How To Monetarise A Mobile App

by Edward Deane (Ted)

Posted On: 18 June 2020

Once mobile phones were being used for more than making and receiving calls, there was potential to make some money off the applications that seemed to spring up overnight. The industry is fast paced and there is no telling when the next improvement will pop up and your hard work will seem amateurish or obsolete. There are legitimate ways to capitalize on your ideas and to maximise the revenue you can generate.

Because most apps are free to install, the developers need to be conscious of how to actually make money off the product as well as continue the income flow in order for the company to stay afloat, creating upgrades and new apps, as well as paying the employees a reasonable salary.

In all of this it is important to keep your customers happy. Too many ads that obscure the game or too many key features that require purchase will not only frustrate the user but can drive them to find a more compatible app that will make their experience more palatable.

It is hoped that this discussion will make it easier for you as the developer and owner to come to the best resolution for your product and fill all the requirements of monetization and customer satisfaction.


Mobile app monetization is a marketing technique that will influence the user to action. These actions can be to finalise sales, upgrade the current app, or even jump to a different site that offers another product that will complement yours. For many existing apps, the success will depend on the right combination of multiple techniques and strategies to create the highest return on their investment.

There are several popular options to increase income for your app. The first is to sell ads to another company. This may mean sharing information about your clients/users and knowing where and when to place the ads so they are the least distracting and yet effective. Another idea is to offer some incentives, like a discount on the first upgrade or some freebee.

When you settle on your choices, you will also need to determine if they are effective. That will include how long the customer continues to use your app and how much money you have made from that person. It will also tell you if interest is flagging and whether it is time to initiate improvements or scrap the app.

All of this will help you decide whether you are making the most of your mobile app and whether it is popular with the public.



Just because you have a killer app doesn’t mean you need to stop there. You can increase revenues by monetising it. First you can promote your app for free. Another option is to allow others to advertise on your app. These come in forms like banners and requests for more information. When you deal with these, be sure that the subject matter is compatible with your product or service. Something irrelevant can easily upset your users and if the ads are too frequent, the user will just move to another mobile app similar to yours that is not as annoying.

If your app is really that good, you may have offers to sell the bare bones so that another company can use your work. This can be done through licensing. If your app has about reached its lifespan, you may want to consider selling the code to someone else.

Basically you are trying to increase your app’s usage through more users and trying to leverage your standing by offering incentives for others to advertise on your site, or sell your code in some way. What follows are some options to consider for either of those strategies.


Regular emails to your clients is a good way to keep your name in front of them. That means your name is probably going to be in the memory mix when someone needs your service or product. When you ask for an email address and you offer some incentive, you are more likely to receive a positive response.

There are also a lot of ways that email can be used like notifying people of an upcoming sale or campaign or even offering an upgrade. Planting a code that gives an added incentive, including a discount is another way to generate interest.


The first step is to find a company that caters to a similar group as you do. Then you both benefit. People who are using the partner’s app get to see your logo or opportunity to explore your product. Of course, this is reciprocal. You feature the partner in your app.

In this way you both share in the advertising and promotions and can open your app to a whole new database. There is also the potential for click through where the user can go straight to your app. If the partner is not exactly what they are looking for, you gain a customer.

Just choose your partner carefully.


If your app is without charge to users, it will be very attractive to download…everyone wants something for free. It will be more likely to be downloaded than one that comes at a price, even a low one. The way you recoup the cost is by including advertising.

It is just very important that you choose wisely. You need to pick companies that will appeal to your current customer base so they will have less chance of being annoyed and still relate to your brand. Also, preview what the advertiser wants to run so that it won’t interfere with the encounter your user wants. That should also rule out anything that is potentially offensive or amateurish.

Add-on Purchases

Sometimes these are called “freemiums”. This is a charge for additional services. Generally found in games, you can upgrade for a price to make the app more fun or add features. It can also be applied in a business arrangement to give the customer more payment options or shipping choices.

When building this into your app just be cautious to have a good balance between having too many services free and not enough value for the extra charges, which will reduce your object of monitisation, and having too little at no charge and then gouging the customer with the extras necessary to do business with you.


