November 7, 2014 8:05 am

How to maximize the impact of Windows ad mediation for Windows Phone

As Todd announced earlier, Windows Store today launched a new ad mediation solution designed to help Windows Phone developers who use in-app advertising to increase their fill rates and revenue. In this post I’d like to provide a bit more detail on the solution and offer some “how to” guidance to help you get started.

What is Windows ad mediation?

Ad mediation is an algorithm that enables your app to use multiple SDKs. This means that with the mediation code in place, your app will make a call to one ad control, and if that ad control cannot serve an ad, the app will then call a second ad control, then a third, and so on. The new ad mediation control provides a simple way to implement this capability in your apps.

Ad mediation process

Ad mediation 1

Ad mediation offers several advantages over using a single ad network, giving you control to integrate multiple ad SDKs and optimize use based on performance. We’ll start with optimizing for revenue, defined as Ad revenue (based on the number of filled impressions) and eCPM (effective CPM, or value per thousand views of delivered ads). The highest revenue return can be achieved by choosing the ad network with highest eCPM first, then serving the unfilled ads from other ad networks. If you prefer to optimize for variety of ads to drive overall engagement, you also have the option to set the percentage of time each ad network is the first choice.

Dev Center configuration

Another advantage of ad mediation is that every app can have a different configuration by market. The set up process in Dev Center is simple and quick to do.

Windows ad mediation is launching today with the following configuration capabilities (Dev Center configuration page pictured below):

  • App level configuration
  • Global and optional market-specific configuration
  • Ad refresh rate
  • Pause/Resume ads
  • Ad network prioritization (e.g. specific network first, equal distribution, back-up only)
  • Ad network exclusion (do not use this ad network, globally or in a specific market)
  • Fill rate reporting by ad network and by market 

Ad mediation 2

The configuration can be modified any time after the app is published, with changes taking effect immediately. Users of your app will receive the new configuration the next time they use the app.

You can access both the ad mediation configuration as well as ad mediation reports directly from the Dev Center Dashboard navigation menu.

Windows Phone apps types supported

Windows ad mediation capabilities are initially launching for Windows Phone 8.0, 8.1 Silverlight and 8.1 XAML. We are still exploring solutions for tablet and PC apps, as well as other types of apps such as those developed using middleware.

Ad networks available at launch

Windows ad mediation supports 7 ad networks at launch. You choose which ad networks you want to use and the ad network SDKs are automatically installed if available in NuGet.

Windows Phone 8 Windows Phone 8.1 Silverlight Windows Phone 8.1 XAML
Microsoft Advertising Y Y Y
AdDuplex** Y Y Y
AdMob Y* Y*
InMobi Y* Y*
Inneractive Y* Y*
MobFox Y* Y*
Smaato Y* Y* Y

* Not available in NuGet today. You can download the DLL from the ad network portal
** AdDuplex is primarily a promotional SDK

Impact: raising the fill rate

In most cases using ad mediation will help raise fill rates and increase the ad revenue a Windows Phone app can generate. The past month I’ve tested ad mediation using different ad SDKs following ad control usage best practices and have seen the average fill rate increase from 60% using a single Ad SDK, to more than 98% using ad mediation when showing ads continuously in the app.

Ad mediation 3

In addition to filling virtually all ad requests, ad mediation allows for customized ad network configuration per market. This enables you to optimize in real-time the ad network mix based on market specific eCPM and fill rates.

For example, below you see results from one of my apps using Windows ad mediation. The app experienced varying fill rates and eCPM by market and ad network, revealing that the best revenue results could be achieved by choosing different primary ad networks for different markets. For example the ad revenue from Argentina grew significantly using ad network #3 as the primary and #2 as the secondary.

This table shows the fill rate and eCPM from 5 different ad networks used in my tests. Note that the highest eCPM ad network varied by region.

Ad mediation 4

Getting started

If your Windows Phone app monetizes with in-app advertising, you owe it to yourself to try Windows ad mediation to increase your fill rate and optimize revenue. To help you get started quickly, here are a few recommendations:

  • Read the ad mediation documentation to get a detailed overview of the capabilities
  • Watch the video that shows how to include ad mediation in a Windows Phone project
  • Download the Windows Ad Mediation Visual Studio Extension
  • Register at the ad network portals, accept their terms, and create an ad unit. You’ll find the list of networks and links to their portals earlier in this post
  • Update your Windows Phone app with the ad mediation SDK and include the code that is in the documentation, which helps catch ad SDK errors
  • Test your app using the Windows Phone emulator and also with a device
  • Submit the app in Dev Center and set the initial ad mediation configuration
  • View the revenue results in each ad network portal
  • View the fill rate report in Dev Center (look for the ‘Ad mediation’ report)
  • Update the ad mediation configuration in Dev Center as needed (look for ‘Ad mediation’ option in the Dev Center dashboard). Wait at last two weeks before making the initial adjustment

Best practices

Ad mediation 5

As a result of these actions, you should see your apps achieve nearly 100% fill rate and higher ad revenue. Results will vary by app and the ad solution you have in place today. Apps that today use a single ad SDK will likely see bigger gains than apps that were already using multiple ad SDKs.

