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Ask HN: What are your app monetisation strategies?
242 points by alc90 on March 19, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 106 comments
Hey guys - I've been an Android developer myself for over 4 year now. One of the biggest pain points has always been the monetisation part - which I've always felt is out of my control.

I've been focused mostly on free apps with ads - mostly Admob - but the little control over what ads are displayed, their format, etc always seemed to bother me. That's why I've started working on an ad network for mobile apps - where the advertisers buys directly from the app publisher the ad spot - and the publisher has full control over which ad is displayed and when.

I wanted to ask you what monetisation strategies to you have for your apps and if you've ever felt the same way when you added ads in your app.

Unless your app is a viral, monetization can't just be a strategy - it is the primary design criteria.

I have a 5 ⭐️ app, 7 Second Meditation, that has fantastic retention numbers, but I didn't design it around monetization from day 1, so the LTV is too low to do paid user acquisition.

So the app is doomed to putter along on organic installs.

An app must nail both retention and monetization to succeed.

(shameless plug: I did boost the LTV by 45% using https://improve.ai)

Would you mind translating this into english? Even seeing the definition of LTV above, I still don't understand the story your comment is telling.

What is "paid user acquisition"? How would a higher "lifetime value per user" enable you to do it? How is your app monetized to arrive at this LTV? What would it imply for you to have "designed it around monetization from day 1", what would be different? Why can't you change it now?

Someone downvoted you, but thanks for asking this question - it made me realize I was communicating poorly.

Paid user acquisition is spending money, usually on ads, to get people to install your app.

The app business is now a ruthless winner-takes-all market and the game is all about spending $3.00 to make $3.05.

When you see pervasive ads for Mobile Strike or Game of War it means that these games are doing a better job of monetization than anyone else so they can buy the users and dominate the top spots in the charts.

Anyway, to advertise for your app, you're competing with every other advertiser out there with products that earn at least a couple dollars per clicking user. If your app only earns $.15 over the lifetime of the person that clicked, you can't afford to take out ads.

As to "Why can't you change it now?" - I haven't figured out a design that would ever allow it to be a high LTV product. So what I do going forward is think very carefully about potential apps through the lens of whether or not they could possibly be high lifetime value. If not, I won't waste my time writing that app.

In closing it is a really really damn hard craft to master, but the multi-dimensional aspect of it keeps it fun.

Great answer and explaination.

Lets assume you decide that you want to either make the app profitable or kill it, and the assumption world is simple so there are no other concerns (like eg. you are having fun running a 5 star app): its profit or die.

Given that assumption what would prevent you from changing the app into a subscription based app ("service")? You could notify all your users that from date x/y there will be a monthly fee to use the app. You put it into effect and 99% of your users leave the app. The interesting question left is if remaining useres*monthly fee > monthly cost of app.

Why would that not be an option for you?

Fantastic answer, thank you.

If it costs $2 to acquire a user but your Lifetime Value (LTV) of a user is only $1.50, then you are just spending money you will never earn back.

What's LTV? Google says loan to value but that doesn't seem to make sense here?

"Lifetime Value", the dollar value of a user over the entire time of that user's installation of your app.

Otherwise known as NPV...

Nit: CLTV/CLV/LTV calculations ignore acquisition costs, and are generally used to determine bounds for acquisition costs/investments - They are, however, essentially calculated as the NPV of the customer post-acquisition, which I believe was your point.

NPV calculations, used to determine the value of the entire pipeline, include them.

Most people that I know don't discount the time value of money on their LTV calculations so, in practice LTV != NPV. But yes, NPV would provide a more accurate calculation.

(Edit: to be clear on definitions, NPV is "Net Present Value")

We publish games. Our free games all include ads, plus a one-time in-app purchase to turn off ads.

What we've found is that we can price that product relatively high ($5) because the kind of person who's willing to put $1 in your tip jar to turn off ads is also willing to put $2.

But this strategy works for us because our games are "consumable" products. Our customers will play one of our games for a while, have a good time, and then they'll be "done" with that game; hopefully, they'll then go on to buy one of our other games.

If I were to launch a non-consumable long-term app today and wanted to monetize it, I'd do it as a subscription with a generous free trial. Once I had at least 100 paying subscribers, I'd start raising the price until the churn rate tells me it's too high.

I have an app with 45% first month retention that is doing subscription monetization. A huge percentage of the subscribers subscribe in the first week so I don't know about doing a long free trial.

