Android Apps

Android Dev Spotlight: Why Your Android App Isn’t Making You Money

January 16, 2013 - Written By Doug Scudder

It is one of Android’s dirty secrets that no one wants to talk about… monetization of apps on iOS is 40% to 50% better than on Android. There are many factors that play into this, and all of them have been and are being discussed across the internet. My personal opinion is Apple customers are obviously willing to recklessly spend money or else they wouldn’t have paid extra money for a cookie-cutter locked down device. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t take steps to make sure that your Android application is as profitable as possible. Any developer at any level can make money on the Android platform. The sheer volume of users alone, combined with the continued explosive growth of a wide variety of Android devices ensure that Android is and will continue to be a profitable OS to develop on for years to come.

You should carefully consider what kind of advertisements you insert into your user experience. Banner, video, text, offer walls, or other options all have pros and cons. Video advertising is particularly intrusive, but is also very attractive to advertisers because of the higher response rates. This is a great choice if the experience of your app provides natural pauses (e.g. videos between songs on Pandora). Full screen ads are, in my personal opinion, the most intrusive ads on mobile devices. They are also the most difficult to ignore and therefore are often attractive to advertisers. But remember, getting rid of the full screen ad must be easy and fast, or your users will abandon you in droves. Your audience knows you need to pay the bills, but they don’t want to use any app that emphasizes monetization over functionality. The format and placement of any in app advertising are important, but these aren’t the only options you have.

‘Freemium’ applications come in many flavors, but they all share some characteristics. Many millions of words have and will be written about the difficult balance that must be struck between providing enough content/functionality to encourage the usage of a ‘Freemium’ app without giving away the cow. This is, in some ways, a trial and error process for many inexperienced developers. Each app has a different audience, and therefore requires a different approach. Are you developing a casual game? Try giving away the first 10% -15% of the single player levels before asking users to cough up some cash. If your app doesn’t lend itself to this, try giving users 24 hrs to test drive your creation. But don’t forget to err on the side of giving the user more up front. The Android community is teeming with quality users that are willing and eager to support developers that develop quality applications.  Building your brand and reaching out to a broad audience should always be the #1 priority.


Of course the in app purchase can generate large amounts of cash for clever developers, but they can also cheapen the gaming experience. Remember that your audience knows you want to monetize your app, and most of them won’t begrudge you a couple of dollars for using an application that they enjoy. But if you give a player the option of dominating your game easily by spending money, most won’t. The challenge of beating level after level is what releases that all-important burst of adrenaline that can make your game addictive.

The focus of the decision you make as to how to monetize your Android application should be your audience. Is this an app for those who have a solid understanding of how the open-source community operates? Consider making the application free and solicit donations.  If your target is a more casual user charging 99 cents up front might be your best option. Remember to remain flexible and keep an open mind. Your audience wants to pay for quality applications, just make sure that they have the opportunity to realize how awesome your creation is before they pony up cash.

As you develop your application and your audience monetization will surely be constantly be hanging over your head like a dark cloud. Your hard work and creativity during the development process can pay off in a big way. But don’t forget to focus on your users, not your wallet. Create a smooth, dependable experience; interact with your audience at every opportunity; solve a problem that your users have and you will find yourself with a lucrative, passionate following.If you would like to get your app reviewed on our site visit or android app marketing page for more details.