7 App Advertising Models

madmen

The smartphone app ad market is at a paced to hit $100 B in 2016. Consequently, numerous mobile ad companies have sprouted up. The mobile ad companies are wooing developers with various monetization models that can easily be integrated into an app with their SDK. This post lists 7 mobile ad monetization models.

1. Banner Ads

This is what most people think mobile ads are. They typically will occupy the real estate at the top or bottom of an app. If the user taps the ad, all sorts of possibilities open up from watching a video to the option of downloading an app.  I personally think this is pretty ineffective method of advertising and cheapens your app.  Users have become blind to banner ads.   The dominant players for banner ads are Google’s AdMob and Chartboost.

2. Interstitial Ads

These are inserted at transition points in an app like right before an app starts or in a case of a game after a level is complete. It’s like watching a commercial on television. It’s typically a video that can drop the user off to the advertiser’s desired URL or to download another app. Some of the mobile advertisers that use this model include TapJoyRevMob, and Flurry.

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3. Rewards Ads

They are my favorite because it’s a win – win for all involved. The reward is triggered by some event in the app like getting an achievement. The user will see a pop up where they will get a discount, gift card, coupon, etc. The owner of the app will also get compensated too. So everyone’s a winner. Players in this space are Kiip and Avocarrot.

 

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4. Offer Walls

These are typically used in games where virtual goods are sold for real currency. The offer wall gives the player the option of earning virtual goods by performing some action on the wall. For example, a player can earn virtual gold by signing up for a trial Netflix account. Mobile Advertisers that support Offer Walls are TapJoyStartApp, and Fiksu.

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5. Notification Ads

I’m not a big fan of notification ads. Apps that support notification ads act like a Trojan horse (To be fair, users have to Opt-in). They will be able to push notification ads even when the app is dormant. Notification Ads are only supported on Android. My theory is that the reason that it’s not supported on iOS is that Apple rejects it because of the Trojan-like nature. AirPush and LeadBolt offer this mechanism.

 

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6. Native Advertising

This is used for apps that are content based and typically show up in the apps’ news feed. Facebook adopted native advertising and has done exceptionally well.  This ad model is probably the most effective way to generate revenue through mobile advertising.  Mobile advertisers that offer native advertising include AdRoll,Sharethrough, and PubNative.

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7.  Data Collection

When I originally wrote this article, I listed 6 mobile monetization models.  Recently, I met the team at Beacons in Space that developed a new revenue model that essentially collects data about users near beacons.  As such, I had to update this article with a new revenue model that  I’m calling Data Collection.  Essentially, the model passively collects data about the user.  Specifically in the case of Beacons in Space, the developer integrates their SDK into their app.  After the user downloads the app, it will track when users near a beacon and rewards the developer accordingly.  The biggest downside is that the app will ask the user to enable location based services for the app.  It’s not a big deal if the app already uses location services but if it doesn’t, it may set up a red flag for the user.  The upside is that this model doesn’t change the user experience.

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If you plan to develop an app that incorporates mobile advertising, my advice is to research the different mobile ad models, select one, then design the app to support that model.

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event. 

How much does it cost to make an app?

“How much does it cost to make an app?” As a developer, this is the most common question I am asked. This is like asking “How much does it cost to build a house?” Following the house analogy, are you looking for a mansion or a shack? Do you want a house made of straw, sticks, or brick? Do you want a custom home or a tract home? Just like a house, the variables in developing an app are endless.

Develop a Storyboard

The first place to start is defining what you want your app to do. I normally recommend our clients storyboard their app (the technical term is wireframe). The wireframe is like the blue print in the house analogy. The goal for developing a wireframe (or storyboard) is to capture functionality and flow. This is not the time to worry about the actual aesthetics yet. It’s important to start from the beginning though, when a user first launches your app. Think about what’s the first thing they will see? On the home screen, if they tap the first menu selection, what happens next? And so on.

To create our wireframes, our designers use a design tool called Sketch.  When I wireframe, I personally use PowerPoint.  My wireframes are ugly but effective.  I send our clients a PowerPoint template where they can either use PowerPoint’s drawing tools or they can even print it out and hand draw it.  My general recommendation is to use a graphics program that your’e comfortable with.