That said, I need to do some machine learning to figure out the optimal free trial length.

iOS subscription free trials automatically charge the user after the trial period is up, so it at least wouldn't require an additional action from your users.

Do contract work and let others deal with monetization. The problem with creating a mobile ad network is that you're competing with Facebook and Google[0,1]:

> • Facebook and Google have the most inventory and are still growing in terms of both users and ad-load; there is no temporal limitation that works to the benefit of other properties (and Facebook in particular is ramping up efforts to advertise using Facebook data on non-Facebook properties)

> • It is cheaper to produce ads for only Facebook and Google instead of making something custom for every potential advertising platform

> • Facebook and Google have the best tracking, extending not only to digital purchases but increasingly to off-line purchases as well

0. https://stratechery.com/2016/the-reality-of-missing-out/

1. https://stratechery.com/2016/how-facebook-squashed-twitter/

And do you think that having this ...more human approach..when selling/buying ads is obsolete?

I think that high-quality apps have a loyal and passionate audiences - a smaller one for sure - but advertisers can rest assured they have access to the best audience money can buy.

I've never thought in terms of Facebook or Google's scale and I actually want to take a more anti-Facebook/Google approach where the amount of user tracking is inexistent. Just track the ad performance and that's about it.

> [D]o you think that having this... more human approach... when selling/buying ads is obsolete?

My understanding is that larger companies with bigger ad spend don't have time to hand-pick each app or web page. (Using human labor to pick apps and pages can significantly raise the cost I presume.) Perhaps there is a marketplace for smaller advertisers here.

Big companies have big marketing budgets and are interested in big numbers (eg. huge number of impressions).

I was thinking in terms of a more human approach where advertisers are actually looking to connect with their potential users.

App publishers don't sell impressions - they sell influence by allowing the advertiser to get a spot from their app real-estate.

Overcast just did this. If you remember Tweetie (ancient Twitter app on iOS) they built a little bespoke network as well.

It's certainly possible, but not scalable. If your goal is to support your own work and you have the hustle and editorial eye, you can make money.

Keep in mind that the big players can wipe you out in a second. Overcast exists because Apple's benign neglect of podcasts. They can wake up at anytime and wipe the app and ad market out.

Indeed - Overcast just did this - and that was also one of the main factors that pushed me to want to build this. I guess Marco would prefer to focus on Overcast and not take care of the ads management system - but since AdMob was not an option for him (and neither for me) he had to.

I'm not sure I've understood - what's not scalable? Selling ads by yourself or using a network that helps you sell ads?

I completely agree with this point of view. If you have a niche audience with high engagement, brands get a better visibility.

The audience will be more open to ads as well if delivered right. For e.g. A sports app with a limited audience will be interested in knowing more about a particular sport equipment or a sports drink.

But let's not just throw banners here and take them to new links / apps; show them meaningful info in the app itself, when users click on the banner.

I am planning to implement this approach in my app cricheroes.in - will update on how that is working.

> And do you think that having this ...more human approach..when selling/buying ads is obsolete?

No, it can still be done, if you're in a niche for which it doesn't make sense to have a more automated approach (either because it's too small to justify the investment in building an ad network, or because it requires higher-touch interactions).

It sounds like what you want to build is a niche ad agency. It wouldn't be a software/technology business, but a sales business. Your first step should be to get high-quality apps to agree to place high-quality ads that you've sourced - that will be infinitely more difficult than building an ad network (if that's what you're doing). And if you can do that, you can probably run the business at first using Excel, without writing any code.

contract work and publishing your own apps are different things. I think most people publishing their own apps do that specifically because they do not want to do contract work.

contract work is not a monetization strategy, it's a different job.

His question has nothing to do with creating an ad network...

Did you read his post, or just the title?

> That's why I've started working on an ad network for mobile apps...

Jesus I really thought I read the whole comment...sorry about that

No, Jesus doesn't give second chances. You're in trouble man.

- up-front payment: one of the most simplest and sane things you can do, which allow you to keep focused on your core product and customers (if you have ads, your customers are the advertisers)

- free download with unlock IAP: just a hack to provide a "try it" demo. really a derivative of up-front payment

- subscription based: most sustainable model, but difficult to push depending on the niche. it is, however, the most sustainable model. an app requires ongoing work, so at some point up-front single payment model caps your revenue unless you manage to grow your customer base forever

these are the only strategies I consider seriously. I regularly think about IAP (consumables for games, sounds for music apps, etc…) but it's not clear yet how/if I can do that effectively and without compromising my integrity.

