iAd Vs. AdMob – Clicks, Fill Rate, Impressions, eCPM and Revenue

About two weeks ago I updated one of my apps to use AdMob mobile ads when iAd fails to deliver (pretty damn often). Instead of swapping out iAd for AdMob, I use the iAd “didFailToReceiveAdWithError” delegate method to request an AdMob ad when iAd fails. This means that AdMob shouldn’t take any income away from iAd, but only supplement it. I thought I’d take a look at the stats and compare the performance of the two ad networks on my app.

(The following numbers I’m referring to are from the time period from 1/25 to 2/7)

For an idea of scale, my app, Anime Nano, gets about 600 iAd requests per day. My app analytics software (Flurry) is saying I’m getting about 600 sessions per day. The thing is that about 1/5 of those sessions are on the iPad (and I haven’t enabled iAd on the iPad yet), so I think that on average, the iPhone apps are making a little more than one iAd request per session.

Despite the fairly healthy rate of requests that I’m getting, iAds are only getting sent about 15% of the time. This percentage is what’s known as the “fill rate.” This is also what most developers complain about being too low. The clickthrough rate is actually pretty good at 0.81%.

When iAd fails to deliver (85% of the time), I fall back to AdMob. The fill rate for AdMob is a high 88%, though the past few days it’s been closer to 99%. The CTR, however, is a fairly low 0.25%, which is less than half of iAd. This is partly due to the fact that AdMob ads refresh more often, so the number of impressions is higher.

I’m going to describe my revenue in terms of percentages here since ad platforms typically don’t like it when publishers publish their income. Not sure if that’s changed lately, but whatever! In the time period from 1/25/2011 to 2/7/2011, I made 2.3x more with iAd than AdMob, even with the super low fill rate (and impressions) of iAd. This is pretty interesting since iAd only shows up 15% of the time. There were actually a few days where AdMob beat iAd, but there were a couple of days where iAd made a killing (relatively), probably from those super awesome interactive ads which I still haven’t experienced firsthand yet.

For now, I’m content with the fill rate of AdMob, though it sort of pains me to see such a low click rate and revenue per click. Something tells me that if AdMob worked harder at increasing ad quality (like iAd), they’d be able to charge more and their advertisers would probably see a better return on investment. Most of the advertisers don’t even bother to use an image ad, which I assume would increase the clickthrough rate.

I noticed something really strange when looking at ads on my app. There’s no way for advertisers to disable ads on devices that already have the app installed. I keep seeing Amazon Kindle ads on both my iPad and my iPhone that already have the application installed. As a developer, I know there’s a way to prevent those ads from showing by detecting whether the app is installed at runtime. I think this strange behavior happens on both iAd and AdMob. If anyone from either organization is reading this, contact me!

As far as the future of ads in mobile apps goes, I hope Apple will continue working on increasing the fill rate, and that AdMob tries to increase relevancy and ad quality. Right now it’s really frustrating to see my “inventory” not live up to its revenue potential.

51 thoughts on “iAd Vs. AdMob – Clicks, Fill Rate, Impressions, eCPM and Revenue

  1. What was your overall % increase when you switched to using iAd and falling back to AdMob ads compared to when you were just using AdMob?

  2. I never only had AdMob only. Just iAd only, so I can’t say what the increase would be. I am pretty confident that there would be an increase moving from just AdMob to iAd->AdMob, though.

  3. Thanks for the comparison. Let me share some of my mobile ad network experience as well.

    I have published 3 different games on the iOS platform. I recently stopped using AdMob alone as I was seeing eCPMs as low as $0.10 and I am now using a combination of MobFox, iAds and AdMob with the following fallback structure:

    1st: MobFox (fills about 60-70% of my EU/US requests with a damn high eCPM)

    2nd: iAds (nice eCPM but low fillrate)

    3rd: AdMob (will be switching to MobClix for the last fallback option because I heard they have slightly higher eCPCs)

    Hope I could help as well!

    Best,
    Raph

  4. hi,
    im new on iphone sdk, please give me some code for switching between iad and admob in the case iad doesnt rechieve any ad.
    thanks in advance
    Antony.

  5. I’m about to publish a web app and am looking for the same code. Could you send me a quick email? I’ll make it worth your time :)

  6. I am a noob trying to get the best return from my apps. It cost too much to create or even have apps built by others to see such slow return by Admob. I was considering implementing i-Ad into my apps since Apple has been promoting it on their developer’s site. My developer says it’s my choice and did not elaborate. Although, he did mention most people that he builds for use i-Ads because it is promoted so often by Apple. He would not say I would get better financial results.

