AdMob ads, click bids, and spend rates

I’ve been running AdMob ads on the latest version of my iPhone Tides app. Earlier this week I decided to transfer some of the revenue into an AdMob ad purchase account, to experiment with advertising the app that was running the ads.

Setting up the ad on the AdMob site was quick and easy. I entered text and uploaded the app icon, and used the AdMob wizard to link to Tides in the iPhone App Store. There was no additional graphics work required. I entered a fairly low CPC bid of $.10 per click, quite a bit less than what appeared to be the going rate.

The next morning I checked my stats. No ads had been run, and no expenditure was registered. Hmm. I’ll try bumping up the bid to $.25.

Within 15 minutes I received 3 emails from the AdMob monitoring service. First was a note saying my ad had been approved. A few minutes later I had a warning that my ad account balance was low. Then came a note that my ad account balance was zero and my ads had been stopped. I checked the AdMob dashboard, and it showed only a handful of ad impressions, but a zero balance. Several hours later, the AdMob dashboard had caught up with reality.

From this experiment, I have these suggestions for small developers advertising on the iPhone:

  • The AdMob advertiser dashboard is not as responsive as other parts of their system. Don’t count on it for up-to-the-minute information on your campaign.

  • Set a very low, or even zero, bid rate for your campaign, until you see that your ad has been approved.
  • Although AdMob might look at lot like Google AdWords, they are very different programs. AdMob doesn’t give you nearly the same granularity of control as AdWords does. There is no keyword targeting for iPhone ads; you can’t be nearly as precise as you can with Google AdWords.
  • Keep your bid quite low. The fill rate for AdMob advertising within iPhone apps is running at about 70-90%, sometimes even less. So as long as your bid is high enough to get a bit of visibility, your ads will run. Make bid increases gradually. You aren’t bidding against other advertisers; you’re bidding against empty space.
  • Turn on the “daily budget” option. As of this writing the minimum daily budget is $100, which I think is quite high for a small developer. But even a number that large can be a useful safety valve for runaway campaigns.


6 thoughts on “AdMob ads, click bids, and spend rates

  1. Great post.. Just one important question though.. Did you think that running AdMob ads helped your iPhone app sales? Are you still using it or did you stop after your first trial? Thanks again for the info…


  2. I tried a second round and again the ad impressions were used up almost instantly. I didn’t see any impact on downloads of the app and don’t plan to try this again for a while. I don’t see any effective way to throttle the rate of your ad campaign unless you’re spending thousands of dollars per month with AdMob.

  3. I had an extremely similar experience. Our app (BigOven 160,000+ Recipes) currently uses AdMob as an experiment, and even though it was downloaded more than 1,000,000 times in the first 90 days, and serves tens of thousands of pageviews (and AdMob impressions) daily, it brings in only a very tiny amount of daily revenue from AdMob.

    I transferred over about $500 to the CPC ads, and within a couple hours the balance was low. There doesn’t appear to be any kind of throttling at present. You’d think that would have translated into downloads, but I wasn’t able to detect any appreciable difference in downloads after that spend.

    There are a number of things I think AdMob has done right — as you note, ads are very easy to set up — but it left me very unlikely to use it again as a promotional tool until I can see an appreciable difference.

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