In the first part of this article, linked to above, we began discussing some the roadblocks and hurtles that impede the success of mobile app developers. In this article we will continue the discussion moving on to monetization methods and how to plug the holes in your income stream that can make the difference between your success or failure in the mobile app industry.
Most mobile app developers fall into the trap of using a “default ad network” such as iAds for iOS apps or AdMob for Android. This mistake can cost you a fortune, especially if you are getting a decent number of ad impressions in your apps. When you are looking at the data from Ad Networks the two main things you want to look at are fill rate and eCPM. The fill rate is the difference between ad requests and actual impressions shown, so for example, if you have a 50% fill rate that means that half of your traffic is seeing ZERO advertising! BIG PROBLEM. eCPM is your earnings per thousand impressions so when looking at your ad network dashboard you will see something like this:
Using the chart above you can see that there were 1,851,727 requests for ads – only 1,492,739 were shown which gives us the 80.61% fill rate. CTR tells you the percentage of clicks on the impressions then you see your eCPM to the right of $1.78 which is lower than I like. Just to clarify why I don’t like iAds or AdMob overall, iAds has abysmal fill rates, less than 60% overall for us and AdMob’s eCPMs have dropped to average well under a dollar. This is why I am all about testing – ABT – Always Be Testing… You may find an Ad Network that will pay you 5 times what your current one is paying plus has a higher fill rate as well.
Another factor in deciding ad placements for your iPhone apps or other mobile applications is the type of ad; eCPMs are much higher for rich text and video but you have to also experiment with how they affect the user experience. You have to watch your downloads, upgrades, and the revenue coming from your Ad Networks and you must constantly make adjustments to maximize your ROI.
The best method for experimenting with the various Ad Networks is to join an Ad Mediator such as AdWhirl, Smaato, or MobClix which will allow you to allocate percentages of your traffic across multiple Ad Networks. This is what helps you get closer to the 100% fill rate we all want. Say you choose three different networks using AdWhirl as your mediator, you allocate 50% to network one, then 25% each to networks two and three. Next you go to backfill priority, set the network with the highest eCPM as priority 1, then do the same for the others. This will not only help you max your fill rate so you are showing as many ad impressions as possible but it will also allow you to test numerous ad networks so you are getting the most profit per app possible.
Fill rates and eCPMs vary greatly across ad networks, individual apps and even from day to day sometimes so you must have someone who understands how advertising works and knows how to optimize and manage this aspect of your business. This is an ever changing landscape and you need to be cold and calculating when it comes to managing this aspect of your business. You will have reps try to offer you incentives for using their Ad Network, a problem that will only get bigger the more the industry grows. The only data you need to look at is your daily revenue, your eCPMs and fill rates to decide which networks you keep and which ones you dump. Always test different ad types such as banner ads, rich media, and video.
One more revenue source I want to mention that can help you earn more revenue is LinkShare which can be a huge source of revenue for you if you do it right. All of your apps in iTunes will have an affiliate link, even the free ones! When someone clicks a link for your app even if they don’t download it, there is a “cookie” put on their device that will earn you 5% commission on anything they buy in the iTunes Store for the next 72 hours. Starting to see the benefit of promoting your apps using your iTunes affiliate link?
I hope that you found the information helpful, if so share it with your friends on Twitter and Facebook. The information I just gave you will save you thousands in lost revenue and a mobile app consulting firm would probably charge you thousands for the tips I just gave you for taking the time to read our blog.