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What’s the best mobile ad network for you? 10 more important questions than: what’s the biggest?

What’s the best mobile ad network for you? 10 more important questions than: what’s the biggest?

Since when did biggest mean best? Do you buy a car because it is the biggest? Do you buy a car because it is made by the largest car manufacturer? Or do you buy the most suitable car for your requirements (based on speed, fuel economy, looks, reliability, exclusivity, expense, price, comfort etc).

So, while the recent media excitement over mobile ad networks (post Google’s plan to acquire AdMob, in November 2009) is welcome, the speculation over which mobile ad network is biggest is counter-productive.

  • First, no one really knows what ad network is biggest (as research operations such as IDC or Nielson will tell you). The only way to tell is by revenue and (unlike car manufacturers) no network reveals revenue data. Any figures you read about market share or revenue are estimates, if not pure guesswork. (We’ll explain later why working out market share is almost as tricky as alchemy).
  • Second, mobile ad networks are not created alike. Advertisers, publishers (and, for that matter, investors) should choose a network based on its suitability. Networks have different business models, geographical coverage, publishers/advertisers on the network, targeting capability, pricing, sales model etc – all much more important considerations for a potential advertiser or publisher than guestimates about market share.

Analyzing the data submitted by the 14 networks (so far) profiled in The mobiThinking guide to mobile advertising networks suggests 10 considerations that are more important than revenue.



Questions advertisers should ask when choosing an ad network:

1) Where do you want to advertise?
Each network allows you to target ads at particular countries on their network. As most networks are heavily focused on just a few markets, it helps to know what proportion of their business is in your target country (but only some will share this information).
Primary markets for mobile networks (where available includes the proportion of the network’s revenue or impressions coming from that country):
USA: Millennial Media (85 percent), Jumptap (75 percent), AdMob (49 percent), Quattro Wireless (majority of business), (majority of business), Nokia Interactive Advertising (primary market), Google,Microsoft Mobile Advertising, Admoda, Adultmoda, BuzzCity (5 percent).
Europe: (check profiles for countries covered) Admoda, AdultmodaYOC Group, AdMob (13 percent), InMobi (14 percent), Jumptap, Microsoft, Nokia, Google.
UK: YOC (50 percent), Admoda, Adultmoda, AdMob (4 percent), BuzzCity (5 percent), AOL, Microsoft.
Asia: (check profiles for countries covered) BuzzCityInMobi (55 percent), Pudding Media, AdMob (22.5), Nokia, Google.
China: Madhouse (100 percent).
India: InMobi, BuzzCity (8 percent), AdMob (6 percent), Nokia.
Indonesia: BuzzCity (32 percent), InMobi, AdMob (4 percent).
Africa: (check profiles for countries covered) BuzzCity, InMobi (18 percent), AdMob (5 percent), Admoda, Adultmoda, Google.
South Africa: BuzzCity (34 percent), Admoda, Adultmoda.
Latin America: (check profiles for countries covered) AdMob (5 percent).
Brazil: Hands.
Note: Prioritized list of geographies unavailable for Google, Microsoft.

2) What type of publisher do you want?
a) Lots of different, often small, publishers’ sites and applications? Choose a blind network: AdMobAdmoda, AdultmodaBuzzCityInMobi.
b) A number of premium sites, but don’t mind which? Choose a premium blind network: MillennialJumptapMadhouseor Quattro Wireless.
c) One or a few premium sites, but you want to choose which and where? Choose a premium network: MicrosoftYOC
Both carriers and mobile publishers will have close or exclusive relationships with these premium networks.
Note: a blind network will only give a few examples of what publishers might be on the network at a time. A premium network should give a media pack with full details of each publisher/carrier. (See network profiles for details).
For more details on each type of network see the section in the mobiThinking guide on blind networkspremium blind networks and premium networks.

