In-App Advertising

smart phone sitting on a wood side table

Is your phone listening to you? We’ve all opened Instagram, Facebook, or other apps on our phones, and BOOM, an ad has appeared for the clothing line our friend was telling us about at the coffee shop. The good news is that your phone is not actually listening to you.

Mobile apps do collect relevant information about us (on an opt-in basis), such as our gender, age, location, and activity. This allows apps partnering with other stakeholders in the mobile advertising landscape, to serve us with extremely personalized advertising experiences. Therefore, the reason you see an ad for that clothing line is likely because you were in the same location as your friend earlier that day, you both share similar user data with your mobile apps, and your friend recently interacted online with the clothing line.


As an everyday consumer and app user, you still might find this phenomenon a bit discomforting, but from the perspective of app developers and brands, in-app advertising (IAA) is extremely lucrative and effective.


App developers that want to utilize their digital real estate to display ads to their users will partner with an ad network that acts as a broker between the publishers selling in-app ad space, to those wishing to market their products and services. The ad network uses complex algorithms based on the app user’s data to identify the best and most relevant ad to display from a large pool of advertisers. The selected ad is then shown within the
mobile app.

According to a study conducted by Smaato, the average American spends more than three hours a day on mobile apps, making it a great setting for brands to advertise. In addition to this significant amount of time, they are more likely to engage with, click through, and convert.

Research from Criteo says that consumers view 4.2 more products per session in an app as compared to a mobile website. There is also a 3x higher conversion rate. This higher engagement level with in-app ads is due to the aforementioned collection of user data that contributes to the personalization and relevancy of each ad displayed. These factors lead to more revenue for both brands and app developers.

Although IAA is becoming increasingly competitive and more expensive, it is a highly effective strategy that should be considered an addition to every brand’s advertising toolbelt. As end-users, we can now have a better appreciation for the eerily relevant, but highly customized advertising experiences that are delivered to us through apps!

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