How to earn money with In-App advertising

In-App advertising for affiliate marketers

Ekaterina Kostyuchenko

Standard placements become less relevant by the year as users increasingly suffer from banner blindness. Mobile apps traffic is on the rise while other sources are gradually dropping lower. This article brings you the advantages of In-App advertising and the best networks to work with it. 

Over the past 2–3 years, In-App advertising has become one of the most popular marketing tools for the promotion of goods and services. Mobile app audience is growing fast prompting companies to revise their business strategies paying more attention to In-App advertising.

What is In-App advertising?

In-App advertising — ads that are displayed in the context of third-party applications.

Users see the ads while using a mobile application, a game, for instance. If the information in the ad is relevant to them, they tap on a link or image and go to the store to install the advertised application.

In-App advertising is ideal for promoting mobile apps, but it is also suitable for other products. For example, advertisers purchase traffic for e-commerce, mobile subscriptions, and to promote services via mobile landing pages.

In-App Purchase is a service for purchasing virtual goods within applications. These can be in-game money, level-ups, game items, etc. It is mainly employed in games to monetize the app or when you do not want to make the game payable.

Reach — over 1 billion users.

Ad formats

In-App Ad formats: must know for affiliate marketers

There are many In-App ad formats, these are the most common:

  1. Interstitials;
  2. Banners;
  3. Native;
  4. Rewarded ads;
  5. Video Ads;
  6. Playable ads.

Interstitials are full-screen ads displayed in-between user actions within the app. It is usually a video ad or a playable one, but static ads are also used with this format.

This format has two main sub-types: video interstitial that the user can skip or close quickly; and rich interstitial — the user has to watch the whole ad to get back to their content.

Banner advertising an image containing an advertising message. Banners can vary in shape, react to the user's movements, use sound effects, etc.

Native advertising branded content that mimics the style of application and poses as its natural part. Users tend to be more lenient towards such ads and suffer less from banner blindness.

Rewarded ads users receive a bonus after viewing the ad. It can be in a form of in-game money, a promo code, bonus points, and much more. This format is similar to motivated traffic.

Video ads — this format is divided into in-stream (inside the video) and out-stream (ads are located on banners and full-screen interstitials).

In the second quarter of 2020, mobile video ads accounted for 60 % of all digital video spending in the US and South America, 70 % in the EMEA region, and 74 % in the Asia-Pacific region.

Playable ads is an interactive ad format: the player performs simple actions within the application interface. This format usually works in full-screen mode.

The most effective mobile ad formats are video ads, rewarded video ads, and interstitials.

Advantages of In-App advertising

In-App advertising spots wide reach and a higher CTR (click-through rate) compared to other sources. The competition for ad inventory among advertisers is also relatively low.

With In-App you can target by app categories. In this case, the reach is virtually unlimited, and the quality of the target audience is higher since these are loyal users who use similar applications. Gender age groups are not important for In-App targeting, the only key is that the user already has similar applications.

Verticals to work with In-App

In-App ads are good for any vertical since you target by a similar application the user already has. In-App can be an alternative way of finding new traffic sources.

In-App ad networks

Unity Ads

Minimum deposit: $1000

Payment methods: Paypal

Reach: over 1 billion users, the system has a self-learning mechanism.


Minimum deposit: $5000

Payment methods: credit card

You can analyze the audience by the features specific for the niche. It is also possible to choose the exact apps for ad placement. The traffic is of high-quality, though Vungle spots rigorous moderation just like Unity Ads.


Minimum deposit: $100

Payment methods: credit card

Violate the rules and you may face an account ban and cash balance freeze. It is advisable to start with small deposits.


Minimum deposit: $50

Payment method: PayPal

Worldwide coverage reaching over a billion devices.

There are also such networks as AdMob, Chartboost, mobileCore, AdColony, Supersonic, Fyber, LeadBolt, and Smaato. 

Hidden traps

High CPI rates. Minimum CPI in Europe reaches $0.91 for Android devices, $1.2 for iOS. In the US it is $1.2 for Android, $1.8 for IOS, the same situation can be seen in Australia. You have to understand that these are the minimum rates that will bring low-quality traffic. It is enough to launch campaigns, but you need 15–20 % higher bids to run effectively.

Not all In-App networks work with affiliates, they mostly cooperate with app developers directly. The majority of networks prefer to use CPM and CPC models while dealing with affiliates.

One of the disadvantages of In-App advertising is the narrow targeting capabilities. You can target by platform (iOS or Android), by connection type (Wi-Fi or 3G), by country, by interface language, by app categories (shopping, games, utilities), by publisher ID. The lack of flexible targeting options and high CPI rates can make In-App ads difficult to work with. You will not find the targeting by gender, age, interests, and so on. 

One more point to keep in mind: the ads only appear while the app is active, and users often close such ads to get them out of the way. You can get more clicks, but fewer installations. You will have to employ an anti-fraud system and a tracker.

This type of ads will not be suitable for local products either, since some of the In-App traffic exchanges offer country as the narrowest geo-targeting option.


You will not survive in this niche with a small budget — at least $ 2000–3000 at start is a must.

For example, if you decide to use Unity Ads, then you will need $1000 as a downpayment. If your account is banned, you will not get this money back. If the budget is moderate but you need to run some tests, try AppLovin. The minimum deposit there is $100.


To make your In-App advertising experience better, we offer five tips to save you time and money.

  1. At first launch tests targeting a single smartphone model, then increase the coverage gradually.
  2. Connect the anti-fraud system in advance. Fraudulent traffic is one of the main plagues of In-App advertising. Some of the networks do not allow you to stop the flow immediately, and you will be forced to waste your budget for a bunch of mediocre or poor traffic.
  3. Be ready for strict moderation. Static creatives or rewarded video ads that give out bonuses for viewing them have the highest ROI.
  4. The moderation is set in motion only after you make the minimum deposit and it may take up to 3–5 days depending on the network.
  5. Employ professionals to get high-quality creatives.