3) What sort of advertising do you require?
a) Key word on search engines: MicrosoftJumptap, Google, Yahoo.
b) Display (e.g. banner): all networks.
c) Adult: Adultmoda.
d) Applications: AdMobNokia and others.

4) Do you want to pay for clicks or eyeballs?
a) Cost per click – aka performance advertising: CPC is the predominant pricing model for blind networks e.g. AdMob,Admoda, AdultmodaBuzzCityInMobi.
b) Cost per thousand impressions – CPM is the norm with premium networks and prestige sites e.g. MicrosoftYOC,
Premium blind networks do a mix of CPC and CPM e.g. MillennialJumptapMadhouse or Quattro.
c) Cost per action/acquisition – some networks offer CPA also, where the advertiser only pays if the customer clicks through and then buys, signs up etc, such as Google,
Ask the network what proportion of the business is CPC, CPM and CPA.

5) Do you want budget or top of the range?
a) The cheapest type of mobile advertising is run of network (RON) on a blind network – this is the scatter-gun approach. In some markets prices are as low as US$0.01 CPC.
b) Semi-blind or in-channel advertising – the price of CPC or CPM will increase with targeting, i.e. focusing the campaign by geography, type of publisher (e.g. sports) for example, will increase the price.
c) Precision marketing – premium networks will let you buy a premium slot on a prestige publisher at peak time – it doesn’t get more expensive than this.
All networks – even those with self-service auctions – should make a price range available to customers. Some networks share this information more readily e.g.

6) Do you want to bid in a self-service market-place or get the red-carpet treatment?
a) All blind networks are predominantly help-your-self online (but most do also have a dedicated team available for big-spenders).
b) Premium blind networks combine both self-service and direct sales.
c) With premium networks, you’re more likely to get the human touch from the accounts team.

7) How precise do you want to be?
a) Most blind networks offer some targeting (at a price) by channel (i.e. content category), country, carrier, device, platform (e.g. Symbian, BlackBerry, iPhone, Palm, Android), device capabilities (e.g. video).
b) Expect slightly more sophisticated targeting with premium and premium blind networks, such as time-of-day, user demographic and location. Millennial, for example, can identify a user across all sites on the network – they are grouped into audiences, based on their observed behaviors on sites, participation and review of click-stream data, so campaigns can be targeted at specific audiences.

8) Tools to track and optimize the campaign
a) Online tools – all networks offer an array of tools, check that they meet your requirements.
b) Integration with third-party tools – some networks e.g. MillennialJumptapQuattro Wireless integrate with tools such as Atlas, DoubleClick DART, Omniture, Eyeblaster, PointRoll.
c) Big spenders with premium and some premium blind networks will receive tailored reports from the account manager.

9) Return on investment?
Ask for click through rates. Some networks share these more readily than others for e.g. Admoda, Adultmoda Jumptap,NokiaPudding. Even when shared the range is considerable.
Ask for click through rates for different types of campaigns.

10) How wide do you want to throw the net?
The breadth of ad networks tends to be recorded in reach (potential audience) and ad impressions/ad served. Individually each can be misleading (and, some rivals allege, manipulated), but – where both are available – together they can be a useful indication.
a) The problem with measuring impressions is it makes networks that do a lot of performance/CPC ads and lots of smaller sites/applications, look bigger and networks that do a lot of CPM advertising to fewer premium sites look smaller. Note: with CPC, advertisers pay for clicks, not impressions; with CPM, they pay for every impression.
b) The problem with reach/audience is that most networks won’t or can’t tell us actual figures for unique visitors. Figures quoted usually common from analyst organizations such as Nielsen, who estimate the potential audience of those sites and carriers on each networks client’s list. This method favors networks that have a lot of large publishers on their list, particularly if they only provide a proportion of the advertising that appears on the sites. This is why premium networks are much keener to quote reach than blind networks.
Reach and ad impressions for each network (using the most recent figures provided to mobiThinking by the networks):
Blind networks (mostly CPC): AdMob (reach: N/A; impressions: 10 billion); InMobi (reach: N/A; impressions: 4 billion);BuzzCity (reach: N/A; impressions: 3 billion); Admoda, Adultmoda (reach: N/A; impressions: 2.1 billion).
Premium blind networks (mix of CPC and CPM):
Millennial (reach: 53 million; impressions: 7.3 billion); Jumptap (reach: 40 million; impressions: 5.5 billion) ; Quattro Wireless (reach: 30 million; impressions: 4 billion); Madhouse (reach: 88 million (1st half, 2009); impressions: 1 billion).
Premium networks (mostly CPM): Microsoft (reach: 32 million; impressions: 2 billion ); YOC Group (reach: 35 million; impressions: 0.5 billion); (reach: 29 million; impressions: 1 billion).