In addition, I’d like to offer configuration guidance for common scenarios:

  • For a new app or app testing ad mediation: enable up to four ad networks including Microsoft
  • For an established global app with high downloads from users the world: enable all seven ad networks, test for at least two weeks, and then disable or change order of the ad networks depending on market performance. Then test for another two weeks before adjusting again. Continue to change order and disable ad networks until you find the right balance
  • For an app that is looking to acquire new users: dedicate a percentage of the ad requests to AdDuplex as a primary network, as this is a network that is focused on app promotion, and it should help increase your app downloads

You’ll want to act quickly, as we’re rapidly approaching the holiday season. Last year the Windows Store experienced 2.4x more downloads in December than the average of the year. And, as an added incentive, you’ll want to submit your mediation-enabled app to the DVLUP “Boost your bottom line with Ads” challenge to be eligible for 500 points.

I’m anxious to hear your results and feedback.


Updated November 7, 2014 11:24 pm

Join the conversation

  1. The problem for WP/Win ads is not how many ad network you have.
    Lack of CPA( Cost per Acquisition, or in other term Install/Download) hurts many larger companies. They don’t want to put money promoting in Windows ecosystem.

    CPC/CPM is so old school. It’s good for web promotion, but not fit for mobile App world. Companies need a reliable way to estimate the RoI of each campaign. CPC in a new ecosystem=no way to estimate convention rate=you don’t know where’s the money going.

    Apple support this feature the second year after App Store was running, by providing referer link to developer.
    And Microsoft is in 4th year, I won’t call this speed “catching up”. It’s killing the ecosystem

    Implement CPA NOW, or open stat API to 3rd developers, PLEASE.

    • @Bozhi, we understand the importance of CPA, and is one of the areas we are exploring, thanks for bringing this up.
      Bernardo Zamora
      Windows Apps and Store

      • you guys have cleverly left support for winjs apps for windows phone. if you didn’t plan to make an ad sdk for it, why did you even get the language support? I have spent countless hours making my apps, from last year and till now you have not released an sdk. its been almost a year now since the release of the winjs sdk for windows phone. it is extremely mean of you guys to do that. I kept thinking itll come , now its been a year, and I have nothing to show for it. if you guys don’t support your own platform why do you expect others to support it? I cant even put an ad in my apps. shame on you guys. I hope this does not fall on deaf ears and you guys actually do something about it , it has been a year now. the ad sdk for winjs is available for winodws 8.1 not for windows phone. I am pretty sure with all you you professional programmers there you can make it. please please start support for winjs on windows phone, if not then atleast tell us. I don’t see ms giving free stuff out. why do you expect us to make an app for you guys where we cant even put an add into it. what kind of stupid logic is that.

      • and yes please contact me because I have found a nasty bug in windows phone and I have been reporting since last year with no avail. the bug makes a phone restart uncontrollably.

  2. The implementation is simple but if I have too many ad controls in my app then I need to be sure that each one has a unique ID. While trying to use it in one of my app I wasted around an hour just to hunt and find which ID I duplicated. Anyways here’s a step by step tutorial on using ad mediation in Windows Phone 8 Silverlight application.

  3. This is great news, tried in my app and seems to work well!
    Is there any plans to get AdMob support for Windows Phone 8.1 XAML ?

    • @Kalle, as soon as AdMob supports Windows Phone 8.1 XAML, we will include it in ad mediation.
      Bernardo Zamora
      Windows Apps and Store

      • Hi Bernardo, Thanks for your response. This is a very important question and is really make-or-break for adoption. Is Google in active development of an AdMob XAML client? Or is this something that is just hoped for. In other words, what’s a ballpark of the timeframe before this is available? Weeks? Months? Or completely unknown – meaning longer rather than shorter. Based on your response, I have to assume the time frame for AdMob for XAML apps is out there quite a ways. But I hope otherwise, because I would love to adopt this now.

  4. Great idea. It would be useful if there was a unified way to show either a banner ad, an interstitial (full screen) ad or a video ad. These often are required for different purposes (eg rewards).

  5. Been waiting for something like this. Unfortunately I don’t think it works in my scenario.
    I am using the smaller ad sizes (300 x 50) to create a seamless and fluid app experience.
    I can have ads within lists, or at the bottom of a page, and it looks like it fits in with the UI because it does not take up 100% width.

    Take a look at the Bing Food & Drink app and you’ll see what I mean. They have a very rich native ad experience where there ads are simply an item added onto their UI, rather than just plastered on the top or bottom. This is where I got the idea from, I tried to replicate it with the 300 x 50 ad sizes and I really like the result.

    So my question is, how can I use this ad-mediation while still being able to resize the ads? Can I scale-transform the control to fit my UI?
    If not, why don’t us developers have access to these richer ad experiences?

    • Matt, the mediator is designed for banner ads, e.g. 480×80 and smaller sizes (e.g. 300×50). It is not designed to support transforming the control – the challenge is that ad mediation SDK manages multiple Ad SDKs, so each of the invididual ad SDKs could have different behaviors.

      Richer media ads will start to appear in the Microsoft Ad SDK, automatically, as more rich media ads are being added to the ad inventory in the next months.


  6. We’ve been looking for a solution like this for our Unity games released on the Windows platform as we’ve seen very poor fill rates using Admob.

    Will this mediation platform be compatible with Unity ported XAML games? I can’t find any reference to this elsewhere. Thanks.

  7. Please check again. Admob SDK never work with Windows Phone 8.1 Silverlight. I created new project, targeted WP 8.0 and the ads showed immediately (it always show ads by anytime I test). If I go project properties and change target to 8.1 then it always return error: Nofill (same this error by anytime I test). I’m stuck with this problem, so I’m sure about it.

  8. “The configuration can be modified any time after the app is published, with changes taking effect immediately. Users of your app will receive the new configuration the next time they use the app.”

    working this really correct? Because I try to change my configuration for Beta application and I don’t get any result (apps take old configuration). Is something what I missed?