I agree also - and I would point out also that the ads approach or having a freemium app are the only two viable solutions for mobile apps.

The subscription based model is definitely the Holy Grail of app monetisation but it's also the hardest to achieve especially for mobile apps.

In app subscriptions are pretty simple on iOS now, though Apple is forcing you to clutter up the UI with a bunch of extra terms and conditions info.

The numbers on the App Store disagree with your first thesis of up front payment. Simply look through the top grossing apps and most of them are free to play games.

> and without compromising my integrity.

From the comment you're responding to.

Ah, sorry. I got ya.

I've been attempting to monetise my Google Chrome Extension for the last few months ( https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12925467 ). I felt I could never inject ads to my extension as I never had a sensible place to put them.

Instead I've been experimenting a lot with one off & subscription approaches, here are two things I noticed:

1. When I had a subscription model, most users would sign up & almost instantly cancel their subscription (though very few ever requested a refund).

2. Adjusting the one off price didn't change the monthly revenue. For example when I changed the price from $7.99 to $10, the sales decreased a little but at the end of the month I ended up earning about the same.

(Shameless plug: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/livepage/pilnojpmd... )

> That's why I've started working on an ad network for mobile apps - where the advertisers buys directly from the app publisher the ad spot - and the publisher has full control over which ad is displayed and when.

I like the idea in concept, but as an advertiser this intuitively tastes like a strictly worse product.

Doesn't this model mean I now have to vet the inventory (users) of the app -- another cost, as well as structure my campaign around the publisher's willingness to serve my ads -- additional variance and risk? This is no doubt great for app publishers on paper, but why is this better for customers? That is, advertisers?

It may be my simplest way of thinking but I've found that having a high-quality, curated app network enables you as an advertiser to target a high-quality and a more relevant audience. Also it's simpler to find the apps you want to target since we've already vetted all the apps in the network to make sure we keep a high-quality standard.

Also - I don't see the publisher's willingness a risk factor if the product, service or brand you want to promote is a relevant one for app user base.

So are you vetting apps, or are you giving the publishers full control? You can't eat both sides of this cake.

If you're curating for your idea of quality, you're controlling which ads publishers can display where. This isn't a bad thing; it's how virtually every ad network operates. But then what's different about this approach?

The risk factor is that with a traditional ad network, I know I'm buying a certain number of impressions in a certain period of time, with analytics. But if inventory is doled out whenever my publisher partner (or their algorithm) feels like it, then my holiday promo campaign is a crapshoot and I might have wasted both money and (worse) time. I'd pay a premium to get rid of this risk.

The app publishers that are going to be accepted in the network will have full control over what ads that will be displayed. It's their choosing if they which ad they display and where as long their app passes our quality-standards (eg. UI/UX, number of active users, regular updates etc)

I feel like the TinyAds network is more about buying influence and exposure and not a fixed number of impressions (that basically translates to the number of times an ad was loaded and that's it).

Also - I'm not sure why would you think your inventory is doled out since the app publisher accepted your ad and you have the guarantee of the ad being displayed on their app?

So you're saying app publishers have full control, as long as you approve?

For example - except for some filters you don't quite have control over what ads are being displayed when using AdMob. What AdMob serves - that's what you display.

With this network - if an advertisers wants to buy an ad slot - but you don't agree with the product or service for some reason you're just going to decline the ad.

If they are in the network they have full control over the ads that are being displayed. That's what I'm saying.

I've found the Amazon Underground App Store to be pretty cool - you get paid by the minute by Amazon for the people using your apps so all you need to focus on is engagement and retention.


What were your results with this type of monetisation? Do you know any "success stories" of any kind?

You can guesstimate what it will be worth by looking at your analytics. Amazon pay $0.002 per person per minute for US and a little less for a few other countries. I find they pay for about 2/3 of the usage time my apps record. I am netting a bit over $2k/week from it.

I'm curious - do you know how Amazon gets more than 0.2 cents per person minute of value from your app, or apps in general?

If they don't, I can't see them sustaining this business model forever.

The Underground app is also a shopping app for amazon.com and they put a promotion covering your app when it opens. I don't know if it's profitable or not for them.

Do you have any promotional material for your app? I'd be interested to check it out. What does it do?

