In-app Bidding, Monetization

AppLovin’s Idil Canal: How In-app Bidding Drives Monetization

May 18, 2023

With the recent addition of Google bidding on MAX, AppLovin enables publishers to supercharge their monetization and revenue growth with in-app bidding by expanding our customers’ access to premium demand through our unified auction, which hosts over 20 in-app bidders and 25+ SDK networks, including over 100 DSPs in the AppLovin Exchange (ALX).

Back in 2021, we reviewed some of the most frequently asked questions on monetization and bidding from our Ask The Developer and Connect Events, and sat down with Idil Canal, our GM of AdTech, for a deep dive on a wide range of bidding topics.

Over the last two years, we’ve seen a huge increase in revenue flowing through in-app bidding, so we revisited our conversation with Idil for a discussion of the current landscape. Below, she shares her perspective on common questions that surround in-app bidding, as well as best practices for generating higher revenue from apps.

How are in-app bidding systems evolving the industry?

In-app bidding is rapidly changing the mobile industry, and mobile publishers desperately need innovative and powerful tools to help them move from outdated products to the next era of monetization.

What are the advantages and challenges of in-app bidding and integrating new bidders?

In-app bidding enables developers to increase revenue with more automated workflows to drive long-term business growth. It saves them time and effort that could have gone toward building new apps or improving their app metrics. 

While moving to bidding and testing for incrementality will take time, the benefits in the mid- and long-term outweigh the cost. The paramount challenge for app developers is that they need to stop doing things the way they used to and adapt to a new monetization approach. Many of these perceived challenges can be addressed by having a mediation partner that can offer a lot of bidders and an easy-to-integrate SDK.

With waterfall and in-app bidding, how can you evaluate what’s working in your ad mediation strategy and what’s not?

The only way you can really confirm that your monetization stack is working is with A/B testing. With the right solution, you can easily clone your existing ad unit configuration to make changes. 

With our MAX A/B Test feature, you can experiment with different ad monetization strategies using real-time data to test and measure the impact of any changes that you make to your ad unit setup. For example, you can add or remove a new network to see incrementality, a new price point, regional price floor optimizations, and identify opportunities that will maximize LTV

We also offer the flexibility of setting custom A/B test allocation for developers to test any combination of changes with greater confidence.

Should A/B tests focus on different areas in different stages of monetization? How do we set up the monetization stack accordingly?

We recommend that developers to start with a clear baseline and implement different A/B test strategies incrementally. This approach ensures that developers can measure the impact of each change they make in their ad monetization setup. Whether it’s the refresh rate, regional bid floors, ad frequency, or simply adding a new bidder to their stack, it’s critical to measure what will truly improve your bottom line. 

Depending on the number of apps in your portfolio, — a publishing house with weekly prototypes or a news app with two titles that have been live for several years — the key is to find the right monetization setup for your ad units and perfect that strategy. Once the strategy is defined, with in-app bidding there is little to no maintenance work required.

Does in-app bidding increase eCPM of banners?

When developers use in-app bidding and enable the right demand partners based on their geo-composition and ad formats, competition per each bid and impression opportunity increases. This increases ad impressions per DAU, which is due to improved ad serving times and higher CPMs driven by top mobile advertisers bidding to win the auction.

How can publishers increase the eCPM of bidding networks? Can they use non-bidder networks to do that?

We recommend adopting a strategy based on your geo-composition and the ad formats in your apps. Increasing the number of demand partners is always a great way to start increasing your earnings. The key is to find the right partners in the best regions that make sense for your audience and have them buy in an open auction.

What is the share-of-voice of bidding partners these days? Are we seeing a substantial increase?

Whether it’s a regional network or a global brand name, it’s critical that the right buyers are in the auction for each user and each impression opportunity. 

Momentum has increased as the top demand partners in the industry have moved exclusively to bidding. Since then, we’ve seen more publishers driving more than half of their revenue from in-app bidders on MAX. In most cases, these are fully transitioned to bidding.

How can in-app bidding be optimized to become time relevant to the specific needs of users based on their real-time behavior?

In a fair environment with the right demand sources, a highly dense auction will help drive the highest price for each user and impression opportunity. With more than 20 networks already transacting in bidding, developers are seeing the ARPDAU lifts driven by the increase in competition — without the hassle of granular segmentation or custom waterfalls.

To learn more about ARPDAU and performance marketing, see our TownWifi and Tripledot Studios case studies!

Do developers need to adjust their own monetization stacks, or is it automated?

MAX was built with automation in mind from day one. It is the first and only platform built for in-app bidding. Many of the features, such as ad unit creation and testing tools and APIs that provide transparency, were built for automation. 

As we continue transitioning more of our demand partners over to bidding, the MAX dashboard and tools make this process seamless and the developer self-sufficient. Our account teams help developers use our solutions to grow their businesses on both the monetization and growth side — but our goal is to empower our developers with automation. 

MAX publishers already get access to the most competitive set of auctions, which drives the highest possible returns for each impression. With the addition of Google as a bidder, publishers can achieve even higher ARPDAU gains and LTV, which yields more revenue to acquire new users. 

Earn more for your ad real estate. Log into your MAX account today and apply the expert monetization tips Idil shared above to your own ad stack!

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