How External Advertising Traffic Provides Huge Incremental Reach for Digital Giants Beyond Their Own Properties

 In Advertising & Monetization

Today’s major digital platforms are obviously in the business of attracting users with content and services. In order to get wider reach for their content and to more fully monetize their audiences and user bases, they have extended beyond their flagship properties and invested in advertising partnerships. For example, you see Twitter widgets on ESPN, Facebook Like buttons on personal blogs, Google ad tech platforms delivering ads to sports sites and WSJ content flowing to major social platforms.

The point is, syndicated advertising and content today, often flows far outside its original source, and this extended reach can garner additional revenues in the form of in-app advertising revenues. In mobile, we have seen the use of software development kits (SDKs) to help attract advertisements from major ad platforms and integrate them into the user experience with apps small and big. As many as 60% of the top 20,000 mobile apps today in the U.S. have at least one advertising SDK embedded, as can be seen from our analysis below. With these SDKs, like with advertising widgets, major ad platforms can embed themselves into other sites and apps and deliver ads to these properties. In doing so, they make more money than they would otherwise be able to by just delivering ads on their own properties.


We were curious about the true reach of major advertising channels, so we looked at mobile app advertising across smartphones/tablets and operating systems, from Android to iOS, and excluded all web browser usage.

What our data shows is that the major native advertising platforms and flagship properties – companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google – have much a smaller reach-to-frequency combinations (their potential volume for delivering ads) than their respective external networks. MoPub, the extended ad network of Twitter, reaches more than three times more unique mobile app users every month than Twitter’s flagship mobile app. Google’s ad platforms, including AdMob in its various forms, are huge both in terms of the unique monthly app user reach, and in terms of the volume of sessions they deliver where they have a chance to deliver an ad. The same applies to Facebook Ads’ audience network which beats the flagship Facebook mobile app properties in terms of the sessions delivered.


Facebook’s Ads audience network also beat all other major ad platforms including Millennial Media (which was bought by AOL and in turn was acquired by Verizon). InMobi and AdColony are the biggest independent ad networks in terms of the unique user reach of their platforms. This space is certainly very competitive, but the big digital giants currently conquer a lion’s share of advertising especially when combining both their internal and external traffic.

Today’s marketers can choose to use one big ad network or build a bundle of smaller ad networks to acquire exactly the same reach – this is the complexity of the digital media mix today. The CPI (cost per impression) and CPM (cost per thousand impressions) levels define which choice makes more sense, together with the actual delivery of the ad and targeted influence on the consumer (e.g. getting a user to watch a video, driving her to click a link to buy a product, directing her to a nearby café etc.) Programmatic platforms make it easy to forget about the quality of the underlying traffic and how to best reach the target audience with compelling and actionable advertising.

To understand how digital players are growing today just look at how important external advertising traffic can be for major digital giants. Traffic from both native and extended advertising networks should be counted as something they can monetize. More than anything objective measurement of all these sources, and the ability to break down the audience and traffic to its specific sub-entities – for example, the digital property was the user on when she saw the ad or the ad platform that supplied the ad – is essential in this complex digital world.

Interested in learning more about these analyses? Contact us, and we’ll be happy to walk you through more of our research.

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