NB: If this is starting to sound too much like hard work, consult your mobile agency or consider using a media-buying specialist such as RingRing Media.



Questions publishers should ask when choosing an ad network:

1) What’s our share?
The first question publishers should ask is what percentage of the advertiser’s $ do they receive. This varies considerably and many networks refuse to reveal revenue shares publicly. Admoda and Adultmoda have one of the highest remuneration rates for publishers at 65-85 percent; followed by BuzzCity (65 percent); InMobi (60 percent); (50-70 percent); Millennial Media (>50 percent) and Madhouse (>50 percent).

2) Is the network a good match for your site/brand?
Publishers should ask similar questions to advertisers (see above for details and examples of each):
a) What is the geographical coverage?
b) What sort of network is it?
Blind network e.g. AdMobAdmoda, AdultmodaBuzzCityInMobi.
Premium blind network e.g. MillennialJumptapMadhouse or Quattro Wireless.
Premium network e.g. MicrosoftYOC
c) What sort of publisher is on the network – lots of smaller ones (typical of blind networks) or fewer big ones (typical of premium networks)?
d) Which publishers are on the network? (See profiles)
e) What proportion of the advertising is display, text, applications, search, adult etc?
f) What proportion of the business is CPC, CPM and CPA? Typically there is more CPC on blind networks and more CPM on premium networks.
g) Is it self-service or direct sales? Typically blind networks have more self-service and premium networks are dealt with by the accounts team.
h) Will advertisers know you are on the network? Can they choose to advertise with you specifically? Blind network: no; premium: yes.
The mobiThinking guide defines and categorizes the blind, premium blind and premium networks. See the individual profiles for publishers on the network etc.

3) Who are the advertisers? Questions to ask ad networks:
a) How many advertisers are on the network?
b) What is the typical advertiser profile? Big or small?
c) Who advertises on this network?
d) What do they buy?
e) How much do they spend?
f) What proportion of advertisers target your country? Your category?
For a-c see the profiles of each network in the the mobiThinking guide, though some networks refuse to share this information publicly.

4) What tools – and protection – are available for publishers?
a) Is there a strictly enforced content policy in place?
b) To what extent can you set parameters for ads to be placed on your site, by relevance and appropriateness?
c) Can you block ads from competitors etc?
d) Can you pre-vet and/or refuse ads and advertisers?
Publishers get more control on premium networks than on blind networks. See profiles for more information.

5) What is the fill rate
Ask the network what percentage of ads on your site they will fill on a) CPC and b) CPM and at what price.



How to calculate ad network market share

The media have been quoting estimates about ad networks market share, revenues and impressions as fact (and in some cases seem to have made up their own estimates); misquoted US estimates as global figures; and drawing conclusions about who is the largest and dominant network.
When you read these reports, please note that even the research organizations that produce these estimates, such as IDC and Nielsen, caution that no one really knows who is biggest (even when you just looking at the US market).

