Getting Started with MAX

This guide shows you how to start monetizing your mobile app with MAX in seven easy steps. It also 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.

AppLovin may need to approve your account before you can complete the account setup.

If you encounter difficulties with setting up your account, visit the New Account FAQ.

Set Up Payment Information

AppLovin pays you directly for those impressions that are served from the AppLovin Exchange or AppLovin Bidding (AppDiscovery). Set up your payment information in the Account > Payments > Info section of the AppLovin dashboard.

If you have questions about setting up payment or tax forms, review the AppLovin Monetization Payment FAQ.

Add Your Domain to MAX

Add your 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 mywebsite.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 exactly matching 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 ad unit, you see the networks available for your waterfall. If this is the first time you are 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 and ad unit, and be approved by the network to serve ads.

If 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:

  1. Add the SDK Key to initialize the AppLovin SDK. You can find this key in the Account > General > Keys section of the AppLovin dashboard.
  2. Initialize the SDK upon app startup to allow the AppLovin SDK enough time to cache ad assets. This results in a better user experience.
  3. Enable Ad Review so you can monitor creatives from AppLovin and networks from the MAX Dashboard.
  4. Use the MAX Terms & Privacy Policy Flow to prompt acceptance of your Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, and, for iOS, enable the App Transparency Tracking (ATT) prompt. See MAX Terms & Privacy Policy Flow for more details.

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 by means of a custom SDK 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.

Step 4: Test Your Integration

After you integrate the AppLovin SDK and your networks, you can validate your integration before you go live with your app. 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 submit a ticket to the AppLovin Support Team. Please include the demo app implementation, the MAX SDK’s verbose logs, and your Mediation Debugger screenshot.

Demo App

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 your 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 and show ads during the testing process. Learn more at the MAX Demo App documentation page.

Mediation Debugger

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.

Learn more on the Mediation Debugger documentation page.

Test Mode

You can use Test Mode, within the MAX Dashboard, to verify that you have successfully integrated specific ad networks. Test mode ensures that you get network fill when you are testing. To use Test Mode, enter the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) or Google Advertising ID (GAID) from your test 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.

Learn more at the Test Mode documentation page.

Creative Debugger

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 report these ads.

Learn more at the Creative Debugger documentation page.

Pre-Launch Checklist

Use this quick checklist to validate your MAX integration before you launch your app.

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.

Supported 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 further action.

AppLovin demand is enabled by default and you do not need to do anything to connect it.

Custom Networks

To integrate a custom SDK 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. Custom networks are not eligible for in-app bidding or Auto-CPM.

You still must activate your networks within your ad unit waterfall. The next section of this page explains that process. Learn more at the Enable Networks documentation page.

Step 6: Set Up Your Waterfall

Configure a waterfall for each ad unit. Both bidding and traditional networks compete by the highest CPM to serve an impression. This competition maximizes your revenue, ensuring you are paid the most money for each ad opportunity.

Default Waterfall

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. This waterfall includes all supported networks, categorized either as Bidder Networks or Other (traditionally-mediated) Networks. Only enable those networks for which you successfully integrated the SDK and which you connected to MAX.

  1. 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.
  2. Add custom SDK or direct sold instances to the waterfall if applicable.
  3. Click Save.

Custom Waterfalls

Advanced MAX users can also use custom waterfalls. These 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 continues to use the Default Waterfall configuration.

Learn more about how to use 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 custom waterfall and select its device targeting (if applicable).

MAX copies your network configurations from the Default Waterfall as the basis for your custom waterfall. You can then customize them.

Best Practices

  • Use at least six networks with strong global demand (such as Google or Meta) 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 will find that CPMs can vary 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 help you). Build geo-based waterfalls that target those networks to specific countries.
  • Use the Network Comparison report to validate that network CPMs are aligned with CPMs reported in MAX. This ensures that 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 whether the change will have positive results. This helps you optimize your waterfall with confidence.
  • To maximize the number of bidders from the AppLovin Exchange who compete 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 Performance

Several tools and reports available in MAX, in the Analyze section, help you analyze performance. 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 that you can integrate with 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.

Performance Reporting

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

Advanced Reporting gives you 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 under-performing 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 or by adding a value in the filter field. Depending on the combination of filters you include in the report, you 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 view 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 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 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.