Five Methods to Monetize Your Mobile App

Smartphones are everywhere. You see people chattering with family and friends in the malls and on transit systems. You see people of all ages playing “Angry Birds,” “Cut the Rope,” or some other entertaining app. People can cruise through websites with a tap and swipe on smartphones, all while away from their home computers. For years, advertisers capitalized on home-based (or office-based) computers to provide real-time and context-specific advertisements to web surfers (via their browsers). Money could be made for “pay-per-click” or similar ad models. This method still works, but the problem for advertisers is that people no longer use their desktop PCs. They’re using their smartphones.

If you own a smartphone and have downloaded any apps, you may have encountered one or more which use in-app branding and possibly in-app advertising. Many people are willing to put up with the occasional ad from an advertiser in trade for some cool free app or game. If you’re a publisher of apps – let’s say you’re the manager of a busy nightclub and have an app for promoting your club – you’re more likely to have a free app than a paid app. You can still make money with a free app! This is the first of the five methods I’d like to present for monetizing your Mobile apps.

For starters, here are the five methods for monetizing your Mobile App:

Use AdMob, Millennial Media, and others to provide in-app advertising
Sell ad space on your app for vendors and merchants
Link from your app to Affiliate sites and their products
Use Push Notifications
The charge for the app or in-app purchases

We’re big fans of the free apps. I know I have plenty of free apps on my mobile devices. I tend to recommend free apps to friends since they can always delete them if they don’t like the ones I recommend. So, all but one of the methods I describe here will apply to free apps mainly. If you have your app published (or already published, since you can always add more to it in an update), consider using AdMob or another ad aggregating service. Since AdMob is part of the Google family of businesses, many people may already have a relationship without knowing it.

Mobile App

Nonetheless, please choose one of these, use their SDK tools (this is a job for your developer), and get your Publisher credentials added appropriately to the app. Before you know it, a mini-billboard will appear on the screen for your app, and you will be on your way to making extra cash. This method benefits those who have created a free app that is downloaded frequently. It’s as simple as The more users, the more exposure to the ad, and the more potential revenue for you.

If your app is community-based or related to specific products or services, consider getting a monthly fee from merchants or vendors to include their information in your app. This method works well if you have a lot of downloads for your app. If the merchants can see that your app is widely used, it’s almost a no-brainer. They’re likely to ask you if you can help them!

Many stores and other online sites have relationships with affiliate marketing sites such as Commission Junction and Linkshare. These all work pretty much the same. Using their tools, you can take their links (for commission) and embed them into your app. As people use your app, they will see these links and (hopefully) will tap/click on them. If they purchase from the linked site, you get commissions.


I love the iOS method for Push Notifications. These keep me in touch with some game updates and other apps I use. But, if you’re an intelligent marketer, you can use these within your apps to add value and increase revenue. This isn’t monetizing internally (with the app), but the revenue opportunity remains. Push notification allows you to share information about your app or a deal you may have with your’ subscribers.’ This spurs them to action. A Push Notification can be an immediate call to action for your user community. “Act now and download three free widgets with the purchase of only one!” Get the idea?

Everyone you could ask would tell you that a distributed free app is better than charging a minimal fee ($0.99) for each download. As time passes, you will find that free apps are downloaded more often and shared more freely with others. Getting other people to market for you (by sharing) is highly desired and beneficial. However, if you decide to sell your app for a fee, then be sure it’s fee-worthy and provides an ongoing function to your audience. People will not be happy paying for an app that doesn’t provide suitable functionality. Another way to charge for an app is to distribute the app for free but use in-app purchasing to cover some add-on features or downloaded products within the app. I’ve seen this range from downloadable content (PDFs or sound files) to tools or items for games or similar apps. Be sure your pricing model is easy to understand.

We are in a wonderful new frontier with mobile apps, and marketing must adapt. Use these guidelines to plan your app before it’s distributed for the best results. David Pratt is a creative consultant designing Mobile Apps, a smartphone application development company in Nevada and North Carolina. Smartphone users can take advantage of technology by using smartphone apps that help them improve their lives. Mobile apps and mobile web solutions can be discussed with the experts at Take advantage of an Ezine referral special and get a one-hour consultation on ‘Deploying social media and mobile technology for your company. Contact iDesign for details.