I am currently charging a one time price for my app https://www.ghostnoteapp.com it's doing pretty well but it's also hard work. I am currently working on a subscription version of my product mostly used for team annotation of websites, something a lot of people have been asking me about. And I really want to move towards recurring revenue as there is much more to work with.

The best trick I can give you is start with a really low price then slowly raise it until downloads slow down but your revenue is intact from your start price.

I don't believe you need to ever introduce ads unless your product provides no real value.

Honestly I believe it needs to be priced less, if possible via use of coupons. I believe ghostnoteapp needs ubiquity and integrations so people buy it to add it into their workflow, as opposed making it the workflow.

Why would it need to be priced less at this point? Based on my experiences, he'll most definitely will be making less money. I don't see it. If anything, he should test a higher price point.

Simple, to attract more people for now. It needs to be ubiquitous imho, and deeply integrated into people's workflow so that when he jacks prices up people have to pay it or break their workflow. (which creates an incentive to actually pay more, as a customer)

A couple years ago I had a niche Android app that I could sell for 10EUR/USD. It made around 1500/month which was pretty decent for an app with no backend and almost no maintenance work.

After one year a competitor showed up at less than half the price and the party was over.

My strategy: find a niche app so you can charge a lot more

Icon themes are a great niche to get into. Making them is a lot of work, but nets a pretty penny, especially for a lone designer.

Did you reduce your price to compete?

At first I didn't. Sales decreased dramatically. I then dropped my price to the same level but sales kept slowly decreasing until it wasn't worth it anymore (and OF did some upgrades) and I pulled the app

What was your app?

It was Quantus Tasks. At that time the only Android app that was compatible with OmniFocus

I sell productivity tools - Chrome Extensions and a SaaS - that solve my own problems in a niche. I've avoided ads: they wouldn't be worth it with such small install numbers.

For business-focused products I usually do a free time-limited full-access trial + paid subscription. For consumer-focused products I usually do freemium (limited version for indefinite use + paid subscription to remove limits).

So you can make a living on Chrome Extensions? I haven't found much data on sales figures for paid extensions.

Also, can you change the paid subscription cost yet? It seems once you set it there isn't a good way to experiment with different subscription fees except creating multiple subscription types with different costs.

I don't currently, but I think it's possible. That said, I'm not sure I'd recommend it. I'm building them since they're a reasonable way to handle auth with my unofficial Google integrations (without the special cookie/cors permissions I'd need to store users' Google credentials).

You're able to change the subscription cost on the fly (I think; I haven't actually done it). The bigger problem is there's no easy way to do price segmentation. This is fine for my consumer product, but I may end up rolling my own payments setup for an upcoming business product.

Well now I'm curious what chrome extensions you've sold. I didn't think you could make money from that.

One adds autoplaylists (iTunes smart playlists) to Google Music: https://autoplaylists.simon.codes.

I'm working on my next, which provides business analytics for Google merchants: https://www.simonmweber.com/2017/03/18/google-payments-cente....

My SaaS adds autoreplies to Google Chat and Hangouts: https://gchat.simon.codes.

You can find the business details in https://www.simonmweber.com/2017/01/09/side-project-income-2....

As an advertiser that sounds like a nightmare to me. We want to be able to push our creatives out to a huge mass of users instantly, track whatever performance is relevant to us, then iterate on that to try to improve. Having to vet individual placements on apps would be a gigantic waste of time and I would not do it. Maybe for some niche markets it makes sense but I can't think of any.

I'm not an advertiser and I understand your point - but I think it can be the same amount of work pushing the ad in a black hole of ad impressions - not knowing where your add is being displayed - just some numbers - then trying to guess - because it's a great amount of guessing involved - what should you do to increase the relevance of your ad.

Vetting the apps you want to advertise can also mean time spent - but knowing what are the apps where you are displaying your apps and even who are the type of users being the ad - I for one feel this is a more powerful approach.

But yet again - I'm not a big advertiser spending huge money on it.

The problem, if it is a big advert spend, it could be hundred of apps. Am i going to vet "bubble pop", "bubble pop 2", "puzzle bubble", and 200 other games, or just say i want my ad to be shown in puzzle games?

I think you could also have this possibility - choose an app category and get the ad spots required.

And still - you could have more control and info regarding your app than just "you had x number of impressions in the last y days".

I think that the large ad networks do have settings that give you that information, it's just not intuitive.

Regardless, I think you're not really solving a problem. You're giving more information that involves more labor.

