Testing New Ad Networks: 12 Best Practices
Today, there are so many different mobile ad networks to choose from.
In their marketing pitches, all of them promise to skyrocket your app and bring you thousands of users.
And since you don’t know who to trust, you prefer not to take any risks?
Perhaps it’s time to shake things up and try out something new. By testing new ad networks, you can find new growth opportunities and get ahead of the competition.
For example, maybe you want to test emerging ad networks in China, the world’s biggest gaming market. Or you just want to try out that trending new social network you’ve heard of.
If you’re not sure how to get started, here’s a list of 12 best practices for testing new ad networks!
1. Choose the Right Candidates for the Test
Don’t get started on the wrong foot — pick out fitting ad networks to put on the test.
A lot of marketers make the mistake of not researching ad networks enough before the test. For example, they see a trending social media channel and decide to give it a shot, only to end up heavily disappointed.
Why does this happen?
There are two common reasons.
REASON 1. The channel doesn’t fit the app’s target audience
REASON 2. It’s already flooded with competitors
To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, be careful when choosing ad networks for testing.
First of all, check if they fit your audience, demographics, and app type. Second, check for their overall performance. Ideally, they should be on the rise, but not be flooded with your competitors.
A good place to find such channels is AppFlyer’s latest Growth Index which gives you an overview of the fastest-growing ad networks.
2. Put All Prejudice Aside
If you have some previous experience with testing, you might want to apply your findings here.
However, think twice before you do that.
Every ad network is unique and requires a custom approach. That’s why most of them provide advertisers with their own guidelines on how to test. For example, about the basic campaign requirements and the ideal testing time.
You might also have an idea of the ideal CPIs during the testing process.
This is very, very wrong.
It is completely normal for CPIs to go wild while testing new ad networks.
Testing is called testing for a reason. In this phase, you might see drastically different install numbers, CPIs and ROAS on different ad networks. Let this phase go by, and by the end of the test, you’ll be able to see things more clearly.
Equally important, don’t forget to stick to the basic testing steps:
- between each test, change the lowest possible number of elements
- measure each difference and iterate the best-performing ones
- iterate performing variations to confirm or disapprove positive data — a single winning test may be just a coincidence
3. Run Campaigns Long Enough
As we said before, ad networks usually recommend testing timeframes, and it’s important to consider them.
However, it’s not bad to have some general recommendations in mind as well.
Rule of thumb: Testing new ad networks usually lasts between two and four weeks. On most ad networks, this is enough time for the algorithm to learn about your app and its audience.
Why two weeks minimum?
If you run a test for one week only, then it would be impossible to spot potential weekday variations.
After the two-week period finishes, you will have the necessary amount of data to decide whether to optimize your campaigns further. For example, by focusing on a certain creative. In the following two weeks of testing, it’s all about trying to get close to the target.
4. Patience, Please
Ideal testing time doesn’t only depend on the ad networks’ capabilities.
It also depends on the type of app you’re promoting.
For example, if you’re advertising a hyper-casual game, your goal will probably be to get a certain number of installs, which usually happens quickly.
But what if you set up a different conversion event?
For example, if you promote an RPG game, you want to acquire quality players who’ll spend in it. Therefore, you can optimize your test campaigns toward in-app purchases. In this case, it will take longer for users to convert, and for your test campaigns to wrap up.
5. Set Decent Testing Budgets
Don’t be stingy when testing new ad networks.
For the tests to work properly, you need to “feed” the ad networks with adequate budgets.
You’re probably wondering — “But what makes a budget adequate”?
This will depend on the ad network in question. A lot of ad networks’ algorithms require a certain number of optimization events to finish a test.
For example, on Facebook, the learning phase is done when new ad sets reach 50 conversions, e.g., installs. On the other hand, another ad network might need as many as 1,000 installs to optimize. Obviously, getting more conversions will be more expensive and will probably last longer.
No matter how logical it seems, testing new ad networks with identical budgets and timeframes is not a good idea.
If you’re looking for a more specific answer about how big your testing budget should be, here are some numbers. But, remember, this is just to give you a general idea.
Rule of thumb: A budget of $5.000-$10.000 should be enough to collect enough data about an ad network in a month’s time (AppAgent).
6. Let the Ad Networks Find the Best Creatives
You have many ad creatives in various styles and formats? Can’t decide which to test on the new ad network?
