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In-App Advertising: A Complete Guide in 2024 [Including Best In-App Ad Platforms]

By Adrienne Bosch Last updated: 13 minute read Marketing Guides

The world of advertising has become an intricate maze to navigate in today’s fiercely competitive digital market.

Advertisers continually grapple with the challenge of reaching their target audiences effectively amidst the noise of countless online platforms.

This is where in-app advertising emerges as a powerful tool that can significantly impact how businesses connect with their potential customers.

In this comprehensive guide, we delve deep into the realm of in-app advertising, shedding light on what it entails, its pricing models, the manifold benefits it offers, and the diverse platforms that harness its potential.

Ready to learn all about in-app advertising?

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    What Is In-App Advertising and How Does It Work?

    In-app advertising is a digital marketing strategy that involves placing programmatic ads in mobile applications.

    Ads are usually purchased through app ad networks using a variety of pricing models. There are various types of in-app ads that you can utilize, depending on your needs and the app you’re advertising on.

    The various types of mobile ads include:

    • Banner Ads
    • Interstitial Ads
    • Video Ads
    • Rewarded Video Ads
    • Playable Ads
    • Native Ads
    • Rich Media Ads
    • And more

    In-app advertising is a symbiotic relationship between app developers and advertisers. In-app ads allow app developers to monetize their apps while giving businesses access to their target audience’s attention and engagement.

    In-app ads are highly effective. In fact, they’re such a big avenue for marketers that the US alone spent $165 billion on in-app ads in 2022!

    So, how does in-app advertising work? And how much do in-app ads cost?

    Let’s take a look at how in-app ads work and the different in-app pricing models:

    How Does In-App Advertising Work?

    In-app advertising hinges on a seemingly simple premise: integrating advertisements into the user experience of mobile applications.

    When users engage with these apps, they encounter ads thoughtfully tailored to their preferences and behavior, creating an advertising ecosystem that feels anything but disruptive (when done right, anyway) and allows for a very high level of user engagement. 

    The way in-app advertising works is a bit more complicated. Advertisers purchase programmatic ads on app ad networks, which then automate the placement process and serves targeted ads to app users in real-time.

    To learn more about why in-app advertising is something brands should be thinking about, check out this video by CNBC International TV:

    These advertisements can manifest in various forms, such as unobtrusive banners, full-screen interstitials, engaging video ads, seamlessly blended native content, or even interactive experiences that captivate users without diverting them from their intended app usage.

    Summary: What Are In-App Ads?

    In-app ads are paid ads that are purchased through app ad networks and placed on mobile applications. The types of in-app ads include:

    • Banner Ads;
    • Interstitial Ads;
    • Video Ads;
    • Rewarded Video Ads;
    • Playable Ads;
    • Native Ad; sand
    • Rich Media Ads.

    6 In-App Ad Pricing Models: How Much do In-App Ads Cost?

    In-app advertising rates are calculated using a diverse range of pricing models. 

    Understanding how in-app ad pricing models work is critical for adjusting your in-app advertising approach to your individual marketing goals and budget.

    Whether you want to increase brand awareness, attract new users, or inspire certain activities, in-app advertising provides diverse solutions to help you achieve your goals.

    Standard pricing models for in-app advertising include:

    1. Cost Per Mille (CPM)

    In the CPM model, advertisers pay a predetermined amount for every 1,000 impressions of their ad, irrespective of whether users interact with or act upon viewing it.

    This model is particularly well-suited for brand awareness campaigns as it guarantees exposure to a broad audience, allowing businesses to increase brand visibility.

    2. Price Per Click (PPC)

    With the PPC model, advertisers are charged only when a user actively clicks on their ad. This pricing approach is inherently performance-driven, ensuring you incur costs only when users demonstrate genuine interest in your content.

    It’s an excellent choice for advertisers focused on driving website traffic or app installations.