It seems like you're describing more of a labor/service company rather than a tech company, which is fine. But the more information and control you're giving the customer, the more labor/time you're expecting out of them.

My monetisation strategy is giving free app with basic feature and then require in-app purchase for premium feature. I hated ads so I will never put ads in my app, this makes me think hard on what value/problem my app will solve or provide. ( Shameless plug: https://komuter.pro , dead simple app with only 1 view)

I've made a CS:GO online tool which gets ~40k visitors/month. Since I use adblockers I decided not to put ads on my website, but I instead placed a Paypal donate button which didn't worked even once.

So instead I placed my steam trading link which allows visitors to make trade offers with me. I couln't say how much it does represent but I've got ~5 trade offers per week.

Most of the time the weapon skins aren't worth much but I'm still glad because I've got to receive messages thanking me for the tool which is what I've always wanted.

I do Android apps, and tried lots of different advertising approaches. Admob has always been a central ad network to consider, then everything else. So first you want to decide if you want Admob to be your ad mediator or not. If a third-party one works acceptably with Admob, that's your best choice.

Then you want to do the split. Admob has high fill rates and good numbers for most countries. The top competitors usually only have high fill rates for countries like the USA. Usually their numbers (click through rate, payment per click etc.) is less for those countries as well. I usually send most traffic to Admob and let a little dribble over to an Inmobi or AOL One (Millennial Media) or whatnot.

Aside from spending $150 on a few things initially (A few months of a VPS, $25 for a Google Play developer account etc.), all the money I have spent on my apps - advertising, translating, icon art, VPS charges etc. - have come out of revenue. That was easier up until 2014, when people were getting their first Android phones, and their weren't a lot of apps and Android programmers out there. Now there are a lot of good apps, Android programmers etc., so getting traction on an app costs more and/or takes longer.

I get e-mails all the time for some new ad network and ignore almost all of them. Admob towers over most of the other ad networks for people building standard Android apps with Android Studio. I use the major second tier ad networks just for redundancy purposes.

Some people here are recommending you charge for your app right off the bat. Here is some advice which I think might save you a lot of time and headaches. Think of an app which you can write in a few days/weeks, but which has some roulette wheel chance of reaching your monetization goal. An example for me would be this Stopwatch app ( https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.unwrappeda... ), which I worked on for two weeks, after which I released version 1 of it. Then - promote it however you would have promoted your paid app. Then sit back and see. What's the response to it? Not that much in the way of free downloads? You're giving it away for free. Think how much higher the bar will be if people have to ante up to use the app, even if it's 99 cents. People will also have higher expectations - it's not some free thing they tried - they're customers who paid for it.

We publish Windows apps.

Our free apps make money by promoting paid 'pro' versions of themselves, by offering an IAP to remove ads, and by promoting other Windows apps, either through the Microsoft affiliate network or private arrangements.

We manage these ads with in-house tech to get around the "little control over what ads are displayed, their format, etc." you mention - we had the exact same problem. (Lots of really scummy ads on the bigger networks.)

Enabling direct deals between app developers would be super cool, it's basically what we find ourselves having to do anyway. Curious what you'll do with your unsold inventory, especially when you're starting off? (Maybe fall back to the platform's affiliate program, like the iTunes affiliate program on iOS?)

We started the monetization part of AppBrain for very similar reasons about 5 years ago. We chose to have a very predictable set of ads (only non-incentivized app install ads) that have a better user experience than regular interstitials. Especially at that time, there were quite some scammy ads out there and our business grew quickly. Now that Google Play has cleaned out most of the bad acting ad networks it is a challenge to attract new developers who recognize the benefit of a good user experience over the slightly lower eCPMs that may go with it. I wish you best of luck!

I made a budget app with some unique features (multiple users with synced budgets, no bullshit UI). I use AdMob and it brings me $10/month. That is not much at all. Not even enough to cover hosting and Apple publishing fees. I feel that it's too niche to be a subscription model, though I do sell the ad-free version for $10 one time. So my answer is "meh, make games with IAP is probably the only way to make non-coffee money".

Edit: not promoting, but I like it when people show links to what they monetize in these discussions so I am going to follow my own advice: https://family-fortune.ridgebit.com

I'm not too familiar with Admob or other mobile ad platforms, but don't they let you sell inventory directly already? I think the reason this is less desirable for both publishers and advertisers is the amount of work involved in direct sales efforts. As an app publisher, you may not have time to go out and sell direct spots on your network (which will be necessary if you don't already have the kind of data about your users that facebook / google provide). Advertisers have a similar problem on the other side, in that using facebook/google services allows them to easily target their audience based on data about them. How will your adnetwork address that need?

