iOS ad exampleAbout a year ago (can’t believe it’s been that long), I posted our results from using different ad networks in a variety of apps and it helped a bunch of you make decisions about which ad networks to implement in specific iOS apps. We figured it was time to update the numbers and take a look at which mobile adnetworks perform the best in 2015 for iOS, by source code and by category.

Spoiler alert: things have changed since last year!

A quick disclaimer about the numbers: our data is pulling from November 1, 2014 through mid-January 2015, so the holiday season was included, and that’s when eCPMs are higher all around. Also, we use Chartboost rewarded video, interstitial ads, and the More Games widget. Unfortunately, it was too time consuming to separate impressions between ad type with Chartboost, so it’s all lumped together. But the good news is that some source codes only use some ad types, so we’re able to draw conclusions that way. Also, AppLovin ads are a mix between interstitials and video, whereas Revmob is interstitials and banner ads only–so you can only expect that AppLovin should have better eCPM results than Revmob. I’ll do my best to note this as we go along and compare apples to apples so that it’s as fair as possible.

 

eCPM = (Ad Revenue) / (# of Impressions that Generated the Revenue) x 1000

The “Top Secret” apps are ones we built in-house that we’ve never released to the public. We’ve never talked about them on our blog (mentioning them here right now for the first time) or sold the source code, although we might eventually, but we’re not sure because they do very well and the last thing we want is someone spamming the App Store and saturating the market. If you want the inside scoop on these if/when we decide to release information about them, join our mailing list here and as a bonus, learn about the types of apps that still make us money with reskinning today.

Best eCPM Ad Network for iOS by Source Code

Here’s are the results in eCPM by Ad Network and by Source Code (links to the specific source codes we use are included at the end of this post):

Best ad network eCPM in 2015 by app source code

Rewarded Video eCPM

We use 2 ad networks for Rewarded Video: Chartboost and AdColony.

Rewarded Video are ads that show when a user wants to earn something in return for watching a video ad. For example, they can choose to watch a video ad to earn 20 coins.

As mentioned above, we have Chartboost Rewarded Video ads lumped in with interstitials and the More Apps widget. However, I know that “Top Secret 1” only uses Chartboost Rewarded Video, so we can make the conclusion that Chartboost Rewarded Video eCPM is averaging $17.12 (for this type of app specifically).

Also, note that we use AdColony for Rewarded Video only, and the eCPM there is averaging $6.61 for “Top Secret 2” app, which is comparable to “Top Secret App 1” in the type of app that it is.

So based on this information, we’re concluding:

[Tweet “For Rewarded Video, Chartboost wins with the highest eCPM.”]

Banner Ads eCPM

For banner ads, we use AdMob, Revmob, and StartApp.

For AdMob, we only use banner ads, so this is pure data; unfortunately, we only use it with our Flappy Bird-style games, so you can assume that with an endless runner type game, you can expect AdMob banner ads eCPM to average somewhere around $0.30.

For StartApp, we have the data separated, so again, it’s pure. But like AdMob, we’re only using banner ads in one type of app: “Top Secret 1.” In general, this is an entertainment-style app, so you can expect Start App banner ads eCPM to average somewhere around $5.80 for banners in this category. This is very high for banner ads.

Unfortunately, for RevMob, the data is mixed in among different source codes and we use both Interstitials and Banner ads, so I can’t say with certainty what the average eCPM will be; however, I do know that it is nowhere near $5.80 and wouldn’t be close to that in the entertainment category.

Really, StartApp blew everyone out of the water here, and even shocked us, so I’m making the conclusion:

[Tweet “For Banner ads, StartApp wins with the highest eCPM.”]

More Apps Widget eCPM

For the More Apps/More Games widgets, we use Chartboost and PlayHaven.

As mentioned above, Chartboost data among interstitials and the more apps widget is lumped together, but I do know which apps use which type of ads. Also, I know from experience and from comments of our readers that PlayHaven is going down the tubes very quickly–everyone I know that I have talked to about it has said that they are seeing the worst eCPMs for PlayHaven ever. So I’m going to go ahead and say:

[Tweet “Unless you’re cross-promoting your own apps, stay away from PlayHaven/Upsight for ads.”]

Interstitial (Pop-Up) Ads eCPM

Now here’s where we have a lot more data, and what most of you are probably looking to learn more about.

For Interstitial pop-up ads, we use Revmob, Chartboost, PlayHaven, AppLovin, and StartApp.

As mentioned above, PlayHaven eCPM has been declining consistently since December 2014, so even though some of the numbers look ok there, I cannot recommend them anymore. On top of that, it’s a major pain to get easy-to-use reports from them. We do like Upsight for cross-promos and other cool features that we talk about in this video.

For Revmob, I know that most of the source codes do not use banner ads, so the numbers are pretty clean. But just looking at them quickly, we can see that the results are pretty poor all around, so we can knock Revmob out as a winner.

All the apps that show eCPM results for Chartboost except “Top Secret 1” use interstitials, so that data is clean. However, Chartboost is beaten by another ad network in every single app source code except “Solitaire,” so they’re not going to win, either.

That leaves AppLovin and StartApp.StartApp 3D Offer Wall Appwall

For Bingo, AppLovin wins, but everywhere else, StartApp does, and this is no surprise to us. We’vealways known that AppLovin does very well with Casino games, so we’ll continue to use them for that, and we’ve been implementing StartApp more and more because of great results. Plus, this doesn’t even include bonuses that StartApp gives. For example, if you register with them using this link, you’ll get bonuses for reaching specific levels of ad impressions.

