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Top 15 Mobile Ad Networks to Acquire App Users in 2022

(This article was originally published on Udonis’ blog.)

Wondering where to place ads for your app?

Nowadays, the app market is highly competitive, so you have to think strategically. With so many different mobile ad networks out there, making a choice can be difficult.

Not only that, but the app market is rapidly changing, and you need to keep up with all these changes.

To help you get around, we’ve summarized the most recent AppsFlyer Performance Index for H1 2021 (623 media sources, 33 billion installs, 55 billion app opens, and over 17,000 apps analyzed).

If you have a mobile game, make sure to check out our article on the top game ad networks to acquire players.

Top Mobile Ad Networks: The Retention Index (Android)

Which ad networks bring users that use apps the longest? Let’s have a look at the retention rankings for Android devices.

1. Google Ads

It’s no secret that on Android devices, Google is the leader in many areas. One of those is user retention. Here, Google firmly holds its #1 position for all app types. However, its growth is mainly driven by gaming apps.

Most of this growth comes from emerging Android-dominated markets like India, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.

Two key things have kept Google at the top of the list for years already — machine learning and focus on video creatives for App Campaigns.

Google App Campaigns are based on automation. One of the things you need to do manually is to pick out a campaign goal — installs, in-app conversions, or action value.

Next, you must determine a budget, bid strategy and upload visual and textual assets. After that, your app campaign is ready. From that point onwards, Google takes the wheel.

The way it works is, it generates your ad assets into best-performing combinations and displays them across its properties.

When promoting your app with Google App Campaigns, you’re putting complete faith in its AI.

2. Facebook

Facebook is the second-best mobile advertising network for acquiring high-quality users for non-gaming apps.

Generally, the ad network performed better in acquiring users for non-gaming than gaming apps.

Facebook is one of those ad networks that are difficult to bring down from the top.

Its success mainly comes from its sophisticated targeting options and the diversity of ad formats for app advertising. On Facebook, app marketers can choose between these ad formats:

  • Native ads
  • Interstitial ads
  • Banner ads
  • Rewarded video ads
  • Playable ads

Moreover, Facebook gives advertisers the option to choose between several app campaign objectives based on their needs: app installs, app engagement, traffic, or in-app conversions.

With Facebook’s algorithm improving by the day, high user retention rates for mobile apps come as no surprise.

3. Snapchat

Another social media network that has proven successful at acquiring high-quality app users is Snapchat. The ad network was particularly good at delivering users for non-gaming apps.

One of the reasons for this is Snapchat’s ever-growing user base. In the first quarter of 2021, the ad network reached 280 million users. With this mark, the number of Snapchat users on Android has, for the first time ever, surpassed its iOS numbers (The Verge).

Here’s a short overview of how Snapchat advertising works.

When creating an app campaign on Snapchat, you’ll be able to choose between two campaign goals:

  • App installs
  • Driving app traffic

Upon that, the ad network allows you to choose between different ad formats that support app installs and deep links.

4. Google Marketing Platform

The success of this platform doesn’t come as a surprise since all of Google’s products traditionally perform well on Android.

Google’s Display & Video 360 (DV360) platform allows marketers to create programmatic display and video campaigns. To make that possible, the platform provides access to an exclusive display, video, and mobile inventory.

This demand-side platform has some interface similarities with the Google Ads platform. After all, it is a Google product.

In terms of campaigns, you are required to set a budget, the targeting, choose campaign goals, KPIs, etc.

Display & Video 360 comes with an even wider reach than Google Ads Display Network. Since it’s integrated with 90+ other ad exchanges, it can reach about a billion websites.

Another difference is that Google Ads is based on real-time bidding, while DV360 can target premium inventory via direct deals.

5. Appnext

In the previous Retention Index, Appnext made the retention ranking for the first time ever. This time, it climbed a couple of positions and made it to the top five on Android.

Not familiar with this ad network? Here’s the basic info you need to know about it.