Don’t assume what will work.
Test as many of them.
Quality ad networks are smart enough to help you find the best creatives and ensure you’re not wasting money.
Most of them are based on AI optimization that identifies the best-performing ads. Upon finding the best ones, the ad networks push them to appear more frequently than others.
7. Track Multiple KPIs
Most app marketers are confident that they know which metrics to watch while testing new ad networks.
In reality, a lot of them are missing out on the full picture.
In most cases, they track ROAS as the primary metric. Then, based on ROAS, they calculate user LTVs.
There’s nothing wrong with this.
But if you really want to understand the ad network’s effectiveness, you should be looking at more metrics. For example, for a mid-core mobile game you can also track these KPIs:
- CPI & CPA,
- day 1 and Day 3 ROAS
- install per mille
- day 1 and Day 3 IAPs
- day 1 and Day 3 retention
8. If a Test Isn’t Working, Ditch it
This one sounds pretty obvious.
However, you’d be surprised by how many marketers get emotionally attached to things.
There is no point in sticking to a low-performing campaign just because you had high hopes for it.
Once you’ve established the timeframe for your tests, and the results roll in — analyze them. If you can’t seem to scale, this ad network is not the right fit for you and it makes no sense to continue testing.
At least not for that particular app.
9. Your Tests Probably Won’t Have Positive ROI, and That’s Okay
When testing new ad networks, it’s imperative to have realistic expectations.
A positive ROI is not one of them.
We’re not saying it’s impossible to reach it, but it is highly unlikely. The reason for this is pretty simple — getting a positive ROI typically takes much longer than a couple of weeks.
The testing phase is not about being profitable.
It is about collecting and analyzing data to draw long-term conclusions. That’s why you should be tracking all those different metrics, but not this one.
10. See if You Have the Time to Analyze
As you can see, when it comes to testing new ad networks, there is a lot of discussion about time. Time is crucial both during and after testing.
Here’s what we mean by that.
Once you’re finished testing an ad network, you’ll need to:
- analyze traffic quality
- compare metrics with the ad networks you’re currently using
- look out for potential ad fraud
- if the test is successful, optimize further
All of this takes time, and each ad network requires more or less of it.
For example, you’ll need more time to analyze results from ad networks with complex algorithms and richer targeting options such as Facebook and Google. On the other hand, results from testing video-based ad networks can usually be analyzed faster.
Therefore, when deciding which ad networks to test, consider how much time you have available for analyzing campaign performance.
11. Keep a Close Eye on Ad Fraud
Discovered a new or unknown ad network your competitors aren’t using?
Proceed with caution.
Ad fraud is a real thing.
Common types of ad fraud on mobile are:
- visibility fraud (ads don’t get impressions due to invisible position, ad stacking, etc.)
- inaccurate targeting fraud (spending budgets on incorrect targeting)
- click spamming (artificial clicks on ads)
- SDK spoofing (hacking app codes to notify about fake installs)
To be able to recognize any of this, it’s critical to analyze the ad network’s traffic quality and watch for post-install indications of potential fraud.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this. Today, most MMPs have anti-fraud features that can help you detect ad fraud before it causes you much damage.
12. From Time to Time, Retest
You’ve done all the tests and picked out a couple of ad networks you’ve been using for a while.
Congrats on that.
But, are you making sure that your choices don’t become stale?
In user acquisition, things change rapidly. When it comes to the performance of ad networks, it’s no different. For this reason, it is a good idea to retest your selected ad networks every 6 to 12 months.
The results might shock you.
Positively or negatively.
The thing is, a lot can change since the initial tests. For example, an ad network’s targeting options can become more precise, new features can drastically affect ad performance or something else.
Does this go for all ad networks?
Retesting is especially important on newer and emerging channels like TikTok and Snapchat. These ad networks evolve rapidly and frequently roll out big updates. However, the “classic” channels like Facebook and Google also need retesting, at least once a year.
Testing New Ad Networks: Over to You
This article got you hyped about testing new ad networks?
Glad we helped.
Here is one final tip from us.
If you’re looking for an ad network with premium in-app and SDK traffic, give MyAppFree a shot. Start testing, and the results will tell you all about the quality of this ad network!
Need extra assurance? MyAppFree was named one of the fastest-growing ad networks in AppsFlyer’s latest Growth Index.