• In-App Monetization

2019 Trends: Header Bidding, Mobile Apps and The Future of In-App Ad Monetization

Matt Kaplan
Matt Kaplan
Content Strategist
5 min read
Posted on December 13, 2018
2019 Trends: Header Bidding, Mobile Apps and The Future of In-App Ad Monetization

While desktop and mobile web monetization has already been thoroughly disrupted by header bidding, mobile apps haven’t gotten there just yet.

Even though it seems at times like everyone from the world’s biggest ad platforms down to tiny ad networks was talking about in-app header bidding in 2018, actual adoption of unified auctions among mobile publishers, app developers and their programmatic demand sources was low.

But, expect all that to change in 2019. In the new year, likely the entire mobile ad tech space will embrace this form of app monetization.

Note: This is the third in our series on top trends for 2019. Our first post was on transparency, while the second predictions post focused on OTT. Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts all about what leading figures in the mobile advertising and marketing space think will become pervasive in the new year.

What’s The Current State of In-App Header Bidding?

Right now, relatively few app publishers, supply-side platforms and ad demand partners have embraced in-app header bidding to any real extent. In a survey we conducted in 2018, less than 40 percent of app publishers said they use in-app header bidding, while over half say they still leverage waterfalls.


Why is this still the case? Primarily, it’s because many app publishers are using highly inefficient monetization strategies. For example, 14 percent of survey respondents said they use only use one ad exchange, while over 30 percent said they simply didn’t understand how in-app header bidding actually worked.

But, because of this, many app publishers are experiencing monetization issues. In particular, our survey found that 54 percent of app publishers and developers have seen their ad revenues decrease or remain stagnant over the past 12 months.

Why Will Unified Auctions Take Off in 2019?

App publishers are struggling with app monetization via ads, so in-app header bidding and unified auctions are here to help.

  • In-app header bidding goes a long way towards improving the user experience, ensuring even rewarded video ads appear in as close to real time as possible. Our survey found that for 40 percent of app publishers, it takes a second or longer for an ad to go from the ad server onto an app. But, according to data from our network, unified auctions reduce ad load times by 28 percent.
  • Unified auctions help apps realize more revenue. Mobile apps that used InMobi’s in-app header bidding technology in 2017 saw 48 percent more ad revenue and 44 percent higher CPMs compared to their peers.
  • Unified auctions ensure apps see demand from a greater number of ad sources, according to our network data.

In 2018, app publishers and developers heard about in-app header bidding. In 2019, they’ll actually adopt unified auction technology en masse.

“From the supply side, it’s no surprise that I think unified auction methodologies will gain massive adoption over the waterfall mediation model. The idea that there are hundreds of publishers out there that don’t utilize an easy way to increase revenue and price means the market will shift toward that equilibrium,” says Mike Brooks, Senior Vice President of Revenue at WeatherBug.

WeatherBug is a prime example of a publisher that benefited greatly from in-app header bidding and unified auctions. By adopting this technology for their mobile app, they were able to increase their ad revenues by 15 percent while also significantly reducing their SDK load. In short, in-app header bidding helped WeatherBug boost revenue without having to change the demand sources they were using.

“We have had great success in driving eCPMs higher utilizing their unified auction, as we find this to be a more efficient and profitable way to do business,” says Ed Arrandale, Director of Programmatic and Monetization at WeatherBug.


Do you think other apps will join WeatherBug in adopting unified ad auctions in 2019, or will this fail to take off in the new year? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below, or share your comments with us on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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