Appnext is a mobile discovery platform that allows both in-app and on-device discovery. It will enable you to recommend your app on Samsung, Xiaomi, and Oppo devices and within 60,000 apps. All of this helps apps reach over 750M users worldwide.

This ad network is great for acquiring new users, re-engaging existing users, and even increasing mobile transactions.

Furthermore, Appnext helps publishers monetize their mobile app through native, interstitial, and banner ads, as well as through carousel widgets and recommended apps.

6. MOLOCO

MOLOCO was in the same position in the previous Retention Index, but the list included both Android and iOS data.

Now, it only made the Android list.

MOLOCO is a mobile advertising platform that utilizes machine learning for app user acquisition. It also helps with user engagement and app monetization.

They’ve recently launched Moloco Cloud, a platform for real-time bidding. The main features of this platform include:

  • Auto-optimized campaigns
  • Limit ad tracking traffic
  • Centralized campaign management
  • Data transparency
  • Custom campaign models (CTR, ROAS, app installs, in-app events)

Since this platform has been integrated with Google Cloud, it is able to reach more than 90% of mobile devices across the world.

7. Twitter

Twitter ads can be an effective platform to boost your app installs or re-engage your users. And obviously, to retain users upon the install.

In the last Index, Twitter was in the same spot, but for Android and iOS combined. Yet, this time, it only appeared in Android rankings.

Not quite sure how Twitter ads work?

Twitter’s ad format for app advertising is called App Cards. The ad format comes in two types — image app cards and video app cards.

With these ad formats, users are able to preview an image and app ratings of an app. Not only that, but they can also open and install the app straight from the timeline.

Finally, in order to achieve the highest ROI possible for your app campaigns, Twitter Ads support different bidding options:

  • Cost per app click bidding — bidding on app clicks, paying for each
  • Optimized auction bidding — bidding on installs but paying for clicks

8. SHAREit

SHAREit is a content discovery, consumption, and sharing app.

Its main feature is a peer-to-peer file sharing across short distances. By using the app, users share photos, music, and other files with other devices without needing a functioning internet connection.

In the previous Index, the app was featured in the Growth Index, which indicated it has tremendous potential. Now, it proved the ranking was deservedly earned, as it managed to deliver a significant number of high-quality users on Android.

9. Vivo

Vivo is yet another ad network previously recognized in the Growth Index that has now reached the Retention Index.

Nevertheless, this ad network is still on the growth list, which means there is a fair chance it will reach an even higher position in the following Index.

Vivo is a popular Chinese mobile phone manufacturer. Their phones come with their own app store called the V-Appstore. There, app publishers can advertise their app and reach a vast pool of potential new users.

10. Mintegral

Mintegral is an Asian ad network with a global impact. Currently, it is a part of more than 20 international ad exchanges and works with over 26,000 app partners.

It works as a supply and demand platform for mobile publishers and advertisers. If you are an app advertiser looking for a “smart” platform, this is the place to be.

Mintegral’s ad campaigns are programmatic and interactive. Upon creating a Mintegral ad campaign, its machine learning system will do its best to deliver the best ads to the right audience.

In the previous Retention Index, Mintegral was not on the list. However, its ability to deliver high-quality users who use apps for a long time is obviously increasing.

11. Xiaomi

Obviously, this ad platform is carried by Xiaomi devices.

App marketers who decide to advertise on Xiaomi get access to millions of users around the globe. Xiaomi currently has over 400 million active users in over 220 countries (Admixer).

Advertisers can use this ad network to appear across Xiaomi’s main channels: firmware MIUI, app store, browser, news, and other Xiaomi-owned properties.

Besides the high retention ranking, Xiaomi also ranked high among the fastest-growing ad networks. Does this mean we can expect it to get even better retention rankings in the future? Time will tell.

12. Transsion

This ad network previously only appeared on the retention list, and this is its first time here.

Transsion’s ad network is based on mobile users of the three brands it owns: TECNO, Infinix, and itel Mobile.

According to the company, advertising on Transsion’s properties allows app advertisers to reach an audience of over 100 million engaged mobile users.

