New mobile advertising networks taking on admob

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When google acquired admob for $750m it looked like the mobile advertising industry had been sewn up.  Admob was by far the largest mobile ad network, and combined with google would have huge power in the market.  At the same time, Apple, having acquired Quattro, another big mobile ad network, was rolling out its own iAds format, picking off the high end of mobile advertising.  The only question was how quickly the remaining independent ad networks (Millenial Media, Inmobi etc) would be snapped up.

Fast forward to today and the market looks very different.  There are a load of new exciting players operating in the mobile ad market, some of them making admob / Google look very much like a slow incumbent.  New models such as affiliate/ CPA, incentivised downloads and direct sales are being used to bring much needed innovation into the mobile ad space.

Here’s a quick run down of some of the more interesting new mobile advertising networks:

Mobfox has been making a lot of waves recently – it was founded by a 17 year old high school student but has achieved some great traction of the back of some innovative features.   The network promises to achieve much higher CPM than other networks such as admob, and it appears that they frequently manage to deliver this, according to app developers and publishers that have trailed them, at least in the portion of inventory that they can fill.   The user interface is very clean and similar to admob.  The added features mobfox offers include:

– eCPM manager – this allows publishers to set a minimum floor price for ads

– direct sales – publishers can use Mobfox as an ad server to sell ads directly and get to keep 100% of the revenue

– App Boost – offers a ‘guarantee’ of a top 25 place in the appstore by driving downloads through ads on their network

Features like these show that it’s the smaller, newer competitors that could be driving innovation in the market, not the big guys like Google/ Admob.

Mobpartner was launched only a couple of years after admob in 2008 however it’s only relatively recently that it has started to really take off.  Mobpartner operates on a CPA/ affiliate model paying publishers for specific actions such as completion of a form or download of an application.  The network recently raised a round of funding and is rapidly expanding.  The advantage mobpartner provides is the ability to offer a 100% fill rate to publishers and monetise any inventory across virtually any country.  As mobile commerce takes off and higher value affiliate offers come online (travel, retail, finance) mobpartner is well place to open up huge new revenue opportunities in the mobile sector with massive earnings potential for the rights apps and sites.  Again, for publishers and developers looking to make serious money, it’s new players like mobpartner, not the increasingly commóditised admob that provide the most promise.


Tapjoy is another really interesting player in the mobile monetisation space and again offers a totally different model to the incumbent mobile ad networks.  Tapjoy‘s model is based on providing incentives for users to download apps via a virtual currency.  So, for example, a user playing an iphone game and wanting to buy an extra level or unlock new features can download an app as an alternative way of payment.  Whilst these so called “incentivised downloads” or “offer walls” have recently been banned by Apple, they are still very much growing and operating on Android.  Tapjoy has also taken steps to ensure that they can run their ads on apple by changing some of the policies and approaches.

Tapjoy have just raised a big round of funding so we can expect a lot more innovation and new models linking mobile advertising and virtual goods from them going forward.


Burstly is another ad network launching some innovative features.  Similar to mobfox it allows publishers and developers to use its platform to sell directly to advertisers.  Burstly then aggregates this inventory and makes it available on an individual, named site basis.  This is the sort of targeting that had previously been confined to the premium CPM based networks such as Microsoft Mobile Ads and Fourth Screen Media.  This is great for advertisers who want to be able to target certain types of users or inventory rather than use the ‘blind’ networks of the likes of admob.

liquid wireless

Liquid Wireless focuses on offers based on a cost per lead (CPL) model.  For example, satellite TV, consumer panels, educational institutions and so on will all pay for leads (typically a name and number/ address).  Liquid Wireless has also developed a pay per call lead generation model.  Again this is totally different from the way admob or most of the other mobile ad networks currently work.  Liquid Wireless also work very closely with their advertisers to optimize landing pages and so on for data capture.  They are rapidly gaining traction and another network to watch for the future.

So there’s five examples of different approaches to the mobile ad network model.  Clearly, just as in the PC/ online ad market there is going to be room for lots of different approaches and many different players in the mobile advertising ecosystem.

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