    The ads been generating a small income between $2.5 and $8.00 using Admob advertising. Usually the middle of the week, Friday and Saturday, are the highest amounts received. The app is a free app, Rapid Note (for iPad only). It is my first trial app. I am currently having it updated by adding more functions.

    In exactly three weeks of the app being available to users, I have accumulated 75,173 requests, eCPM of $1.75, held a Fill Rate of approx 95.13%, and an RPM of $1.67 (whatever that is).

    I just want to say thanks for this information about using the “didFailToReceiveAdWithError” delegate method to request an AdMob ad when iAd fails instead of swapping one for the other. I will forward this on to my developer.

  7. I have recently switched to AdWril to manage the iAds and AdMob so that if one fails other can take over. In last 15 days I had 11510 request for iAds but 0 impression and 0% fill rate. Out of this 3,191 are from US.

    I will also try out MobFox

  8. Why is income from ads so secret? Does this really make money? Is it worth writing a free app just to sell ads?

    If anyone could give some idea of what kind of money ads make, I would appreciate it.

  9. Eric,
    It really does depend on what free app you write. The key is user retention once they download your free app. If they don’t use it often and for longer periods of time, they won’t even see the advertisements. iAd has a 3 minute cycle, meaning the user has to be using your free app for longer than 3 minutes in order to see more than 1 impression. So gimmicks are useless. As for revenue trade secrets, it depends on what the advertisers pay you to show it and click it. But I can say from experience, you need a huge following in order to make a bit of daily change. 100,000 retained users may get you between $20 to $60 per day. These are what I have heard around but I cannot confirm. My experience has been slow, it’s been 3 days with iAd only (to be changed in the next version) and I have seen a nice increase in user base and it certainly isn’t 100,000 users yet for GeoTasker Lite (http://alturl.com/e3xxb) but I am happy with any uptick in revenue for now.

  10. Here are my stats so far for my free ad supported app as of 6 Sept. 2011 (1 month of usage for ads and I only use iAd and AdMob via Adwhirl):
    9,500 downloads so far.
    Median session length – 6.1 minutes
    Average Fill Rate for iAd 79%
    Average Fill Rate for AdMob 72.6%
    Average eCPM:
    AdMob – .08
    iAd – 1.19
    As you can see, there is a HUGE difference in the eCPM!
    Based on my results, I now only use AdMob as a fallback when I fail to receive an iAd because a few pennies is better than no pennies.
    Translating clicks to cash:
    AdMob –
    Highest – .051 per click
    Lowest – .023 per click
    iAd
    Highest – .617 per click
    Lowest – .255 per click
    In the last week my average income for iAds has been $12 a day and AdMob 50 cents a day.
    I have been getting an average 100 new downloads a day.

  11. Just a small update.
    iAd is now averaging between $15-$20 a day and AdMob is down to 15-25 cents a day.
    I think I might just go iAd all the way and not have AdMob at all.
    I’ll lose very little money and user’s won’t have to see as many ads, which (I hope) will make them happier and click the iAds even more!

  12. I am new to ad network. Thanks for sharing. May I confirm if developer only make money only if click through happen? Say if app sees million of impression but none click through, does it make any money? Thanks.

  13. Hello

    I am starting in this world of mobile network applications and I have many doubts:
    MobFox claims to have the highest cCPM. What is your experience?

    How could one appl use MobFox and in case there is no fill, fallback to AdWhirl?

    Which ad network do you recommend? why?

    Thanks for sharing your experience.
    Pedro

  14. New to ads, Just curious, Is there a limit how many ads i can show. I know it looks bad on the screen but can i show 2 or 3 ads stacked. Maybe one iad and one admod.

  15. @Tom

    Don’t remove adMob because iAd is only available in few countries.

    I make between $15-$45 daily from adMob and most of that come from overseas where iAd does not exist.

    I set iAd as priority because most times it makes me 3-4 times the adMob income.

  16. Hi – just wanted to say I’m seeing the exact opposite reaction – I have iAd doing a failover to admob on one of my games (which I internationalized to every language iPhone supports). The result is that iAd sees about 1/10th the income of admob, with daily combined earnings north of $100. I can only assume its due to the limited market iAd supports.

  17. @KRIS, no offense, but I don’t think you’re making $15-$45 per day using AdMob. From what I’ve read from many developers, the amount of clicks you’ll need (not ‘impressions’ if I have the term right) would be about 1 million, give or take.

    I have SEEN charts & graphs posted by developers using that scammy company and there is no way you are making $15 from AdMob. If you’d said you were earning 15 CENTS per day with them I would’ve been surprised.

    AdMob, Adsense, iAd, it’s all a bunch of low paid garbage set forth to generate money for the platforms (Google, Apple, and so on). And frankly, I’ve even noticed with Rovio (Angry Birds) that THEY are making 1 million a month with ads. Let’s think about that: how many users do they have? 400 million? And they’re only making ONE million per month on ads. Seems low for the high user number they have. My first thought was that they must be using Admob, Adsense, or one of these sharky ad companies.

    What’s the connection between user base number and ad revenue for Rovio? Well, I’d think they could charge advertisers MORE money based on the popularity of that game. In my eyes they should be making more like $10 million from in-game ads at this point in the game’s career.

    1. Are you crazy! I have been using admob for years and haven’t made less than $5.00 per day. Some ads pay up to 0.20 per click some pay as little as 0.03 per click. No doubt on days that the ads are over 0.15 I make about $30-$40 per day. I only have about 200 downloads between all my free apps every day (that is on the low side for free games). I also show house ads (my personal ads for my apps) 5% of the time.

      My company: KECHBS SOFTWARE

  18. Penny,

    1. “would be about 1 million, give or take.”

    You don’t know what you’re talking about. It depends on so many factors (ecpm being most impt) but from what I know you’ll need around 8000-25000 impressions to get that amount.

    2. “I’ve even noticed with Rovio (Angry Birds) that THEY are making 1 million a month with ads”

    Why do you assume that Angry birds is even using one of the major companies to fill their own ad space? Why wouldn’t they get their own. You’ve got a lot to learn. At 400m a month you can basically name your own ecpm.

    If Rovio wanted 10m from a paid app.. they would alienate a lot of it’s userbase because new ads would appear where they might get clicked on.

  19. Hi, to keep this post going, i’d like to share our stats:

    We have a free USA-only app that allows people to browse stuff regarding shopping for quick reference.

    From Flurry.com that we have installed within our app:
    sessions per day – 7.5k-13k (varies depending on day)

    Session Length % of Sessions
    0-3 secs 7.4%
    3-10 secs 9.1%
    10-30 secs 10.7%
    ~~~~~~~~~~users above – you can’t really do anything in our app in less than 30 secs, so we assume they clicked on the app by mistake.
    30-60 secs 11.3%
    1-3 mins 28.9%
    3-10 mins 25.6%
    10-30 mins 6.5%
    30+ mins 0.4%

    Our admob stats (iPhone only) – you’ll notice that some columns are missing or rounded – but this will give you a good idea of where we are:

    date ecpm requests (k) fill_rate ctr
    12/5/2011 0.97 28.5 99.95% 1.16%
    12/4/2011 0.70 50.2 99.98% 0.98%
    12/3/2011 0.83 21.2 100.00% 1.28%
    12/2/2011 0.73 19.7 100.00% 1.23%
    12/1/2011 0.70 19.9 100.00% 1.23%
    11/30/2011 0.61 20.8 99.99% 1.11%
    11/29/2011 0.67 21.7 100.00% 1.16%
    11/28/2011 0.63 29.5 99.98% 1.16%
    11/27/2011 0.54 46.1 99.97% 1.08%
    11/26/2011 0.72 26.2 99.99% 1.34%

    From what I read in the comments – a lot depends on:
    1) type of app (maybe its determined by your category? We are in lifestyle
    2) how much your app is used – while testing the app, we’ve noticed that after a certain amount of time admob ads stop showing – if you have an addictive game which people use for 30 minutes a day +, maybe admob stops sending ads?
    3) your Click through rate. Our users are older than average, so they do tend to click on ads (maybe by mistake?). I’d guess younger users are better at avoiding ads. After all, ECPM is just a function of CTR…

    Good luck, and keep this post going with your stats!

    1. Forgot to add – for #1 – why it matters what type of app you are: We’ve noticed that a lot of the time the ads are closely related to our app, and back when Groupon was spending millions of dollars on advertisement (4-6 weeks pre-IPO), it wasn’t unusual for us to see $2, 3, and even $5.80 (our record) ECPM. But thats not the norm. But heck… those were the days (and we only had <25 $2+ ecpm days)!

      ***I'd say the norm is $.7 -$.85

  20. All fellows, this thread is just way too useful.
    I am a new for advertisement network and frustration for iAD does not fill up for most request at worldwide.

    Your discussions at least solve 95% of my doubt~!
    Thanks!

  21. @Dev.

