Not all ad networks are created equal. While there are certainly name brand frontrunners from companies such as Google or Facebook, there are literally hundreds of other options to choose from, each having their own unique strengths and weaknesses.

This past week we analyzed more than 150 ad networks to bring you our view of the 50 best. We looked at everything from installs, to reach, stores, and category strengths.

Here’s what we found:

The Best iOS + Android Ad Networks

Not all networks have great coverage across iOS and Android, so we looked at two key variables in our analysis:

  • Installs - How many apps utilize the specified ad SDK?

  • Reach - How many active users do those apps have?

We then aggregated those metrics across iOS and Android to get total reach and installs. The chart below shows the top 50 ad networks, by total reach, that have coverage in both iOS and Android.

Google and Facebook dominate the top three positions, followed by Unity, Chartboost, AppLovin, and Vungle.

The Best iOS Ad Networks

The top networks remain unchanged when looking purely at iOS (more on that in a minute). So, to take it a step further, we looked at the top 10 SDKs and analyzed their reach across 20 popular store categories.

While SDK reach is comparable across many categories, there are some which jump out. Take the Casino category for example- while Google & Facebook have larger reach across all categories, Chartboost, AppLovin and Vungle actually dominate advertising for casino related apps. The same could be said for Action games. Unity, Vungle and Chartboost have better reach than Google or Facebook.

The Best Android Ad Networks

When looking at ad networks by reach for Android, the top contenders look a bit different than those for iOS. Ad SDKs like Google Mobile Ads, Mobvista, Tap for Tap, Cheetah Mobile and AppBrain, who have little to no presence on iOS, have significant reach across Android. Perhaps most noticeably, no network comes close to Google Mobile Ads in terms of reach. By Apptopia estimates, the Google mobile ad SDK touches roughly 3.38 billion users. Wow.

Things get a little more interesting when breaking down the top 10 by category. Let’s look at Unity and Vungle. While their aggregate reach is lower than SDKs from Google or Facebook, they are actually the 2nd or 3rd best option available for Games, especially those in the Puzzle, Casual, Adventure, Simulation and Arcade categories.

MoPub is another great example - their coverage within the Tools category comes in 4th behind Google and Facebook, while their overall reach is behind Chartboost and Unity.

Now take a look at the Adwords SDK. It’s super strong in categories like Tools and Business, but an awful fit when it comes to games, falling well behind Unity and Chartboost.

Wrapping Up

It’s no secret, Google and Facebook are ‘elephants’ in the mobile ad space. In our analysis however, we’ve uncovered contenders like Unity, Chartboost, MoPub, Vungle and AppLovin that may actually have stronger reach in certain categories. This impacts both sides of the equation; publishers looking to add the right ad revenue and marketers looking for the best networks for user acquisition.

What advertising networks do you use? What made you choose them? Hit us up on Twitter, we’d love to hear from you.

Interested in learning more? Contact us or schedule a demo.

AuthorMatt Fleming

Director of Marketing @ Apptopia