There are three possible ways to measure market share:
1) Revenue – Problem: mobile ad networks refuse share revenue information – they won’t even share confidentially with research organizations like IDC.
2) Impressions/ads served – Problem: some ad networks don’t release this information. Problem: impression data makes blind networks look good (see below).
3) Unique visitors – Problem: most ad networks refuse to release this information. Instead, many release figures from organizations like Nielsen. Problem: Nielsen’s figures are based on estimates of audience of publishers and carriers on each network, most of which are not exclusive to one network. These make premium/blind premium networks look good.

So revenue would be best way to estimate market share (and it’s how most businesses do it), but it’s hardest to work out. Here’s why…

For each mobile ad network, (in mobiThinking’s reckoning) you need to:
1) Take the number of impressions.
Note: On blind networks, advertisers can serve a lot of ads on a lot of random (almost) publishers on a CPC basis, so advertisers only pay if consumers click through.
Note: With premium publishers, advertisers usually pay CPM, so pay for each impression, so premium and premium blind networks will have less (but more valuable) impressions.
2) Work out what percentage of impressions for each network is on a CPC and CPM basis. Many networks won’t reveal CPC/CPM split.
3) Estimate CPC cost and CPM cost.
Note these are usually set on a case-by-case basis and with many networks in a self-service auction.
4) Multiply CPC impressions by estimated CPC cost. Multiply CPM impressions by estimated CPM cost.
4) Calculate and subtract the revenue share for publishers. Note this percentage varies with size of publisher and network. Also many networks, such as AdMobMicrosoft Mobile AdvertisingYOC GroupNokia Interactive Advertising;Pudding Media, keep this percentage a secret.
5) When you have an estimate for each ad networks operating in the geography, add them all together and then calculate the market share.
Note: we know there are at least 10 significant mobile networks in the US, probably a lot more. And worldwide – five times that number? 10 times? 20 times?

Result: ???


NOTE: I didn’t write this article, just posted it for your reference. This article was written by

iMobiTrax & Add Shuffle – Media Buying Must Have’s – Tracking Tools

New to Media Buying,  and they say one of the most important part of doing it like a pro is keeping on top of your statistics.  Well the guys at have a great tool called iMobiTrax for which I signed up for yesterday,  it costs around $130 per month, which might be a lot but I’m never cheap when it comes to the foundation of any biz.    It’s in the process of being installed on my server under its own domain (had to pick up a domain name for which the tracking software will be housed on, was a sweet find – Thx to my friend Matej for that one!).

I have also been using, because some other non-mobile people recommended it.  I am mainly using adshuffle to test the CTR on CPM placements on porn tube sites I own.     Been running tests for a couple of days now and its simply incredible how different reality is vs belief.     What I mean by that is – I used to think a kick ass looking banner would get the most clicks, I mean it looks great — but, in reality its opposite.   Seems (from the stats) that the uglier the banner,  the more clicks it gets! WOW!


Going Direct via Newsletter Advertising – Part #2

Just like with display advertising, it is important to measure the success of your creatives.   Whether you are running a banner ad, or a text based offer in a newsletter;  you will need to keep detailed stats, run split tests, and do whatever you can to improve/increase CTR.

Check out the AWeber Archives for some great and captivating headlines other advertisers have ran in the past in your vertical market.    Again hop on to and type in: “Your Keyword” to bring up niche related headlines/messages.

You won’t know how things play out alongside your target market until you don’t test.   Every target market responds to ad copy differently; there’s no golden rule that if you write CLICK HERE TO,  everyone will click there to…

How do you decide if an ad is working in your favor?   You can look at the CTR (Click Through Ratio) if its 0.2% then you are averaging OK.   (Thats 20 unique clicks out of 1000 impressions/banner shows).   Or look at the Cost Per Acquisition CPA which is calculated by looking at total spent on the media buy, and the total revenue generated by your offer.





Going Direct via NewsLetter Advertising – Part #1

Another way to go direct and get golden traffic at a low cost is through newsletters.   Newsletter advertising is as old as the internet,  and despite what the unknowing might say, its still the #1 way of making money online.

