Paid User Acquisition For Apps: How to Choose Between Mobile DSPs and Ad Networks?

Elena Strappato
December 14, 2022
Paid User Acquisition For Apps: How to Choose Between Mobile DSPs and Ad Networks?

The importance of UA partners to bring off your app-paid user acquisition campaign

If you want to boost the volume of your users and increase your app’s visibility on the market, counting exclusively on organic user acquisition strategies may not serve your purposes.

Indeed, paid user acquisition represents the real key to success in your advertising strategy. One essential step in a paid user acquisition campaign is to cooperate with the right acquisition partners, in other words, intermediaries that enable advertisers to acquire new users through marketing activities. When working within the field of app install campaigns, especially in programmatic campaigns, you can select between mobile DSPs (Demand Side Platforms) and ad networks or opt for them both.  

This article aims to clarify the differences between the two and provide some tips that may help you make the right choice for improving your app paid user acquisition campaign.

The Mobile DSPs ecosystem for your app-paid user acquisition campaign

Let’s get started with a fundamental question: what are Demand Side Platforms?

DSPs are software platforms that allow advertisers to purchase high-quality ad impressions (what in jargon is called «the demand») across several ad exchanges through one interface.

As we have already stated, acquisition partners mediate between advertisers and publishers to drive new users to promote the advertiser’s app. Therefore, DSPs, as marketing automation tools, bid in real time auctions to win ad inventory provided by app publishers through SSPs. By doing so, Mobile DSPs considerably increase the efficiency of the ad-buying process.

Furthermore, advertisers can choose among three different types of DSPs depending on their advertising needs:

·  Mobile DSPs

·  White label

·  Self-serve DSPs

In this article, we are mainly referring to the first type on the list: Mobile DSPs.

By being connected to mobile ad exchanges, Mobile DSPs match publishers’ ad inventory with advertisers’ parameters to automatically bid - in a timeframe of a few milliseconds - for the most valuable ad impressions.  

Ad networks: what you need to know and how it works  

Ad networks are platforms connected to online advertising that aggregate ad space provided by publishers to match ad supply with advertisers’ demands.

To put it simply, here is the process in 3 steps:

· Publishers integrate with ad network to secure their ad space and ad supply sale

· Advertisers agree with ad networks about the specifics of their ad campaign (budget,segment audience, etc. )

· Based on advertisers’ requirements, ad networks select the most suitable option to meet their demands.

The best option for your app-paid user acquisition campaign: Mobile DSPs, ad networks, or them both?

So, to conclude, how can your app-paid user acquisition campaign benefit from both Mobile DSPs and ad networks? Let’s sum up a few points:

Mobile DSPs


· Mobile DSPs enable programmatic advertising by managing an automated, auction-like process incorporating real-time bidding

· Mobile DSPs get rid of time-consuming operations (such as negotiations between advertisers and publishers) to speed up the ad-buying process

· Advertisers save time and money by working through one single interface and by accessing simultaneously to multiple ad exchanges

· Decrease in the workload and costs

· Sophisticated targeting operations due to their use of A.I algorithms and machine learning

· In Self-serve DSPs, advertisers have freedom to create their own targeting criteria for their ads

Ad Networks

· Ad networks are based on programmatic direct, a non-auction model that works without automation and requires a lot of human labor

·  In programmatic direct, advertisers need to count on personal managers accountable for many operations (the campaign management, creatives…)

· Advertisers purchase directly from publishers at a fixed and predetermined price that must be fair for them both. Therefore, ad networks are good mediators between advertisers and publishers

· As soon as publishers enroll in the platform, ad networks provide immediate revenue and good monetization

· Access to high-quality ads and well-targeted creatives

· Advertisers increase their pool of publisher supply via ad networks, as a result they can widen their audience