Why We Should Give Mobile App Display Ads the RDJr Treatment

In 2008 Robert Downey Jr cemented his comeback to stardom, after a brief stint in rehab, with the release of blockbuster hits Ironman and Tropic Thunder. In 2014 I’m going to tell you why mobile app display ads deserve a comeback akin to RDJr’s acting career. But first…

What are Mobile App Display Ads?

Mobile app display ads appear, much like their name states, within applications on mobile devices. The mobile app display platform takes your text and image ads and promotes them via other application’s available ad space. This particular platform works well for, but is not limited to, marketers with the objective of driving installs on their own applications. As stated by Google, mobile app display ads,“ have worked particularly well for driving clicks and conversions on websites.”


So Why Do They Have a Bad Rep?

Simply put, if mobile app display ads are left unchecked, they can spend a lot of money. I believe that many marketers have accidentally opted into mobile app display ads and suffered the consequences. That is why you will often see search marketers lamenting the wasted spend on what they might have prematurely labeled an inefficient platform.
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While mobile app display ads may not work for all campaign objective, I would not suggest writing them off completely. According to Venture Beat News, in-app display ad revenue has grown 60% YoY and is slated to surpass PC display ad revenue by 2017. With that in mind, it may not be prudent to “avoid the erroneous clicks of children.”


What We Found

Regardless what people on the Internet are say, I’ve personally always been more of a see-it-to-believe-it marketer, so we here are Point It have created our own in-app display campaigns. Here’s what we saw in a two week period:
In our top three campaigns we saw healthy conversion volume, low CPCs ($0.31 across all campaigns) and CPAs at or below our $15 target. To put that in perspective, in mobile app search ads we were seeing average CPCs of $1.04 across all campaigns—that’s 70% higher. CPA’s were significantly higher hovering around $30 and conversion volume on our US search campaign was pacing below our US display campaign two weeks into the month.


How to Make the Right Moves

If you do decide to take advantage of this advertising platform, here are a few pointers on how to build your campaign:
1. Initially, avoid using placements and keyword contextual targeting. If you have a more limited budget, try eliminating the obvious place where you don’t want to run.
2. Wait and collect data.
3. Pull back on areas of low conversion volume.
4. Start implementing managed bids on areas of high performance.
5. If you come to a point where you believe you have significant conversion data, try turning on conversion optimizer.
And in five simple steps you should sit back and reap the benefits of mobile app display ads—we definitely have. So if you’re one of those someone who automatically excludes mobile app display traffic, I encourage you to give them a second chance…like Robert Downey Jr. Who knows, mobile app display ads may become one of your favorite platforms to run on.

tony stark

Aedan Weber About the author
  • I love how you tested mobile apps here and turned the established wisdom on its head. But I have to admit, I’m still skeptical about these placements. Are you willing/able to share whether these were quality conversions, for example, were they real, valuable leads or actual sales?

    May 16, 2014 at 2:50 pm

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