This guide shows you how to start monetizing your mobile app with MAX in seven easy steps. It explains best practices to help you automate daily tasks and maximize revenue.
Step 1. Create an Account
To get started with MAX, open dash.applovin.com, click Sign Up for an Account, and enter your account information. MAX then asks you to authenticate your account so you can complete the signup process.
Some accounts may need to be approved by AppLovin to complete the account setup. If your account requires approval, review the account approval process.
If you encounter issues with setting up your account, visit the New Account FAQ.
Set Up Payment Information
AppLovin pays you directly for impressions served from the AppLovin Exchange or AppLovin Bidding (AppDiscovery). Set up your payments in the Account > Payments > Info section of the AppLovin dashboard.
If you have questions about setting up payment or tax forms, please review the AppLovin Monetization Payment FAQ.
Add Your Developer Domain to MAX
Add the developer website domain (the one that you use in your app store listing and where your app-ads.txt file is hosted) to the Domain section within Account > General > Basic Info. Include only the root domain (for example developerwebsite.com) in this field.
This allows advertisers to find and validate your app-ads.txt file. Learn more at the app-ads.txt Information page in this documentation.
Step 2: Create an Ad Unit
To create an ad unit, select MAX > Mediation > Manage > Ad Units in the AppLovin dashboard.
Add Your App
To add your app, first choose the platform (Android, FireOS, or iOS).
Next, enter your app’s name and app store ID in the input box. If your app is live in an app store, it populates within the dropdown to be selected.
If your app is not yet live, you can manually add it to MAX. To do this, click Manually Add Your Package Name, then type in your app’s package name, with the casing matching exactly what you have in your app code.
Add Your Ad Unit
After you add your app, add your ad unit by selecting a format and giving your ad unit a name. AppLovin strongly recommends that you use a single ad unit ID for each format within an app. This ensures an ad is always cached and avoids unnecessary app/user bandwidth usage.
After you add your app, you see the networks available for your waterfall. If this is your first time setting up your account, bypass this for now—you will have an opportunity to build the waterfall later. If you are already monetizing with MAX, skip to Step 6 below to learn how to set up the waterfall.
You need your ad unit ID for the integration process. You can find it on the Ad Units page.
Step 3: Integrate the AppLovin SDK and Networks
MAX supports many ad networks across bidding and traditional connections. Custom options also allow you to work with unsupported networks. Before you integrate a network, you must create an account with the network, register your app/ad unit, and be approved to serve ads.
Do you need help creating a network account? Review the Traditionally Mediated Network Guides and SDK Bidder Network Guides.
Download and Integrate the AppLovin SDK
Read the specific Integration instructions for your platform. These platform-specific instructions show you how to do the following:
- Add the SDK Key to initialize the AppLovin SDK. You can find the key in the Account > General > Keys section of the AppLovin dashboard.
- Initialize the SDK at app startup to allow the AppLovin SDK enough time to fully cache ad assets, which results in a better user experience.
- Enable Ad Review to monitor creative from AppLovin and networks from the MAX Dashboard.
- For iOS, enable the App Transparency Tracking (ATT) prompt programmatically or by using your app’s
Integrate Supported Networks
To mediate supported ad networks through MAX, download the networks’ SDKs directly from the networks and follow their integration instructions. You can find network adapters, supported SDK versions, and further instructions for each platform on the Preparing Mediated Networks page.
Integrate Unsupported (Custom) Networks
You can mediate unsupported networks through a custom SDK or JS tag connection. Because such networks are not officially supported, AppLovin is not able to troubleshoot issues you have with them. Work directly with the network to build network adapters and/or tags by following the instructions at the Integrating Custom Networks page and test thoroughly to ensure the connection works as expected.
AppLovin recommends that you limit your use of custom JS network tags as most tags are not optimized for mobile and may lead to failover issues. Review these best practices before you use them.
Step 4: Test Your Integration
After you integrate the AppLovin SDK and networks, you can validate your integration before you go live. MAX has many developer-friendly testing tools to help you test and launch successfully.