AdMob has some sort of direct sales feature but the billing is not handled by them so I guess there's no interest for them there.

I think that for app publishers being featured on the TinyAds network will increase your exposure to advertisers and help you find new monetisation opportunities.

Also - the advertisers can get access to a loyal and passionate audience that this high-quality apps have. I think it's easier to target this type of audience since you know exactly on what app your ads are running.

Running an ad on Facebook or Google is too opaque to know exactly where your ad was displayed and if it's of any relevance for your product.

I don't think that a big number of users is the only answer for advertisers.

Find a niche and charge a premium. Or, make something addictive and use in-app purchases. I am not sure there is another way.

I'd love to be wrong but I tend to think any semblance of an app store gold rush passed by 5+ years ago.

Ads. Mainly developing chat apps for Google Play and it's the simplest way to make money for these type of sw.

It worked well until Google removed our main app from search results and it all went downhill from there.

Do you know why did Google removed your app?

No direct answer when reaching support.

It was some kind of penalization for some general terms like "video chat app". Before the app was in the first 10 or so and after it disappeared completely from results. But searching for the app by full name works. Also it disappeared completely from the "social" category listing.

They tols us that "search algorithm is secret and complex" but we had a previous experience like this one with an app that had unallowed content in Google Play (unreviewed images from users showing erotic content) This one was penalized with some months of disappearing from general terms search results and listing.

But now no explanation. At least they should give you an answer if there is some kind of infraction of content policy.

Ads are hard to get a decent return unless you have hundreds of thousands of visitors. I, myself, hardly like to pay for anything, and love free products, however, I've recently tried to figure out a pricing plan that I personally would pay for.. and use that mentality to price my products, which are often far cheaper than the average, but still enough to profit.

My pricing is based on two audiences: individual and small business.

I assume if I were to ever get a big business, they could always register for multiple accounts.

So this is how I normally create and price:

I offer a "free version" of all my products that have X amount of whatever I am offering, usually around 5 or 10 for the month.

Each time the product is used, X amount drops until it hits 0, at which point, the user cannot use the product any more. If they need more X, however, they may purchase more X.

For a few products I wrote (still in beta), it is subscription-based where they hop on a plan that gives them X a month. There are variations of the plan that offer a certain amount of X depending on how much they need. If they use more than that, they can either upgrade their plan OR purchase more of X outright.

On their renew date (each month from which they subscribed to the plan), the number of X restores back to that amount.

On my non-subscription based products, I offer X amount and they can use it all up and purchase more whenever they need more, or just wait until the renew date from which they registered, which restores their account balance to whatever X amount is the default.

That has been my pricing method. I can't give you numbers yet on whether it works, as I've just begun my journey into charging for the things I create, but I just think: How much I pay for this?

Things that cost $50 a month? As an individual person, unless they were really useful, probably not.

Things that cost $1.99, $2.99, $3.99, $4.99, $5.99 or $9.99 a month? Probably more reasonable for an individual.

As for being a startup or small business? $49.99 or $99.99 is certainly a reasonable price.

Curious about .95 or .99 pricing? Basic psychology: You are technically getting the extra dollar, but in the mind of your consumer: they are not giving you that extra dollar.

At RadBots we basically built an ad network for bots as well. We do automatic targeting via insights and models built to match the audience to make it easier on both sides. I like the idea of picking available ads, but haven't had any users ask for this feature yet. There is also another issue of fulfillment. All ads aren't available all the time, how do you handle that?

I make a game, the idea to monetize at the moment of victory, aka the highscores at the end of a match. Players buy Confetti for 2 Cents and throw it when the camera rotates around each player detailing his archievments. The Targetplayer gets 1 Cent, we get the other one. There are various "Throwables" (roses, fireworks, glasses, tomatos, eggs, fish).

You could charge money for the app. If your app doesn't require lots of people to be on it, then selling it might be the best bet. Then your app is only used by people who really want it. This gives you less support time and a user base that's really enthusiastic about what you have.

We've built a free web tool http://makeappicon.com , somewhat we tried out if users would love a desktop version. So the Desktop version could buy our team coffee at the end of the day.

while we're in this topic, does anyone know any ad(?) network that provides "pay per errands" (install app, watch video, fill out survey, anything that can be done on mobile)? i want to give my 30k users a way to earn a bit of extra money.

