Apple to (NOT) discontinue iAd network - how to best monetise apps?

~~Some of you may have noticed that Apple announced recently ( that the iAd network will be discontinued from June this year.

I had very strong feelings about ad’s in app’s but after a long conversation with a friend of mine who has been very successful with ad’s on his Android app (peaking at ~£1000 per day - albeit on a very seasonal app - you mileage may vary), I’m beginning to reconsider my position.

I still very much believe in the free app model to drive downloads (with a try before you buy approach) but industry statistics seem to be that only about 4% of free downloads convert via IAP (and this holds true with my own experiences) and so ad’s would appear to be the only way to monetize the other 96% of users.

At the end of the day people who develop apps commercially need to consider how best to monetize their work and there several Codea users who do just that.

So whilst the development of an IAP plugin is still very much an important consideration, what do you all think about alternative ad network integration?

The floor is open…

Update : Apparently I might have jumped the gun on this ( it’s the iApp Ad network that’s going - which allow’s app developers to promote their own app’s via the iAd network.

Apologies for any scaremongering - however there’s still some valid discussion to be had from this with respect to ways to monetise apps.

(changed the original title)

@techdojo +1 vote

On a side note, I do have something against ads in general (not particularly in apps). But I have to say, it’s not greed on our part, really, it’s just a sad state of affairs when one needs to push hysterical commercial messages to hope getting any return from his or her hard work. I’m conflicted, really… :frowning:

I agree in principal, I hate the way a lot of ad integration is done, far too many apps rely on really invasive implementations (a bit like most major commercial tv channels), but from a commercial point of view you put 100’s maybe even 1000’s of hours into developing new product and only 4% of people who take the time to download your labour of love actually decide it’s worth paying for.

I’ve come to realise that you have a duty of care to yourself to actually try and get the best return on the hours spent unless you’re only developing apps for a hobby and have no commercial interest.

Personally I intend to take a very “subtle” approach to ad support, in the same way that I intend to only have a single IAP to unlock the full mode (kind of like the original shareware model), it might not make much of a difference to the way that IAP’s and ad’s are currently perceived but it’s a start and hopefully any successes that I have might inspire other dev’s to embrace a more considered approach.

My opinion is the only people making any money is Apple thru the sales of Macs, developers license, and iPads by thousands of people who think they can get rich quick by writing apps in a few days and selling them on the apps store or getting money with adds. Very few people actually make money and those are the ones with a lot of programming experience and the time to spend months or years writing code. That’s similar to the bidding sites that say you can buy items for 95% off the price. They don’t say that a lot of people can spend hundreds of dollars in bids on that item and not get anything from them. RESULTS NOT TYPICAL.

It’s true that Apple do very nicely out of creating the platform and I agree there’s been a lot of dashed dreams - but arguably those people probably shouldn’t have been developing anyway, by democratising app development Apple created a platform that is (in my mind) similar to the Kindle bookstore where anyone can publish their own book - but again not everyone should.

I personally know a lot of developers who have made a decent second income from mobile app development and by extension several more that have / are running successful businesses (especially in eastern Europe / Asia / Central America where you can take advantage of the much lower cost of living) but the key thing here is that they are professional capable developers who don’t just “release and run” but actually see the completion of their app as just the beginning and put effort into the support and marketing as well.

One thing that occurred to me a while back (but I haven’t seen it discussed anywhere else) is that the indie app developer sphere is almost an exact replica of the indie author-prenuer sphere and in this space there is a TON of content and help that has been developed / tested / proved to help indie authors succeed and I think 95% plus of it applies directly to the indie app developer space.

When investigating this just mentally translate non-fiction into utility / business app and fiction into game / entertainment app. This can be further sub divided by looking at the different aspects of genre fiction (romance, sci-fi, historical, thriller, action adventure etc) into different genres of games (casual, match 3, puzzlers, endless runners, RPG’s, shooters etc)

And with this is mind - this article provides a real reality check.

As someone who used to be able to make a living from fiction, let me tell a little story. Between 1994 and 2001 I sold 36 books to “real” publishers. That is, people who paid me a significant advance (at least four figures), and who took care of all the design, printing, advertising, and distribution themselves. I was never a big name author, but I did have one book that made the bestseller lists, and one little set of mysteries that became a TV show (The Chronicle, SciFi Channel, 2001). A couple of books got optioned for film, I won a minor award and was nominated for a couple of major awards. I was pretty solidly a “midlist author” — one of several thousand people able to make a living at writing, but who hadn’t yet broken through into the exciting, big bucks world of Bestselling Author Land.

And then Amazon, self-publishing and ebooks destroyed my world.

In an astonishingly short period, the economics of publishing were turned to mush. The margins on books (which had gone through a very rigid distribution system since time out of mind) vanished. The number of titles increased exponentially. The gate-keeping role of editors and publishers became pointless as the gates were pushed down and overwhelmed. Bookstores, especially independent and specialty bookstores, fell by the thousands. I was no longer able to get a contract just based on an idea. Then I was no longer able to get a contract based on an outline and some sample chapters. Then I was no longer able to get a contract.

