What emerging mobile advertising trends and mobile ad formats will become popular in 2022?. GDPR novelties, new safety measures, and other transformations - read the most detailed guide on app advertising trends.

The ad revenues obtained from in-app ads will almost triple by 2025 and reach $226 billion. Plus, because of COVID-19, the time spent on mobile gaming and content streaming on mobile apps in 2020 significantly grew. Because of increased time spent on mobiles, the global App Store and Google Play ad spend increased as well. 

global in-app spending

Differences between mobile app advertisements and web

Before you air mobile advertisements or app advertising campaign, it is important to realize that this medium is specific since the environment itself is completely different from the web. While in a web environment ads are served through the browser, app ads appear only inside of the apps. Thus there are 2 distinguished mobile advertising environment types - in app and mobile web.

Let’s take a deeper look at how in-app mobile advertising is different from the web.

Web/mobile web Difference criteria In-app
Cookies Tracking Device ID
Web footprints (website activity, shopping history, browsing history) Types of user data collected Device type, GPS data, gender, age, etc.
Browser-based ad blockers Blocking ads No ad blockers inside of the apps
Half an hour Median usage Three hours and eight minutes

First-party data enabling in app targeting 

Advertising on mobile apps is also advantageous from the following standpoint: geo-targeting mobile technologies can reach mobile users wherever they go utilizing their current geolocation data.

Mobile advertising offers a variety of opportunities for those brands that strive to target based on the first-party data (which gets available when the user opts-in for data collection). If the user opts in for data collection and personalized advertising, it grants advertisers the right to serve targeted ads on the user's device. App publishers meanwhile obtain payment per each click on the ad, (view or action - according to the payment model), which has been placed inside of their app.in-app targeting

How to track mobile users that opted in?

Each mobile device has an ID thanks to which it becomes possible to identify a particular user for ad targeting. It is very convenient since such IDs are active for 21 months, and that's way more than cookies can be stored up tp 90 days (normally 24 hours). 

Since IDFA measurement was restricted, advertisers can make use of SkadNetwork - it will help to count how many users convert and install the app. Such a method of measurement is privacy-friendly since it unmatches the even of app install from the impression. 

Cookies (on mobile web) Mobile IDs
Erased within 24 hours Active for 21 month
Not opt-in Privacy-friendly
Dependent on browsers Tied to user devices

Measuring the viewability of app advertising

To correctly measure the app advertising viewability advertisers should regularly keep an eye on the following things:

  • Pixels. For app advertising it is important that users scroll down the page enough to actually see the ad. In order to be regarded as 'viewable' the ad should be visible for at least 50%.
  • Time.  The mobile ad should linger in the user's viewable area for at least one second to be qualify as delivered. 

Video ads. By 2020, the mobile in-app ad spend is expected to reach the bar of $380 billion, with video ad formats being the greatest contributors (they bring in over 30% revenue share). In fact, mobile video ad format shows 5 times higher effectiveness and stronger ad revenue bringing properties than already exhausted banner ads. Interstitial ads are the most common type of video ads.

While Facebook’s ad revenue mostly consists of video ads, experts point out, large companies are willing to use mobile video advertisements for promoting premium content. This happens because video ads take more resources and design efforts. Yet, video ads continue to the leaders of mobile app ads because they deliver the best engagement rates.

Native ads. Native advertising on apps is very beneficial: users admit being ready to share the content of native ad format with others when the average in-app ads can be taken as annoying and intrusive. That happens because native ad formats blend with the page’s content so it can exist everywhere - social media feeds, in search listings, content recommendations, etc.

During the last couple of years, however, the users learned how to distinguish native in-app ads from the rest of the content. It didn’t affect much the effectiveness of this mobile ad format. Still, native ads should also deliver valuable content and have the ad marks, otherwise, they may increase the irritation at the point when the user finds out that the material is commercial.

Display ad format. Display in-app mobile advertising that encapsulates the text, banner ads, audio, and video brings around 20% revenues of the total. Within a variety of display units, reach media ad formats stand out because the CTR of these mobile ads outperforms the CTR of banner ads on 250% (due to the abundance of elements). Because of COVID-19 people started spending time on mobile web and in-app more. Accordingly, the global App Store and Google Play ad spend increased and are expected to grow over the next couple of years. Emarketer also predicts that digital display ad spending will increase by 19.2% by the end of 2020 and will hit almost $85 billion.

