Two phones on a podium side by side. The phone higher on the podium is showing in-app advertising compared to the other phone showing mobile web.

How in-app advertising outperforms mobile web

Finding the right mix of channels and strategies to best optimize your ad spend is key when it comes to your marketing efforts. The average consumer engages with mobile devices for over 4 hours a day. What’s more — in 2022, consumers spent 167 billion dollars on mobile apps and advertisers continue to shift more spend to mobile channels. In fact, mobile ad spend is set to reach $362 billion this year — a 7.5% increase from 2022. But, not all mobile advertising is created equal. There are different ways advertisers can leverage their mobile ad spend — whether via mobile web or in-app channels.

Below, we explain the difference between mobile web and in-app advertising and the value of in-app advertising in today’s marketplace.

Mobile Web vs. In-App Advertising

Mobile web advertising refers to ads displayed on web pages accessed via mobile browsers. In-app advertising pertains to ads shown within mobile applications. Both aim to engage users, foster brand awareness, and ultimately, help brands acquire more customers.

Mobile web

Mobile web is a browser-based mobile experience where users navigate mobile websites like Chrome or Safari. Like desktop advertising, mobile web ads can appear as banners, videos, or pop-ups. As the mobile web represents the entire expanse of the internet in a mobile format, it allows marketers to connect with audiences across a broad spectrum of online interests, rather than being confined to a single application.

In-app advertising

While mobile web advertising shows ads across the entire expanse of the mobile web, in-app advertising displays ads within specific apps on a mobile device. With in-app advertising, advertisers have more engaging ad format options at their disposal to craft ads that seamlessly blend into an app’s design such as interstitials, rewarded ads, and playables. This, in turn, creates a more natural and engaging experience for the user.

No app, no problem

Any advertiser, even if they don’t have their own app, can blend mobile web and in-app channels to leverage the power of mobile. With app-to-web, advertisers can take users from an in-app ad to a mobile web page to convert. This strategy taps into the high performance of in-app inventory while also leveraging the frictionless experience of mobile web.

The benefits of in-app advertising

While casting a wide net by investing in both strategies can be beneficial, it’s worth considering focusing your budget on the highest-performing strategy to get the “biggest bang for your buck.”

In an economy of shrinking profit margins and tighter ad budgets, and with the average consumer spending 88% of their mobile time in apps, our clients are seeing in-app advertising outperform mobile web, and here’s a few more reasons why.

A more targeted audience

In-app advertising can provide a more targeted audience compared to mobile web. Mobile apps typically require user permission to access various services, such as location, which can significantly enhance the accuracy and relevance of targeted ads. Also, with in-app inventory you receive a lot more information about the app your ad will be served on compared to the data that is shared from a mobile site – less signals, making campaign optimization much harder on mobile web.

With the additional information users opt-in to share with the app combined with information about the app environment such as app category, game genre, device information and more, in-app ads can offer more personalized user experiences, resulting in higher engagement rates and better conversion.

A more engaged audience

Users often download apps based on their interests, hobbies, or needs. This, in turn, makes them more likely to spend time in-app and engage with in-app ads. In 2022, users spent an average 3 hours and 21 minutes a day in apps versus 52 minutes a day on mobile web. In 2023, in-app engagement is projected to increase to 3 hours and 28 minutes a day. On the other hand, mobile web browsing time is predicted to stay static at 52 minutes a day in 2023. What’s more, as people engage more and more with apps — as predictions suggest — in-app advertising will only increase in value.

Better ad viewability

In-app advertising typically enjoys higher viewability rates than mobile web advertising. In fact, in-app display ads have a viewability rate of 72.5%, while mobile web ads only reach 63.6%. When it comes to video ads these rates increase even further. In-app formats have a 77.4% viewability rate, compared to mobile web ads at 71.4%. Decreased viewability of mobile web ads is largely due to ad blockers, which are more effective on mobile web than in apps. Furthermore, in-app ads are designed to fit naturally within the app interface, increasing their likelihood of being viewed by a user.

The availability of advanced ad formats

With in-app advertising, you can leverage a variety of high-performing and unique ad formats that are more engaging than static ad formats often found on mobile web. For instance, rewarded ads or playables, which are interactive, gamified ads that drive high rates of engagement. Currently, playables have the lowest cost-per-install (CPI) across ad types (an average $1.98 CPI versus $3.79 for other gaming ad formats). In-app advertising also enables full-screen ad formats which lead to greater user interaction and engagement.

Better performance

In-app ads drive an over 150% higher conversion rate than mobile web ads do. Higher conversion rates translate to higher ad revenue. Furthermore, in-app ads have a higher click through rate (CTR) of 0.56% compared to 0.23% for mobile web ads. Finally, in-app ads perform 11.4 times better as compared to banner ads on mobile websites.

How to get started with in-app advertising

Advertisers should allocate budget to where the returns are highest, and currently that’s on in-app advertising. But, that doesn’t mean your brand must pick one strategy over the other. Depending on your KPIs and unique goals, running a campaign that diversifies spend across both mobile web and in-app channels could be the best approach.

To get started with in-app advertising, here are some tips.

Remember: you don’t need an an app to take advantage of in-app advertising

With app-to-web conversion flows, you can leverage the power of in-app advertising without having your own app. In contrast to a typical in-app advertising conversion experience in which a user sees an in-app ad, taps it, and downloads an app, an app-to-web conversion flow takes a user to a mobile web page to convert. As mentioned, this process taps into the high performance of in-app inventory while also leveraging the frictionless experience of mobile web.

Work with a specialized DSP

With iOS 14.5+ and the advent of new data privacy restrictions, the process of app growth has gotten more complicated. But, mobile game engagement and playing session times are increasing across game app categories. This means marketers have an opportunity to thrive in the post-IDFA landscape if they focus their resources on acquiring high quality, paying customers from the start. To do this, partnering with specialized DSPs that have deep programmatic experience, historical machine learning models and custom model testing capabilities is critical.

Optimize your ad spend with in-app advertising

The mobile advertising landscape provides advertisers with numerous avenues to reach their desired audience. Both mobile web and in-app advertising offer unique benefits. However, as outlined above, in-app advertising holds an edge with its advanced analytics, hyper-targeting capabilities, higher user engagement, better ad viewability, availability of innovative ad formats, and overall superior performance. What’s more, even if you don’t have an app, app-to-web conversion flows let you tap into the power of in-app advertising.

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