How Can You Monetize Your App Or Game In China With Ads?

How Can You Monetize Your App Or Game In China With Ads?

Like SDKs, cloud hosting and distributed web services, many foreign companies are blocked from access inside Mainland China. Ad networks that worked well in other markets may need alternatives. At the very least, developers need to be aware that the advertising ecosystem in China is very different from what they may be used to.

For non-gaming apps, most Android app stores in China do not require any revenue-share arrangements, and will allow you to integrate any advertising solution you wish.

But as mobile games have exploded in popularity and make up the bulk of mobile app revenues, app stores are increasingly looking to games to shore up their bottom lines and demanding an ever-increasing chunk of the revenue share. For most Chinese app stores, that is currently at 50%, which is significantly higher than the 30% currently demanded by Google Play and the Apple App Store.

But for most games publishers, even a decrease in revenue share can dramatically enhance their bottom line, thanks to the sizable and enthusiastic user base in Mainland China that would otherwise remain out of reach.

What Types of Ads Can I Publish On My App?

There are a number of different types of ads offered by mobile ad providers:

  • Banner Ad. The most ubiquitous ad online and in mobile apps and games is also the simplest to integrate into your app. A small banner can be configured to pop up on the screen in various places in your app, and/or you can dedicate space on certain pages for a banner ad to always appear.
  • Video Ads. A video ad that plays in your app, usually either rewarded or interstitial. Video ads are commonly seen as the most effective in-app advertising. Often a user is required to watch the video for a certain amount of time, after which they can continue to finish watching it or click a “Skip this Ad” button to close it and proceed.
  • Rewarded Ads. Users receive some kind of in-app reward for watching advertising videos, or for clicking through a variety of options and entering requested personal information, such as a quiz or poll. Widely used in mobile games, these can be integrated with game scenarios, making the ad a “task” for players to complete to receive in-app rewards.
  • Interstitial Ads. These are ads that come up during a natural break of your app’s cycle. For example, an educational app might insert interstitials between every lesson, or after every third level.
  • Dynamic Interstitial Ads. This version of an interstitial ad is interactive, and pops up during a natural break of your app’s cycle. It may ask the user to enter personal information, complete a poll or a small game, or simply click or scroll through a series of screens or animations. Branching ads can give the user some choice as to which version of the ad they see.
  • Native Ads. These ads are customized to match your app’s environment and flow and placed more seamlessly into your navigation or user interface.
  • Splash Ads. These are full-screen ads that display each time an app is launched. Users may be required to click through it, or wait a certain amount of time before it disappears. These are extremely common for Chinese apps, though WeChat (the most ubiquitous app in China) is famous for stating it will never add a splash ad to its app.

What Kind Of Ads Should I Run On My Mobile App or Game In China?

In general, interactive ads work best, especially with games because games are highly interactive in nature and therefore disturb user flow less. The more seamlessly you can incorporate the ad into your game or app, the better your results. 

For example, it’s very common for users to be rewarded with in-game currency or items for watching a quick video ad. One of our clients, the popular education app Duolingo, uses interstitial interactive ads to give users additional in-game tokens, used for unlocking features and functionality within the app. Users can gain these tokens organically by completing the lessons themselves, but these interstitial ads offer the opportunity for users with time and patience to fast-track their collection.

Data from ad network Pangle shows that rewarded video ads generate 4 times higher click-through rates (CTR) and 3.6 times higher conversion ratio (CVR) than other ad formats. Rewarded video ads can become part of the game experience without disturbing user flow.

Interestingly, Pangle also claims rewarded video ads can also improve retention rates and the average time your user spends in a game.

Also keep in mind that the recent expansion of 5G makes video ads load more quickly than before, improving ad quality and options without sacrificing user experience.

As a general rule, the less obtrusive you can make your ads, the better your user experience will be. At the same time, the more interactive you can make your ads, the better your CVR.

Note that, for games, many Android app stores in China do not give you much choice: You often MUST use their own advertising SDK in order to publish on their platform. This means that you will need a different version of your software (APK) for each app store.

  • Pangle is currently one of the most popular ad networks used by mobile apps and games in China. With a strong focus on rewarded video ads, it can also run static and video interstitials, full-screen video stream ads, banner ads, and splash ads. In our observations, Pangle seems to localize the ads to the Chinese users better than some of the other services.
  • Youlianghui by Tencent is one of the largest ad networks in China, and it’s a main competitor of Pangle. Supported by Tencent’s own large ecosystem, Youlianghui has a stellar filling rate among all ad networks. Youlianghui supports almost all ad types and provides developers with additional tracking options, as well as user data to aid in user profiling and market analysis.

Note: While AdMob is the most popular ad network outside of China, it, like all other Google-backed services, is subject to the Great Firewall of China. Developers have reported that AdMob has lower filling rates than Pangle and Youlianghui, and that certain ads are not displayed properly.

How Do I Integrate Ads Into My Mobile App?

There are three primary ways to integrate ad networks into your app:


An SDK integration takes longer and is considerably “deeper”. You will integrate the ad source with an adapter, include the SDK within your app, rebuild the app, and submit that app to the app store. If you are using the app store’s SDK, you will need to create a special APK for that app store alone.

With all the major ad providers, the process is similar: You create an account with the provider, provide information about your app, download their SDK, and follow the instructions to integrate it into their app.

Server to Server API

Server-side API allows advertisers to send web events from their servers directly to the advertising partner, often linked to a pixel or an event in your UI. So server-side events can be used in measurement, reporting, and optimization in the same way as browser pixel events.

This integration is usually less intrusive, and changes do not always require you to rebuild your APK. As in all ad integrations, create an account with the company, provide your information, and follow their instructions for server-to-server API integration, if it is offered.


An “ad tag” is a piece of HTML or Javascript code a browser or app uses to fetch an advertisement from an ad server. It is a redirect to content, rather than the content itself.  There are also click tags, action tags, view tags, and other variants.

For those networks that offer tags, once you have created an account, log in and follow the instructions to select your options. The site will generate the code for the tag, which you can then copy and insert into your app at the appropriate location.

Still Uncertain? Let AppInChina Help

As part of our standard suite of services, AppInChina provides customized advice and monetization solutions to fit your particular needs.

For example, as many Android app stores will require games publishers to integrate their APK, you may want to limit the number of stores to which you publish, in order to decrease your maintenance and updates burden. Our experienced account representatives have the knowledge to recommend which app stores would be best for your particular product and revenue-sharing expectations.

Send us a message today with your requirements and we can start working on a tailor-made solution that fits your needs.