Infographic: The top 10 Android ad networks

Mathijs Vogelzang
May 16, 2012 · 3 min read

Android is currently the most popular smartphone platform. Since paid applications aren’t as popular on Android as on some other platforms, Android has the most free apps of any platform that exists today.
As developing an app requires skill and a lot of effort, even a free app needs to earn some money to make it worthwhile to develop. The most common way for developers to do this is to include some form of advertising in their app. This can be something that blends in naturally (such as Twitter’s promoted tweets), but this is only possible for big developers, and for smaller developers the only real option is to use an ‘ad network’: a specialized company that sells advertising. A good example is Google’s Admob; in fact the official Android guide on monetizing your app is just an explanation of how to set up an Admob account.

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Unfortunately there are also a number of more aggressive forms of advertising on Android that can be put in apps, and we see them occurring in more and more applications. These new forms of advertising pop-up ads in the device’s notification bar even when you’re not using the app that has the advertisements, or new icons are sneakily added to your desktop. These ads lead to a worse user experience, and these networks therefore try to attract as many developers as possible with aggressive marketing and high revenue promises.

We were wondering how big the problem of aggressive advertising actually is, and which ad network Android developers most commonly choose. We analyzed 140,000 apps and put the results into the infographic on the left (click it to enlarge).

We found that roughly half of all free apps use one or more ad networks. Traditional banner ad networks are the most common among the top 10 most occurring ad networks, but we are surprised to see that altogether 12% of apps include at least one network with aggressive forms of advertising.

To see what the professional developers choose we looked at only the top 500 free apps in the Google Play market. The aggressive forms of advertising are less common among these apps, yet still clearly present. The market share of traditional banner advertising, and especially of Admob, is very high, even though revenues of banner ads are generally known to be quite low.

At AppBrain we hope that the aggressive forms of advertising will not grow out of control. We are providing two products to help combat this problem:

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  • The AppBrain Ad Detector detects exactly which ad networks are present in the apps that are installed on your phone. This helps you to identify the apps which use aggressive ad techniques and allows you to get rid of them. More developers will reconsider using such ads if more users can identify which app caused annoying ad pop-ups in their notification bar and on their desktop.
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  • For app developers we offer a new app monetization service called AppLift. AppLift can be embedded as an SDK in your app and shows free promoted app recommendations to interested users. Each promoted install generates revenue for the developer. This system provides very high monetization with a superior user experience. More information for developers is available at:

If you find the information in this infographic interesting, keep an eye on this blog! We will soon provide a way for you to dig into the information behind the infographic.

Mathijs for the AppBrain team


The go-to place to promote and earn money for Android…

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