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Note: This post is the second in a two-part series. Click here to skip to Part 1.

Because mobile advertising is not the best-regulated system in the world, you need to be diligent about vetting potential mobile advertising partners. There are, unfortunately, plenty of advertising networks willing to take money for returns they know they can’t deliver. There are also some really great networks that offer sophisticated targeting and ad delivery that are well worth the price.

The key to choosing advertising partners wisely is to carefully evaluate potential networks’ capabilities and offerings against your clearly defined business requirements. Asking ad network providers intelligent, probing questions like the ones below will empower you to make the best mobile ad spending decisions for your business.

6. How fresh are your audience and data segments?

This is a critical question because you want to be sure you’re reaching people in the market for your products and services today, not those who were looking last month.

Another way to ask this question is, “Where do you get your audience segment data?” If you understand the answer, you’ll also have an idea about how fresh the data is. These are the most likely sources:

Third-party services: These vendors continually gather data and sell licenses to particular audience segments (or overlapping segments) to advertising networks. The networks in turn build that incremental cost into their CPM.

First-party services: These companies run surveys in banners by the millions, updating data constantly in real time. So, for example, they might ask users if they’re in the market to buy a new set of tires. The downside to this is that audience data goes stale very quickly. Someone who’s in the market for tires today is likely to make the purchase soon and be uninterested in tire ads just hours or days later. Using that data more than a few days later would be useless to a tire seller wanting to boost sales today.

Note that some advertising networks will purchase data and cache it so that they can try to sell it again to other advertisers without having to pay a third-party service or share CPM. The data is likely to be stale, and you won’t get the return you want for your ad run, even if the price is lower.

Another red flag is a service that gathers its data from a big affiliate network of e-commerce sites. These companies mine data that show what people have purchased recently, so they are likely to cause the network to run an ad for tires against people who have just purchased tires—clearly not the best target audience for that advertiser.

Phunware Advertising buys third-party audience segments from a trusted vendor. Then we mine the data and overlay it with behavioral data from apps. We believe this gives advertisers the best of all worlds in terms of fresh and accurate audience segmentation data.

Need a break down on data? Download our eBook, “Mobile Data: The Missing Link in Your User Acquisition and Engagement Strategies.


7. Do you offer any dashboards or analytics?

Some small ad networks may not offer any analytics. If they don’t, you should expect to measure mobile advertising performance yourself. If you don’t have the tools to measure performance (in terms of impressions, clicks, conversions, etc.), you’ll need to find a larger network that will do it for you. It’s best, though, if you can have both network analytics and your own so that you can compare your results to theirs.

8. How do you handle privacy?

Any legitimate mobile advertising network should have a privacy policy. If they don’t, do not do business with them. In addition, look for third-party certifications like eTrust, which provide accountability and demonstrate a commitment to protecting you beyond a simple privacy policy.

9. What ad sizes can you serve?

Ask this question BEFORE you design your ads! There’s no use investing in a designer’s time if your mobile ad network won’t be able to serve the ads you produce. It is actually quite common for advertisers to go at this backwards and design first, only to find out that publishers can’t take delivery of their nonstandard-sized ads.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) maintains Display Advertising Guidelines for industry professionals. That’s the best place to find current standard mobile ad sizes.

10. Can you serve any ad units such as video, interstitials or rich media?

Again, make sure the ad network will be able to serve your ad BEFORE you invest in creating it. The biggest example of the importance of this question is Flash. iPhone users, a huge part of the mobile market, cannot see Flash ads. Paying talent to create a Flash ad for you would be a waste of money if you intend to put that ad out over a mobile advertising network.

Want to check out some creative ad formats we’ve done? Download our case study and see how users interacted with Baywatch-themed playable ads.


Of course, these ten questions are just starting points for helping you choose the right mobile advertising partner for your needs. Once you’ve answered them with your potential network partner, you get to move on to the rewarding part of designing your ads, launching your campaign and seeing great returns on your investment.

Want to see the first five questions and answers?
Click Here for Part 1

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