Other Factors

Beyond the storyboard, other factors that will impact the development and cost are:

  • Integration to an existing backend / Development of backend: Most of the apps we develop now either need to talk to an existing backend or we have to create a backend to support the app.
  • Integration to third party vendors: A lot of features that typically used to be expensive to develop can now affordably be added by leveraging third party vendors. Examples are push notifications and mobile commerce.

In addition to the wireframe, if you’re app requires extensive integrations to third party vendors, you may need to put together an architectural diagram.

Getting a Quote

For the most part, a developer should be able to provide you a quote to develop your app based on your wireframe (and architectural diagram). You can find reputable U.S. based developers at thumbtack.com and theymakeapps.com.

You can also find freelancers and offshore teams at upwork.com and guru.com.  Just beware. I’ve talked to clients that have used developers from these sites and it’s a mixed bag. I’ve talked to a few people that have had good experiences and I’ve heard of some horror stories.

If you feel like your app concept is the next Uber, it’s okay to ask the developer for an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) or to ask them to sign your NDA. When you go through this process, you’ll find a vast range for the quotes. My recommendation is to look at other when selecting a developer.

(Shameless plug – we also would, of course, be happy to provide a quote for your project. Just visit us at Apptology.com)

Alternatives

App development, like most technology has become commoditized to some extent. If you have little budget for app development, you may consider DIY (Do It Yourself) App services like ibuildapp.com or seattlecloud.com. There is also a middle ground where a developer can create a robust but cost effective solution based on templates. Apptology offers a cost effective app development solution using templates (called ReadyBuilt). Mobile Roadie is another developer that uses template. Apps based on templates are primarily used to promote a business or to provide content and are typically a fraction of the cost of developing apps from scratch.

Final Thoughts

My answer to the question, “How much does it cost to develop an app?” is “It depends.” If you are thinking about developing an app, I highly recommend taking a little time to create a storyboard or wireframe. This step will help you flush out your concept and greatly assist a developer in providing a solid quote for your app.

9 Factors for Hiring the Perfect Mobile App Developer

9 Factors in Evaluating a Developer

Over the years, we have had several clients that have come to us asking to either fix or complete an app from another developer. One client had spent over $50 k with another developer and had nothing to show for it. For all of you that are looking to hire a mobile app developer, this post will go over several factors you should consider when evaluating a developer.

Mobile App Developer Factor #1 The Source Code / Ownership:

An easy way to weed out a developer is to find out what their policy is on the ownership of the source code and intellectual property upon completion of the project. If they won’t release and / or make a claim, keep moving. I discuss the source code issue more in this post.

Mobile App Developer Factor #2 Technical Capabilities:

Is the developer you’re looking at technically capable of completing your project? In your evaluation, realize that it takes a team. So for example, the a complex app development project will have:

  • iOS Developer
  • Android Developer
  • Backend Developer
  • U/X Designer
  • Project Architect
  • Project Manager

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Image Source: Goforthapps

Be cognizant that it’s very hard for one person to do everything and you may need to hire multiple developers with different disciplines or go with a development team that has all the capabilities you’re looking for. For better communication, the ideal situation is where all the developers are under one roof so that problems can be solved quickly.

Mobile App Developer Factor #3: Portfolio

Ask to look at the developer’s portfolio. Download their apps. Evaluate their body of work. What you see is probably a good indication of what kind of app the developer can create for you.

Mobile App Developer Factor #4: References

Ask for a list of references from your developer and take the time to contact them. Some good questions to ask them:

  • Did they have a good process?
  • Were they responsive? How was the communication?
  • Were they helpful with other issues like setting up an iOS account?
  • How was the quality of the work?
  • How well did they resolve problems?

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Image Source: JCount

Another great place to check their reference is to see if they are accredited by the Better Business Bureau. For example, Apptology’s BBB rating is summarized here. If they are a BBB member, this also gives you a venue to handle disputes. If the developer wants to keep an A rating with the BBB, they are forced to address your dispute.

Mobile App Developer Factor #5: What If You Got Hit By A Bus?

Ask your developer what happens if their main developer got hit by a bus. I know it’s a strange question but it’s important. I had a client that was developing an app and the developer they were working with just disappeared. He didn’t answer any emails and phone calls for a couple of weeks and they were forced to find another developer because they were hitting a deadline. It turned out that their developer had a DUI and was in jail for a few weeks. So, if you ask the “Bus” question, hopefully the developer will have some sort of backup plan for you.

