NativeX Review – The Native Mobile Ad Platform

Jamie Giggs | December 16, 2013

App Marketing


Overview: Who are NativeX?

NativeX is a mobile advertising network that specialises in native ad formats that seamlessly blend in with the user’s game or app, delivering higher revenues for developers. The NativeX platform includes a predictive analytics engine that analyses multiple user variables to optimise ad placement and deliver higher returns.
They have 13 years of experience creating value on both web and mobile formats, and employ over 180 employees; their offices are located in Minnesota and San Francisco. The company was founded by brothers Robert Weber and Ryan Weber in 2000, and Andy Johnson became the CEO in 2007.
In October 2013, NativeX announced a new SDK that enables native ads within games; the aim is to make ads as native as they can be within the game itself, meaning less intrusion for the user, yet with a higher chance of them engaging with the advertising. The new unified SDK also means developers no longer have to work with multiple SDKs to find the ads they want to use. On announcing the new product, CEO Andy Johnson said:

Andy Johnson

“We know integrating ads into the user experience is more effective for the advertiser, more lucrative for the publisher, and more acceptable to the user. The biggest challenge now is how to scale our platform, and our new SDK is our first step toward delivering a truly scalable native ad solution to the market.”

According to Dr. James G Shanahan, VP of Data Science and Chief Data Scientist at NativeX:

“Native ads become part of the user experience of the game, and therefore it is more important than ever that ads are relevant. You need the right blend of art and science.”

What does NativeX offer developers?

NativeX offer a strategic approach for increasing app revenues and have identified four areas which they believe are key to driving growth:

  • Native Advertising: By using in-game elements to fit within the context of the game world, and by appearing at critical moments of the user’s experience, native advertising feels less intrusive than more traditional methods – being complementary to the app’s content is at the core of native advertising. The ads become part of the user experience and they are often unique as well. By not appearing in the traditional advertising format, users are more inclined to engage as a result.
  • Predictive Analytics: NativeX’s predictive analytics analyse numerous variables which allows them to rank and then display the most relevant ad – a more relevant ad means higher conversions. They use highly advanced mathematical and statistical models to do this, which then decide the best format, placement and moment for each specific user to deliver the most relevant ad.
  • All-in-One SDK: NativeX’s unified, all-in-one SDK means developers have access to everything they need in the same place. The SDK includes: native interstitials, native rich media, native video, native multi-offer, the NativeX Studio, ad network mediation, and instant access to new ad formats in the future.
  • Rapid Ad Format Iteration: New ad formats can be developed, tested, and changed without any integration of a new SDK. NativeX performs all the hard work behind the scenes on their own server. These new ad formats create more chances to see an increase in revenue, and the developer can experiment freely with them without the hassle.

NativeX also helps developers to grow their audiences and acquire new users, building on a number of advantages:

  • Scale: NativeX’s media buying experts have built up more than 1 billion mobile users by harnessing over 100 different networks.
  • Reach: Developers have the tools to reach over 150 million monthly mobile gamers on Android and iOS on a global basis. NativeX has a host of partnerships with over half of the top 20 grossing game developers.
  • Quality: With a diverse inventory of users, NativeX has the ability to target app demographics by key categories such as gender, ethnicity, age, education and income.

NativeX Ad Examples

NativeX uses six key ad formats within their vision of native advertising, each offering the developer and advertiser something different. The ads are not placed below, above, or beside the app or game, they are used as part of the user experience instead.
The six innovative ad formats are:

Large Format Native Interstitial
This format allows the advertiser to create a context for the user by using large format interstitials that surround the ad with complementary in-game elements.
Large Format Native Interstitial Example
Large Format Native Interstitial

Native Banner
The native banner allows the advertiser to reward its users with engaging video ad experiences that challenge the more traditional banner format of yesteryear.

