On our last post, we got a question about ad networks. The lingo and all the functions can be pretty overwhelming–I know it was for me at first. How do you best use ad networks for app monetization? Is there a way to set up campaigns that will yield the best results? I’m going to give you some tips that will boost up your Chartboost eCPM because in my opinion, Chartboost is probably the most complicated to understand since it has the most options. If you see a term you don’t understand, look at the end of the post–it might very well be in the glossary. So let’s get to it…


If you have an app that is a game, chances are you’re using Chartboost. It’s one of the most popular ad networks for games out there. It’s most commonly used ads are shown as pop-up ads (also known as “full screen interstitials”) and the famous Chartboost More Apps page. While you can technically still put the Chartboost SDK into an app that isn’t a game, if Chartboost finds out, they could stop you… so only publish campaigns in Chartboost

The first screen below shows what a typical Chartboost interstitial looks like. You can usually tell right away that it’s a Chartboost ad because of its size. Unlike other ad networks, a Chartboost “full screen” ad doesn’t take up the whole screen.

The More Apps page is usually connected to a “More” button in your app and displays a list of apps–your own, other people’s ads, or a combination of both. The orange theme is how I usually know that it’s Chartboost.

Set Up

How do you set up Chartboost? Here’s the quick breakdown, assuming the Chartboost SDK is already implemented into your app:

1. Add your app – this should be pretty straight-forward. However, if you can’t figure this out, I’d recommend our video tutorials.

2. Create campaigns (sets of ads) – Don’t create only one campaign. Create a few–maybe one that has lots of filters and only accepts a minimum $4 per install. Set that as your “highest priority” campaign and then for the “high” priority campaign, set a $3 or $2.50 minimum for an install. By doing this, you will force Chartboost to give you the highest paying ads first. If there are none that match your criteria, it will go to your next highest priority campaign and try to find an ad that fits that criteria. For your lowest priority campaign, don’t include filters–that way you will only show low-paying ads if Chartboost couldn’t successfully find a better one first.

3. Set up the More Apps page (if your app uses it) – This part is easy to miss. Open up your app in Chartboost, and navigate to the tab: More Apps. There’s a search bar on the right side. Click in the bar and type in your own apps (if you want to promote your own) or the names of your campaigns to show other people’s ads there!


Where should you place your ads? First, if you’re not familiar with Xcode and Objective-C, or you’re not developing an app from scratch, chances are you have no say over this. But if you do have the control, then the answer is… it depends.

If you have an awesome code with great retention, you probably don’t want to bombard the user with ads right when they launch your app. Actually, you probably aren’t doing that if your app has great retention, because most people are turned off by ads and will steer away from apps that have loads of ads appearing within a minute of launching the app.

However, if you’re reskinning a game a bunch of times, and you expect that most users will only use your app a couple of times, might as well take advantage and show an ad or two right at launch and whenever you can. Note that Apple can reject you for showing too many ads. It’s happened to us before, but we found a way around that.

This is something to experiment with (some ad networks have A/B or Split Testing, which allows you to try different strategies at one time). Each app will be different, and if you’re able to master this, you should go into marketing for an app development company, because this kind of knowledge is powerful.


Should you do it? Well, unfortunately, again the answer is “it depends.” You’ll find that some huge apps only use cross-promotion. Other times, like with Flappy Bird, you’ll see that the app only advertises other people’s apps. Sometimes you’ll see a mix of both. So what strategy should you use?

Here’s how to think about it. In general, if you wanted to advertise your app, you would have to pay around $0.50 f0r an install of your app. On the flipside, if you advertise someone else’s app, you would make somewhere around $0.50 every time someone installed that person’s app. So what would you rather have? $0.50 or a download of your own app? Personally, I would rather have $0.50 because my app probably won’t make $0.50 from that person that downloaded it. Make sense?

However, there are some things to take into consideration. Let’s say you have two apps: a photo-framing app, and an app that gets you more followers on Instagram. Those two are very complimentary. A user of the Instagram app would probably be interested in a photo-framing app… so in this case, it might work to cross-promote. You’ll probably get a higher CTR and IR with your own app compared to an ad of Candy Crush Saga or Clash of Clans. Also, that user might spend money $1.99 in your photo framing app, and now you’ve made a lot more than if you were advertising someone else’s app.

