I had difficulty monetizing my app and gathered a lot of links I think might be useful to other people. Let's build the best list of ways to monetize apps! I'll update this list regularly with info from the comments.
Free To User
1) Ad Networks (Banner Ads)
2) Affiliate and CPA (Pay When User Installs Other App)
1) The user pays upfront for the full app, usually at $0.99 or $1.99.
2) It has been shown that price and revenue do not always correlate precisely and you should experiment with various price points. Anchor it with the highest price point and put it on various levels of discount to test out sales.
4. In App Purchase (IAP) Approaches
1) Currency - Have a virtual currency used to buy boosters and perform other actions. The user can earn currency in-game or purchase more via IAP for faster results. Examples: Farmville's currency
2) Energy - The user gets a certain amount of actions per energy, and the energy replenishes at a certain rate. Items can be used to replenish the energy, and the items can be bought via currency funded via IAP.
3) Unlocking Features - Have premium features such as extra levels or assistance unlockable via IAP. Examples: Angry Birds's Eagle
4) Chips - Another take on currency, for casino type games. Examples: Zynga's Poker
5) Freemium - Similar to unlocking features, except the basic app is always free
6) Subscription - Covered in section 5, can be paid for via IAP or externally (such as Dropbox)
1) Live Data Feed - Have the user pay a monthly fee in return for up to date data (Newspaper subscriptions, Manazine subscriptions, Stock Ticker Data)
2) Pay Per Data Usage - Have the user pay a recurring fee depending on how much they use (Examples: Dropbox)
3) Software As a Service - Pay for usage of the software as-you-go. I haven't seen a full SAAS mobile app yet but I think TaskRabbit is a close example.
1) This involves finding third party sponsors and placing them individually in the app. Example: You have an app about tennis, and instead of placing ad-network ads you find a tennis racket retailer willing to pay you $X per month or $Y per click through to their site
8. Email Lists
1) Promote Paid Products - Get paid on traffic/conversion or promote your own paid products
2) Drive Traffic to a Website for Conversions/Ad revenue
1) Angry Birds has plushies and other merchandise
2) Imgur has shirts
3) Starcrafts turned a YouTube video series into t-shirts and plushies with memorable characters
4) Sell other people's merchandise for affiliate sales (Special version of category 2, Affiliate networks)Sources and Useful Articles:
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Happy to answer any questions here, or contact us through the site.
Particularly the percent of installs part as opposed to the percent of apps part.
Right now on that metric the top ad networks in order are Admob, then Millennial Media, then Inmobi, then Tapjoy. I use the first three, and have gotten multiple checks from Admob and MM.
One thing to watch is ad fill rates. Millennial Media and Inmobi have decent ad fill rates for certain countries, and poor ones for other. Admob has good fill rates for all countries I have seen. Admob mediation allows you to dole out ads by country, so that you don't send ads to a network with low fill rates for a particular country. Adwhirl is another mediation service owned by Google - it allows for backfill (if one service has no ads, try to load ads from another service). Google wants people to migrate from Adwhirl to Admob mediation, but Admob mediation has no backfill.
I have a number of non-game apps with various fill rates - usually around 1%, give or take 0.5%. I put out some games a few months ago, and their click-through rates were all bad - less than 0.5%. As Admob looks at apps as a whole, this poor performance began pulling down the fill rates of my apps with good CTR. I now just advertise my other apps on (most of) my games.
Really, Admob, MM and Inmobi ruled the field until Tapjoy started breaking out. Tapjoy has an interesting model, which work well with games which offer freemium points and the like. Back when I tried (a few months ago) their SDK install methodology for Android was way behind the simplicity of Admob, MM or Inmobi. Add to this that my games were mostly C++, and that I'd have to re-write them if possible to use a freemium model (otherwise why use Tapjoy, I'd just use one of the other three), I passed on using Tapjoy for now and went on to other things. Others working with other game models seem happier with Tapjoy though. They have to make their install easier though. I don't have time to muck for days with half-assed SDKs when the return on doing so is so uncertain.
Thanks! Great to know your experience with them. I can't edit the original post any longer (Didn't know that you could only edit for X amount of time) but I will try to recompile it all periodically and republish it or put it on a website where I can edit it in-place.
You mention the fill rate was around 1% - this meant that 1% of the time there were ads to display? Isn't that quite low? What should we expect and aim for?