Let's look at theoretical numbers. Say you have a mediocre conversion rate of 1%. At 30c per click it will cost you $30 to make a $2 sale. Thus, the most you could have expected from this venture is like $3, but even worse, you managed to not figure on Apple taking 30%, so your'e back to $2 in potential money on a $50 spend.
Next time bid a penny and see what happens. At a penny you could profitably sell your app at a 1% conversion rate. That's $1 cost to make $1.40. Not great money, but it's at least got potential and if you got enough volume of sales you could become a top app and make some sick money.
Also, never listen to Ad Networks on what to bid. Bid based on YOUR profitability, not THEIRS. If you can't afford more than a penny a click, then fine, move on.
I also maybe was slightly duped by this statement after setting moderately restricted targeting:
"You have selected market area or demographic targeting options. As a result, you will receive significantly fewer impressions."
But thanks, and for anyone reading this, don't advertise paid apps on Admob, and don't bid anything higher than $0.10 if you have a small campaign.
Perhaps lead generation instead?
Don't try to initially sell your app, instead, obtain the contact info for your potential customer, and you can sell him/her many different things, including apps, but also books and other products/services.
Also, you will be able to track these customers and know which are most likely to respond to your multiple offerings.
even at a 5% conversion rate from click to purchase (highly unlikely - for this type of app you are talking about less than 1%) your customer cost of acquisition would be $6. do the math.
with these apps you have to be looking at review sites, social media, blogs (like you have now), link exchange with other apps, making it free and putting ads in it, etc. the hit rate is very very low.
We also ran a $50 campaign previously though I didn't include it in this post. We didn't even realize we had run the campaign-- 1200+ clicks at a $0.04 CPC in minutes.
We thought our payment had never processed, but when we checked our bank account it had-- it's just that Admob spent our budget so quickly we didn't realize it.
All suggestions on the AdWords interface are BIG: Best Interests of Google.
Mobile ads are not the means to acquire new customers. Relationships with review sites, blogs, and other media outlets is your best bet. A good review can get you some pretty good uptake. We got reviewed in several Android blogs and reached 18k downloads in a little under a week (our app was free).
I haven't experimented much with mobile ads primarily because they aren't effective and won't ever be effective. At least, that's what the studies say :).
Link?! My preparation for Admob was admittedly limited to one or two google searches and a scan of a few blog posts, but I would love to read more if you would link to said studies.
We got written up in Thrillist boston, Phandroid, Androinica, Droid-Life, TalkAndroid, and Gizmodo. From all of these review sites we reached roughly ~18k downloads in a week (our product is a fantasy football app).
While the majority of those downloads came from Gizmodo, we definitely would not have been able to get there without being written up on all the other blogs.
From those 18k downloads, we averaged about 11k active through the first 3 weeks of the application and it steadily declined after that (assuming that they were bored of their fantasy league or moved on to another app).
The thought behind the reviewers is if its a source that is trustworthy or has built a following, their post/review is more meaningful than an ad. These reviewers are an AMAZING source of word of mouth for app developers while an ad is simply a pay to click.
If you want to see a chart of our downloads over time, I'd be more than willing to share to show you the value of these relationships as opposed to a one and done ad campaign :).
If you're paying CPM, then sure, care about how spread out your adverts are.
"Spread ads evenly throughout the day"
Secondly, a $50 budget is peanuts and paying $0.25/click for relatively un-targeted admob clicks is crazy. We normally pay $0.05/click for such crappy traffic.
We've spent 1000's on mobile ads and it's only an effective strategy for pushing your downloads a bit higher so that you have a better chance of hitting a 'gold spot' in the charts. E.g. when you are 26th and you want to get into top 25.
We actually ran a similar campaign a few days previous where we had over 1,000 clicks at a .04 CPC and didn't see any increase in downloads.
We also were just amazed at the clicks registered in just seconds. The stat reports were already in and email alerts received in less than 2 minutes time. (Daily Budget and "Spread throughout the day" notwithstanding)
The ball has started rolling, and it only took $50.
