Android Ad Network Review: LeadBolt

My review of LeadBolt for ads in my Android apps has been a long time coming.  I started working with them over six months ago.  When the project I was working on didn’t quite match the ad units I investigated, my implementation of LeadBolt got stalled.

That’s too bad, actually.  I integrated their ad units into my last two apps, and after seeing the results I am rolling out LeadBolt advertisements to my other apps as well.  My lifetime average eCPM with them is over $2.00.  Not bad at all…

Hold up a minute – if you’re just getting started getting ads into your Android app you may need a little more information than we’re covering in this article today.  Don’t forget to check out my latest book, the Android Ad Network Primer (available in print and for the Kindle).

Basic Details for LeadBolt

LeadBolt offers a number of different ad formats, including the common banner ad.  They specialize in unique ad formats, but their performance for simple banner ads is pretty impressive by itself.

Not all of their ads pay by the click though – see below for more on that.

Their SDK is fairly small and relatively easy to integrate.  You don’t even need to use it if you only use the HTML-based ad units.

As always, I check how payouts occur.  Payouts occur after $100 with net-15 terms, after the end of a month.  If you really want your money immediately, you can get it net-7 from the current day, at the cost of 20% of your payment.

You can also use LeadBolt to advertise your app, but I haven’t investigated that enough to review it.

Ok, so what is it like to use LeadBolt, as a developer?

Positive elements of LeadBolt for Android Ads

Well, the high eCPM is certainly the first thing that most of you will pay attention to.  Here is what I saw my first week:

Note the high cost per click (EPC), and growing revenue as I started directing more traffic to LeadBolt.  Also note the dip down to zero, which I’ll talk about in the next section.

A few more things make LeadBolt attractive, besides just pure revenue numbers.

LeadBolt offers a number of HTML-based ad formats, which makes integration much easier.  This also reduces permissions that your app needs to ask for, which might be of interest to you.

I have been using Leadbolt with the SDK and through MoPub, which is a snap for HTML-based ads.  No integration was needed at all for the apps that just use the HTML banners.

And, if you’re looking to set up the HTML-based ads without their SDK, I created a tutorial on showing LeadBolt ads in a Webview – check it out!.

The net-15 payout is also a nice (and rare) feature.  It eases the annoyance of the $100 payout threshold.

Based on my an unscientific estimate from my own early traffic, I’d say it wouldn’t be unreasonable to hope to reach that payout threshold after 45,000 ad impressions.  Your results will likely vary, of course.

There are other features that make LeadBolt interesting, such as the wide range of ad types.

Since I’m a fan of testing, I like their multivariate testing.  Basically, some of the ad units (like the unlocker) allow automatic split testing of things like colors, background, opacity, etc.  This can simplify testing different things (with numbers, not guessing).  Pretty cool.

All in all, the LeadBolt dashboard is pretty slick and gets you the information that you need.

…The Bad

There are a few catches, of course.  First, while they use a mixture of CPC (Cost-per-Click) and CPA (Cost-per-Action) ads, I have seen mostly CPA ads.  That means that I initially saw ads with clicks, but no revenue.

See that dip after the first spike of income?  I was still sending traffic, and still getting clicks, but my revenue was zero.

That’s different than many banner-based ad networks.  Don’t get alarmed as I did – it’s normal to see some clicks without any revenue.

When the revenue comes in, it is sporadic but surprisingly high.  You might get $0.70 from one click, and nothing at all from other clicks.  If your traffic isn’t high enough, that might mean some good days, and some with nothing at all.

Also, as I mentioned, it can be tough to get your head around the workflow for some of their ad units.  Their documentation is really geared around a simple case, so you’ll have to puzzle it out if you want a custom workflow.

I aborted integrating their ‘unlocker’ ad format for my first app because it didn’t work the way I wanted to use it.

Of course, each revision of their SDK gets better and they added a few of the missing hooks after I first asked for help.  When I returned, I found a different way to use the unlocker and things went much more smoothly.


Leadbolt may – or may not – be the right ad network for your Android apps.  It can generate very competitive paychecks, but the income can vary from day to day by a huge margin.

Developers just starting out may not be able to stomach the ups and downs (and watching clicks go by without any revenue).  Developers with sufficient traffic and the willingness to ride out the swings will be able to see a very competitive eCPM for their ad space.

If Leadbolt isn’t the right ad network for you, be sure to check out my other articles on Android Ad Revenue, or get the crash course and get moving quickly with the Android Ad Network Primer.

If you’re not squeamish about using some traffic to find high-paying ads, sign up for LeadBolt now and see the performance for yourself!

Posted in Android Ad Revenue permalink

About ProjectJourneyman

I am a software engineer that escaped the cubicle world at a large company to go solo with Android app development. My attention to detail and quality applies both to my apps and to my research on how to make money with Android. Now that I have the freedom to work on my own projects, I am documenting my efforts in the hopes that it will help other current or aspiring independent Android developers get the income they desire.


Android Ad Network Review: LeadBolt — 10 Comments

  1. Hey, don’t you try their notification ads? It can really boost your revenues further.

    I’d agree with the stomaching of ups and downs especially at the start of the Leadbolt integration. But stay the course, and it will work out really great.


    • I detest push notification myself, so I don’t intend to use it in my apps unless there’s a good reason. A widget-only app might be a decent reason, but I’d still probably prefer going with a paid app rather than using push notifications.

  2. As always, I’m sure you’re just as interested as I am in getting confirmation that an ad network pays out. I can confirm that LeadBolt indeed paid Net-15 just as soon as I passed the minimum payout threshold (and I requested payment – don’t forget to do that).

  3. HI, what form do you use to publicize the apps? youtube? facebook ..? or others? what are other ways to publicize the apps?thanks.

    • I have done some videos, ads, and other marketing. However, it’s hard to make the publicizing effort effective unless you’re all-in – putting a bit of money and effort behind a long-term campaign. Oftentimes if you can only spend time/money on one thing, the app should be able to speak for itself. Plus the description and screenshots!

  4. Hi, we are about to release our first app as a free download accross both android and iOS. We’ve been recommended revmob, would you recommend lead bolt over this and iAd?

    • I haven’t used iAd (no iOS apps), nor have I used RevMob. I do have RevMob on my list to check out though. I prefer LeadBolt for my purposes right now as it is a very easy integration for the HTML banners in MoPub, while RevMob looks like it will require doing the “custom SDK” integration for MoPub. That isn’t an issue if you are directly integrating the SDK, of course.

      LeadBolt has been performing well for me, but the only way to really compare performance is to implement both (or all three). You may need to remove one at the next app update, but it may be helpful to have multiple options as you find the strengths and weaknesses of each (and these may change over time).

  5. most important part is date, your article don’t have date. i can only see date on your comments.
    Revmob used to be profitable, now its not
    Leadbolt, was ok, now everybody complain
    now it looks like besides Admob for banners (which is risky source)
    there is InMobi with good reviews
    and Applovin with good review.
    ofcourse that all depends on the country cause ecpm varies between countries

    • Good points, I do need to make a 2014 review roundup, as these ad networks always wax and wane with how competitive they are. It might be good to add dates back on to these posts too.

      After some hassle with mediation that I didn’t have time to deal with, I actually moved the majority of my banner traffic to Admob recently. I didn’t have great results with InMobi, but I think I was only sending backup traffic at one point and got a poor fill rate.