Native Banner Format Example
Native Banner

Full Screen Native Interstitial
NativeX gives advertisers the ability to access full screen, rich media, and large sized interstitials within the same SDK.
Full Screen Native Interstitial Format Example
Full Screen Native Interstitial

Native Rich Media
This format of advertising inspires engagement because it is endorsed by the user’s friends, reviews and experts.
Native Rich Media Format Example
Native Rich Media

Native Video
These are branded video ads that reward the user for engaging with them; their native format means they are far less intrusive than traditional video ads.
Native Video Format Example
Native Video

Native Multi-Offer
This format provides the advertiser with a variety of native ad offers for users to engage with; they are deployed via an app wall or on a scrollable carousel.
Native Multi-Offer Format Example
Native Multi-Offer
Why should game developers care about Native Advertising?
So why should game developers care about Native Ads? Well for a start they relieve the heavy reliance on banner ads. As applications become more advanced so must the advertising, native ads are a simple and established advertising method, truly native advertising  is advertising people want to experience. It’s not just about integrating the experience into the area where people normally look for content.  It’s about making the advertising itself as compelling (if not more compelling) than any other content. NativeX’s presentation below explains why native advertising is so important for a developer. They note that native advertising increases user retention and the chances of successful monetisation, and that it does not create a forced engagement with the user unlike many other advertising methods.
NativeX Native Mobile Ads Presentation

The View from Native X

We wanted to find out just how well the new NativeX ad formats are doing so we spoke to Ythan Pratt, who manages all things digital for NativeX: social media, email marketing, and
ythan pratty
How successful have native ads been so far for NativeX?

 “SkyVu recently ran a test with the game Battle Bears, comparing a custom native ad with a non-native ad. The ads appeared during natural breaks, and used characters from the game. The native ad resulted in a 452% lift in click-through rates and eCPMs increased from $1.55 to $15.11. When Big Blue Bubble integrated our SDK, their CEO, Damir Slogar told us, “ad revenue increased 25% the moment we switched to NativeX.”

What kind of results have publishers and advertisers seen?

“Earlier this year we rolled out a new SDK with five native ad formats and server side ad creation, which means publishers gain access to new ad formats the moment we roll them out, without SDK updates. As a result, our clients are happy and we’re winning comparison tests against other ad networks. XMG Studio tested us against their other ad networks and concluded, “NativeX’s platform provided the best users compared to 5 other ad networks with regards to engagement, LTV, and retention.” GeekBeach ran a similar test and said, “NativeX’s network had the best conversion at 70% compared to 50% and 30% with two other ad networks.”

What’s the reaction in the industry been like?

“We’ve had over 1500 signups since we launched our native advertising platform, less than one year ago. In the past, our focus has always been on providing a high level of service to the largest publishers and advertisers. While we will continue to take a hands on approach with our biggest partners, the indies have spoken so we are going to roll out a self-service platform in early 2014.”

What does the future look like for Native ads in the mobile ad industry?

“Just start by looking at the web; companies including Facebook, Google, Buzzfeed, and Forbes have all committed to native advertising. It’s not just a fad, it’s the natural response to “banner blindness,” a disorder 86% of us have, which means we’ve been conditioned to completely ignore banner ads. Just like the web, the only good alternative to banners for mobile games is native advertising. Game developers spend too much time designing immersive gaming experiences to just ruin them in a split second with ugly banners. Native advertising creates a better user experience for players and generates more revenue for publishers, and in two years it’s going to be the gold standard of mobile advertising.”

Any hints as to what’s coming next, what will be NativeX’s next big thing in advertising?

“The first item on our agenda is to make native advertising available for indies, through our self-service. So far we’ve done a good job working with large developers, but as gamers ourselves we need to scale native advertising for the rest of the community. Second is phase two of our predictive analytics ad selection technology. While publishers are already seeing their revenues increase by 6X just months after releasing it, we are partnering with third party data providers to analyse hundreds of attributes to make our statistical models even stronger.”

5 Tips for a Good Native Ad

As with every form of ad technology there are certain tips and tricks that are worth following to ensure you obtain the greatest ROI. NativeX have outlined the following 5 tips to make sure ‘your ad doesn’t suck.’
Make it fun – Include elements of mystery, excitement and interaction to engage your audience. The ad should appear as just another level to complete.
Incorporate in-game characters – to make the ad seamlessly fit in and become an integral part of the platform, using in-game characters in the ad, can easily achieve this effect.
Make it seamless – it is important not to disrupt gameplay as this can frustrate the user and loose the effect of it not looking like an ad.
Keep it HD – the graphics of your ad should match the level of graphics of the game
Avoid spammy formats – Putting an ad in someone’s notification bar does not make it native. It makes it spam. Push notifications are for the benefit of users, not developers. The next time you’re considering using push notification ads for a quick buck, keep in mind that it’s easier for a user to delete your app than to go into settings and change the frequency of notifications.


