For publishers, apps serve two key purposes: to get your content in front of more people and to bring in revenue. Most publishers have that first part down - it's the app monetization strategy that's the tricky part.

Your app can bring in revenue in dozens of ways, but which of these app monetization strategies best fits your content, your audience, and your needs? Different apps may need different app monetization options. A gaming app isn't the same as a news app so you'll want your mobile app development strategy planned accordingly.

Discovering the right combination is one part trial and error and one part research. And keep in mind that it is vital to work with an app developer or team of developers to build your mobile app from the ground up with your app monetization strategy in mind.

In this post, the app monetization team at Playwire helps with the research part. Below, we provide an overview of eight common strategic app monetization options.

These eight strategic mobile app monetization options can help maximize your app revenue:

  1. Monetizing Your App with a Download Fee
  2. App Subscription Model to Bring in Consistent Revenue
  3. Flexible App Monetization with ‘Freemium’
  4. In-App Ads to Leverage Your User Base
  5. Affiliate Marketing for Your App
  6. Monetizing Through In-App Purchases
  7. App Data Monetization
  8. App Transaction Fees
  9. Partner with Expert App Monetization Strategists

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App Monetization Guide

Want to learn even more? Read the guide to learn everything there is to know about monetizing your app

Monetizing Your App with a Download Fee

For many publishers who are new to the mobile app space, charging a fee to download the app in the Apple app store or Android app store is the first mobile app monetization option they consider. This strategy can bring in substantial revenue - but only if you provide content that brings a lot of value to the end-user. Unless your content is difficult to find anywhere else, savvy users are more likely to find the content elsewhere than to pay for it inside an app store.

For some publishers, however, this is the route to go. In particular, apps that offer a unique gaming experience or some kind of utility on the smartphone or tablet benefit from this monetization method. Still, the number of publishers charging money to download their apps is relatively low. As of March 2021, 92.9% of apps in the iOS store and 96.7% in the Google Play store were completely free to download.

App Subscription Model to Bring in Consistent Revenue

Perhaps you don't want to charge users to download your app but would prefer to charge them a monthly or annual fee to use it. This is the subscription model. And it's a popular mobile app monetization strategy.

That popularity is evidenced by the sheer amount of revenue the subscription model generates for an app publisher. In 2020, app revenue from app subscriptions grew to $13 billion. And among the top 250 apps that were not games, subscription fees accounted for 97% of consumer spend inside apps in 2019.

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Letterboxd App Case Study

Learn how Letterboxd increased year-over-year app revenue by 2,433% using Playwire's RAMP for app platform.

Flexible App Monetization with ‘Freemium’

The freemium app monetization strategy blends aspects of paid apps and app subscriptions with other strategies, such as in-app advertising. With the freemium app monetization model, you offer some of the features or content of your app for free but charge either a one-time fee or a recurring subscription to users who want the full experience.

One common example of a freemium apps monetization strategy is offering a free app download but charging a fee inside the app to users who would like to use the app without having to see app ads. In a model like this, you're paying users and non-paying users are monetized.

In-App Advertising to Leverage Your User Base

Placing ads inside your app is often the fastest and most effective way to monetize it. The mobile app ad format can accommodate all kinds of ad formats including:

Banner Ads: A banner ad is an app advertisement delivered by an ad server to display in certain places within an app. Banner ads can target the user based on the user's data and preferences.

Video Ads: Video ads allow you to display video ads within your app, typically with options for both in-stream and out-stream ad types.

Native Ads: Native ads are designed to feel "native" to your app. A native ad blends with the design elements of your app and may even be designed to look like another post or feature within it.

Interstitial Ads: Interstitial ads are full-screen ads that appear between phases of the user's app experience. If the user experience includes selecting a video from a list of videos, for example, the interstitial ad might appear before a video loads.

Rewarded Ads: The basic idea behind reward ads is to give something to the user for viewing an ad. Rewarding a mobile game user with another try at a failed level if they watch an advertiser's video is a classic example of a reward ad.

Gamified Ads: Gamified ads are just what they sound like, ads that are mini-games, and encourage users to interact with them.

When choosing to monetize your app with ads, there are plenty of considerations, particularly around user experience to keep in mind. You can learn more about monetizing your app with ads in this in-depth article.

Playwire specializes in ad revenue amplification. Learn more about our App Revenue Amplification Managed by Professionals platform.

Affiliate Marketing for Your App

What if you could use your app to convince your app user to download other apps or buy products? That's the basic point of affiliate marketing, and it's a popular app monetization strategy. In the mobile app world, you can do affiliate marketing in two main ways:

  • Partner with companies to sell their products. Many companies have affiliate programs that allow you to insert specialized links in your content or ads. When your users click those links, land on the company's website, and buy something, you get a cut.
  • Use affiliate ads to convince users to download other apps. The Apple, Google, and Windows app stores all offer affiliate programs that track when someone leaves your app after seeing an ad for another app and downloads that app. You get paid each time that happens.

Affiliate marketing can be extremely profitable, but it works best when you have a large audience that trusts your brand and content enough to take your recommendations of products and apps.

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App Monetization Resource Center

Browse our library of resources for all your app monetization options of tools and strategies.

Monetizing Through In-App Purchases

Even if users don't have to purchase your app, you can still sell things inside the app to generate revenue. This is one of the most common app monetization strategies for brands that have products to sell, but it isn't limited to that sphere.

You can break into in-app purchases by offering a new product - perhaps something related to or branded with your app- or selling something intangible, such as in-app currency, extra lives, or specialized game items.

App Data Monetization

First-party data is more valuable than ever. This is the information about your users - their demographics and behaviors inside of your app. Advertisers are hungry for this kind of information because it allows them to target the right audience.

And that hunger is likely to grow as third-party cookies stop delivering third-party data the way they used to. Collecting data will be the foundation for most app monetization strategies in the future.

Data monetization usually works best for publishers who already have an established and thriving user base. If you don't have enough users to generate a lot of data, the data you do have isn't likely to be valuable.

App Transaction Fees

This app monetization strategy only works well for a highly specific type of app: an online marketplace. The definition of "marketplace" in this context can vary, but essentially, your users have to be buying or selling something within your mobile app, and you have to take a cut of each transaction.

Good examples of apps monetized with transaction fees are easy to spot in the financial space. Cryptocurrency and investment apps commonly take a small fee each time a user buys or sells an asset.

Partner with Expert App Monetization Strategists

Not every app monetization platform or strategy works for all apps or all publishers. The expert app revenue amplification team at Playwire can guide you to the optimum app monetization strategy and spot opportunities and potential problems from miles away.

Ready to get in on this? We're ready to work with you. Discuss all your app monetization options and corresponding needs with an expert by contacting Playwire online.

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