The ad network takes great pride in delivering premium traffic, high-value audiences, diverse targeting options, and six different ad formats to choose from.

13. AppLovin

AppLovin is all about delivering high-quality app users.

How do they do it?

By using sophisticated campaign data, AppLovin manages to detect new users that might download the app. Moreover, its SDK helps acquire both Android and iOS users, leveraging all the basic, even custom, ad formats.

It’s pretty interesting to see this game-focused ad network rank this high for non-gaming apps. Obviously, AppLovin has the means to deliver valuable users for all types of apps, not only for mobile games.

14. Unity Ads

Unity Ads is another ad network specialized in mobile game advertising that made the non-gaming list.

What makes this ad network so universally successful?

An important factor that makes UnityAds so efficient is its focus on native video advertising. Nevertheless, the ad network allows using different ad formats like banners or interstitial ads as well.

When it comes to campaign types, advertisers can choose between CPI and CPM campaigns.

15. TikTok for Business

TikTok for Business is already an established top player that has kept its position in most rankings. It is particularly successful for non-gaming apps.

While it only reached the 15th position in the retention power ranking, TikTok got to third place in the retention volume ranking. This happened because it had a 130% increase in its share in non-gaming app installs on Android devices.

Here’s how advertising on TikTok works.

When creating a campaign on Tiktok’s advertising platform, you can choose from two budget options — lifetime or daily.

Just like most ad networks, it provides demographics and interest targeting. Also, you can create custom and lookalike audiences to find users that are likely to install your app.

Finally, to engage your audience, TikTok gives you a variety of ad formats to choose from:

  • Brand takeover ads
  • Branded AR (augmented reality) content
  • In-feed video ads
  • Hashtag challenge
  • Influencer content

Top Mobile Ad Networks: The Retention Index Power Ranking (iOS)

Here’s an overview of the top mobile ad networks for retaining iOS users. How different is the list from the one for Android? Let’s take a look at it:

  1. Apple Search Ads
  2. Facebook
  3. Snapchat
  4. Google Ads
  5. TikTok for Business
  6. Unity Ads
  7. ironSource
  8. Mintegral International Limited
  9. JetFuel

Apple Search Ads is the only ad network on iOS that runs separately from the SKAdNetwork and properly attributes users. In other words, it has full access to user data.

Hence, it comes as no surprise that this particular ad network leads the Retention Index. Note that the data in this Index is only based on users who gave their consent to the IDFA prompt.

Non-gaming apps drove the success of Apple Search Ads. The results were especially impressive in the Life and Culture category in seven regions around the world (Eastern Europe, Western Europe, China, Latin America, Japan & Corea, Middle East, North America).

SKAN Index

This Index comes with a completely new section called the SKAN Index.

The what?

Apple’s IDFA changes have had an enourmous impact on the mobile app advertising industry. For this reason, it would be inaccurate to only analyze ad networks’ performance “the old way” only.

SKAdNetwork is Apple’s own, quite finite attribution solution. Therefore, determining the success of ad networks in it is pretty tricky. The new SKAdNetwork ranking combines quantitative and qualitative factors that determine the quality of the ad networks’.

Let’s take a look at the power ranking:

  1. TikTok for Business
  2. Facebook
  3. AppLovin
  4. Google Ads
  5. Unity Ads
  6. ironSource
  7. Twitter
  8. Liftoff
  9. Snapchat
  10. Jampp

Adapting to the new way of advertising on iOS was not an easy task. Obviously, TikTok for Business has found the best strategy to do it. This ad network had the fourth biggest number of advertisers, good quality, and the fifth-biggest number of postbacks.

Top Mobile Ad Networks: The IAP Index (Android)

Just like the Retention Index, the IAP Index tells us about ad networks that are most capable of delivering high-value users. However, here it’s not just about how long they use an app, but if they spend money on it too.

