Update: We’ve pulled newer numbers and with more ad networks. Check out the new post here: Best eCPM Ad Network for iOS in 2015

What’s the best CPM ad network out there? When you’re first starting out developing an app, either from scratch or as a reskin of a source code, one of the toughest things to figure out is which ad network(s) you should implement. Every ad network (Revmob, Chartboost, AppLovin, PlayHaven/Upsight, etc.) boasts huge eCPMs, but which ones perform the best and will make you the most money from apps? Which categories of apps generate the best ad revenue? We analyzed about a year of data with over 50 iOS apps from our portfolio and as usual, we decided to share the priceless results with all of you, which can generate a lot more cash in the long run.
Just a quick disclaimer: these numbers aren’t perfect because our tracking of impressions isn’t perfect; however, we believe these “averaged eCPMs” that we drew up are just as useful.

Drum roll please…

The Winner: AppLovin

AppLovin wins in every category, but let’s take a look a little closer at the data and see if we can come to some more conclusions that can make us all more money.

By Source Code

best eCPM ad networks

Here we see the data organized by the source code. A few numbers jump out–$12.94 eCPM for the poker source code with AppLovin interstitials, and the next highest $7.22 eCPM for the big slot machine source code. This isn’t very surprising to us since we see these numbers on a daily basis. Whenever we get a good amount of downloads from a slot machine or poker app–pretty much anything that can be considered a “casino” app–we make great money from AppLovin.

The other interesting thing is that AppLovin also wins for every type of app when we look at interstitials (pop-up ads). Based on this data, it really seems like we should consider changing all the codes to implement AppLovin. But let’s try looking at it from a different angle…

By Category

best ecpm ad network by category

Again, we see that AppLovin wins in every category for interstitials. The only place we see higher eCPMs are with PlayHaven’s More Apps page, but this isn’t clicked as often, so it generates less revenue. Along those lines, note that we don’t have any data for PlayHaven interstitials in the casino category (by the way, PlayHaven is now known as Upsight, so you might hear both names used). This would definitely be worth the test. If any of you readers out there have the data handy, we’d love to hear how Upsight pop-up ads performed for you in the casino category. Going forward, this is definitely something we’ll implement.

Another key here is to notice the difference in Casino Games versus everything else. Why do casino games consistently get higher eCPMs? It’s because there are a ton of casino games in the top charts that make a crap load of money, and the developers shell out top dollar to advertise these apps. The more they pay, the more we make. So when we reskin a casino game and it’s successful, we make a lot more than if we reskinned a flappy bird game that got the same amount of downloads. Flappy Bird players probably aren’t as interested in downloading a game (from a casino advertisement) than someone who is already playing a casino game.

So if you’re just starting out and are curious what area you should go into, we’d probably suggest casino apps, especially if you think you have something that will get a solid amount of downloads and/or you have a unique theme that you can jump on. I wouldn’t necessarily get a slot machine, though, since there are so many reskins of slot machine source codes already out there and it’s tough to get downloads on them nowadays, unless you’re doing something a lot different or you’re doing a full re-skin of the code. Conveniently, we just might have something for you in the next couple of weeks that satisfies all of this. Keep your eyes and ears open, and make sure you’ve signed up for our mailing list on the right side of this page.

Are you having different results from ad networks? Have you found a new ad network that is killing it? Let us know in the comments.

7 thoughts on “Best CPM Ad Network for iOS

  1. I’ve been using adtomatik for the last two months and got excellent results, higher fill rates and best ecpm than others ad networks.

  2. Great article! Thanks so much for sharing this. So helpful and concise. After reading, I am instantly reconsidering my current ad networks. AppLovin is now a front runner even though I never used it before but you cannot help but notice how it is killing it. Thanks so much for shedding light on this. This is the most helpful article I have read in a loooong time.

    Question: Are you using video ads? If so, what are your thoughts?

    Question 2: If you are using video, do you use rewarded video? I love this new feature but I would like to hear your experiences.

    Thanks again Justin!

    1. Thanks Tim!
      AppLovin is the only network that we’ve used video ads (non-rewarded), but we do a mix between video and regular interstitials, so the eCPM is mixed in there. I think that’s an effective method because too many video ads will probably cause negative reviews, but occasional video ads will give you a bump in eCPM.
      We’ve used AdColony for rewarded video and think it’s a cool solution. So far, that’s made around $8.38 eCPM.

  3. wait, what? So you are drawing conclusions that app loving is better, but you are comparing apples to oranges. When you display a video ad you will always make more than a static image. Do you know what chart boost video ad cpm? Thanks for sharing but these are hardly scientific conclusions.

    1. Thanks for the comment. If you noticed, this was written in April 2014, wayyyy before Chartboost even had video ads, and I’m not even sure AppLovin was running video at that time.

  4. Hey Justin,

    Do you use any mediation service for the video ads? Or just AdColony straight up? If so, how does the AdColony fill rate look?

    Best, Leo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *