Category Archives: Ads

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Check out the new In-app ads dashboard in Windows Dev Center

We are happy to announce the new Monetize -> In-app ads section in Windows Dev Center. This is your one stop shop to create and manage the ad mediation settings of your UWP and Windows 8.x ad units.
You can find the In-app ads section under the Monetize section in the left navigation. On choosing this option, you can view your in-app ads dashboard that lists all your ad units, along with additional details such as application name, ad unit type, mediation settings, etc.

On clicking the ‘Create ad unit’ button, you will be taken to a new page where you can specify the ad unit details, configure the ad mediation settings for the ad unit and submit. The ad unit will then appear on your in-app ads dashboard.
Do note that you no longer need to start a submission to be able to create an ad unit – simply reserve your app name and you will be able to create an ad unit for it.

If you wish to change the mediation settings of an existing ad unit, simply click on the ad unit, change the settings and save.
For more information on these new experiences, please refer to this article.
We hope you enjoy the new experience! Please send your feedback to aiacare@microsoft.com.

Announcing the Windows Premium Ads Publishers Program

As part of our continuous efforts to help Windows developers monetize better through ads, we are very excited to announce the launch of the Windows Premium Ads Publishers Program – a curated collection of ad enabled apps that are best in class in terms of usage, engagement and experience. These apps use one or more ad formats from among banner, interstitial banner, interstitial video and native ads to monetize. There are more than a million apps in the Windows Store and these premium apps represent the best of inventory that advertisers can target for the highest ROI on their campaigns.
Apps in the Windows Premium Ads Publishers Program satisfy a wide range of criteria, from having a minimum guaranteed daily ad request volume to maintaining high viewability standards, not having any fraudulent activity in their apps and following IAB standard ad sizes and placement methods. These are top apps and games with a globally distributed audience that is highly engaged, have identifiable users and are viewability certified​. The full list of qualifying criteria is as follows:
Minimum guaranteed daily ad request volume
High viewability rate for impressions
Good quality clicks contributing to a minimum CTR across all ad formats
Only IAB standard ad sizes and no hidden ads
Clean placement of banners – not adjacent, no using ad units across multiple apps
Clear defined user flow to the point where the video and/or interstitial banner ad is shown, no pre-caching
Controlled ad refresh behavior so that the ads returned from the mediation server are always played
Great Store presence with clear app descriptions, high fidelity screenshots and icons uploaded to the Store along with a video trailer (preferable)
How do apps become a part of this program?
Apps that meet the qualifying criteria are put through a rigorous manual review process to check for a smooth, well defined user experience and to make sure ads are well placed to avoid unintentional clicks. Apps that clear both the automatic and manual screening process are then added to the program.
Can apps get removed from the program?
Apps in the program are monitored on a frequent basis to ensure they continue to meet the qualifying criteria. Make sure the app usage does not drop significantly over time to sustain a minimum daily ad request volume – a great way to do this is by running regular promotions.
Can a developer provide additional marketing material to showcase their app in the program?
Any content uploaded as part of the Store submission is automatically used to showcase premium apps. In addition, if you would like to use more app or game screenshots, game trailers and rich descriptions, please reach out to aiacare@microsoft.com.
Advertisers from all partner ad networks can identify these apps separately and serve premium, high yield ads exclusively on these apps. The pool of apps in the program are continually reviewed to ensure they meet the quality bar and new apps that qualify are automatically inducted into the program. Early results have shown very promising improvements in ad monetization yield for apps in the Windows Premium Ads Publishers Program. This is currently an invite only program and merely meeting the qualifying criteria does not automatically entitle an app to become part of the premium program.
Developers who are interested in knowing more about improving their app experience to qualify for the program, please reach out to aiacare@microsoft.com. Details regarding the program are available here. To learn more about enabling ads in your apps using the Microsoft Advertising SDK, read the article here. More announcements coming very soon in this space!

Best practices for using video ads in Windows apps

Interstitial videos are a highly engaging ad format that, if used right, have much higher monetization potential as compared to more traditional ad formats. Interstitial videos are typically 15-60 seconds long and take up the full screen space, getting the user engaged in the brand or app being advertised and result in much better conversions compared to standard ad formats.
Here are some do’s and don’ts for using interstitial videos in your app for maximum yield:
DO’s
Have a clear user experience defined in the app or game to the point where the video ad is shown – Since the video ad overlays the app screen completely, it must be used with caution and should never disrupt the user during game play or app usage. Typical examples of usage of interstitial ads are in between game levels or switching to a new tab in a content app.
Set the ad unit mediation configuration to ‘Automatic’ – This allows Microsoft to determine the best waterfall order of ad units for every incoming ad request, giving developers maximum revenue potential from their apps.
Maintain good viewability of the video ad – The Media Ratings Council defines video viewability as, “At least 50% of the pixels in the ad are on an in-focus browser tab on the viewable space of the browser page; the pixel requirement is met for at least two continuous seconds or more at any point in the ad.” Many advertisers only pay when the impression is viewable, for better yield and to avoid fraud. Make sure that when you display the video ad in your app, it plays fully and is not hidden under any other screen in the app.
DON’Ts
Pre-caching for long time periods – Video ad demand is transient by nature. An ad that is available at a given moment may not be available to play a few seconds later from the same ad provider. Given this, app developers should minimize the ad pre-fetch to less than 8 seconds before they are ready to display the ad in the app.
Fire multiple requests repeatedly – In case of a No Ad response, it is recommended that the developer should not fire multiple ad requests constantly. By firing multiple requests and not showing an ad when available, the ad unit becomes more likely to get marked as low quality, further decreasing the chances of getting an ad in the future. Make the next ad request only when it is aligned with the user flow in the app or game and you are ready to show an ad again.
We are working closely with our partner ad networks to bring the best demand to Windows apps and improve fill rates and monetization for our publishers. To know more about adding video ads in your apps, read the article here. Stay tuned for more announcements in this space!