    3. Cost Per Action (CPA)

    CPA takes performance-based pricing a step further, transforming it into outcome-based marketing. Advertisers pay only when users complete a specific, predefined action, such as installing an app, signing up for a newsletter, or purchasing.

    This model is ideal for marketers seeking tangible and measurable results, as it aligns ad spend directly with desired user actions.

    4. Cost Per View (CPV)

    Predominantly associated with video advertising, CPV charges advertisers based on the number of views or engagements their video ads receive.

    This model is particularly effective for advertisers concentrating on video content and user engagement, allowing them to measure the cost of capturing viewers’ attention.

    5. Cost Per Engagement (CPE)

    CPE pricing is commonly employed for interactive ad formats. Advertisers are billed when users engage with their ad in specific, predetermined ways, such as swiping, tapping, or watching a video.

    This model encourages user interaction and ensures that costs are incurred only when users actively participate in the ad experience.

    Distribution of Video Content Consumption Infographic
    Source: Single Grain

    6. Revenue Share

    In some instances, app developers and advertisers opt for a revenue-sharing model, wherein the revenue generated from ads is divided between the app developer and the advertiser.

    This collaborative approach incentivizes both parties to optimize ad performance, as their financial interests are intertwined.

    Summary: How Much Do In-App Ads Cost? How Are In-App Advertising Rates Calculated?

    In-app advertising pricing models include Cost Per Mile, Pay Per Click, Cost Per Action, Cost Per View, Cost Per Engagement, and Revenue Sharing.

    Benefits of In-App Advertising

    In-app advertising is not just a buzzword; it’s a strategic marketing approach that offers many compelling benefits for businesses aiming to expand their digital footprint and engage their target audience effectively.

    Here, we explore the key advantages of incorporating in-app advertising into your marketing arsenal:

    Targeted Precision

    In-app advertising enables precision targeting like never before. Marketers can tap into a treasure trove of user data, such as geo-location, demographics, interests, and behavior, to deliver highly relevant ads.

    This precision ensures that your message reaches the right audience at the right time, increasing the likelihood of conversions.

    Enhanced User Engagement

    With users spending a significant portion of their digital time within mobile apps, in-app ads seamlessly integrate into the app experience.

    This non-disruptive approach fosters higher user engagement as ads blend harmoniously with the app’s content, creating a more enjoyable and interactive experience.

    In-App Advertising Effectiveness Infographic
    Source: Statista

    Measurable ROI

    In-app advertising provides extensive analytics and monitoring capabilities, allowing marketers to analyze campaign effectiveness in real-time.

    Metrics like click-through rates (CTR), conversion rates, and user engagements give essential information, allowing marketers to tailor campaigns for optimum ROI.

    Diverse Ad Formats

    In-app advertising offers diverse ad formats, from static banners to engaging videos and interactive experiences.

    This versatility enables advertisers to craft creative and engaging campaigns tailored to their specific goals and target audience preferences.

    Brand Safety

    Many in-app advertising platforms prioritize brand safety, ensuring your ads appear in contextually appropriate environments.

    This minimizes the risk of your brand being associated with objectionable or harmful content, safeguarding your reputation.

    Cross-Device Reach

    In-app advertising lets you reach users across multiple devices, including smartphones and tablets.

    This cross-device reach ensures that your message stays with users as they switch between their devices, reinforcing brand awareness and message retention.

    Cost Efficiency

    Compared to traditional advertising channels, in-app advertising often offers cost-effective pricing models.

    Businesses can choose from various payment structures, aligning their ad spend with their specific campaign objectives: brand exposure, user acquisition, or specific actions.


     In-app ads can be personalized based on user preferences and behavior, creating a more tailored and relevant experience.

    Personalization enhances user engagement and raises conversion rates, as users are more likely to respond positively to material relevant to their interests.

    Benefits of In-App Advertising

    With its precision targeting, user-friendly integration, and diverse benefits, in-app advertising is a powerful tool that can help businesses cut through the digital noise and connect with their audience meaningfully. Whether you’re seeking to boost brand recognition, drive user acquisition, or achieve specific campaign objectives, in-app advertising offers a strategic edge in the competitive world of digital marketing.