    First of all, I am coming froM android, where Admob is huge (Google company based), but I can really confirm what Penny is telling. I have been using Admob for about a couple of months (3-5) and the revenue is so low that it really is not worth it. Penny has the figures right, on an average of 60 000 Impressions daily and mostly US based customers You can expect about 0.20%CTR which is average and about 0.02 cents per click. This is the reality, you can do the math, but it is not more than 2-3$ a day. And this is rather high, because on some days you can average at about 0.10% CTR and 0.01c which is even lower. And when the payout comes, which is outrageous, on a 90 days net, they even close your account for unknown reason. Chances are you will never see your money again. I got lucky since I was in contact with one of their team reps and the person was kind of to review my account and apologized for the closure of the account – after human check there was nothing wrong with the revenue (why should it be with such low revenue anyways…). But there are 100 of thousands of people who are not that lucky.

    From the same rep I found out what Penny said about Rovio – doing 1M in their highest months. And this is low, his math is right, they have North of the 1Billion downloads on all networks they serve their apps on Android (maybe even iOS). Even if we assume that 50M will use their app the stats are low.

    Now I am using another network and we get 15 day net payouts + an average of about 10$ a day. The first month was even at about 50$ a day and if you push it you can get even more, but for some reasons the revenue dropped but it is stil higher than Admob or anything out there

    1. Just to add something about the CTR – the 1% CTR is north of the average and this is what I got from the Admob rep – exact words were: 0.20% is good, some people go at about 1-2% (tops) and some below 0.10% so I would say that 0.20-0.50% is what the average person can expect from their app, unless people play the whole day on a game…

  22. Hi, i’m using adMob for 4 month and my avrg Fill Rate was 98% but these last days it droped to 50% !!! I’m very confused, cuz from 15.02 adMob uses adWords for their android apps, and eCPM is extremely low too since that date.

    Is there anyone else who got the same numbers?

    Maybe adWhirl or iAd has better fill rates and eCPM this year?

    Thanks.

    1. A server error or lack of optimized ads are both reasons they could be so low. You could do what the blog post says and use more than one to make sure you have a high fill rate. Think of it as a waterfall: if the water stops flowing, it needs another source to keep on flowing.

      Ad whirl has a mediation service, so you can use it to have a couple of ad networks. Try to go with some fun smaller ones, like LeadBolt, TapIt, JumpTap, etc… They have lots of advertisement choices and good customer support.

      Peace!

  23. The fill rate varies a lot by country. In the US iAd is doing great (mine is at 99% for the last 30 days). My target audience is France and French-Canada though. France has been improving (55%), but Canada is dead in the water. If your application is only available in the States, I would stick to iAd.

  24. I noticed my iAd earnings have been adjusted downwards these few days. I checked the daily amount a few times a day, and noted the high. The amount ‘taken away’ is at least 10%. I thought AdMob was bad, now I realized iAd is the same. If the earnings can be adjusted downwards so blatantly, what is stopping any provider from under reporting any of these numbers?

    May the most honest provider lead in this industry.

  25. Interesting post! I use iAd on iOS and it works great for USA. I’m evaluating something else for the rest of the world. What about that MobFox cited above? Any experience?

  26. Hey Guys

    Awesome Thread. Very helpful.

    I currently had AdMob for my first iPhone App and looking into it now whether i need to change to increase revenue. Really like the idea of using iAd and AdMob together. What do you guys think of AdWhirl? Has anyone tried that? Rather than doing custom logic to use iAd and AdMob together what if I just go with Adwhirl? Any downside to it?

  27. This is an amazing thread! I wealth of information!!!

    We are looking for a way to track the success of our ads, what sort of tracking system do you use to understand the trends of clicks and revenue in order to improve?

    Also, Admob, there are so many opinions if it is good or bad. Currently with our house ads we get a click through of about .50%, is it worth it?

    Any thoughts are much appreciated!!!

  28. I hope this thread doesn’t die as it really is quite interesting. Anyhow below is my data for 6½ days using Admob mediation configured like this:

    iAd 90%, Admob 10% for France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, United States.
    Admob 100% for the rest.

    Network Revenue eCPM Requests Impressions Fill Rate CTR
    iAd $2.49 $0.54 9,915 4,595 83.03% 0.20%
    Admob $4.69 $0.24 19,709 19,709 100.00% 0.71%

    The mismatch between request and impression for iAds is because the first two days it was just set to 50/50 for all and iAd couldn’t fill much in other countries.

    Not quite sure if this is good or not, still very new to this….

  29. Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Very useful information specifically the last part :) I care for such info a lot. I was seeking this certain info for a very long time. Thank you and good luck.

  30. Something I have found is that in general Android adverts payout way worse than iOS ones. I recently had a hit app that has given about 3x more downloads on Android than iOS so far, yet the revenue is 90% from iOS.
    RevMob definitely seems worth doing, in combination with banner ads, but most of my revenue is from Admob on iOS. I have tried a bunch of networks on Android (MobFox, InMobi, Chartboost, Leadbolt) but haven’t needed to on iOS since CPMs are around $1 on it.