Understanding the ad mediation configuration in the Microsoft ad mediation service

We announced the general availability of the Microsoft ad mediation service in May 2017. The federated cloud based ad mediation service is designed to help app developers maximize their ad revenue. In this blog post, we will go deeper into the mechanics of how a developer can configure their ad network choices to achieve the best possible yield.
Configuring mediation for your application
Developers can setup ad mediation in the Windows Dev center for their ad enabled applications. The ad mediation service mediates ad requests between a plethora of ad networks. The mediation configuration UX in the Monetize with Ads page for an application provides the developer control over managing the mediation configuration for that application.

Microsoft optimized configuration
The default option that is selected is for Microsoft to choose the best mediation settings for the app. This allows the machine learning algorithms that we employ to make ad requests to the best possible available ad networks to ensure highest yield for the developers.
The yield management algorithms use a mixture of User Profile (Age/Gender, Behavioral​ Segmentation, Location​, Time of the day, Day of the week​, Ad Engagement Rate​), Publisher quality score (Ad Size, Ad Format, Ad Placement​, Similar Apps, Category, CTR​, Viewability Signals, Quality Score) and Historical data score (Historical CPM, Historical Sell-through Rate​) parameters for their computation.
The machine learning algorithm looks at various parameters to compute the waterfall order of the ad partners that would get the maximum yield for the application developer.
It is strongly recommended that developers choose this default option for maximizing yield for their ad enabled apps.
Manual configuration
A developer can also manually configure the rank order of the ad networks to serve ads on a given ad unit. These selections can be done across all markets or can be customized for specific markets. When the option for letting Microsoft choose the best mediation settings is unselected, the list of available ad networks and their order is shown. The developer can play around with these settings and set it up to their desired values, including setting specific order for different markets. They can also remove ad networks from the waterfall by toggling the ‘Active’ checkbox in the configuration UX, as shown below.

If you notice the choice of networks here, you can see the presence of both paid and other (non-paid) ad networks. The percentages indicate the percentage of times the ad request will be sent to the ‘type’ of ad networks first. The percentages allow for the developer to allocate between paid and non-paid ad networks. This gives them flexibility to play with the type of ads being shown based on their requirements. For example, if a developer wants to use a given week to just promote their app, they can mark the paid ads to 0% and non-paid House and Community ads to 100%.
In the above screenshot, the ad request would be sent first to the other ad networks 30% first before it would be sent to the paid networks. If the developer does not have any House or Community ad campaigns setup, no ads would be returned for them.
Although it is recommended that developers use the Microsoft optimized configuration option, there are a few advanced scenarios in which a developer would choose to go with a manual configuration:
The developer wants to exclude a few ad networks from serving
The developer wants to tweak the ratio of paid and free ads
The developer wants specific configuration for different markets
The configuration can be changed once per day and takes a couple of hours to take effect. Developers can learn more about configuring their ad unit for optimal yield here.
Examining the performance of the various ad networks in the Analytics page can help the developer choose the method of configuration for their ad networks.
We hope this gives you insight into how you can use the ad mediation service to increase your yield. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments!

Using your ad units correctly when you have multiple store apps

As we had blogged earlier, ad unit performance has a direct correlation with the application category and the users targeted by the application. Having an ad unit associated with multiple store applications leads to ambiguity, which can result in improper ad delivery. This will have an adverse impact on your revenue and user experience. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and other compliance requirements mandate that there is a 1:1 correlation between a store application and an ad unit.
Each ad unit must be only be used in a single store application. This requirement includes applications that target Universal Windows Platform applications, along with Windows 8.x (WinRT) applications.
We’ve reached out to developers through various means, including multiple notifications inside Dev Center. The ad delivery will soon stop on ad units used across multiple applications, so if you have any such ad units, please update! Setting up new ad units is extremely easy.
Don’t forget these following tips that can help maximize your in-app-ad revenue:
Move to the latest advertising SDKs
Set COPPA settings for your app
Use only IAB standard ad sizes
Set your ad placement appropriately
Use Interstitial Banner as fallback to Interstitial Video