    4 Best In-App Advertising Platforms

    The choice of the best in-app advertising network depends on various factors. You should consider your advertising budget, goals, and the specific characteristics of your target demographic.

    These are the best in-app advertising platforms you can use to purchase your in-app ads”

    Google AdMob

    Google Ads, also known as AdMob, is a powerhouse in the world of in-app advertising. Its strength lies in its extensive reach and integration with Google’s advertising ecosystem.

    Brands benefit from Google’s vast data resources, allowing for highly targeted in-app ad placements.

    This precision targeting makes sure that your ads are displayed to users more likely to engage with your content, resulting in improved interactions with your target demographic.

    Google AdMob In-app Advertising Network Homepage
    Source: Google AdMob

    Google Ads offers a range of ad formats, including display ads, video ads, and native ads, allowing brands to choose the format that best matches their campaign objectives and resonates with their audience.

    Additionally, Google’s machine learning capabilities enable dynamic optimization of ad placements, maximizing engagement and conversions.

    With Google Ads, brands can leverage the power of the Google Display Network to reach users across a wide array of mobile apps.

    Allowing you to deliver ads seamlessly within the app experience. This extensive reach, coupled with Google’s robust tracking and analytics tools, empowers brands to fine-tune their campaigns for optimal performance.

    Facebook Audience Network

    The Facebook Audience Network leverages the extensive reach and user data of the Facebook platform to enhance in-app advertising.

    Brands can extend their Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns to a network of partner apps, ensuring that their ads are seen by a diverse and engaged audience.

    This platform excels in delivering highly personalized ads based on user behavior and interests, allowing brands to create tailored experiences that resonate well with their target demographic.

    Facebook Audience Network Homepage
    Source: Facebook Audience Network

    Additionally, the Facebook Audience Network offers a variety of ad formats, including native, interstitial, and rewarded video ads, providing brands with flexibility in crafting engaging campaigns.

    By tapping into the wealth of user data available through Facebook, brands can deliver highly relevant and contextually appropriate ads, ultimately enhancing their interactions with the target demographic.

    Unity Ads

    Unity Ads specializes in in-app advertising within the gaming industry. This platform excels at connecting brands with a highly engaged and captivated gaming audience.

    Mobile games have very immersive experiences compared to other mobile apps.

    Unity Ads takes advantage of this by offering interactive and engaging ad formats that seamlessly integrate with the gaming environment.

    Unity In-app Advertising Network's Homepage
    Source: Unity

    By placing ads within mobile games, brands can tap into a user base already accustomed to interactive content.

    Unity Ads allows for integrating rewarded videos and playable, where users voluntarily engage with ads in exchange for in-game rewards.

    This not only fosters positive interactions but also offers a unique opportunity for brands to create memorable experiences within the gaming context.


    IronSource offers a comprehensive suite of solutions for mobile app monetization and user acquisition. It is an all-in-one platform that bridges app developers and advertisers.

    This makes it an attractive choice for brands looking to expand their app’s reach and engage with potential users.

    IronSource In-app Advertising Network's Homepage
    Source: IronSource

    For advertisers, IronSource provides a user-friendly platform to promote their apps within a vast network of mobile apps.

    This extensive reach ensures that brands can reach users across various demographics and interests, enhancing their interactions with diverse target audiences.

    IronSource also offers solutions for app promotion, enabling brands to showcase their mobile apps effectively, with access to performance data and user insights.

    This way, brands can fine-tune their app promotion campaigns, resulting in more meaningful interactions with genuinely interested users.

    Summary: The Best In-App Ad Networks Include:

    • Google AdMob
    • Facebook Audience Network
    • Unity Ads
    • IronSource

    Best Practices of In-App Advertising

    In-app marketing represents a unique and highly effective channel for engaging your target audience.

