2019 State of In-App Advertising and Monetization

How mobile game developers earn revenue for their games is changing before our very eyes. You need to look no further than the top free games charts, occupied now by many hyper-casual games from hybrid monetization-led companies such as Voodoo, SayGames, and Good Job Games. These game companies are turning the blueprint for monetizing a freemium app on its head, generating significant revenue through more than one point of monetization—namely in-app ads (IAA) and in-app purchases (IAP). Along with the introduction of new ways to buy ad space in-app (i.e. in-app bidding), these mobile game developers are also changing digital marketers’ perception of advertising in mobile games.

But what are other mobile game and app developers thinking and doing? What are the perspectives they have on business models, the ROI of IAA, the app bidding advertising model, and much more? And how far along are digital marketers in shifting their advertising budget to in-app? In June 2019, we surveyed 400 app developers and 400 marketers, who shared how they’re thinking about in-app advertising and monetization, what’s working, how the industry is changing in the next few years, and more.

Here are five important insights from a new survey we’re calling the 2019 State of In-App Advertising and Monetization, in addition to the complete set of survey data across 35 charts.

67% say app bidding represents the future of ad monetization.

Two-thirds (67%) of app developers see app bidding/real-time unified auctions representing the future of ad monetization. And almost half (48%) agree that app bidding’s greatest benefit is access to more granular user-level data.


While app bidding adoption hasn’t mirrored that of header bidding in the web world just yet, over three-quarters (77%) of app developer respondents say they’ve considered shifting their advertising model from waterfall to real-time unified auctions.


Performance versus brand marketing is a thing of the past.

Marketing is evolving in a way that performance and brand advertising no longer means choosing one or the other. Marketers say they now split their mobile ad budgets between performance (49%) and brand campaigns (51%). This breakdown is comparable to what app developers reported with 53% of ad revenue coming from brand buyers compared to 47% from performance buyers.


The majority of marketers are aware of app bidding.

Two-thirds of marketers (66%) say they’re aware of in-app header bidding solutions, and 60% say they’re aware of app bidding/unified auctions.


Advertisers have just as much to gain as app developers by investing in app bidding/unified auctions. A waterfall won’t let buyers bid on users they value most at that particular moment if their buying mechanics or waterfall rank prevents them from bidding. And it’s no mean feat to move up in the waterfall if bids have historically been lower. In unified auctions, price, and only price, determines the winner.


App developers think user-level impression data is the key to ad personalization.

When it comes to monetizing apps, 42% of app developers ranked their biggest challenge as ensuring ad creatives aren’t intrusive to their content. The good news for developers who sell their inventory programmatically is that user-level impression data can solve this. In fact, according to 54% of app developers surveyed, personalization of the monetization experience is the top reason why user-level impression data is important to them.


Business model balance is the name of the game.

Monetizing your mobile game or app no longer means having to choose between IAP and IAA. On average, in-app purchases make up half (53%) of an app developer’s business model compared to in-app ads (47%).


One reason for this split could be that app developers are no longer following the traditional rules of engagement where midcore game developers focus on IAP-only, purely casual game developers on IAA-only, and hyper-casual game developers on blending both.


Full survey results

The 2019 State of In-App Advertising and Monetization survey was administered in June 2019 by Sapio Research—a leading market research company—and commissioned by Fyber. Take a look at the full survey results below. Each chart indicates the respondent group that answered the question.

On monetization

What percentage of your app/s currently generate ad revenue, and what will the percentage be in the next 2 years and 5 years?
What's the greatest advantage you see from monetizing your app?
What are your biggest challenges when it comes to monetizing your app?
What percentage of your revenue comes from performance versus brand buyers?
What percentage of revenue will come from performance versus brand buyers over the next year?
What percentage of revenue will come from performance versus brand buyers over the next 2 years?
Consider the following statement, do you agree or disagree? "Is accurate ads LTV important for you"?
Why is user-level LTV important?
What ad formats do you use?
What ad formats do your users find most engaging?
Which ad format do you think will be most used by app developers in the next year, in the next 2 years?
Why do you think rewarded ads (rewarded video/offer wall) are most effective?
What type of reward mechanic from a rewarded video do your users use, prefer the most?
What percentage of your apps are being monetized with offer wall? Of those apps, what percentage are "top grossing"?
By what percentage would you say that offer wall...

On advertising models

Consider the following statements on buying programmatic in-app and respond accordingly to give the extent you agree/disagree with them
Are you aware of the waterfall setup?
Are you aware of the real-time unified auction setup?
Have you considered shifting your advertising model from waterfall to real-time unified auctions?
Do you think app bidding/a unified auction represents the future of ad monetization?
What are the benefits of app bidding/unified auctions?

On advertising channels

By what extent do you see advertisers' overall digital advertising budget being spent on in-app increasing or decreasing?
What percentage of your overall digital advertising budget is...?
Have you specifically asked your agency to start buying in-app inventory (rather than mobile in general)?
Please complete the following statement: "In-app ads can help increase ROI by..."
What is the main benefit you see for investing in in-app advertising?
What's preventing you from shifting more budget to in-app?
What would you say are the advantages of advertising in mobile games?
Which ad format has the highest retention rate?
What percentage of your ad budget is spent on performance versus brand campaigns?
What's the split of your mobile ad budget between in-app and mobile web?
What do you predict will be the split of your mobile ad budget between in-app and mobile web in the next 2 years?

On business models

Which business models do you currently use, and which generates the most money for your apps?
What percentage of your business model is in-app ads versus in-app purchases?
What percentage of your business model do you think will be in-app ads versus in-app purchases in 3 years?

Who we surveyed

Which country do you work in? (App Developer respondents)
Which country do you work in? (Marketer respondents)
What is your current job title? (or level equivalent)? (App Developer respondents)
What is your current job title? (or level equivalent)? (Marketer respondents)
Out of the apps you've developed, which categories would they fall into?
Which of the following best describes your organization's primary industry?
What kind of work do you do?
How many employees does your company have?
How old are you? (App Developer respondents)
How old are you? (Marketer respondents)
What is your company's annual gross revenue? (U.S. respondents)
What is your company's annual gross revenue? (U.K. respondents
How many monthly active users does your largest app have?

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