t relevant.
  • Our Fingers are Too Fat: We could all stand to lose a few pounds. However, even skipping that extra mozzarella stick won’t cause your users to register less false ad clicks. As mentioned above, many in-app ads are small and most ad clicks are accidental, a fact that even Google has been trying to address. However, the “fat finger” phenomenon doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
  • Your Ads Are Disruptive: Users get pumped when they get past a huge level or dive deeper into your app. They want to keep the enjoyment train rolling. However, they now have to sit through an ad before they can move on. It’s like they have been put in “time out,” as most users see these ads as intrusive.
  • Users Don’t Trust Your Ads: Can you stand behind every ad that is displayed in your app? Are you familiar with every one of your advertisers? You probably aren’t on a first name basis with your advertisers, so you can’t expect your users to be. Thus, it’s natural that there is a reasonable amount of distrust for your in-app ads. Recent studies back up this assertion, as less than 25% of users trust online ads.
  • You’re Making Users Feel Like Hoarders: If your ads aren’t placed right, users will feel the clutter. One thing everyone hates, especially Millennials, is a messy UI. 
  • They Aren’t Going to Make a Purchase: Not many of us would continue to shop for a house if we weren’t looking to buy. Yet, we expect users to sit through ads even though they have no intention of making a purchase? Seems crazy, but you are probably going this route with your ads. A recent SWRVE study showed how few people purchase from apps, with only 0.15 percent of users accounting for 50% of all mobile in-game revenue.


Wow. That was Gloomy. But Chin Up,You Can Turn Your In-App Ad User Experience Around:

Let Users Opt-In to Ads: Ads don’t have to always be served unrequested. Rewarding ad options like offer walls or rewarded video allow users to choose to interact with ad units in order to earn valuable in-app rewards free of charge. Essentially, users can save their $1.99’s for a rainy day, as these ad units let users obtain in-app items for just spending a few minutes of their time, or by completing a quick action like downloading an app.

By giving your users the choice on when to interact with ads, you have already moved past most of traditional in-app pitfalls listed above. Rewarding ad units have also proven to be quite effective, as we have seen US eCPMs as high as $90 and big retention boosts for devs using our Offer Wall. Additionally, by removing price as a factor in making in-app purchases, you are able to monetize the majority of your users who will never make an in-app purchases (which only 5% of users actually do) and actually whet their appetite for more IAPs.

Provide Value: Ads can do more than just pester users. Developers have actually been using rewarding ads to provide a lifeline to users who are stuck on a tough level, need a character upgrade, or are looking to access an app or game’s premium features. Integrating a rewarding ad unit into your app will allow you to provide valuable rewards to users, especially when they need them most (take that endless runners!). For example, adding rewarded video into your ad mix lets users watch a short app trailer in order to earn in-app rewards. This ad unit is becoming increasingly popular in mobile gaming, as it allows users to experience more of a game without having to spend their hard-earned dollars. A recent Unity study further echoed this sentiment, as the study reported that 71% of players prefer watching video ads to spending money for in-game content.

Request Feedback and Give Options: Not sure which types of ads your users prefer? Ask them! The next time you send out a newsletter or send a message via your social channels, make sure to ask your users which types of ads they prefer. Everyone is different, as some prefer video ads, while others prefer app downloads. An offer wall can also be a strong option to gauge user ad preference, as most offer walls allow users to choose between video, app download, survey, and multiple offer types to earn rewards. Thus, by providing users with ads in their preferred format, you will naturally increase your retention and engagement.


TLDR Summary

Your users probably aren’t fans of your in-app ads. Besides eliminating them all together, your best option is to listen to your users’ desired ad preference, give users multiple options, and always provide value with your ads. Ads should be seen as a “two-way street.” Thus, if you want to generate more revenue from your ads, you need to give users value. Rewarded ads can help greatly in this matter, by eliminating price as a factor for IAPs, while allowing you to still generate revenue.

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