A few weeks ago Microsoft announced Windows Ad Mediation. Their own solution to the problem that the Open Source AdRotator project has helped app developers with since the early Windows Phone 7 days. Since both AdRotator and Windows Ad Mediation are trying to fix the same problem I wanted to look at the different scenarios for Windows and Windows Phone app developers and see which solution made sense for you.
If you’re not familiar with AdRotator or Windows Ad Mediation you may not be aware of why you would want to use one of these solutions in your app. The main reason is fill rate; fill rate can be expressed as a percentage of the number of ads served over the number of ads requested. Many first time developers will assume that they can use an ad control and it will always display an ad for them and generate revenue. There is a limited supply of ads available to these networks though, so depending on factors like category and region the fill rate may vary wildly. Fill rates can often dip well below 50% though, so it’s important that you not let that ad space go to waste!
Maximizing fill rate is the goal of AdRotator and Windows Ad Mediation. They do this by acting as a smart container for multiple ad controls. When one ad network fails to deliver an ad they will switch over to another ad control and give that one a chance to request and display an ad.
AdDuplex, a cross promotion network supported by both AdRotator and Windows Ad Mediation works well as a ‘fallback’ ad provider because unlike other ad networks AdDuplex does have a 100% fill rate. AdDuplex doesn’t generate revenue, but will instead generate ad impressions for your app at an 8:10 ratio.
AdRotator has been around since the early Windows Phone 7 days. It was created by talented developer Gergely Orosz. Simon Jackson is currently the main contributor of the project, and I’ve also worked on it myself recently, bringing Universal App Support to AdRotator. One of the key benefits to AdRotator is it’s versatility. It can be used on Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 8 (both Silverlight and 8.1 XAML) and Windows 8. There’s also an AdRotator Unity plugin for game developers targeting the Windows platforms.
AdRotator supports most of the major Ad providers that have SDKs available for Windows developers. And one of it’s key features is the ability to set a remote configuration file. This file can be setup with regional configurations that allow you to target specific ad networks that perform better in certain regions. By hosting this file remotely you can have your app’s AdRotator control change it’s behavior by updating the file without publishing an app update.
AdRotator Supported Providers
- Microsoft PubCenter
- House Ads
Another interesting feature of AdRotator is the ability to specify house ads. This can be considered the ultimate fallback option, display a house ad when the device has no network connection. Some developers will use the House Ad to advertise a new version of their app, or to promote other apps they’ve published. Some enterprising developers have even sold their House Ad space to advertisers, skipping the middle man of the traditional ad provider networks.
Windows Ad Mediation
Microsoft announced Windows Ad Mediation on November 7, 2014. Currently the Ad Mediation SDK is available for Windows Phone 8, 8.1 Silverlight and 8.1 XAML.
Similar to AdRotator, the Windows Ad Mediation supports the ability to specify region specific remote configurations. Since this is an official Microsoft product though this feature is actually built into the Windows Phone dashboard.
Which one should I use?
Whether you use AdRotator or Windows Ad Mediation really depends on your app’s scenario. Here’s a rundown:
1. Are you already using AdRotator for a project?
If you’re already using AdRotator there shouldn’t be much motivation to switch to Windows Ad Mediation. Both tools should do a great job at maximizing your fill rate.
2. Do you want to target Windows Phone 7?
This one’s easy. AdRotator started on Windows Phone 7 so it’s the only option for your Windows Phone 7 app.
3. Are you building a Windows 8 or Universal App?
Currently AdRotator supports Windows 8/Universal Apps and Windows Ad Mediation does not. So if your app is ready to go, use AdRotator. I’m sure Microsoft will eventually bring Windows Ad Mediation to big Windows as well though.
4. Are you building a game using Unity?
Another easy one. AdRotator’s Unity plugin should make advertising with your Unity game easy to manage. Windows Ad Mediation does not yet have any support for Unity.
5. Do you have a website where you can host your own remote configuration file?
Being able to change the regional configuration file is pretty important. Many app developers have their own website and a place where they can host a remote ad settings file to be pulled down by AdRotator. But if you don’t have your own website and want to be able to change your Ad configurations, then Windows Ad Mediation’s dashboard integration may be a better choice for you.
6. Do you want to use House Ads?
I encourage using AdDuplex as a fallback option in AdRotator/Ad Mediation since it has a 100% fill rate. The only time AdDuplex won’t give you an ad is if your network is down. For that scenario having a House Ad to display is a nice option. One more point to AdRotator.
7. Does using OSS frighten you?
This one seems unlikely. I think most app developers are fans of Open Source, but if you’d rather go with the official option produced my Microsoft, go with Windows Ad Mediation.
I may seem a bit biased in this post. I’ve been using AdRotator in my apps for quite a while, and it’s been a pleasure contributing back to the project. But I am very glad that Microsoft has created their own tool for this problem. I’m sure there are many developers who will discover Windows Ad Mediation through official channels that were never aware of AdRotator, and that’s great. I just hope more developers can become successful using either of these tools.