Playable in-app advertising format

As more and more advertisers and publishers embrace in-app formats as their main source of revenue, gradually in-app advertisements gain momentum. According to statistics, in-app purchases remain to be best-performing in the in-app advertising market in terms of revenue generation. They make a great part of the publisher's mobile income and don’t harm the user experience. IAP combined with the right mobile ad formats can even complement user experience and elevate the number of clicks, views, and interactions.

Playables. People are getting massively addicted to the gadgets and apps they use on the daily basis. That means the marketers and advertisers will have to shift their gaze at mobile apps that people use most of their time.

A remarkable mobile in-app ad innovation delivered a couple of years ago was called “playable video ads”. It gave the advertisers a chance to advertise in-app by serving a short demonstration of the game inside of the ad. As a rule, playable video ad also appears inside of the gaming apps since the target audience often matches.

Playables already project several times better performance than previously leading full screen interstitial ads. Such a mobile in-app ad can give the user a chance to “safely” try the products inside of the gaming apps, without going an extra mile for authorization.

Mobile app advertising: safety issues

Fraud costs advertisers millions of dollars even though ad networks are implementing more and more anti-fraud measures. 

According to the Future Digital Advertising and Artificial Intelligence & Advertising Fraud 2019−2023 report, without protective measures taken and ad fraud detection tools implemented, in just a few years the problem may cause 100 million loss daily.

The advertisers, ad networks, app publishers, and ad exchanges will have to work together more closely to solve this problem, increasing transparency with GDPR and shifting to white-label blockchain fraud-resistant ad solutions.

In-app advertising and new GDPR landscape

GDPR will affect in-app mobile advertising in the same way it affects the entire digital advertising medium. Some marketers will have to find new ways to target audience without collecting the personal data of EU residents, the others will shift to the Blockchain ad platforms to eliminate the third party intermediaries.

Blockchain ad networks and other solutions can provide a solution to problems associated with automated in-app advertising. Providing a full audit on every transaction or operation, blockchain ensures that every party gets access to the data and identifies every chain participant.

Theoretically, the result of GDPR standards implementation into the in-app advertising market must be a transparent advertising space, equally beneficial to all participants, (including end-users, sites, and apps that will have to be adapted with opt-ins and tools for personal data management).

How to make in-app advertising work impeccably?

So, how to create a perfect app advertising campaign on the DSP?

Choose ad format

Classic mobile banners will suit app advertising campaigns best if you strive to find the most affordable format for app advertising. Go for video ads if you have plenty of information to deliver. Select natives for unintrusive experience and interactive playable for memorability and engagement.

Select suitable sizes

Large resolutions full screen ads may be flattering to the eyes and more memorable. However, if you want a better reach, select medium and smaller ad units - there’s a large number of smaller ad slots available on the in-app market, so with such sizes you will most likely have a better reach. 

Select deal type

In-app advertising placement can be organized with 2 main programmatic deal types: programmatic direct (no RTB auctions involved), through RTB (real-time bidding). Plus, inventory can be purchased in the open auctions and also PMPs (private auction type). 


How to advertise on apps with DSP

Mobile in-app advertising might work out extremely well, a little less well, or not well at all. Everything will depend on the additional circumstances such as targeting users, correctly picked for your platform, ad format and size, ad placement, access to the right mobile ad network, and a bunch of other important factors.

In order to make the most of mobile app ads, keep an eye on the following things:


App advertising units should be delivered according to the characteristics of the audiences. Chose language, and country to keep your in app ads relevant. 


If you launch app advertising campaign on DSP it will be a good practice to predefine how much money you are willing to spend per day on the advertising campaign (daily spend).


How many times one ad unit will hit the gaze of the viewer is called frequency). By limiting the number of views and daily spend you can successfully prevent overspending and ad fatigue. 

To sum up

If you’re planning to apply app advertising, think about ad format and placement that can make your message noticeable, (yet not annoying), learn who’s your user, and choose a good demand-side platform that will connect you to the pool of global publishers.

SmartyAds demand-side platform is a forward-thinking GDPR and privacy-friendly technology where advertisers can serve the most innovative app ad formats and perform robust advertisement optimization in real time. Targeting, budget, frequency, and the rest of the individual settings are available in a single convenient interface through which you can manage your advertising campaign and optimize the flow in real-time.

Need to launch really effective mobile app advertisements? Sign up at SmartyAds DSP!

Written by
Irina Kovalenko, CMO of SmartyAds
June 2018