  31. I been using AdMob for 4 weeks now. This is what is shows in my admob account.

    Number of users download the app: ~3000
    Daily download rate now: ~130
    so far after 4 weeks release following is my data. (total)
    Revenue : $38.58
    Requests: 2,693,994
    eCPM: $0.01
    Fill Rate: 99.24%
    RPM: $0.01

    am I doing something wrong? lot of people has a higher ecpm. why my ecpm is only $0.01 for Admob? I haven’t implemented iAd yet. Please help.

    Thanks.

  32. @Tony
    I suggest you to test your app with all the operations systems or devices. And Check if the banners are clickable or not. It happened with us, when the banners were clickable only on 2.2 android. The solution was to compile different apk to 2.2, and 4.0 android.
    Also adwhirl seems to having too much errors, crashes, and other stability issues which urge us to avoid it in the future. That could improve your rates.

    In addition I can give you a hint: try playhaven.com It has pretty nice ecpm rate for inerstial ads. (9k impressions, 15.9%ctr, 5.82% 85 install, $15.93 ecpm)

  33. Great topic! the key to maximizing ad revenue for apps is basically the same as it is for websites: trial and error of different ad networks. At the end of the day, the network that returns the most relevant ads (thus generating the highest CTR) that pay the highest should be your first choice, followed in order by the others. Your fill rate should be as close to 100% as possible at all times. With the option to choose several different ad networks simultaneously (with the highest CPC ad winning out for each impression), there is really no reason not to have a 100% fill rate!

    Disclaimer: I work at Keyword Digital Mobility, where we’re seeing an average eCPM of $1.50 for our publishers. All our advertisers are hyper-local, and we have a few hundred thousand of them. We don’t accept any old app, but if you’re looking for some ideas on how to monetize, feel free to contact me at [eric at keyworddigital dot com]. I’d be happy to help you out.

  34. Hello guys, is there a way to use iAd as my first choice and Admob if iAd is not filling my ad space? Note that I would like to do this for the same banner in my app. Thanks!

  35. Hi guys, I’ve developed an android app, and am at a stage where I should fix on a ad network. Which one would you recommend as the best one as far as revenue is concerned? Thanks in advance!

  36. This is a fantastic thread. I have been researching this stuff for a couple of days and all my questions have been answered here.

    I released my first app two weeks ago and I have only had about 200 downloads so far but I am not going crazy with the marketing yet cos this is just a but of a trial ap for me. It is a free app with ads.

    I am using Chartboost but dont have any info yet for my earnings so I cannot comment on whether they are successful or not.

    The only problem I have with them is that they have full page ads which seem very intrusive and people may think that it is part of my ap. Also cos the ads are so big people click them thinking it is part of the ap and it takes them away from my ap, then I think they might feel deceived and not open my ap again or just delete it. The reason I installed it was because I had heard it gave good pay outs and there was a lot of hype about it.

    What do people think of Chartboost?

    What ad networks are bad news and should be avoided?

    I will update you with my Chartboost findings and earnings in the next couple of months.

  37. Hi!

    Please, How much money will i make if i use iAd? by impressions? by clicks?

    And with AdMob? impressions? clicks?

    Thanks

  38. I never tried iAd. But, i have tried Admob mediation with Millennial Media, AdFalcon, AppFlood, Inmobi & MdotM.

    I don’t know why, but AdFalcon, AppFlood & MdotM did not show any earning.
    Only Admob, Millennial Media and Inmobi which show some earnings.
    The best performance is Admob for me.
    My daily average eCPM is > $2. and i just used Admob a month ago.
    Daily downloads of my apps is 4000. and daily average impression is 17,000-21,000.
    and i made about $25-$50 a day from admob only. It’s quite high for me now and i am satisfied with it. i had ever experience a $10 ecpm on one day in admob, but it happened just 1 day. after that it drops to $1 then went up to average $2 till now. hope admob ecpm will be higher for future.

    My stats in Millennial media: impression so far is 8,633. and the eCPM is low around $0,28.
    and Inmobi ecpm is around $0,17 impression 3,495.

      1. Sorry John,
        it’s private and everyone will keep it private too.
        But, i will give you a clue, buddy.
        I try the entertainment category in the admob, and the ecpm is more than $2. But i have seen $25 ecpm in that category too. But, high ecpm only last about a day or two.
        I also have tried sports category that i see it has $5-7 ecpm.
        But, please don’t too believe what i say, since your experience may differ.
        I just share my experience.
        And i hope this help you :)

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