iconwrite Comparing iAds, MobFox and Admob, sharing some numbers

May 31, 2011, 20:07

A lot has changed in the world of in-app advertising in the last two years. Back then it was all the almighty Admob. I used them for 100% of my requests and frankly I was quite happy with it.

A lot of new players have shown up since then and I still haven't had the time to test them all. But I decided I'd share what I've found so far with the networks I have settled upon: Apple's iAds and MobFox.

I won't mention here the ones I have let aside because my choice isn't final.

Good ole Admob

First of all, while I am looking for alternatives to increase my revenue I have to say I still love Admob. They are the reason I managed to leave my day job and get full time on this app thing.

Admob offers:

  • reliable service
  • 90 to 99% fill rate most of the time worldwide
  • timely payments since 2009

The downside? Relatively low eCPM compared to some newcomers and it seems to be going down since the year started. But they're still better than a lot of other alternatives.

Apple's iAds

When iAds showed up they paid totally unrealistic ultra-high eCPM. Things have calmed down a bit but they're still by far the one that pays the most per request.

The downsides of iAds are well known :

  • Low fillrates, especially if your users are not from the U.S.A.
  • very slow servers

For many the slow answer time meant iAds were simply unuseable. By the time their servers answered that there was no ad inventory it was too late to fallback to another network: by placing iAds first and blocking the rest, I was losing money.

There a simple solution for this. Always make your iAds request in the background and switch to the next network immediately. If iAds happen to have something for you, just replace the current ad. Of course this is only a good solution is iAds has a pretty low fillrate, otherwise it might mess up other networks too much. In my case, this works beautifully. I have all the iAd revenue I can while only losing a minimum on Admob.

MobFox, the new guy in town

In late 2010, a new protagonist from Austria appeared on the scene: MobFox . They have a simple promise to give you more money for your european users.

Since Europe is my main market I was very interested. My experience with them was great:

  • very simple and small SDK
  • very nice people you can easily talk to (That's you Julian)
  • eCPM control (more on that later)
  • Mobfox Direct allows you to sell your ads directly

I quickly integrated their SDK via a custom event using Adwhirl and watched revenue flow in. So far I haven't looked back.

eCPMControl basically means you can set a minimum eCPM you want for each app. If they don't have anything over 1.00 USD then it'll fallback to the next network. I set the limit at 1.00$ myself and it does work, I never got any number below that. Note that for that to work they insist that MobFox to be first in line. I was afraid it would slow down my fallback request to Admob, but unlike iAds it didn't. Their servers seem to be fast enough for the difference to be unnoticeable.

My verdict? If you have European users go register at MobFox NOW. Note that they're opening to other markets now too so you may actually make money from other places too.

First a disclaimer about the numbers

The numbers below may seem not to add up in term of fillrate. This is mostly because of the way I handle the cascading networks:

  1. Launch iAd request in the background: it will replace anything below if they happen to have some inventory

  2. Ask for a MobFox ad: if eCPM is high enough and they have inventory, they'll serve it, otherwise they'll fall back to the next network.

  3. Admob gets the rest !

The result is:

  • The Admob numbers are the one that suffer the most. Before iAds started arbitrarily taking over about 15% of their views and MobFox was given priority in well-paying markets they did have a higher eCPM. It wasn't much higher though.

I estimate (out my ass and past numbers) that their eCPM would be maybe 10% higher if no other ad network was involved. Note that my ass is a certified Life Coach so I doubt he can be wrong.

  • Note that the MobFox fillrate isn't exact either since they don't provide this number at the moment. I calculated it based on the remaining requests that reached Admob and iAds.

The numbers ! Oh yes please, numbers.

There you have, you naughty naughty beast. These are the numbers for the last few days for my wildly successfull Battery HD app. I didn't share the actual revenues here but if you want to know whether they are relevant, remember this app got over 8.5 million downloads so far.

eCPMCTRFillrate% of revenue

May 30, 2011
iAds 4.39 1.03% 14.56% 40.90%
MobFox 1.15 1.09% 22.95% 19.92%
Admob 0.68 1.42% 99.27% 39.18%

May 29, 2011
iAds 4.34 1.13% 15.02% 36.48%
MobFox 1.56 1.36% 26.16% 30.46%
Admob 0.60 1.34% 98.79% 33.06%

May 28, 2011
iAds 4.82 1.1% 15.87% 40.38%
MobFox 1.47 1.28% 28.39% 27.69%
Admob 0.67 1.46% 98.46% 31.92%

May 27, 2011
iAds 4.76 1.11% 15.84% 42.34%
MobFox 1.36 1.18% 26.19% 24.21%
Admob 0.67 1.57% 98.95% 33.45%

May 26, 2011
iAds 3.87 1.06% 17.83% 42.18%
MobFox 1.25 1.09% 30.28% 28.22%
Admob 0.57 1.42% 96.94% 29.60%

May 25, 2011
iAds 3.59 1.04% 17.23% 44.09%
MobFox 0.92 0.80% 31.36% 23.81%
Admob 0.56 1.36% 98.16% 32.10%

May 24, 2011
iAds 3.45 0.96% 17.81% 40.92%
MobFox 1.37 1.14% 27.76% 28.90%
Admob 0.55 1.36% 98.09% 30.18%

Update: payment received from MobFox today

This is just a quick follow up on the doubts regarding payment. I have received today my first payment from MobFox (3,321 USD ) on my bank account. So I think we can say they're playing fair. Due date was june 30 and this is July 5 which seems normal for a payment from Austria to Switzerland (over a week-end).

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