So, you’re a developer. You know how to build mobile applications for different devices and platforms. You understand the importance of user experience and the pivotal role it plays in the success of your app. But, how do you get your investment to pay off? How can you actually make money with a mobile app?
The first thing you should probably understand is this: most apps, frankly, fail. Less than 1% of apps go on to become “financially successful”. But that, of course doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try. To try and prevent your app from being consigned to the bottom of the pile, there’s some things you need to consider before you start building it.
Pick a platform
Make Money With A Mobile App – Step 1
The numbers show that, for the time being at least, iOS leads Android for revenue potential. While Blackberry and Windows Phone are trailing far behind, despite Microsoft offering incentives for developers to build apps for their platform. Although it’s tempting to jump to the conclusion that, because iOS is so far ahead of Android in terms of app revenue, there are still other things to consider.
Firstly, there are lots of indications that this revenue gap, between iOS and Android, is beginning to close. Secondly, the app development (or, specifically, review) process for iOS is notoriously long-winded and restrictive. For example, you can submit an app for approval, wait a few weeks, then just get a “No”. No feedback, no pointers, nothing. Meaning you have to go back and figure out what needs fixing yourself. This takes time and time, as the saying goes, is money.
Choose a category
Make Money With A Mobile App – Step 2
So, you think you’ve settled on your choice of platform, now it’s time to take a look at what app categories, typically, have the best revenue. It shouldn’t come as a massive shock that the list is headed up by Enterprise and Productivity Apps. Enterprise apps, for example, are backed up by huge, globally recognised brands trying to capitalise on the mobile market, giving their customers an extra touchpoint. Rather than monetizing through ads, they’ll monetize through in-app transactions.
What is surprising though is just how high up the list Other categories appear, meaning, applications that fall into small, niche categories that are sometimes hard to define. This likely because, in all of the many, many small categories that fall under Other it’s much easier to stand out and make an impact.
Perhaps another surprising observation is just how low Games appear in the list, with only 17% of apps making the grade. This is likely because of the sheer number of games and their popularity with hobbyists, dragging down the numbers. With mobile games, it can be very hard to stand out from the crowd, unless you have impeccable timing or can leverage the power of social media (and other channels) to make your app a viral hit.
Find a format
Make Money With A Mobile App – Step 3
As mentioned at the beginning of the post, user experience is a vitally important part of making sure your app is a success. When monetising your application with in-app advertisements, you need to ensure that those ads don’t harm your users’ experience, that way they’ll keep using it and keep bringing in revenue for you.
In-App footer ads offer a great way of monetising your app, without intruding on the overall user experience. The ad itself sits at the bottom of the screen, out of the way of the main UI elements. Keep in mind when designing your app, if you plan to use this format, that you make sure the ad sits away from the main menu elements.
Interstitial in-app advertisements offer another really great of monetizing your app. It gives you all the screen real-estate you need in the app itself to let your design and development really shine, without having to accommodate banners. You can, for example, use loading screens to serve interstitial ads, meaning that the ad is being served naturally, with the intended “flow” of user experience.
Video is an incredibly powerful new frontier for mobile app monetization. It’s already creating a lot of buzz and there are many predictions being made about ad spend shifting towards mobile video. In-App Video behaves in a similar way to the interstitial format but using a video, rather than being a static image. Again, it doesn’t interfere with the user experience and, with relevant, targeted ads, it can actually enhance it.