Global mobile adoption has already reached the 50% mark, and by 2020 will climb to 80%. As usage becomes almost ubiquitous, smartphones are changing online behaviour. Mobile apps now account for more than half of all time spent on digital media, and such a sizeable audience represents a significant opportunity for monetisation. 

For advertisers, mobile apps are highly desirable real estate. Smartphones are always to hand and provide advertisers with a direct channel to connect with consumers on a one-to-one level – anywhere, at anytime. Location data also generates valuable insight into individual preferences, enabling advertisers to create targeted messaging that resonates with the audience.

Consequently, investment in mobile advertising is growing at a rapid pace. Last year mobile ad spend hit £1.62 billion in the UK, amassing 23% of the digital advertising budget. As advances in programmatic continue to improve the efficiency and profitability of advertising on mobile, turning apps and websites into lucrative revenue streams has never been easier.

This is certainly food for thought, but how can this ambition be realised successfully? For providers planning to monetise their mobile apps using programmatic, there are five innovative approaches to adopt: 

1. Utilise first-party data     

The objective of advertising is to establish a close relationship with a targeted audience, and capture their attention through relevant and engaging content. It is therefore crucial for app developers and website providers to gain an in-depth understanding of their audience as the more information they can offer brands, the more desirable their inventory becomes. 

Detailed data enables advertisers to accurately target the right audience segments with creative that resonates with their personal interests. Not only will the ability to provide this data increase inventory value, it will also improve the user experience. 

2. Make ads viewable 

Advertising must be seen to make an impact. This means app developers and website providers need to guarantee premium placement on the page for ads. 

With the industry still working to interim guidelines for mobile viewability, providers need to ensure inventory and pricing structures are transparent. While the question of placing ads above or below the fold is less relevant for scrolling devices like mobile, the cost of advertising packages should reflect the prominence of ads on the page. Partnering with an ad tech company that allows advertising to be classed as mobile also ensures that current guidelines are adhered to, keeping inventory compliant and reassuring advertisers that their content can be viewed. 

3. Provide flexible formats

To create a positive and enhanced user experience, advertising must adapt to meet user needs. For app developers and website providers, this means it is essential to supply inventory that accommodates mobile screens and a variety of ad formats. Offering ad placements that fill the screen — medium rectangle ads of 300 pixels x 250 pixels — enables advertisers to command the attention of consumers on the go. Interactivity on mobile is vital and providing a range of high-impact formats, such as video, native, and rich media ads, will increase the appeal of inventory to advertisers. 

4. Trade inventory carefully

App developers and website providers must maintain a strong relationship with their customer base to maintain audience appeal and continue independent success. Poor advertising can cause severe damage for providers, making it important to trade with the right advertisers. Private marketplaces (PMPs) are becoming an increasingly popular option for sellers seeking greater control over their inventory. By allowing sellers to make their inventory available to a select group of buyers, PMPs keep advertising standards high, protecting consumer relationships and advertising yields. 

5. Offer detailed measurement  

The success of a campaign cannot be judged without a clear understanding of the impact each touchpoint has towards conversion, including ads delivered to mobile apps and websites. With detailed insight into platform effectiveness, advertisers can adjust their future efforts to achieve better results, meaning it is in the interests of inventory providers to use a platform that facilitates cross-environment attribution. Enabling advertisers to track their ads from one mobile device to another will provide them with a comprehensive view of campaign performance – a benefit that will considerably boost the value of advertising packages. 

The growth of mobile advertising shows no signs of slowing – by 2018 it is predicted that mobile will account for over 70% of digital ad spend. Programmatic is also on the rise and already dominates two-thirds (64%) of total mobile ad sales. For mobile app and website providers, there has never been a better time to enter the buoyant mobile marketplace. By taking an innovative approach to deploying audience data, offering high-value advertising packages and trading carefully, providers can successfully monetise their inventory to make the most of mobile.