young woman with reddish hair lying down inside looking fed up with her phone
Mobile Games , Monetization

Ads That Disrupt: Is There Such Thing as Bad Ads?

All this talk of good and bad ad experiences can really make an app publisher scrutinize their ad stack. 

And within reason. The in-app advertising market will be worth more than 450 billion US dollars by 2027, so there’s a lot to be gained from giving users the ad experiences they’re most likely to engage with. 

There’s also a lot to be lost, on the flipside. When bad ads alienate users, publishers 

  • struggle to regain these users’ trust and loyalty
  • lose out on being able to monetize these users 
  • can’t enjoy their slice of this lucrative market. 

But is it really so black and white: Good versus bad ads? Do good ads exist; which are the bad ads that disrupt the in-app experience?

There Are “Worse” Ads Out There

First things first, there are “least popular” ads out there; this has been proven in research carried out by the Coalition for Better Ads.

And as far as “good ads” go, the Coalition calls them “better ads.”

According to the Coalition’s research, interstitials were least preferred by consumers and detrimental to the mobile app ad experience. But only in the following contexts.

  • Full-screen interstitial ads that appear unexpectedly, such as when a user is about to read an article
  • Ads that appear at the beginning of a content segment – this could include a new level in a game
  • Full-screen video interstitial ads that appear before an app’s loading screen (splash screen)
  • Full-screen interstitial ads that the user cannot close after 15 seconds, regardless of format; the exception to this rule is when the user specifically opts into these ads

Google announced a new policy for its Play Store that aims to limit the use of such disruptive interstitials in apps and enhance Android mobile ad experiences. This should give publishers another thing to think about when it comes to prioritizing certain ad experiences in their apps. 

1. Go for Ads Your Users Will Engage with

Good ads – let’s call them “better ads” – are the ones your users will engage with. 

Consumers have spoken; they are considerably more likely to interact with rewarded video ads, followed by playable ads, banner ads, and interstitial ads. But as much as it’s about leveraging popular formats, it’s also about leveraging popular experiences overall.

User-initiated formats tend to bring in higher user engagement because they’re not ads that disrupt the in-app experience. Users are not disgruntled or confused by these formats because they already know the value these ads can bring them and have opted in to see them. 

banner showing 80% of app users engage with Playtime

The rewarded format Playtime has an opt-in rate of around 70 percent across different verticals and publishers. It’s known in the industry for its high engagement rates – for some publishers, engagement has increased by 40 percent after integrating the solution into their app. Publishers also praise it for its highly personalized and continuous offers, which bring them more daily active users and app opens.

2. Go for Ad Diversity

Think of the bigger picture. It’s not necessarily about excluding bad ads from your monetization strategy but about banishing bad ad experiences completely. 

That’s why ad diversity is as crucial to a thriving ad stack as are the formats publishers choose to include in it. Even the best ad formats can lose their novelty if they bring nothing new – or relevant – to the table. Whether that’s new creatives or new rewards – and ways to earn them.

This ad diversity keeps users interested so that they don’t feel obliged to skip ads, get bored, and/or churn immediately. Offering ads to suit different user demographics allows publishers to captivate a wider user base by serving the right ads to the right audiences. Where some users might prefer playable ads, some might prefer Playtime. And with a more diverse ad stack, you are more likely to please more users.

diagram of an ad stack comprising diverse ad formats such as rewarded ads, offerwall, playables, interstitials

It last but not least isn’t just about creating more diverse and relevant ad experiences for the sake of users. Successful publishers have a more robust monetization model: They enjoy more revenue streams and aren’t dependent on just a few.

3. Go for Technologies That Enforce Brand Safety

Brand safety is becoming an ever-increasing priority for publishers across the globe. 

When they integrate new ad formats, they should therefore do their utmost to ensure their brand is safe from irrelevant, spammy, and disruptive ads. App users must trust the publisher and be shown great, relevant ads from quality advertisers if they are to engage with the app and its ads.

Brand advertising experts have spoken – over 70 percent of them acknowledged that technology innovations “would help solve brand safety concerns.” This indicates that over the past year, more publishers could prioritize ad technology with integrated brand safety measures to win over their users and prioritize good ad experiences.

diagram showing how ad technologies impact brand safety for publishers

This commitment to quality demand sources boosts continuous engagement, conversion rate, and – above all – trust. It can also organically attract premium advertisers who are willing to pay publishers more for the ad space – because they know that this is where quality users are. 

Where does this leave the publisher? With a stronger reputation and stronger ad revenue potential.

Make Your Ad Stack Great Again

A 2023 survey revealed that 56.5 percent of participants installed an app after viewing an ad. There’s evidently room for improvement when it comes to the effectiveness of in-app ads.

The room for improvement will only grow as users come to expect more from their ad experiences and as publishers realize the full 450-billion-dollar-worth potential of integrating effective ads

An ad stack is not just responsible for an app’s revenue. It’s responsible for the app as a product. Publishers and their tech teams might have a long pipeline of ad formats and integrations in front of them – but they should prioritize the ads that perform over disruptive ads. They need to prioritize what their users really want:

  • Diverse ads
  • Non-spammy, personalized, quality ads 
  • Ads that are designed to engage and are served at the right time and place

Captivate users with a winning ad experience

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