An experiment in iAd

In an effort to raise awareness for our app Colorbay, we wanted to experiment with mobile ads. We decided to try iAd. We were skeptical especially because iAd has a bad reputation.

Setting up iAd

iAd is fairly simple to setup and it provides some really nice targeting options. The options provide fine grained control to target users according to gender, age, iTunes Store preferences (the type of apps your target audience downloads) and location of the user. You can also set in which category of apps you want your ad to run on and on what specific time and days you want it to run. Since our app is about photos, we chose to target users who download Photo & Video and Social Networking apps. We chose to run the ads on apps from the following categories: Photo & Video, Social Networking, Entertainment, Games, Food & Drink and Utilities. We also scheduled our ad to run on some days of the week after looking at what days our app was most used on.

Next you have to allocate the total budget, Daily Spend goal, CPC bid and CPA goal for the campaign. CPC bid is the maximum you are willing to pay for each time a user taps on your ad. CPA is the average amount you’d like to pay for each conversion your campaign achieves, i.e a user downloads the app after tapping your ad. iAd will try to match the CPA you entered, but it is not gaurenteed. You can learn more here. iAd Workbench provides an estimate of Impressions and Taps for your budget. We had decided to spend a maximum of $50 and a daily spend goal of $10 meaning that the ad will run for approximately 5 days. After tweaking around we found that a CPC and CPA of $0.40 gave us the maximum number of impressions and taps; 1,111,000 impressions and 4,400 taps.


Reading around on the web, we didnt expect much from the campaign, but we were surprised. You can see the results below.

Campaign results

In summary, we got a total of 966,648 impressions, 1,702 taps and 25 downloads giving a CPA of $0.98 and a TTR (tap through rate) of 0.18. What’s interesting is that, after the first couple of days, iAd couldn’t reach the daily spend goal which means that our targeting was too specific and it couldn’t show the ads. Our results are much better than what others have got. We actually got some downloads and we think it has to be due to the targeting. Also, Apple doesn’t charge the full amount, they only charge how much was actually spent on the campaign.

When iAd launched, it required a minimum spend of 1 million USD which made the platform uninteresting for indie developers like us. But in WWDC 2013 when Apple reduced it to 50 USD, it caught our attention. iAd is now something feasible. We think that they are heading in the right direction and may also be a good platform to integrate with.

We are not sure what the industry standards are and how iAd compares to AdMob and others, but we are glad we did the experiment.

PS: It might be pure coincidence, but during the time the ads were running, Colorbay got featured on TechCrunch! So that’s something ;)

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