Creating A Custom Ad Server

Over the holidays I somehow found the time to code up an advertisement server for use with my mobile Apps.  The reason for writing a custom solution for this is that I wanted to use non-standard image sizes which I can then pull into the apps and games in unique ways so that they don’t have the look and feel of an ad.

The custom ads will be popped up in a balloon, animated across the screen or hidden in a drawer waiting to pounce.  With a unique delivery of the ad I hope it can stand out without getting in the way or feel annoying.  With the non-standard sizes I hope it won’t get the immediate “this is an ad” response from people who see it.

One of the things I have learned about doing print advertising and direct mailers is that to be noticed you have to do things unexpected.  Show someone something that they simply can’t ignore.  That’s why the classic 5 cent letters work so well – a nickel attached to a letter will immediately get noticed, and you will surely open it up.  Getting outside of the normal bar style ad along the bottom of the screen is just one simple way to break out of the expected.

Going with the standard ad services out there such as Admob or one of the many other networks is a good way to get paid, but (from my testing) is a terrible way to advertise.  Erroneous and fraudulent clicks are rampant on phones and paying for clicks simply doesn’t come close to breaking even in most cases.

I needed ads that could be targeted and integrated with the look and feel of an app.  To do that I wanted the flexibility of an image. but I also wanted the ability to provide both app specific ads as well as network wide ads.  So for example if there is a free and paid version of the app I can always advertise the paid version on the free app.  But moving the ad to the server allows me to test different images, or run special promotions.

Looking forward to seeing how it performs live in January.