Predictive Analytics

NativeX’s native ad formats may be what they are becoming best known for, but their predictive analytics are also an important part of their platform. Predictive analytics are about intelligent ad selection, this is achieved by analysing user variables such as: what type of device is being used, how many sessions per day does the user typically initiative, and do they normally click on or dismiss most ads. The primary aim of the predictive analytics is to deliver maximum eCPM and maintain the highest possible user engagement for the game. There are benefits to multiple stakeholders in the use of better data and analytics:

  • Publishers: Improves publisher eCPMs by showing the most relevant ads to that particular user and their device. It also improves the the conversion rate which results in a higher revenue per impression.
  • Advertisers: It means a group of higher quality users because the ads are catered to those who are more likely to convert. In addition there is better ROI on ad spend.
  • Users: The experience is more enjoyable for the user; they see useful ads that they are interested in, enhancing their time with the app or game.

Predictive Analytics Ad Selection Technology
In the video below Robert Weber, Co-Founder of NativeX, answers questions on how the company started, where NativeX fits into the mobile app ecosystem, how their technology is different and more.

NativeX’s Rewarded Engagement Model

Instead of using business models based on standard metrics such as CPM or CPC, NativeX offers models where advertisers only pay for the actions they determine are valuable.  This ‘rewarded engagement’ system works through a mix of rich media, video and social elements: 
Rich Media: NativeX will bring the advertiser customers who are willing to spend sixty seconds with them. This gives the advertiser the chance to make the interaction between the user and itself a valuable one.
Rich Media
Video: Advertisers only pay for completed video views: in other words, only when the interaction is successful does the advertiser pay for it.
Social: Advertisers have the ability to increase their consumer awareness with viral social sharing.

Helping Developers with Mobile Game Monetization

NativeX provide a range of support services to help developers grow revenues.  One example of the sort of advice they provide is the presentation below which covers monetization of Free-to-Play (F2P) mobile games.  This explains how developers can double their game’s revenue with F2P by generating revenues over the entire lifetime of the user, rather than just from a one-time premium purchase.
The other key benefits of F2P highlighted by NativeX are:

  • Installs are 10x greater, meaning the developer’s user base grows at an increased rate.
  • F2P appeals more to a non-traditional gamer. A traditional gamer is classed as someone who plays games frequently on a variety of platforms, and they are usually less interested in mobile gaming.
  • Making an app or game F2P removes the chance of it being a victim of piracy.
  • Users want to try a game or app before they buy anything, by allowing them to try beforehand then, they are more likely to be interested in offers that come later: this is the stage where the developer monetises their app or game.

NativeX on F2P Mobile Game Monetization


What do people say about NativeX?

The most important part of any company, in any industry, is what the clients say, as NativeX put it: “We succeed when our customers succeed.” Here are  a few recent views from customers:
XMG Studio

“NativeX’s platform provided the best users compared to 5 other ad networks with regards to engagement, LTV, and retention.”

David Mahon, Full Color Games
Full Colour Gaes

“NativeX has been the single greatest company I have ever worked with in my life… thank you for exceeding my wildest expectations to date. The firm is truly the best of the best.”

Johan Höglund, Raketspel

“NativeX’s latest SDK allowed us to quickly optimize our creative on the fly without a painful SDK update and as a result we saw eCPMs increase by 110%.”

Magnus Alm, Free Lunch Design
Free Lunch Design

“…your commitment and ‘let’s make it happen’ attitude makes you a fantastic partner.”


“NativeX’s network had the best conversion at 70% compared to 50% and 30% with two other ad networks.”


Conclusion: The First Native Mobile Ad Platform?

Across its services, NativeX features a range of different options for developers and advertisers. Their core focus is on making mobile ads less intrusive and more native to the mobile user experience as a whole. As the mobile advertising market expands, this sort of approach is likely to become more and more valuable as users, developers and advertisers increasingly demand more innovative solutions. NativeX is establishing itself as one of the mobile ad companies that can provide this.
You can find more info about NativeX over on their website, on the NativeX profile in our directory and keep up to date via the NativeX blog.

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