Last, AppLovin has an advantage (or disadvantage, depending on the way you look at it) in that we have our interstitials mixed in with video ads. Video ads make more money but tend to make the user more angry. StartApp, on the other hand, was not using video ads for this time period.

Based on this, it’s pretty fair to say:

[Tweet “Interstitial ads: use AppLovin for Casino games and StartApp for everything else.”]

Best eCPM Ad Network for iOS by Category

Now let’s take a look by category and see if there are any differences.

Best ad network eCPM for 2015 by app category

Looking at it this way, I really wouldn’t change anything I said above. The only thing is that for Productivity apps, StartApp is slightly behind AppLovin, but we do not have a ton of data here, and again, AppLovin is mixing in video ads, so I’m comfortable sticking with what I stated above.

The iOS App Source Codes

Here are the exact apps we used and where you can get them:

Top Secret 1 – Unreleased. We are debating releasing this. If you’re interested in getting it or learning more about it, join our mailing list and you’ll be the first to know about it.

Top Secret 2 – Same as above.

Bingo – You can get an unlimited license to the iPhone & iPad code here.

Personality Quiz – Learn a lot in our video here.

What’s the best eCPM ad network on iOS for you? Obviously, we’re not using them all and we’re always looking to hear about new ones or ad networks that we’re missing out on. Leave a comment below and share your experience… we’d love to hear it!

(April 2016 Update)

If you want to understand where the market is today, please sign up below to hear when our upcoming 2016 report comes out. Don’t leave $$$ on the table because you are using the wrong ad network!

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‘Til Next Time,
Justin

22 thoughts on “Best eCPM Ad Network for iOS in 2015

  1. Great post, Justin. Thanks for sharing ! Last week, I watched one of Charlyn Keating’s videos with Jeff Gould (App Rush Academy). Apparently, he has been killing it with kids games out of GameSalad and monetizing with AppLift… AppLift is a German ad-network, with offices in San Francisco and around the globe, according to their website. Since I had never heard of it before, I was just wondering if you or any of the readers were able to give AppLift a shot… Keep up the good work !

    1. RE: Applift – we were beta testers a few years back for AppLift and we have nothing but great things to say about their people and the ads they serve – however, please be sure to check the latest news as they are eliminating their playads sdk come June 1. Great company, great people, great products!

      They are almost always at all the major gaming conventions with a booth – just look for the orange t-shirts they wear – if you have a chance to go to one – be sure to meet up and get the lowdown on their newest product offerings.

  2. Unity ads is currently giving us an ecpm of $6.58 didn’t see it on the charts, and thought it might be helpfuyl….. rewarded video ad.

    1. Do you use ad mediation for unity ads? I used Unity Ads without any mediation and the eCPM was about 4-5$. After that I looked for some mediators to optimize it and found Appodeal. It was pretty simple to integrate it and right now we have about $8 avg eCPM for videos.
      also they have some open reports on performance where you can check all valuable metrics.

  3. Hi Justin,
    Thanks a lot for sharing all this data with us, this is very interesting. I was wondering : did you do any optimization on Chartboost campaigns (filter advertized apps, filter by genre etc…)?
    Matt

      1. Alright, thanks! Just read your post about Chartboost, now I’ve got the bigger picture 🙂 We’re currently shifting gears with ad networks and reskinning in general. We’re looking for more quality both of the app and the UX, and we’re considering limiting the number of ad networks we use to master one (Chartboost has more options, thus my question…).

  4. What about InMobi – do you have any experience with them? What type of ad network should we look for quiz/puzzle games?

      1. Hey! Great job,
        but puzzle games are given as a separate category from entertainment in the last table. So which ad network would you suggest for a newly launched puzzle app.
        keep up the good work.
        thanks.

        1. We do not count puzzle apps as Entertainment apps. We define Entertainment apps as those that are not games. So I would look at the Games – Puzzle category in the last table.

    1. Hi Dave,

      Those codes are from Carter at BlueCloudSolutions. I can tell you that because of saturation, those codes will be difficult to get downloads with and it won’t be easy to stand out in the market. We recommend CBCs nowadays. You can learn more about them if you register for our Mailing List here on MoneyFromApps (and you’ll get access to the video).

  5. Hi. Last time i checked, StartApp mainly had CPC AND CPI campaigns ( i contacted them ) Rare do they have CPM campaigns. I integrated them in my non-live app before i found out they were not only based on impressions then remove their SDK. Do you know any good ad networks for iOS that run mainly on cost per impressions ads ? Because i’m 100% sure people in my country, Lebanon, will not click on the displayed ads, nor download the displayed apps, so i won’t receive a single cent from ads, and i want to monetize my (free) app

    1. Video ads are usually paid by impressions, although in most cases, you will receive more money if the app is installed. Banner ads are also often based on impressions. Interstitial ads (pop-up ads) have always been based on clicks or installs in my experience.

  6. Do you think these statistics have changed much in a year? I am thinking of using StartApps for my banner ad vs using AD MOB.

  7. I am thinking of doing Banners ads an have been debating over using AdMob but it sounds like StartApp is better. Do you still believe this to be true?

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