Today, we are announcing new policy around ad unit decommissioning, user experience updates to manage active/inactive ad units, default policies around Ad network enablement, and changes to the Ad impression measurement methodology for Windows apps. You may be impacted if you are monetizing using Ads on your Windows app leveraging the Microsoft Advertising SDK (UWP or 8.x apps).
1) Auto enabling new ad networks for Manual ad units on UWP apps
Our team continues to evaluate and onboard new Ad networks to improve yield and offer better variety of demand (formats, market specific demand) for our publishers. Today, when a new ad network is onboarded to our system, UWP ad units that are configured with the ‘Manual configuration’ option do not benefit from these networks as they are not automatically turned on for the Manual ad units. We will be making a change over the next few weeks to turn on any new ad networks by default for all our UWP ad units independent of the Manual or Automatic configuration. For ad units in the Manual configuration, since the ad network waterfall configuration is determined by publisher’s choice, these ad networks will be added to the bottom of the waterfall order. The publisher can then make necessary changes to reorder or opt out of the ad networks as necessary. As always, our recommendation is to choose the ‘Automatic’ ad unit configuration to benefit the most from our platform’s yield maximization capabilities.
2) Policy updates around decommissioning of Ad units
We are implementing an ad unit decommissioning policy wherein an ad unit that hasn’t generated any Ad request over the last 6 months will be subject to deactivation and deletion. We don’t expect active apps to be impacted since we look for a prolonged period (6 months) of ad unit inactivity before we deactivate. However, there may be exceptional circumstances where you may be affected. For instance, if you created an ad unit several months ahead of app deployment time and trying to use this ad unit as your app goes live. Or, you are trying to reuse an existing ad unit from your previous inactive app into your new app. Recommendation in both cases is to use newly created ad units instead of reusing an existing one to avoid potential Ad revenue loss.
Along with this policy announcement, we are making changes in the Windows Dev Center dashboard to make it easy to view active and inactive Ad units. Ad unit state is identified in a separate Status column; in addition, you can choose to view just the Active or Inactive ad units by choosing the appropriate filter on the top of the page.
3) Transitioning to Standards based Ad impression measurement
Standards based Ad impression measurement requires that the ‘Ad must be loaded and at minimum begin to render’ to be counted as a valid impression. For Ad networks that are relying on other methods such as server based Ad impression counting, we are making changes to gradually migrate all our Windows app ad units over the next few months closer to Standards based measurement. More specifically, the impression counting will rely on techniques such as firing an ad network impression beacon upon starting to render the Ad on the client. This is done to better adhere to the IAB standards around Ad impression counting and to be fair to the advertisers. This will also benefit apps that are striving to do right by making sure that Ads are rendered on the client and are viewable.
If you are following standard guidelines put forth in our documentation and recommendations from earlier blogs on how to design the Ad placements in your app, you should not see adverse impact on your Ad monetization. However, if your app is designed in a way that interferes with the rendering of the Ad, you may see a negative impact on your App Ad revenues. For instance, if you are placing an Ad in a UI dialog box that can be easily dismissed by the user before the Ad gets a chance to render or your app is pulling Ads on a background thread, these Ads that previously were possibly counted as valid impressions will not be counted in the new standard. We strongly recommend you to evaluate your app for such practices and actively fix these issues to minimize impact to your Ad revenues.
Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for questions or comments!
Did you know that app developers make the most money from Advertising during the holiday season than at any other time of the year? Advertisers spend huge sums promoting their brands through Digital Ad campaigns during this period. Are you ready to take advantage of this and maximize Ad revenues for your Windows apps this holiday season?
If you haven’t already, join the tens of thousands of Windows app developers using the Microsoft Advertising SDK and the Microsoft Ad Monetization platform as their Ad monetization solution. Integrating the SDK into your app is straightforward and you should be able to get up and running in just about a day. The Microsoft Ad Monetization platform provides higher fill rates and better eCPMs on a variety of Ad formats including Banner, Native and Interstitial Video Ads. The platform uses Machine Learning to maximize App Ad revenues by selecting the potentially highest yield Ad response on every Ad request. Also, with a single integration to the platform through the SDK, you get access to the growing portfolio of our Ad network partners such as SpotX, Smartclip etc. without making additional code changes when new networks get added.
If you are already using the Microsoft Advertising SDK for Ad monetization, here are the top five tips to maximize Ad revenues for your apps for the holidays.
1. Check the placement of your Ad in your app (link).
Placing the Ad in the right place on the app increases user visibility and click performance of the ad unit, which directly improves monetization. Advertisers are likely to bid higher if the Ad viewability scores are higher for your app. Optimize for viewability and clicks and see your revenue increase.
2. Switch from ‘Manual’ to ‘Automatic’ in Mediation settings for your Ad units.
By choosing the ‘Automatic’ option, you let the Microsoft Ad Monetization platform choose the best mediation settings to maximize the yield for your app. This is done using Machine learning algorithms that take into account several app, user and environment features to pick the optimal order of Ad networks to maximize Ad yield.
3. Use interstitial banner as fallback for video (link).
Video ads are a great way to monetize but when a video ad request is not converted into an impression, a great option is to use Interstitial banner as a fallback and make the most of the opportunity to monetize that ad space.
4. Check your app’s COPPA settings (link).
If your app does not target children under 13, then Targeted Ads are a great way to maximize your Ad monetization potential. Incorrect classification of your app as ‘directed at children under the age of 13’ while in reality it is not, can cause Ad revenues to drop as the Ads returned in this situation are not targeted/relevant. Also, Ad requests for such apps are not sent to Ad networks that are not COPPA compliant, thereby causing Ad fill rates on your app to drop.
5. Consider using high yield Ad formats in your app.
Have you considered adding in support for Ad formats such as Interstitial Video (link) and Native Ads (link) in your app? These richer Ad formats have higher yield than standard banner Ads and can make a considerable difference in your App Ad revenues especially during the holiday season.
Implementing these very simple steps is a great way to ensure you are maximizing the Ad monetization potential for your apps and setting yourself up for higher Ad revenues during this holiday season!
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.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!
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:
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.
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!
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.
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!
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