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What Are Mobile Ad Networks?

Mobile ad networks provide available ad space in publisher’s apps for advertisers to bid on. These networks aggregate ad inventories from supply sources and match them with demand sources – advertisers – looking to purchase ad inventory.

Ad networks are additionally a tool for advertisers to acquire new users and publishers to monetize their traffic through ad revenue.
Key Takeaways
  • Ad networks connect advertisers and publishers to simplify the purchase of ad inventory across diverse networks
  • Companies use multiple ad networks to reach a broad range of users
  • Using various ad networks means a diversified ad mix for maximizing revenue

How Do Mobile Ad Networks Work?

Ad networks help app publishers effectively monetize their user base. To achieve this, a publisher informs an ad network that ad space is available and shares its requirements to fill the ad space. These requirements could be a floor price (or minimum acceptable bid) for the space and the type of ad space available – whether it’s a video, banner, or playable ad. 

From the advertiser’s perspective, ad networks help grow their app’s user base. When an ad network is notified that ad space is available, advertisers then enter a bidding war, in which they bid to win the space. Depending on the bidding model – waterfall or in-app bidding – an advertiser will win the placement and serve their ad to users. 

diagram showing how ad networks work from advertiser to serving ads

Advertising networks can offer various targeting capabilities (some more niche than others) and support a variety of different ad formats, including banner ads, native ads, and video ads

Why Are Ad Networks Important?

Advertising networks act as an intermediary for apps who have unsold ads and those who publish ads. In addition, they handle the technical integrations and commercial aspects of buying and selling ad placements. 

A key benefit from both an advertiser and publisher perspective is that both parties save time and money through working with mobile ad networks. 

Benefits of Ad Networks for Publishers

  • help publishers secure buyers for unsold ad space 
  • give access to quality and well-targeted ads, as advertisers buying from ad networks want their ads to perform well
  • unlock additional ad inventory to ensure a high fill rate 
  • diversify ad mix and maximize revenue quickly

Benefits of Ad Networks for Advertisers

  • provide an additional opportunity for advertisers to reach users 
  • help advertisers find inventory that fits their audience and budget
  • help optimize advertisers’ reach, campaign placement, user engagement, and installs by serving their ads to their target demographic
  • simplify buying – advertisers can purchase ad inventory from multiple publishers through a single interface, making the process more efficient

What Is the Difference between Ad Network and Ad Exchange?

The automatic buying and selling of ad inventory has gained traction over the last decade. In this programmatic advertising ecosystem, advertisers and publishers are linked via an exchange. 

The key differences between an ad network and ad exchange are as follows:

  • An ad network aggregates ad inventory from various publishers and sells it to advertisers; an ad exchange is an open marketplace where publishers can auction their ad inventory to advertisers.
  • An ad network is private; an ad exchange is transparent.
  • An ad network is manual and requires human intervention; an ad exchange uses algorithms so that publishers get the best prices for their inventory.
list of differences between an ad network and ad exchange

How Do I Choose the Best Ad Network?

Before selecting the ideal advertising networks for an app, a developer should consider various factors:

  • The ad network’s reach – especially within a particular vertical
  • If an ad network offers contextual targeting – this affects how the ad network can match ads to target audiences
  • The ad formats offered – from display, playables, interstitials, or banner ads
  • The technologies an ad network offers that programmatic buying and real-time bidding cannot

Another way to choose the best mobile ad network is to find indices online, which rank the best mobile ad networks out there, based on various factors, such as best ad networks for Android or iOS, highest-retention ad networks, and best ad networks for vertical and region.

Here’s a list of the ad network rankings developers should take a look at:

Finding a suitable mobile ad network usually means running a test with various ad networks to see which networks tick the most boxes and deliver the best performance metrics.


Being able to identify a suitable ad network based on the criteria listed above, app developers will be able to reach a wider – ideally, higher-quality – range of users for their apps or generate greater revenue with their available ad space. 

With the growing popularity of programmatic advertising, it remains to be seen whether the technologies ad networks offer can offer app developers solutions to advertise or monetize their apps in ways that programmatic advertising can’t.

What Are Ad Networks?

Advertising networks aggregate ad space supply from publishers and developers and match it with advertiser demand.

Why Are Ad Networks Needed?

Working with an ad network saves you time and money as both an advertiser and publisher. For instance, ad networks mean that publishers don’t have to negotiate with each individual advertiser when it comes to their ad spaces. Not only that – ad networks ensure that technical and commercial matters are taken care of, such as enabling integrations for the supply side, as well as transactions between parties.

What Is a Video Ad Network?

Video ad networks allow publishers to connect with thousands of buyers for video ad impressions. Some video ad networks also provide publishers with the technology needed to run, report, and optimize video ad campaigns.

What’s the Difference between Ad Network and Ad Exchange?

The most significant difference between these two is that the ad network holds the ads for the publisher and sells them to the advertisers. In an ad exchange, the process is digital, and the intermediary may not be present.

Moreover, ads purchased on mobile ad networks are paid by measuring clicks, whereas an ad purchased on an ad exchange is purchased through auction ad formats. The auction may save money on the ad purchase, but bidding wars may drive up the price of the ad.

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