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.