No App? No Problem: In-App Ads Can Still Engage Customers

Written by Tim Edmundson

We’ve noticed a trend among some advertisers: If they don’t have their own mobile app, they tend to ignore in-app advertising altogether. If you read that and nodded to yourself thinking “I’ve done that!” then STOP right there. Consumers spend around 90% of their time in apps while on a mobile device. That’s a lot of time and it’s a huge opportunity you’re missing if you’re not advertising in-app.


Mobile is now the biggest fish in the media sea. According to mobile analytics provider Flurry, mobile sites and apps dominate user attention. They report that Americans spent an average of 3 hours and 18 minutes per day on mobile apps. That’s even more than television, which clocks in at just under 3 hours.

With mobile apps now dominating all other media channels in terms of user attention span, the money is following suit. In 2015 alone, eMarketer reports over $20 billion was spent on in-app advertising, edging the sum spent on desktop display. It’s forecasted to keep climbing as well, with an expected spend of over $29 billion in 2016. But don’t just jump on the bandwagon because other brands are throwing a lot of money there, do it because it actually makes sense – it’s where your audience spends their time.

If the numbers aren’t convincing, consider this unique trait: People tend to actively avoid ads in other channels – they either find a way to block them or they become banner blind (just look at the popularity of DVR or ad blocking software, or how classic banner ads from the 90s fare nowadays), but that doesn’t appear to be the case with mobile apps. The expectation among consumers is that a free app will have ads, and that appears to be an acceptable trade off. They understand that apps cost money to develop, and those ads are the reason why they’re able to get them for free.


Mobile_App_UsersConsumers are all about the apps, and you should be too.

According to eMarketer, over 200 million users were consistently active on apps in 2015. That’s a lot of potential conversions.

Based on polling done by Nielsen, 33% of consumers shop exclusively on mobile. You don’t want to miss out on one third of your audience.

CTRs for in-app ads are much higher than their web counterparts. According to Medialets, CTR for apps (0.56%) is more than double that of web display (0.23%).

The stats don’t lie; people are not only willing to spend a large chunk of their time in apps, they’re eager to engage with brands there as well.


Based on the numbers alone, apps are beginning to cement their place as the go-to for any mobile advertising strategy. Jason Rothman, GM of Mobile and Social at SteelHouse, agrees in-app ads check all the boxes when it comes to what marketers should be looking for in digital advertising.

“What’s great about in-app advertising is that it gives you a very direct line to your customer when they’re looking to make a purchase,” says Rothman. “Acquisition and retention are its strong suits because both high- and low-funnel customers can be found there. We see that the very first touchpoint in a customer’s purchasing journey is commonly on their phone or tablet. They’ll research a product they’re interested in, and will very often return to their device to complete their purchase.” Because a sizable portion of consumers stick with mobile all the way down the funnel, in-app ads can help keep them focused and engaged until they convert.

They also have the added advantage of utilizing geo-location. Because consumers are essentially always online with their mobile devices, you can serve them an ad exactly when and where you want to. For example, retailers can serve coupons if a user is near one of their brick and mortar stores. This is partly why conversions are so strong with mobile ads – your targeting can be so focused that you are getting your ads in front of the very customers who are most likely to buy.

If your company doesn’t have its own mobile app, don’t let that affect your strategy. “Just because you don’t have an app presence doesn’t mean you should shy away from in-app ads, use them to drive customers to your site instead,” recommends Rothman. “And be sure your site is optimized for mobile to handle the incoming traffic, because you’re going to see a bump.”

If you’re not already advertising in-app, get to it ASAP. And if you don’t have an app yet, what are you waiting for? Build one!