Mobile App Developer Factor #6: Development Process

My undergraduate degree was in Industrial Engineering so I am a stickler about process. That said, when evaluating a developer; ask them about their development process. Some questions to ask:

  • How and when do you provide feedback?
  • How are scope changes handled?
  • Is there a project manager that you work with?
  • Are there regular project meetings?
  • How is communication handled?
  • What types of project management tools are used?
  • How is quality assurance (QA handled)?

In evaluating their development process, see where you fit in. Where do you fit in the design and approval process? What you don’t want is to work with a development team that goes away for 3 months and comes back with crap.

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Image Source: Appectual 

Mobile App Developer Factor #7: Maintenance Plan / Upgrades

All the major platforms upgrade their software roughly once a quarter. Unfortunately, these upgrades may actually break your app. When I first developed my app, Apple just released iOS 4 and our app was developed on an older SDK. To our horror we found that half the sound files on our app didn’t work and we had to spend the weekend troubleshooting the problems generated by the upgrade.

So, when choosing a developer, ask them how they handle maintenance. Also, your app should always be evolving. Make sure you also ask them how they handle upgrades.

Mobile App Developer Factor 8: Warranty

Ask your developer if they will warranty their work in writing. So, after the project is delivered and submitted to the various App Store, ask what happens if a bug is discovered? To be fair, the warranty can only be applied to the specific version of the SDK that the app was developed on. As discussed in the previous section, the developer really can’t be responsible for issues caused by an upgrade to the Operating System.

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Image Source: searlesgraphics

Mobile App Developer Factor #9: Pricing

I saved this for last. I’m not going to go with the cliché that you get what you pay for. I think you can find a quality developer that is still cost effective (shameless plug: like us). I had a client that revealed that the bids for her project ranged from $7 K to $50 K. I personally would throw out the high bid. I’ve heard some vendors just throw out large quotes to weed out their prospects. If there is a bid that is dramatically low, my gut is that they didn’t understand the scope. However, before throwing them out, talk to them first as they may have a template or process that gives them some sort of advantage.

Hopefully, this gives you some food for thought in evaluating developers for your project. If you want to evaluate how much your app will cost to develop as a whole, check out this informative blog now! 

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014. Follow Rich on Twitter at @ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

3 Steps to Develop Your Mobile App Idea

You’ve been thinking about an idea that you think can be the next Uber for weeks. So what do you do? Here are three steps you can take that will help you develop your idea.

1. Research Your Mobile App Idea:

The first thing you want to do with your idea is to research it. I had a client that spent a considerable amount of time having me do an NDA dance before speaking with me. Once we finally started talking, I quickly did a search on the Apple App Store and found there were over 25 similar apps listed; he quickly lost interest in pursuing this project.

Keep in mind that it’s not the end of the world if you find another app that does what you’re trying to accomplish. You just have to figure out how to make your app better. Remember, before Google there was Yahoo; Before Facebook, there was MySpace. It’s not so much who goes to market first, but rather who executes best.

In doing your research, you need to also look at the market potential. For example, let’s say you had an app that was geared for veterinarians. A quick Google search shows that there are 90,000 veterinarians in the U.S. Now, you just identified your market potential.

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Image Source: AppsCollections

2. Create Storyboard for Your Mobile App:

Now it’s time to put your idea down on paper and develop a storyboard (or wireframe). This is where the rubber hits the road and you put yourself in the shoes of the user. For instance, what’s the first thing they see once they launch your app? The first screen takes you to the main menu; the user taps the top button, where does it take the user? And so on.

To create our wireframes, our designers use a design tool called Balsamiq. I send our clients a PowerPoint template where they can either use PowerPoint’s drawing tools or they can even print it out and hand draw it.

The advantage of creating a storyboard are:

  • It helps develop your idea
  • You have something to show as you try to recruit people or investors
  • Provides direction for your development team

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Image Source: spordipartner

3. Develop Mobile App Business Plan:

After you’ve done the research and developed a storyboard, if you decide you have something viable, you need to put together a business plan. After you’ve followed these 3 steps diligently, I suggest reading the 5 Challenges of a Startup Appreneur to know what you’re up against and strategize accordingly. Good luck on your start up journey as you recruit co-founders, get funding, etc.

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014. Follow Rich on Twitter at @ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.