App monetisation: Five secrets to success

App monetisation: Five secrets to success

By | November 16th, 2012
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How good is a business, if it doesn't earn revenue? Pretty much the same

applies to an app development business. These five secrets mentioned below

are a recipe for higher revenues...


\related stories

The world is getting “app”ified with developers creating apps for every physical and digital interaction possible! However, considering all the effort, not all developers are witnessing relative compensation for the hard work and passion they have put into developing their app. If you’re a developer and want to maximise your earnings, here are 5 “secrets to success” in your app monetisation journey!

Secret #1: Create a “hybrid” monetisation model

Most developers believe that their app monetisation strategy is a ‘choice’ between paid app or free app supported by ads. The reality is that most apps will have a target market that includes both types of users – ones who want it for free and those who are willing to pay (to upgrade features / remove ads etc). A developer should ‘combine’ these models to maximise revenues. The ideal model is – allow users to download for free, and start monetising them via ads. At the same time, allow users who want a premium experience to upgrade within the free app itself. This way, the developer gets the widest funnel of users, who get monetised by ads, and earns additional revenue from paying users who upgrade.

A developer should ‘combine’ these models to maximise revenues. The ideal model is – advertising revenue, combined with micro transactions within the app.”

 Secret #2: Use powerful ad formats

When using in-app advertising, keep in mind that all ad formats were not born equal. Spend time getting the right mix of ad placement and formats, so that for the least amount of ads shown to users, you as a developer earn the most! The regular banner ads take up screen real estate, annoy users and more often than not – generate little revenue. If you were to think of an app as a magazine, what are the specific areas would get the most advertising revenue? The front cover & back cover! Similarly, Launch & Exit ads in an app can deliver significantly more revenue – since advertisers pay more for it and users engage more on these formats. Also Interstitial ads, shown at the right ‘breaks’ within the app tend to be more effective, than regular banner ads.

 Secret #3: Select ad mediation that offers choice and control

Unlike a website, where code can be changed at anytime, apps don’t offer the same level of flexibility. Once a user downloads an app, the developer is at his mercy to update. So if developers just put one ad network’s SDK in their app and it doesn’t perform monetisation well – they’re bound to be stuck with them. To get around this situation, developers should always use a server side ad mediation platform that offers choice and full control. The ad mediation platform should allow developers to – add / remove ad networks, get paid directly by key big ad networks of their choice, get back fill from a plethora of other networks at a single hassle free payment, run the cross promotional house ads, and deliver powerful eCPM optimisation. Direct mediation payments will save developers significant money, back fill helps reduce wastage, and cross promotion house ads allow the developers next app to ramp up quickly!

 Secret #4: Integrate “frictionless” billing options

While App stores have done a great deal to reduce friction of entering credit card info each time a user wants to make a purchase, the bigger challenge remains! Lot of users just don’t have credit cards – and the situation is particularly acute in emerging markets, like India where mobile penetration is over 80% but credit card penetration is in single digits! In such countries it is critical to work with telcos, and plug into their billing so that users can buy apps using their prepaid balance or postpaid bill. With the revenue share for billing offered by telcos such as Vodafone now in line with other app stores, it is surely an approach developers should consider investing their time and effort into.

…it is critical to work with telcos, and plug into their billing so that users can buy apps using their prepaid balance or postpaid bill.

 Secret #5: Maximise distribution

Revenue is directly proportional to the number of downloads an app generates. As a developer, once you’ve implemented the above four secrets, this fifth secret will turbo-charge the impact. A developer should consider every mechanism to build their install base. The first and the simplest way is to make sure that the app is available on all possible app stores such as GetJar, Vodafone, SlideMe and Mobango. Another interesting approach is to partner with handset manufacturers / OEMs so that apps can be pre-bundled with mobile devices. In addition to these two steps, developers should invest money to run cost-per-download campaigns for their apps, so that it rapidly rises to the top of the charts and starts getting massive organic downloads.

These five secrets should put you on the path for higher revenues. Do try them and share your feedback on how much growth you achieved!

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Binay Tiwari
Binay heads global marketing at He has over 9 years of expertise in mobile internet usage trends, app distribution & monetization models, and Android platform adoption in emerging markets. He tweets at