For some people, this was great. A small number of books—The Martian is a good example—not only were able to successfully bypass the traditional system, but run roughshod over it.

But the result of the changes were a system that became “all or nothing.” Publishers want a giant bestseller, guaranteed, or… nothing. The midlist got smaller, and smaller, and poof. If you could afford to write for nothing, there was an slightly-better-than-infinitesimal chance to hit it big. If you couldn’t… Well, let’s just say that if you’ve wondered where your favorite semi-obscure writer is, the answer is probably flipping burgers somewhere.

Or coding Lua. :slight_smile:

@Mark thanks for sharing. I fear your story could be repeated for musicians, filmmakers etc (how much does an artist get for a Spotify play? 0.0001 cent or something?) We seem to have decided collectively as a culture that we don’t want to pay for “stuff”, movies, books, music etc, and we don’t want to pay the creators. And of course this is supported by the people who sells us the pipes, the platforms etc. I remember when the App Store first appeared, and seeing that the bottom tier for an app was 59p or whatever it was back then and thinking, “okay, so the devices are expensive, but the 3rd party apps are at knock-down basement prices…”

If you’re Warner Bros, you visit YouTube offices several times a week, upload your content to their servers, they then offer you a service that auto-detects a non-licence holder uploading WB content and re-routes the ad revenue from those uploads to WB.

If you’re not a major media corp though, if you’re an indie label or an indie musician/ filmmaker etc, do you get to visit YouTube and avail yourself of this service? Nope.

It’s not that we don’t want to pay for stuff, it’s just that everyone is selling stuff so the $$$ gets spread around really thin. The only way you’re going to make anything is if you’re on top and you get a percentage from everyone under you. If you write something great and don’t overprice it, you also make $$$. It’s a balancing act.

@Mark - I do hear what you say and you’re right the smashing down of the barriers has allowed a whole host of people to create their own content - whether they should or not is a different question, but… the fact that they are is in my mind one of the greatest empowerments and accomplishments of the digital revolution - ultimately it’s the public who decide what’s good or bad not some gatekeeper with their own agenda (counterpoint, maybe the gatekeepers act as a natural filter ensuring that only the most dedicated and committed eventually get through - like The Beatles and JK Rowling)

I think the biggest change is that it’s no longer enough for a content creator to just “create and go” they have to take a much bigger role in what happens after, view their content as a resource / property and their career as a business. The people who embrace this are still killing it across all platforms, the likes of the guys at Sterling & Stone, Joanna Penn, Hugh Howey & Andy Weir (in the indie publishing space) and the story is repeated across all creative mediums.

As I alluded to earlier a close friend of mine has had over 11 million downloads of his free Android app - and the main reason for this is all the work he put into promoting, marketing and supporting his app AFTER it was released.

Very interesting reads, thanks! Now we need tutorials on how to effectively promote an app :slight_smile: (what’s your friend’s app by the way?)

@TechDojo Yes, but what of very good books written by people who are 83? Or working 16 hours jobs on an assembly line? Or a recluse too shy to speak in public? Those conditions apply to books that were seminal works, but which would have very little chance in this “you must be a writer, and a self-promoter, and everything else” space.

When you create an unregulated market where the primary attribute for success is something _other _than the content the market is supposed to nurture, it’s not a formula for success. In this case, we’ve created a market in which anyone can take on all the roles of a publisher. Which sounds great in theory. But check the numbers. The indies are not winning. The percentage of books sold by a very small number of best-selling authors has increased. Increased sharply.

“Name” authors dominate sales much more than they ever have in the past, and the few bright lights that break through in a massive, self-funded lottery don’t come close to replacing the many authors who used to be able to grow their career, get guidance, learn their craft, and eventually make a breakthrough.

@Rodolphe - It’s available in Google Play store as “Christmas Tree Screensaver by Jet Black software”

@Mark - I guess the only thing we can agree on is that the game has changed. Whenever something changes there are always winners and losers, in an ideal world there would only ever be winners (or at least considerably more winners than losers), it’s tempting to look at isolated cases and imagine that their individual experiences are indicative of the whole but they’re not.

Looking at the bigger picture I think the democratisation on the whole is a good thing - and as for the 83 year old or the guys working 16 hour jobs, they actually have an opportunity to partner with someone else who can provide those services therefore allowing them to concentrate on what they want to do and leave the “donkey work” to others more suited to the task.

Case in point, I currently work a 40+ hour week as a full time web developer with my daily commute that grows to ~60 hours, I also hate (and currently at) the whole marketing approach so I changed my process to make the most of the couple of hours commute + lunchtimes to do as much work on personal projects as I can on Codea and then export that to Corona when I get home. I also have a friend / business partner who’s role is to provide the assets / marketing for our apps for a straight 50/50 split.

This works out well for both of us as on his own he has no clue about coding / development but is a marketer (with a strong design background) by trade - individually (I / we) would struggle (and probably fail) but together we are capable of producing something greater than the sum of our parts.