Written By Chris Mills 慕乐文

Creative Strategies for Capitalizing on Mobile Applications

January 04, 2013 | app development / creativity

Discussing the development of a smart phone app is always fun, but at the end of the day it’s all about your business plan and how to make money. There are so many challenges that people overlook when creating apps that it produces a market full of unsuccessful apps. The key to app success is obviously to ensure that more money is made than spent. The important piece of free apps is the money made from the ads. Hitcents actually began as an ad placement company in 1999, although shortly after we focused our talents on other aspects of the internet market. With the recent success of our multiple Draw A Stickman apps, we have generated millions of ad impressions here at Hitcents. With these past experiences, we already have a taste of what needs to be done to make an app successful. We know that ad revenue alone will never be enough to satisfy our expenditure when creating an app, so we always need more. 

Pro vs. Free - A lot of times people think they are going to charge for an app and everyone is going to purchase it. I believe the best idea is to lure people in with a free app, and annoy them with the ads to the point that they want to buy the pro version. Obviously I’m jokeing here, but often times paying to have an app you use on a regular basis without advertising is worth the fee for many users. 

Ads -  Deploying ads on a successful app is much harder than it sounds. Things like CPM, CPC, CTR, and ad rotations become very important to efficiently monopolize your audience. Along with other items, geographic location is a crucial part which is determined by the fill percentage by each ad network. Not only do you have to worry about backfilling your ads, but you also need to be able to update them without having to push an app update. Hitcents likes to use the Apple iAd network, but it doesn’t support a large percentage of the population geographically. With one of our apps, PictureTHIS, the team built their own ad priority system, which allows them to update the backfill priority along with the ordering of the different ad networks without pushing an update. Selecting the right ad networks can take countless hours and then after you select the ad network that will pay you the most, you have to make sure you will get paid. For example, if you add a 15 minute video that pays $25 CPM, but lose all of your users because of it, the highest paying ad wasn’t the best option in that case.

Another major factor when looking at ads is determining the ad sizes that will be used. Now, each platform offers full screen ads, rich media movies, banners, and much more. There’s a fine line between how intrusive you can be with the ads, proportional to the revenue. All of these things have to be carefully reviewed, tested, and implemented for a successful ad campaign. With our experience in this market, we have gained a ton of valuable information to help us successfully run ad campaigns. 

In-App Purchases -  In-App purchases make up a very new market that is not understood very well in today’s industry. What is important to us is to create an environment where users can earn every item by playing frequently so early adopters are able to unlock items via the rewards they receive.  This type of reward for high frequenency of play is something that we implemented in the PictureTHIS app. Additionally, users can unlock these features by spending their money to make in-app purchases. This becomes the best of both worlds as users are not required to have to buy items to utilize all features in the game, but it is still an option if they are interested.


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