Fyber https://www.fyber.com/

Trialpay https://www.trialpay.com/

Ironsource http://www.ironsrc.com/

Typically you reward in virtual currency, but you can reimburse them in cash if you want to go through all the work of a cash-out policy with real money

Adding a couple more to this list:

Peanut Labs (Surveys) http://web.peanutlabs.com/monetization/ Offer Toro https://www.offertoro.com

Do good work as showcases to do consulting ...

Wrong question.

What happened to building great software, providing great service and letting the rest flow from there? Monetization strategy; what is that, really? How is that ever going to lead anywhere that matters? Not that I don't have the same issues, I too am trying hard to find a way to survive in this mess of a world; but I'm convinced it all starts with doing the right thing, which rules out advertisement bullshit for me.

The large quantity of very profitable and very poorly done software is a counter to your last sentiment.

Here's the thing: most consumers don't know enough about what "great software" means to care much about it. They just want software that works to solve a problem they have. They don't care if it never crashes or is written in language X or written by a process with rigorous QA and design, etc.

I'm not arguing that it can't be done, I too have seen plenty of examples. I'm saying that it's not leading anywhere, individually or collectively; which is why I suggest focusing on substance instead and seeing where that leads us. I believe the problem is that the general public have no clue about what's possible, and we're not doing a very good job at showing them by producing more of the same crap.

My point is that the general public doesn't care what's possible, and it doesn't matter how good we are at showing them. It isn't that they're incapable of understanding, just that they (we) have a finite budget for attention and learning about things and the "what's possible" in software is generally much lower in priority for that.

Nothing happened. Build it and they will come (tm) never flowed.

Sympathies for the struggle, but I'm not sure why you're convinced "survival" "starts with doing the right thing", discarding "monetization strategy" and cursing "advertising bullshit". That's not the path to "somewhere that matters", it's just the path to a failed business venture.

Sympathy doesn't help, what we need to get out of here is action. Most people agree we're going nowhere fast, but precious few are willing to step out of line and change anything to break the loop. I don't know the answers, but any option is better than what we have now.

Are you gonna pay their rent while others "break the loop"?

Building great software includes great monetization. Otherwise have fun making $10/month on something you poured hundreds of hours into.

I'll tell you what happened: The industry matured. In the 80s, 90s, hell even the mid 2000s, if you had a great product you could likely get business because simply, you had a great product! Tons of industries were being transformed, disrupted, and shaped by new firms all the time. Famously, Adobe was profitable within its first year of operation thanks to a nice deal with Apple to use postscript (bit of history here: https://www.prepressure.com/postscript/basics/history and here http://appleinsider.com/articles/10/05/14/adobe_apple_war_on... )

Its unlikely the then young Adobe would have needed to do much if at all any marketing to get companies behind PostScript, because it was ahead of any other solution of its time. Many people welcomed it with open arms, and it became the de-facto standard quickly at the time.

Adobe just built a superior product. And then they all showed up to get some.

You can say the same of Netscape in the 90s before Internet Explorer, you could say the same of MySpace in the early 200s as the superior social network to what came before it. (Of course, this is before FaceBook, which through targeted marketing at first to college kids, proved to usher in a different era, on many fronts, in 2006). There are other numerous examples.

Fast forward to post Web 2.0 hay-fever of the mid 2000s into the Gold Rush stage of the App Economy, by 2010, there was a clear shift. Apple & Google consolidated on mobile. The Desktop, a traditional stalwart of Microsoft, began its small but inevitable decline of mindshare (and eventually, real dollars) in the minds of consumers and businesses alike. Web apps made the desktop OS less relevant (but not irrelevant, mind you). The field became crowded. Quality wasn't the only measure of success anymore. The economy of software shifted, in large part due to the internets inherent reliance on gaining users first for services (like FaceBook, which at one point was being hailed as the 'the gaming future' https://www.forbes.com/2010/02/27/videogames-farmville-zynga..., see these other anecdotes as well: http://www.adweek.com/digital/future-social-gaming-facebook/, https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2010/02/big-names-tiny-games-... notice that FaceBook rarely charged a dime for any of its endeavors. The same happened in email, and other services)

What become clear as these platforms began to take assertive positions in the market place is that it no longer became about just quality. The quality, or I should say the minimum viable quality, became easy to achieve. Xcode, through quite a few iterations, made it easy to go with default values that make most apps look and feel relatively native. You didn't have to be the best coder to have a slick working app and publish to the app store. The 'quality' of the product increased its minimum bar substantially. iOS 7, for all it garnered, enforced a design paradigm that adapted easily to most apps by default. Google with Android is achieving this, albeit more slowly, with Material as well.