THAT BEING SAID, the first time I ran an Admob campaign, I had just about the same experience as this writer.
Admob works great for getting lite-version, free, download apps a little traction. I will never again run it for a paid app.
IN-FACT, in the Android Dev Console, you'll notice that only your free apps have the "Advertise this App" link next to them. I assume that Google probably is very aware that Admob campaigns can work great for free apps, but it's a different ball game when it comes to paid apps.
Lastly, I'd like to add that I took the time to create a graphical banner for my free app ad that made a BIG call to action - Download my new puzzle game for free.
We're probably much better off spending it all on our Free version with limits to prove the value to free users and hope they upgrade.
$50 at a $0.02 CPC would yield 2500 clicks. For a free app, if we saw a 10% download (a very healthy assumption I know) that would be 250 downloads of the free app.
Maybe after proving the value of the app with limits, we get approximately 10% to convert to paying of the 250 downloads.
That's 25 paid, or ~50 pre apple tax. Still losing money with very healthy assumptions, but I think we'll try this as well...even after the negative experiment and will post our results.
For the people who scoff at a $50 ad budget, that just tells me they've never done this with their own money. It's easy to brag about campaign size when you're spending out of someone else's wallet.
To be honest, with your tiny budget and a two dollar app, there's no effective way to spend your money with a positive return on investment.
I didn't get good results with Facebook either, but maybe due to the nature of your app, it'd be better.
Ditto for Adwords.
I only dabbled slightly with Reddit and it seemed that it would show some promise if I invested more time in it.
You might also consider paid downloads promotions. Something like http://tapzilla.com/ (YC S10). The co-founders Edmond and Francis are both helpful and responsive when I run a campaign. It wasn't the right avenue for my app, but Fotobook sounds like a better fit, as a utility and at lower price point. I'm not sure if Apple's recent foray against paid downloads affects them.
Amazed that people will spend so much time and energy trying to save $1 but won't spend time trying to make $1...
I'm assuming you can target subreddits with ads?
Also, the "App Store" link in your posterous profile doesn't actually link anywhere.
But this comment stream has taught me a alot, we want to run a considerably larger experiment with our free application and will report back.
We also (mistakenly) also spent $50 on Admob a few days before this. We didn't even realize we had spent it, that's how fast it happened.
I just can't conceptualize technically how these stats could be real.
You're trying to take a drink from Niagara Falls and wondering why you're soaked. (Been there, done that. Memorable, but not productive.)
I think around 50+ clicks were accidental, and immediately back key was pressed before loading the content.
And with other 100, i guess your assumption was wrong that there is big enough market for this.
But something else is interesting here, you really can make money on ads from free apps --
I have operated a reasonably popular Facebook application that has similar photo saving functionality (using their API), and not have not run into any issues. It has transformed from a desktop application using the REST API to a Graph API using web application at http://socialphotodownload.com . Unlike Facedown, I try to follow Facebook's Platform Policies.
"Please note that budgets under $200 per day can still be spent in a matter of minutes."
It's what was promised. If they can't limit a campaign to a certain dollar amount per day, they shouldn't offer it.
Let's say I want to spend. If I have $500 to spend, and I want to pay CPC, how is getting $500 worth of clicks in 45 minutes worse than getting $500 worth of clicks over three days?
If you tell AdMob to not spend more than $15 a day and then it immediately spends triple that amount I wouldn't say that's giving you a fair shake on what they promised.
I suggest you try InMobi and AdModa. (Not affiliated with either except that I've been happy with the traffic I bought there)
Less if you want to make an actual profit on the app and not just get more users. But then, if you want more users, maybe the app should be free?
Also, if the app is recurring billing, the formula changes completely.
"[P]lease note that budgets under $200 per day can still be spent in a matter of minutes."
I was just frustrated that they didn't include this anywhere in their campaign or ad group setup or their FAQ. I had to write them to get this answer.
And then, why even allow for daily budgets below 200?