Newsletters are very personal, and built on relationships that is why they are a great place to advertise.   Just like with direct ad buys,  here also its very important to know your target market.    After you’ve established who your customer is, it’s time to find newsletters you can advertise in.

There are some genius ways to do this,  of course Google to the rescue.   Typing in stuff like:

-“Your Keyword” “subscribe to * newsletter”
-“Your Keyword” “next issue” “advertisers”
-“Your Keyword” newsletter advertising

There are many other places to look, like article depositories,  forums, b2b sites, etc.

Newsletter advertising is recommended for more advanced (not newbie) media buyers that have an established product and way of promotion.    The reason is that most newsletters are relationships built over many months and years with the customer; and you don’t want to sell them something that will violate their trust in the newsletter.

Some important things to ask from the newsletter list owner.

-What is the format of the newsletter? HTML or text only (this will help you determine whether to place a text ad or a banner image ad in it)
-How many subscribers does the list have and how many people who receive it open the newsletter? (what is the open rate)
-How much do they charge for mailing, Is it possible to pay per impressions vs a flat rate?    Let’s be real,  not everyone on the newsletter will receive it, and not everyone will open it.
-Is it possible to advertise in a sequence,  in other words send a few ‘warm up’ emails with no offer to interest the readers, and then drop the offer in the 3rd or 4th email?

Going Direct vs Through An Ad Agency when Media Buying

Going Direct to a website you’d like to advertise on has its pros and cons.  The biggest pro being you can cut the middle man, and get more bang for your buck (by that I mean more quality traffic).    The downside is there’s no ad network helper that will keep tabs on your stats.  You will need to do that yourself, and for that you will need an ad server.

So, what steps do you have to take to find websites to advertise on directly?

Step #1 – Find out who is your demographic exactly!

By demographic I mean their age, average income, location, sex, etc.  The more you know about your customer the better.     If you know all of this info, awesome – if not it’s best to hit up sites like,,

Step #2 – Find sites to advertise on who match your target demographic

-Look through the top sites in the world on
-Perform a search for your main keywords,  the more niched the better.
-Look for sponsored reviews on sites like, ones that fit your product/service
-Google Adwords placement tool

*These are just some ideas to get you started, obviously with a little creative thinking outside of the box there are many other sites/places you can find to advertise on.

Step #3 – Contact The Webmaster + Negotiate a Price

Found a site you’d like to advertise on? Great! Now it’s time to contact the webmaster.  More of than than not, you will find the contact information right on the page – but what if it’s not visible?  Well check their WHOIS records and gain their email address that way.  Even if they use privacy, you can email the privacy protection email and hopefully get a response.

When you contact the webmaster,  be brief, about what your intentions are.  If they are willing and interested in what you are after, ask them more qualifying questions like how many page views (impressions) their site gets, how many unique visitors, from what geo locations, etc.   The more you know the better,  after you got the data you can prepare a proposal and submit your offer to them.

A general rule in negotiating is to always start lower than what you are willing to pay, since its human nature to haggle; this usually works in your favor.    Be a low baller, don’t be shy.   Offer them 0.40 CPC to start, which is ultra low considering the norm is $2 CPM but many website owners haven’t got a clue about internet marketing, so this is where you may find traffic gold – when you score ultra cheap deals for quality traffic.

There are other creative ways to get an ad spot up on a website, some webmasters are game if you give them a sample product to give away,  or you write a guest post on their site and in it place a text ad,  or sponsor a contest.   There are many more creative ideas;  Google around.

Since many website owners haven’t got a clue about dealing with media buyers, you will have to prepare terms of agreement and an insertion order, which might sound alien to you but it will protect your interests should you have to dispute the deal with your bank, or paypal if the website you bought on decides to screw you over.

Remember,  honest people have no problems doing honest business. If someone isn’t willing to sign your agreements, then best avoid them.