If your app is driven by in-app purchase revenue, make sure to choose the right ad networks to place your ads on. Here are the Android IAP leaders:

  1. Google Ads
  2. Facebook
  3. Tapjoy
  4. Twitter
  5. Snapchat
  6. Google Marketing Platform (DV360 & CM360)
  7. Yandex Direct
  8. TikTok for Business
  9. Bigo Ads
  10. MOLOCO

While Google didn’t claim the throne in the gaming category, it managed to get to the top for non-gaming apps.

Top Mobile Ad Networks: The IAP Index (iOS)

The IAP Index for iOS looks quite different from the Android list. Let’s look at the rankings:

  1. Apple Search Ads
  2. Facebook
  3. Unity Ads
  4. AppLovin
  5. Ocean Engine
  6. Google Ads
  7. ironSource
  8. Mintegral
  9. Snapchat
  10. TikTok for Business

Another iOS list, another win for Apple Search Ads. The ad network has surpassed Facebook and claimed first place both in power and volume ranking.

Just like in the Retention Index, Apple’s ad network has had an obvious advantage over the others. It was able to attribute in-app purchases and target the right users.

Facebook has still kept its lead in the gaming category, but when it comes to non-gaming apps, it has been dethroned.

The results that Apple Search Ads has accomplished across the non-gaming category were impressive. The ad network has ranked first in multiple categories — Life&Culture, Photography, Shopping, and Utility.

Will the rest of ad networks find a way to go around Apple’s privacy updates? We will have to wait for the next Performance Index to find out.

Best Ad Networks for Remarketing

Wondering which ad network worked best for retargeting users in H1 2021? Let’s have a look at Android rankings for non-gaming apps. The data for iOS is not available because of the IDFA depreciation and its impact on the data.

  1. Facebook
  2. Google Ads
  3. Adikteev
  4. Liftoff
  5. RTB House
  6. Criteo
  7. Twitter
  8. Google Marketing Platform (DV360 & CM360)
  9. TikTok for Business
  10. Remerge
  11. Jampp

Thanks to its superb targeting options, Facebook has been and remained the leading ad network for remarketing.

Meanwhile, Google is getting closer to the first spot. In the first half of 2021, it had a 33% increase in the share on remarketing conversions.

Generally, these two ad networks have a duopoly in this category.

Fastest-Growing Ad Networks

Here’s a list of ad networks that have experienced the fastest growth in H1 2021.

Note: this list applies to the Android platform only and includes data for both non-gaming and gaming apps.

  1. Adjoe
  2. Bigo
  3. Xiaomi
  4. Vivo
  5. Digital Turbine
  6. MobWonder
  7. MOLOCO
  8. Simeji
  9. Voluum
  10. Chartboost
  11. Jampp

Adjoe was the fastest-growing ad network in this Index. During the first half of 2021, this ad network has reached 60% client growth, and a 2.5x increase in attributed ad installs.

According to Adjoe, the ad network’s biggest advantages are rewarded engagement and premium targeting options. With these technologies, the ad network helps app advertisers find valuable users.

Bigo Ads also grew rapidly in H1 2021. This ad network had a 3x client growth and a 117% increase in NOI (net operating income).

Wrapping up on the Leading Mobile Ad Networks

It is no secret that the global app install ad spend is growing every year.

It is interesting to see how this ad spend is distributed across mobile ad networks and which works best for which purpose.

Also, with all the different app categories, it is useful to see which networks to utilize for which app type.

Even though Facebook and Google are still holding their place at the top, some exciting changes and new players can be found on the list.

The IDFA changes have had a tremendous impact on iOS rankings. Apple Search Ads was always a leading ad network, but it has become even more dominant. Either way, it will be interesting to see how the situation will develop further.

About Udonis

Since 2018, Udonis Inc. has acquired over 150 million users for mobile apps & games. We’re recognized as a leading mobile marketing agency by 5 major marketing review firms. We helped over 20 mobile apps & games reach the top charts. Want to know how we make it look so effortless? Meet us to find out!

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Udonis Inc. is an award-winning marketing agency specialized in mobile apps & games.

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