We’re kicking off a monthly blog series called ‘Developer Insights’ where we’ll feature content written by today’s modern app developer- covering all things in the mobile app space from a developer’s perspective. Our first post comes from Alex Genadinik, a mobile developer and creator of some of the most helpful business plan apps across iOS and Android. Take it away Alex!
The right way to integrate ads
Whether you like mobile ads or not, they are an integral part of the mobile ecosystem and are here to stay. Mobile ads aren’t always the first choice for developers, and users are almost never thrilled to see the ads. At the same time, if you are a developer, ads can be a strong tool in your monetization toolbox. In this article, I will go over some thoughts on possible business models, and good practices for publishing ads in your apps if you decide to go that route.
First, business model fundamentals
Even before you begin coding the app, it is very important to identify a way to make money from the app. Ideally, it would be a proven business model that would fit naturally with the usability of your app; if it isn’t, that adds risk. For example, if you want to sell something unique as an in-app purchase, the burden of proof for whether people will actually buy it is on you. And the risk is on you as well because you can only prove or disprove this theory after you have launched. On the other hand, if you know that another app is successfully selling something, and you have an opportunity to replicate that in your app, then some of the risk is taken out of your monetization strategy because it has been proven to work by that other app.
There are many kinds of business models. There are transactional revenue models (paid apps or single in-app purchases), subscription models, and a number of others. You can take a look at an article I published earlier for more background on the possible business models.
For apps, the best business model is a subscription business model. It lets you keep your app free, which makes it simpler to market the app, and gives a recurring revenue stream that builds each month.
The challenge with this model is that in reality, few app types fit a subscription model. In order to subscribe, users have to be using the app very regularly over a long period of time; very few apps fit that description. If your app does not fit that description, you can consider charging for the app up front (warning: only do this if you are an absolute ninja marketer). If that does not work for you, you can consider a number of other monetization strategies, including publishing ads.
The right way to publish ads in your app
The usability of how ads will be published on your app is tricky. If you are not aggressive with your ads, they will likely monetize poorly. But, if you are aggressive with your ads, that will annoy your users and they will leave bad reviews for your app.
The approach I recommend is to not be aggressive with monetization. If your users get frustrated and annoyed by the ads on your app, they will leave bad reviews about your app in the app store, and erode your marketing. This will ironically cause you to ultimately lose money because with eroded marketing and poor reviews, you will see decreased numbers of downloads, and therefore less revenue.
You may ask how you would be able to make any real money if you aren’t aggressive with your monetization. And the answer is simple. You have to make it up with download volume. I realize that this isn’t the answer most people would like to hear because increasing downloads is not simple. But a slight adjustment in perception might help.
Try to consider that your job is to delight your users and be thankful that they are using your app. The alternative is far worse. If they stop enjoying the app, they will go away and without users, it will become impossible to make any money. So appreciate the people who are using your app and put them first before your needs to monetize. If you do, your users will appreciate your app, give you good reviews, and that will help you be competitive against other apps long-term.
The caveat I would add is that if you can, try to engage users with ads. One way to do that is with native ads or ads that somehow add to the quality of the user experience on your app. As an example, in my business plan apps, users kept asking how they could create websites cheaply or for free, so I wrote an article about what to do during the very beginning stages of the business and added that article to the app. Within that article, there was an affiliate link to SquareSpace which helps people create websites as well as Wordpress as a free choice. My users really appreciated those resources, and that article not only helped me earn money, but it helped me get more positive reviews. Another option is to use a 3rd party ad publisher that would work very well for the type of app experience that you have.
Alex Genadinik is a mobile developer and creator of some of the most helpful business plan apps. Here is the iOS business plan app and here is its equivalent Android version. Alex also advises companies like g33ktalk on their mobile and marketing strategies. Say hello to Alex on Twitter @genadinik and let him know what you thought of the article.
If you’d like to be featured, we’d love to hear from you on the state of mobile, competition, trends, forecasts or challenges you face as a developer! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.