Switching from traditional banner ads to native ads is a great first step, but there are measures that can be taken to ensure you will get as much money as possible from them.
Job of a contemporary mobile app developer is very complex and involves many activities that have nothing to do with coding. Creating revenues from the app demands some marketing knowledge and some attention to detail, and that formula doesn’t change when native stream ads are considered. In fact, these ads can be optimized for ideal performance without too much effort if you know what aspects you need to control for satisfactory results.
Since native ads derive their power from improved user experience, the key to revenue optimization is to “soften” user interaction as much as possible. Fortunately, it is possible to learn from others who experimented with various elements and to draw some meaningful conclusions that translate into additional clicks. Here is the shortlist of five highly relevant, yet frequently overlooked features of your native stream ads that greatly determine their profitability:
Look and feel of the ads is the key for success in the native field. Mobile media experience is primarily visual in nature and any elements that stray too far from the dominant visual theme will be seen as “intruders” and consequently ignored. The whole point of native advertising is to bring sponsored messages closer in style to regular posts, which can be done effectively with a good SDK and a little bit of creativity.
That said, there still needs to be a visible difference between two types of content. If users are unaware which is which, they might end up accidentally clicking on ads while trying to do something else and get frustrated in the process. Being honest about true purpose of every item in the stream is mandatory if you don’t want to lose trust of the users, along with a large chunk of your app’s traffic.
Ads that are not noticed are not clicked on. It’s all nice and dandy to have your native ads blend in with their environment, but you don’t want them to get so immersed into the stream they fail to draw attention. Balancing between the need to feature your best content and to find appropriate spots for your ad placements is a big part of successful app monetization, so it makes sense to give some thought to this aspect of the interface design.
To be effective, your native stream ads need to be positioned within the top screen, since few users like scrolling down just to look on ads. For basic info streams (i.e. Twitter message stream) second spot from the top is a good choice for showing an ad, since this allows for a healthy compromise that brings the best of both worlds. Of course, exact placement depends on layout of the app’s interface and should be determined after practical testing.
The speed of mobile connections continues to go up, so we tend to forget that loading time of the ads can slow down the entire user experience. However, if the lag is constant and significant, users might get annoyed and become tempted to replace your app with a competing product. That’s why app owners need to work hard towards eliminating perception of slow ad loading, preferably without sacrificing total amount or technical quality of the ads.
Every mobile ad network has some latency and this must be accepted up to a point, but it is possible to control how much of this will be felt by users. App owners can use smart techniques such as pre-loading of ads before they are actually needed, while expiry times must be managed very carefully. Zero latency should be the final goal, at least in terms of delays that can be perceived by the naked eye.
More ads means more revenues, at least until you don’t push your users over the edge and ruin the good thing you had going. You don’t want you app to start looking “spamy”, so you should think twice before committing a large percentage of your screen space to paid content. Native ads are less invasive than traditional advertising, but that stops being true when they start dominating the stream they were adopted into.
Smart strategy is to keep no more than one ad on the screen at any particular time. In practice, that means you should measure how far down the message stream a typical user scrolls and position your ads throughout the length of the commonly viewed area. In the final analyses, you will benefit more from having fewer ads that perform very well than from larger number of ads that fail to bring back the expected yields due to user fatigue.
Important element of each good native ad is the call-to-action (CTA) box that draws user’s attention and instructs him to take immediate action. This element should be properly positioned within the ad and should stand out from the background in terms of colours and layout, with an appropriate textual descriptor included. Surrounding CTA button with empty space is another good trick that can ensure the button will serve its primary function effectively.
The slightest changes to this design element can have dramatic impact on click-through rates and developer’s income. That’s why it is accepted practice to conduct tests with different setups until you find a combination that works well. As with other pieces of the native puzzle, it takes a bit of creativity and out-of-the box thinking to find a solution, but the numbers will tell you whether your ideas are resonating with users or not.
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