Monetizing your app through mobile advertising doesn’t have to mean cluttering your app with dizzying messages or disturbing your users with unwanted distractions. A good monetization strategy puts the user first, and takes into account the user’s app usage journey to determine which ad formats to use and where to place them within the app to get the best response.

By Dale Carr, founder and CEO of Leadbolt

Not all ad formats are created equal. Mobile ad units are designed to work their best when placed in specific areas of your app or served during distinct levels of app usage. The ‘App Usage Cycle’ – a term coined by Leadbolt – describes the main phases of App Usage and is defined by Entry, Engagement and Exit.


Entry describes the moment when a user first launches the app. During this time, the user is not yet fully immersed in activity, and this is a great opportunity to attract your user’s attention with these ads styles:

Visually compelling full-screen interstitials are best placed when an app is newly opened. At this stage, users can easily complete a call to action without leaving the app, and without disrupting their experience once fully engaged in app use.

Video effectively captures attention before app use, and in-between game levels or app transitions.

A concise offer alert can pop up in the app at any point during app usage, but it can be particularly effective when served as the app is opened – when users are not yet fully immersed in the app activity.

Leadbolt ad formats


During Engagement, users are in the middle of enjoying the app. They are at their most focused during this stage. To avoid unwelcome distraction or interruption, ads should be targeted, relevant to the user’s interest and served up in an engaging format.

A mobile advertising mainstay, banners are generally accepted as users expect to see some level of advertising in exchange for downloading an app for free. Banners are benign, but also not as compelling as other formats, as mobile users have become somewhat desensitized to their presence.

Audio Ads rely on an audio message to capture the user’s attention, rather than a visual disruption. Like a radio ad, the user hears the message while continuing to use the app successfully. Some Audio Ads offer gyroscopic functionality, prompting users to shake the device to interact further with the ad, offering a fun spin to the experience.

Floating ads offer a game-like experience where users are tempted to pop the branded bubbles that float across the screen. The novelty, combined with custom bubbles that match the app’s theme make this format fun to play.

Typically the least disruptive of all ad units, App Walls generate high revenue. App walls work well because they provide a benefit by suggesting more apps similar to the one the user just used. For games especially, app walls are relevant to the users’ interests and offer an experience the user is known to already enjoy.


This is when users have finished their app activity and closing the app before transitioning to the next phase of using their device.

APP LISTS – see above.
App Lists also work well during the EXIT phase, as users may be looking for additional apps to extend their activity after their first app experience has come to an end.

A powerful way to drive repeat app usage, these ads remind users of an app that is already downloaded to visit again soon. Users can return to an app by tapping on a branded design.

For app developers who prefer original, one-of-a-kind ad experiences, Native Ads can match the unique look and feel of your app, as well as fold into the app value proposition, delivering a seamless ad experience for your end user. App developers can get started easily with Leadbolt’s direct-connect API ad-serving.

As a general practice, it’s always best to rely on data. Use the analytics and reporting tools offered by your ad network to follow the trends and ad performance happening inside your app. Test to see which advertising styles your users respond to and optimize on those formats. We hope this tour through the App Usage Cycle is helpful, but please know that we are here to help you get the most from your mobile monetization efforts. Visit us at for more information or to get in touch.


Dale Carr | LeadboltRecently named Ernst & Young’s Australian “Entrepreneur of the Year” 
for Technology, Dale is a thriving entrepreneur and technology expert with over 10 years in the mobile industry and a track record of success. His previous ventures include co-founding a mobile technology company recognized as Deloitte’s Fastest Growing Technology in Australia and 3rd Fastest in Asia Pacific, as well as serving as CIO of a UK technology start up that was sold to a major retail group.


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