Going direct can render great benefit, however expect a lot of rejection and/or being ignored.   Many don’t take these seriously, it’s like telemarketing a total numbers game.

How To Design Banners With High CTR

Banners are the foundation of media buying,  but not all banners sell or get good click through rates (CTR).  So how in the world do you make a banner that will get you the maximum clicks and in turn, bring the most potential customers to your page?

First and foremost,  banners come in all shapes and sizes.  From square to rectangular, from tiny to large.   Before Google came out to dominate the internetscape;  banner sizes weren’t really that much standardized.   yes 468×60 was a very popular banner size, and still is today but beyond that it was a free for all.

Some popular banner sizes today:

  • 728×90
  • 468×60
  • 336×468
  • 300×250
  • 200×200
  • 160×600
  • 120×600

Since banners are everywhere,  users have become immune to them. That is why a good design will break the comfort of the viewers eye,  stop that banner blindness for a second.    The point is to catch their attention for a millisecond, have them wonder, and CLICK!

How To Get Started in Designing a Banner That Works? A: Research, Research, Research…

Hop on google, type in your keyword and check out competing pages. What kind of banners show up?  Take notes! No need to reinvent the wheel, just improve it a little to work in your favor.

You can alternatively try and other popular search engines image searchers.

TIP#1 Feature Pics of People in Your Banners

Even though some say its corny, fake, or whatever.  Research and hard stats have shown people like seeing others in banner ads.    It’s all a psychological thing at a subconscious level.

TIP #2 Show Them The Benefits

People like seeing happy, satisfied people.   Zero in on their emotions, show them the benefits of the product or service you are advertising.    Lay out your message so your communicates what the product will give them, what the benefits are.        All the want is to be happy,  something easy, and to save money.

Tip #3 – Ugly banners SELL, BELIEVE IT!

Have no idea why this is how it is, but stats show that ugly banners get great click through rates.   Not sure if its curiosity of people to see, or whether many people have absolutely no sense in design.    But time and time again it has been shown that the uglier the banner, the more CTR it will get.

Here are some great ways to come out as the king or queen of ugly banner design!

-Use blink or rattle animation in your ad
-Keep it simple, as if an amateur did it who can’t even draw a stick figure
-Use OldSchool HTML designs (bright blue links, underlined)
-White background, plain text works
-Weird edges, and/or borders
-Play buttons or strange warning messages, with windows/mac buttons.

*Again knowing your demographic will help in a great deal in getting an awesome ugly banner made.  For example, if you target mac users, don’t be using Windows buttons!

Tip #4 – Use Stats + Numbers, People Believe Them

People don’t trust anything, but this isn’t necessarily the case when it comes to banners and numbers.  You can write some kind of stats into your banner, and stats prove they will get slightly higher CTR.

Tip #5 – Color scheme your banner to blend in with the page

While the God of Google doesn’t enable you to do this on Adsense, you can pretty much get away with it when you do media buying elsewhere.    To blend in like a chameleon, use their page colors, font sizes, font styles, etc. – It will increase your click through.

Tip #6 – Don’t Overload Your Banner with Information

Less is MORE! That statement is very true! If you put too much into your banner, it will confuse the viewer and they will click very little, so its a sure way to destroy CTR.    Again Keep it Simple!

Tip #7 – Banners are done, now what? Tests, Tests and More Tests!

This is by far what separates the men from the boys in the world of media buying.  If you want to succeed you must test, and tweak as I wrote earlier.   Once you find a great banner design,  work on it and change some things then test and tweak it to improve CTR.

How do you tell which banner is successful? You look at its CPA [Google CPC] or CTR.   CPA is cost per acquisition [Google CPC: Cost Per Conversion] or CTR – Click Through Ratio.    An OK CTR is 0.2% (20 people out of 1000 impressions).

A/B/C Split Testing is also a great way to test the effectiveness of different banners.