If you encounter issues with your integration that MAX testing tools don’t address, contact your account team or escalate a ticket to the AppLovin Support Team. Please include the demo app implementation, the MAX SDK’s verbose logs, and your Mediation Debugger screenshot.
The Demo App shows you how to integrate MAX into your mobile apps. You can use the demo app code as a blueprint for your integration.
You also can integrate network SDKs and can monitor the callbacks that MAX makes to the app that notify you of events for each ad format. This helps you verify that you have completed the integration successfully.
Use Test Mode in parallel with this Demo App to load/show ads during the testing process. You can learn more at the MAX Demo App documentation page.
Mediation Debugger is an AppLovin SDK feature that validates and displays the status of all ad networks that MAX mediates. Use it with test or live ads to check if your network is successfully integrated before your app goes live.
Many publishers who use MAX incorporate this feature into their debug builds or live apps. This helps their QA teams to confirm integration or to identify issues.
You can read more on the Mediation Debugger documentation page.
You can also use Test Mode, within the MAX Dashboard, to verify that you have successfully integrated specific ad networks by ensuring you get network fill when testing. To use Test Mode, enter your Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) or Google Advertising ID (GAID) from your testing device and select a network to receive test ads from that network.
Test Mode can take up to twenty minutes the first time you activate it. However, each subsequent network change should be instant.
Do not use Test Mode with live traffic as some networks will detect that you are testing and will no-fill those ad requests. Use the Mediation Debugger along with Test Mode to ensure that you can successfully launch your app with MAX.
You can read more at the Test Mode documentation page.
Creative Debugger captures ad creative details for AppLovin and your networks and allows you to report problematic ads to MAX. AppLovin recommends that you incorporate Creative Debugger into your test environments, QA processes, and support ticket systems so you can easily identify and escalate these ads.
You can read more at the Creative Debugger documentation page.
Use this quick checklist to help you validate your MAX integration before your app launch.
Step 5: Connect Your Networks
After you successfully validate your integration, return to the MAX Dashboard and connect your networks. This allows you to pull in network data for real-time bidding for supported bidding networks and CPM updating for most supported traditional networks.
Select MAX > Mediation > Manage > Networks in the AppLovin dashboard. Connect all the networks that you want to mediate. Then click Connect, enter the requested network credentials or API key, and click Save.
The status icon is a green checkmark when you successfully connect the network. The icon is red or yellow if you must take any further action.
AppLovin demand is enabled by default and you do not need to do anything to connect it.
If you have a custom SDK or JS tag network, scroll to the bottom of the Networks page and click Click here to add a Custom Network. Then add your network tag or adapter class name to complete the setup. Custom networks are not eligible for in-app bidding or Auto-CPM.
You still must activate your network within your ad unit waterfall. The next section of this page explains that process. You can learn more at the Enable Networks documentation page.
Step 6: Set Up Your Waterfall
Configure waterfalls at the ad unit level. Both bidding and traditional networks compete by the highest CPM to serve an impression. This competition maximizes your overall revenue, ensuring you’re paid the most money for each ad opportunity.
The Default Waterfall is your primary waterfall for monetization. After you set up your ad partners, MAX automates waterfall management through a combination of in-app bidding and CPM updating.
To set up your default waterfall, select MAX > Mediation > Manage > Ad Units in the AppLovin dashboard, select an ad unit, then scroll down to the Default Waterfall which includes all supported networks, categorized as Bidder Networks or Other (traditionally-mediated) Networks. Only enable networks for which you’ve successfully integrated the SDK and that you have connected to MAX.
- Expand the desired network by clicking the down-arrow to the right of the network name. Add the required network IDs, then toggle Status to on.
- For non-bidding networks, set a CPM price. Manually enter the floor price or historical CPM of the network. If you have Auto CPM enabled, it will update automatically to align with the network-reported CPM. Use the Network Comparison report to validate the MAX CPM Price and Network CPM price match.
- Add custom JS/SDK or direct sold instances to the waterfall if applicable.
- Click Save.