It is unlikely that anyone will buy your service or product if they don’t know it exists. That is why advertising is so important. It gets the word out.

If you are thinking about offering your app to others for advertising (and so you will earn a little incremental revenue in the process) or are ready to take the plunge and buy some space, there are things you need to know.

First mobile advertising is not like traditional promotions. There are a number of techniques that advance the company or product’s name as well as different types of ads and approaches, not to mention cost.


Because mobile phones are on most of the time and are carried around everywhere, there is a greater chance that your information will be seen. Ads can be geographically targeted based on the location of the phone. The messages can be personalised based on the data you have mined. The users can also follow you on social media accounts or you can make their experience more interactive by creating a game.

The information you get is one of the key advantages. Each mobile has a unique identifier so it makes it easier to find patterns and turn that raw data into usable statistics so that you can target needs more effectively.

There are different types of ads that will appear and here are some descriptors.

Banner Ads

These don’t cost much to install and they are usually images versus text. Generally they appear at the top or bottom of the user’s screen. For the advertiser they are a good way to make their product or service known and the banner is clickable to take the potential customer right to the site.

The disadvantage is that all browsers are not created equal and the ad can slow down the system. They can also be more distracting than attractive. For you as the host, it can mean the user moves on to the information in the banner and loses interest in the original search that will bring money into your business.

Interstitial or Full Screen

Interstital means placed between sections or layers. These ads are placed at natural breaks in the material. They seem to be less frustrating to users since they don’t particularly stop the user from operating your app. Similar ads are scrollovers that will appear on top of the content. Because it blocks the material the customer is looking at, they are annoying to the user and less likely to warrant a click. So, they are bigger than banner ads so will get more attention, but can cause the user to eventually uninstall your app because of the aggravation.


These are sometimes called “push” ads. This is straight advertising with no information component. In fact, these can appear on a mobile device even when the user is not browsing.

Right now, they seem to be a hot ticket because when the user clicks, they are immediately transported to the landing page. Statistics are showing that these clicks are resulting in good conversions.

However, they are not necessarily popular with the original app owner because the users are associating your app when they see this ad that is unexpected and unwanted. This could damage your reputation.


This is sort of a hybrid. The ad appears at rest points like an interstitial but they are generally more transparent and can look like a banner. Beneath the banner portion a video will run and the user can click on the video whenever they feel like it.

For the advertiser it is very inexpensive to produce and works into host apps quite easily. For the user, they don’t need to wade through the entire video or text, when they are ready, they can click anywhere in the process.

As the app owner you need to realise that this overlay may hide or obscure the material the user is originally looking for and, so, can be an bother.

Capture Form

This is one of the more common forms you will find. When the person clicks on the ad, it leads them to a form that will give the user the opportunity to subscribe to newsletters, give them incentives, register for information, etc. They are used a lot on gaming sites.

These are frequently as few as two clicks to enroll. They are intriguing and are generally at the top of the page. They can be brief, which usually generate more leads or they can be more detailed, which prove to provide more solid leads.


Because of the significant increase in mobile apps and users, companies are finding ways to expand their advertising. Econ 101 taught us that there are two sides to business: Supply and Demand. Mobile apps are the middlemen in the operation.

These ad apps are designed to significantly improve business opportunities as well as provide a laundry list of reports and statistics on the effectiveness of the ads produced and the media used.

Effectiveness of mobile ads is measured in eCPMs. That translates to “effective cost per mille”. That is the price the advertiser will pay the host app based on each thousand visitors to the ad. There are formulas that will help calculate the success.


One of the early entries was AdMob and after its acquisition by Google in 2009, emerged as a top contender. After that are Reddit and TikTok who each offer enticing options for use on Facebook and Google. Some of the smaller players are Applovin, Vungle and others. These are less effective in the overall picture but they might warrant watching.

