How to Optimize Mobile In-App Ads Like a Pro

This is a guest post by Carly Morris, Taptica’s U.S. Marketing and Communications Manager.

In this day and age, the reality of the mobile advertising world is that any campaign is only as strong as its weakest ad. So, what makes a good ad? There’s unfortunately no short answer.

Your in-app advertising strategy depends entirely on all the unique factors surrounding your brand, your target audience, and your overarching campaign goals.

This can feel overwhelming from the starting line, but remember that it also gives you an immense amount of freedom to experiment. In the end, the only way to know what works best for your brand is to see the results in action.

Still, before you set off on your campaign optimization journey, it’s wise to arm yourself with some insider insights on strategy and best practices to help make the most of the in-app ads experience. So, without further ado, here are five tips for optimizing your in-app ads like a pro.

How to Optimize Mobile In-App Ads

1. Know Your Audience

A good in-app ad is one that’s relevant, personalized, and timely, and the only way to hit that sweet spot is through an intimate understanding of your end-user and their needs.

Just by virtue of grooming your mobile app to successfully launch, you should have a foundational understanding of your app’s target, and the specific need your app satisfies. Beyond that, it’s best to turn to your attribution or analytics partner for deeper and more precise audience behavioral insights.

Pro Tip: Don’t jump into the deep end without testing the waters first. Get a clear picture of who you’re trying to reach, where you’re trying to reach them, and how to actively add value to the in-app experience with your ads.

2. Prepare Formats for Every Outcome

At this stage of the game, most app marketers know what they’re dealing with when it comes to in-app ad types and placements. Choosing the right one is simply a matter of clarifying the message you’re trying to get across, and how it will be best expressed. Consider this:

If you’re marketing a messaging, utility, business, or productivity app, or one that’s already a top-ranking title, more understated options like banners and native ads are a slam dunk.  

On the other hand, hyper-casual, gaming, and eCommerce brands often opt for a more immersive experience with rewarded video, playables, or full-screen interstitials that bring the app experience to life.

Most often however, it takes a mix of both to effectively engage all the different facets of your unique target audience.

Pro tip: Bigger isn’t always better. There’s always something to be said for simplicity. A clear and concise ad that doesn’t interrupt the user experience should be your end goal no matter what units you’re running.

3. Multivariate Testing: Your Key to Killer Creative

So, you’re designing your ads based on the formats that best fit your needs. How do you know which iterations are going to work and which will fall flat? Knowing your audience is the first piece of the puzzle, but the only way to know for sure is to test it out yourself.

It goes without saying that the more data you have at your disposal, the better. But even so, you can never fully operate from probabilistic models alone. This is what makes A/B testing so important.

Multivariate testing can start as early as app store optimization, right through UA campaigns, into push notifications and messaging, and all the way down to the in-app experience. Test anything and everything!

Working directly with a dedicated team of creative professionals is a surefire way to get the strongest brand-safe iterations circulating regularly. At Taptica, our in-house studio supports campaigns with custom creative for any ad type, based on what’s proven to perform in any given market, mobile channel, or app vertical.

Pro Tip: Keep it specific. Avoid including more than one variable within a single A/B test, so it remains clear which aspect is driving the resulting performance. Also remember that it’s important to move quickly according to your KPIs, to ensure you don’t lose too much of your ads budget to unsuccessful ads.

4. Get Personal & Provide a Seamless User Click Experience

When it comes to in-app ads that deliver, personalization is everything.

In our experience, audience-specific ad customization (be it geo-specific localization, behavior-based suggestions and special offers, etc.) can drive up to 16x more installs, 3x higher CRs, and 5x higher post-install engagement rates.

Also keep in mind that this kind of personalization goes far beyond ad creative and messaging alone. In fact, one of the simplest and most effective ways to crank up the caliber of your user experience is deep linking. By integrating deep links in your in-app ads, you can drastically improve the experience for both existing users (clicking the ad and traveling directly to the relevant location within your app) and new app users (by preserving the pre-click context).

Deep linking also expands your options beyond in-app ads alone. Think: deep links for mobile web to app, and even deep links for direct app-to-app journeys (check out, for instance, Yummly’s successful partnership with Instacart, powered by app-to-app deep links).

Pro Tip: Every extra step along the path to conversion is another step closer to app abandon. Pull out all the stops and route your users directly where they want to go with no additional effort required on the part of the users.

5. Optimize Attribution for Cross-Channel and Cross-Platform User Experience

No marketer can argue the importance of an effective mobile attribution and analytics bundle when it comes to understanding our audiences and the overall impact of our advertising initiatives.

The challenge in our current digital ecosystem is the level of fragmentation we face when assessing the customer journey across multiple channels and platforms. With last-touch attribution considered the standard measurement model of the moment, marketers are missing a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to connecting the dots in order to create a single, de-duplicated persona for each end-user.  

The solution? Branch’s attribution engine.

Relying on a more holistic attribution model opens up stronger cross-channel visibility, allowing for more accurate measurement and personalized user experiences. With a better picture of your end-user’s behavior across the digital ecosystem, you can more intelligently optimize your in-app ads to provide custom experiences that drive conversions and engagement at unprecedented levels.

Pro Tip: Don’t allow yourself to get led astray by what other marketers are doing. The best campaign optimization strategy is always to look at your audience as people, not just as anonymous users, clicks, or conversions.

With smart planning, management, and continuous performance-based optimizations, you’ll be able to leverage in-depth insights into your core user base to understand how to create the best possible ads to encourage engagement and conversions. In short: stronger ads and stronger results, from branding to performance to everything in between.