Custom waterfalls are for advanced MAX users. They allow you to use advanced targeting and waterfall segmentation to filter ads to specific audiences. For example, you can use these waterfalls to tailor monetization for users with Limit Ad Tracking (LAT) enabled or high-value users with strong ad engagement. Ineligible traffic will continue to use the Default Waterfall configuration.
Learn more about some of the uses of advanced targeting and waterfall segmentation at the Waterfall Management and Cloning documentation page.
To create a custom waterfall, click Create New Waterfall at the top of the Default Waterfall. Name your waterfall and select the device targeting (if applicable). If you collect user or device information and pass it to AppLovin as keywords, you can target those keywords by using Show Advanced Targeting Options.
MAX copies your network configurations from the Default Waterfall as the base for your custom waterfall. You can edit them after they are copied.
- Use at least six to eight networks with strong global demand (such as Google or Facebook) to mediate, in addition to AppLovin, when you begin to establish baseline revenue and performance.
- Prioritize bidding networks whenever possible to reduce manual waterfall maintenance and latency.
- As you scale, you’ll find that CPMs can vary greatly depending on the geographical mix of your app. Identify the biggest revenue opportunities based on those countries and ad networks with strong regional demand (AppLovin account teams are happy to make a recommendation). Build geo-based waterfalls targeting those networks to specific countries to optimize for growth.
- Use the Network Comparison report to validate that network CPMs are aligned with CPMs reported in MAX. This is important to ensure networks compete with accurate information in the unified auction and you do not lose money.
- Always A/B test new partners or pricing in the waterfall before you push changes to your entire audience. By A/B testing first, you validate if the change will result in net-positive results. This helps you optimize your waterfall with confidence.
- To maximize the number of bidders from the AppLovin Exchange competing for your ad inventory, add AppLovin to your app-ads.txt file. To learn more about how to set up app-ads.txt, see the IAB Supply Chain Validation documentation page.
Step 7: Analyze Your Performance
To help you analyze your performance, there are several tools and reports available in MAX in the Analyze section. You can download reports directly from the MAX dashboard, or you can schedule them to be emailed to you on a regular basis.
AppLovin also offers reporting APIs for MAX revenue and user level data to plug into your MMP of choice. To learn more, read the Revenue Reporting API documentation page.
All MAX dashboard reports allow you to save reporting views so you can retrieve them quickly later. A best practice when you save reports is to use preset time periods instead of using a custom date range to populate most recent data.
With the reports’ Compare Mode you can compare current performance against historical data and can visualize trends.
Use this report to understand revenue performance at a glance. The charts help you visualize revenue trends and identify areas that are helping or hindering growth. For deeper analysis, try using Advanced Reporting or User Activity Reporting.
Advanced Reporting enables you to track deeper insights into your app inventory. Use this report to analyze the performance of your waterfall and find opportunities such as new or optimized pricing in a certain country, or to see which networks are underperforming and may need to be removed. In addition to saving this report, you can also schedule it to be emailed to you and others on a regular basis.
You can add columns to the reports by clicking the checkmark next to a report filter and/or add a value in the filter field. Depending on the combination of filters you include in the report, you’ll see different metrics populate.
Here are a few ways you can look at Advanced Reporting:
- Ad Inventory Performance
- Add Application, Ad Unit Name, and Ad Type to get a breakdown of ad inventory performance including total impressions, revenue, and display rate, which is the percentage of time a cached ad is displayed.
- Network Performance
- Add Network to the report to view network performance by ad unit. In addition to top-level metrics like impressions and CPM, you’ll see two new metrics: fill rate and win rate. Fill rate shows how often a network can fill an ad and win rate is how often a bidding network wins an auction against other bidding networks.
- Waterfall Performance
- Add Waterfall to your report and filter to one ad unit name to view the performance of any active waterfalls you’re running for an ad unit. Add Country to the report for a more granular view. Use this view to analyze waterfall performance and identify opportunities to improve yield.
User Activity Report
Use the User Activity report to understand ad engagement for each ad format. You can track the number of daily active users, ARPDAU, and impressions users see. This tool is ideal for anyone who doesn’t have a MMP to connect to the MAX user revenue reporting API.