    To make the most of this dynamic medium, it’s crucial to adhere to best practices that ensure your campaigns are noticed and welcomed by users. Here are some essential best practices for in-app marketing:

    Understand Your Audience

    The foundation of successful in-app marketing is a deep understanding of your target audience. Analyze user data to understand their demographics, behaviors, and preferences.

    This knowledge allows you to tailor your messages and offers to resonate with your audience.

    Personalize Content

    Personalization is a potent tool in in-app marketing. Use your collected data to deliver personalized content, such as product recommendations, exclusive offers, or content that aligns with users’ interests.

    Personalized experiences enhance user engagement and conversion rates.

    Optimize User Experience

    In-app marketing should enhance, not disrupt, the user experience. Ensure that your ads or marketing messages are non-intrusive and seamlessly integrated into the app.

    Avoid excessive pop-ups or interruptions that could lead to user frustration.

    Timing is Key

    Timing matters in in-app marketing. Send notifications or display ads at times when users are most likely to be active within the app.

    A well-timed message can capture their attention and lead to higher engagement.

    A/B Testing

    Implement A/B testing to refine your marketing campaigns. Experiment with different messages, visuals, and calls to action to determine what your audience responds best to.

    Continue to optimize based on the results of these tests.

    AB Testing Infographic
    Source: Unitel Voice

    Provide Value

    Offer real value to users through your in-app marketing efforts. Whether it’s discounts, exclusive content, or valuable information, users should feel that engaging with your marketing messages benefits them somehow.

    Segment Your Audience

    Segment your audience into smaller, more targeted groups based on different criteria, such as behavior, location, or preferences. This allows you to deliver highly relevant content to specific user segments.

    Monitor and Analyze Data

    Continuously monitor the performance of your in-app marketing campaigns. Use analytics tools to track critical metrics such as conversion rates, click-through rates, and user engagement. Analyze this data to make informed decisions and adjust your strategy as needed.

    Compliance with Regulations

    Ensure your in-app marketing practices comply with relevant regulations and guidelines, such as GDPR or COPPA, to protect user privacy and maintain ethical standards.

    Best Practices of In-App Advertising

    Successful in-app marketing hinges on understanding your audience and personalizing content to resonate with them.

    Adhering to best practices such as optimizing the user experience, strategic timing, A/B testing, providing value, segmenting the audience, and monitoring data ensures engaging and compliant campaigns that benefit both users and brands.

    Final Thoughts on In-App Advertising

    In-app marketing is a dynamic and highly effective channel that allows brands to engage with their audience in a personalized and contextually relevant manner.

    Encompassing a range of best practices, in-app advertising can be a great tool if used correctly. By embracing these principles, advertisers can create meaningful interactions, deliver value, and achieve their marketing objectives within the ever-evolving world of mobile apps.

    In-app marketing enhances brand engagement and enriches the overall user experience, making it a win-win strategy for both brands and app users.

    As the mobile app landscape grows, in-app marketing remains a vital tool for staying connected with your audience and driving business success.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is in-app ads meaning?

    There are many types of in-app advertising, but the thing that they all have in common is that they are an advertisement of some sort, be that a banner, a video, or a pop-up, integrated into the core model of a mobile application.

    How Does In-App Marketing Work?

    In-app marketing operates by strategically placing advertisements, content, or messages within mobile applications, seamlessly integrating them into the user experience. These marketing elements can take various forms, such as banner ads, interstitials, rewarded videos, and push notifications. For a comprehensive understanding of how in-app marketing works, read the full guide.

    What Are the Benefits of In-App Marketing?

    In-app marketing offers a plethora of advantages for brands and marketers aiming to engage their target audience effectively within mobile apps. These benefits include precision targeting based on user data, enhanced user engagement through seamless integration, and measurable ROI through robust analytics. For a more comprehensive exploration of these benefits and to grasp the full potential of in-app marketing, read the entire guide.


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