Here are some of the frontrunners and features that might interest you:

Google Admob

This is one of the most popular programs, as you might expect. It has been designed to work across a number of platforms including iOS, Android, and Windows 8 and 10. It claims to be a single place for search and display whether you are looking at a standard site or a mobile application.

It also offers the opportunity to sell another of your apps or encourage their installation. AdMob will only promote this new app to those who have not already installed it. This will allow you increase revenues by playing off your current customer base.

Facebook Audience Network

This is not just the ads that you see when scrolling through Facebook. The program will let you widen your reach to non-FB sources but with the same criteria for targets as on the program. For advertisers, this can mean a wider range of customer base because the same type of ads will track around the internet. This project is also available on Instagram. There is also chatter about including it on Messenger. The formats for these ads are adaptable so that it is more pertinent to the advertiser and expected to result in better performance statistics.

In February 2020 it was announced that this program will end in mid-April. It is currently uncertain about its future.


In 2013 Twitter acquired a start up corporation, MoPub. It works on iOS and Android and helps advertisers with managing their ad campaigns as well as evaluate the data and produce reports. They have a kit that includes budgeting and targeting elements. It has the capacity to work in banner, full-screen, video and native ads.

They claim to help increase revenue through a unified auction of a variety of sources like demand-side platforms (DSP) and cross selling. They work on a platform of Advanced Bidding which they claim is more efficient than traditional real-time bidding.

Google Ad Manager

This is a platform designed for larger companies who deal with direct sales. In order to use this program it is necessary to have a Google account including a Google AdSense. It operates on a larger spectrum including desktop, mobiles, videos and smart tvs.

This opportunity comes in two varieties: Ad Manager for small and medium businesses and is free, and Google Ad Manager 360 that charges a fee and must be contracted through a Google sales rep.

Even the free version offers some respectable features and reports but 360 is where the details happen, including a dashboard reporter and access to Google Support.


In short and realistically, who knows! However, here are a couple of pieces of advice: Keep up with the latest news and be ready to change strategies quickly.

Latest Info

Reading the latest statistics and blogs should give you some insight on what is trending or failing.

For decades advertising has proven successful. With mobile apps the types of ads have changed just as the use of outdoor advertising (billboards) was affected by radio and then television. Advertising will probably continue in importance but it is critical that the mobile app provider keep updated on the innovations and data on the best methods to use.

Focus on Users

Developers are definitely paying more attention to the mobile app users. There is a definite need to balance between in-ads that will appeal to the customer and their being considered spam. Another indicator is whether the size of the ad obscures the screen or in some way interferes with their enjoyment of the game or shopping experience. That will include the number of ads and how easy it is for the user to interface.

Subscriptions seem to be holding their own. People are willing to pay a fee to binge watch programs or to hear their favorite tunes through Spotify. Another popular feature seems to be the “freemium” where the initial download is free but for a small additional charge that will expand the usefulness of the app. Along with this is keeping an eye on the economy. In an economic downturn, people will have less money to spend on these programs and will focus on covering their basic needs.



Mobile app producers are seeming to lean toward creating the best app for the purpose and giving the user a good experience rather than only looking at the extra revenue that ads can produce.

The bottom line is to stay flexible and stay on top of any changes in the rules and the developments and fads that come onto the scene.


Basically, there is nothing wrong with capitalising on your mobile app. You just need to decide what is best for you.

Begin with looking at your objectives, what the app does, and its overall purpose. When you look at this information you will be better equipped to decide on which model to use to increase your revenues.

Next, look at what your competitors are doing and see if they are successful. If they are, you might want to think about how you can improve on their success for your business. This can include identifying gaps or a different approach, or just better graphics. If they are not, see if you can figure out why or simply opt for a different alternative.

Examine your target market and find out what they want and what makes them annoyed. If you are trying to up-sell, be sure you explain the value of the purchase. See if you can determine how much they are willing to pay.

Don’t underestimate professional advice. If you have a mentor or someone you bounce ideas off, start there. Consult with your financial advisor and even an attorney. Try to make the best decision for your mobile app and see what happens.

About the author 

Edward Deane (TED)

Found & Director 2excel