So again, this depends, and you have to take it on a case-by-case basis.

Other Tips

  • Chartboost recommends customizing your frame. The frame is the border around a full-screen interstitial ad. You can change this so that it matches the theme of your app, and will then (hopefully) get you more clicks because it looks less intrusive. I don’t doubt that this works, but we’ve never tried this because it’s pretty labor intensive to create a new frame to match the theme of every app you have.
  • Filter out apps that perform badly! Sometimes a terrible ad will show up hundreds or thousands of times, and it gets either no clicks or no installs. You can analyze this and eliminate the ads that perform poorly. Check out this step-by-step tutorial created by Chartboost. We do this approximately once a month.
  • In addition, to combine Carter’s tip mentioned earlier with filtering apps, you should probably create different campaigns for different categories of apps. For example, gambling apps should probably have different campaigns than Flappy Bird-style apps, because a user of a Flappy Bird app might not be interested in a poker app, and that could be good to filter out of a campaign that is showing in your Flappy Bird-style apps.


They pretty much apply to any ad network.

  1. Advertiser – You are an advertiser if you are paying to show ads for your apps.
  2. Publisher – You are a publisher if you show ads in your apps and make money that way.
  3. Campaign – In Chartboost, you need to create a campaign to show ads and make money. Think of a campaign as a set of ads. You can create just one campaign if you wish; however, in general, it would be best to create a campaign (or a few different campaigns) for each category of app you have. For example, you could create a campaign for your “Gambling” apps and then another for your “Flappy Bird-style” apps. This is optimal because users in a Gambling app have different tastes and preferences than someone using a Flappy Bird-style app.
  4. Cross-Promotion – This is a case when you act as both an advertiser and a publisher. In simple terms, you are advertising your own app(s) inside your own app(s). Note that by doing this, you won’t be making money when users click an ad and install the app, since you are referring to your own apps.
  5. Direct Deal – This might be exclusive to Chartboost, and it’s only available if you’re able to get 20,000 boot-ups of an app in a single day. This qualifies you for Direct Deals, in which you can talk to advertisers directly and make deals to show their apps. This will make you a higher eCPM or eCPI than the normal way of showing ads.
  6. CPC – Cost per Click. That is, how much money an advertiser spends whenever a user clicks on your ad.
  7. CPI – Cost per Install. That is, how much money an advertiser spends whenever a user clicks on an ad in your app and installs/opens the app. Some ad networks, like Chartboost, use both–sometimes you’re being paid for clicks and sometimes you’re being paid when the user installs the app.
  8. eCPM – It stands for “Effective Cost Per Mille.” That’s probably not helpful. In plain English, if you’re a publisher making money by showing ads, it means how much money you make for every 1,000 impressions, whether you make that money from clicks or installs. The calculation is:
    Money/Impressions x 1000. We’ve experienced eCPMs ranging anywhere from $0.01 to $250 on a given day.
  9. Impression – An ad view. One user can experience any amount of impressions while using your app in a sitting. For example, if you show an ad right when your app launches, that’s 1 impression. If the same user sees another ad after completing a level, that would be a 2nd impression. The more ad impressions, the more clicks you should get, and the more money you should earn; however, if you bombard a user with ad impressions, they’re likely to get pissed off and never use your app again.
  10. Bootup – Same as a “Session.” Every bootup or session is counted each time a user opens your app.
  11. Uniques (Unique Users) – How many individual users use your app in a given time period. If the same person opens your app 7 times in one day, that’s 7 bootups or sessions, but only 1 unique or unique user.
  12. CTR – Click Through Rate. How many clicks an ad received compared to how many times it was shown. For example, a CTR of 50% means that every other time the ad is shown, on average, it gets clicked once. The higher the CTR, the higher your earnings (usually) because you are paid per click or install.
  13. IR – Install Rate. How many installs an app received compared to how many times the ad was clicked. For example, an IR of 50% means that every other time the ad was clicked, it resulted in an install of that app.
  14. SDK – It stands for Software Development Kit. You implement someone else’s SDK into your app in order to use their service. For example, in order to show Chartboost ads, you need to add the Chartboost SDK into your app’s code.
  15. Placement – An ad location. For example, an ad might be located (or placed) right when the game launches.
  16. Retention – How often a user comes back to use your app.

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