Not mention toolkits published by Unity, FaceBook has their own frameworks as well for publishing things to their platform (not so much games anymore, as much as now becoming a strong aggregator of media), and much more. This isn't to say anyone can code and put out a great app, there is still some skill required. It is to say that it takes much less to build that quality product.

So today, in 2017, it is unfair and quite naive, I think, in this world we have, to broadly state, 'build it and they will come' makes any sense. Because you can build the next great thing. And nobody will come. You can build something that is so compelling that anyone aware of its existence would be a fool not to adopt it, and it can still fail. Why? because you are no longer competing on 'quality' as much as exposure, marketing, and mindshare. Is quality a component? You bet. I am not arguing for a lack or disregard for quality. Its very important. Now, however, you are competing for the funnel. The eyes of those you seek to reach. We find ourselves in the same situation car companies did years ago. Where generally speaking, all cars built today, are about as reliable as each other, broadly speaking. Instead, they duke it out on the fringes (performance cars, electric cars, until perhaps recently, hybrid cars) or for mindshare and price.

Price. You see, price as a side of effect of this, for software, has effectively been driven to zero for most markets, broadly speaking. Advertising is the only quick way most companies, I believe, have found any way to monetize their product at all. If you consider the age we are in, its remarkable people want to build software that relies on any sales at all. The rise of subscription software is no accident. Even Enterprise software has been upended by the free or freemium models. One of the larger HVAC businesses in my area of living, for example, still uses their @gmail.com for email because thats what they started with 10 years ago (roughly, i think thats about how long they been around). Why pay for email when you don't have to? SquareSpace, Wix, Blogger, Wordpress, and the like, have also decimated the once flourishing cottage industry of catering to small and medium business owners to get a web presence.

That, in 2017, is the state of the markets of software. Especially consumer software. Now is the time of infinite quality (from the very best to minimally viable, but viable enough to be considered quality @ that specified 'bracket' or 'demeanor'). Quality, itself, is no longer the only reason people use a product.

The way you're framing it sounds like we don't have any alternatives to continuing down this road; from my perspective; this is the future we are creating by not considering options. We didn't come up with these backward ideas, bullshit wears suits. We're the ones we've been waiting for; it's up to us to change this into something better, and that starts with considering options.

What options? The idea of just 'selling great software' is old as hat. The new in-app purchases and subscription models, in terms of how software is sold and maintained, is certainly much newer.

So called 'donation' or 'tip jar' type is pretty old too.

Shareware was the original free trial. Then we just started calling it a free trial!

Advertising is old as hat, been funding not just software, but many things, for a long time.

I'm having a hard time thinking of the different ways you can actually sell your software to someone, and in an app store dominated economy, where its idea of how software is paid for really has a cascading (and I would argue detrimental) affect on how all software is sold/distributed/licensed/modeled.

Am I missing something? I'm all for high ideas. I just don't see anything short of revolting against platforms that even come close to difference.

I'm all about options. In fact, i'd love to hear some.

I don't have all the answers, that's not required for raising questions. What we're doing right now is leading us down the drain fast. Advertising is about creating problems, period; and if it's one thing we don't need right now, it's more problems. Further, the proven driver for true motivation and satisfaction is mastery; doing something well; we all know this deep inside, but the contrast is too much to deal with; still, that's exactly where we need to go.

A Procrustean-Bed situation right here; it can be hard to accept some (looming?) reality particularly when the consequences for your craft and pocket are very unpalatable.

Well, we've been told that software is eating the world. We forgot that Silicon Valley and all it represents still draw their breath from the world that's​ getting eaten up. :)

It's kinda hard to do something that matters if you're struggling to pay rent or feed your family.

No one ever promised it was going to be easy, convenience is one of the drugs we've been hooked on. The truth is that we're not victims to circumstances; once we snap out of it, we can do whatever we feel like; create exactly the kind of life and world we want. So lack of power isn't really the problem, the problem is fear; fear of challenging the status quo, of stepping out of line, of taking risks; fear of living.

Yeah, that's easy for you to say. Are you going to pay to put my kids through college so I can make you happy by signing up for your experiment? I didn't think so

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