AppLovin: Building a Mobile Ad Network

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We recently made the observation that The Trade Desk and AppLovin, two of the largest public, independent advertising networks, are owned and led by founders with significant skin in the game. Jeff Green is the largest single shareholder and owns 50% of voting shares of The Trade Desk, a network focused on monetising the web outside of Google and Facebook. Adam Fouroughi, owns 25% of voting and 10% of common shares outstanding in AppLovin, the largest independent mobile advertising network.

We interviewed a Former Managing Director who is now a customer at AppLovin to understand how developers use AppLovin and the strategic positioning of the company in the mobile ecosystem.

AppLovin (APP) was founded in 2011 as a mobile app developer. The co-founders built their first mobile app but quickly realised that finding new users was actually the real problem to solve, not building great apps. This insight led APP to pivot and focus on helping mobile app developers acquire new users globally. This is how AppDiscovery was born, AppLovin’s core marketing exchange.

AppDiscovery is a mobile marketing platform to help advertisers find new customers. Just as advertisers build campaigns on Google, mobile app developers will build campaigns and bid for users on AppDiscovery to drive downloads and greater app monetisation.

The mobile advertising market includes Google’s Admob, Facebook, ironSource, Unity, and AppLovin. It isn't a winner takes all market structure because developers set a target return on ad spend (ROAS) and will use each channel as long as it hits the target ROAS:

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