Mobile App Monetization – How I’m Pulling In $125 eCPM

Post updated March 25, 2015.

“It’s money that matters.” – Randy Newman

The secret’s out – it’s not easy to make money with apps.

Everyone who’s on this blog at some point has watched, read or purchased content from someone talking about how you can make millions of dollars with apps. They talk about how every download you can get is going to make you AT LEAST $1…all you need to do is get apps in the store.

I hate to break it to you, but that’s bullshit.

If you think that you’re just going to sit back, relax, and watch the money pour in, you’re in for a rude awakening. App monetization is not about being in the game, it’s about winning. It’s not about downloads, it’s about dollars.

In fact, if it wasn’t for a few key app monetization networks, I’d be in a lot of trouble. Up until now, making money on apps required a LOT of downloads, much the same way websites require a lot of traffic. Strategies like in-app purchases, Lite -> Paid up-sells, and CPM advertisting (Admob/iAds) are DYING, yo. Straight up. I know this from first hand experience.

Fun fact – one week 2 years ago the in-app purchases from 3 of my apps made me about $70. The new monetization I’m doing make me over $800.

In-app purchases took me 2 days to program in and $300 in development work. The new services take 10 mins and involve 2 lines of code.

Some people have different results, no question. This can vary from category to category and depend on download volume.

The Glory of Inequality – Why It Pays To Love Rich People

Yeah, you heard me. When it comes to making money with apps, the best thing you can do (at least for a while) is to make rich developers even richer. Instead of trying to sell your own apps, sell theirs. Here’s why.

Now – please understand that I’m all about following your dreams and staying the course. To create a brand that’s as strong as iron and as cool as Triumph Motorcycles is the ultimate dream for anyone getting into apps. But this article isn’t for you – this is for the thousands of you out there that just want to make money. You want to build an app and have it spit out $80/day and then repeat that process.

So here’s a quick and dirty breakdown about the app market that maybe you don’t know (if you haven’t opted in to my email list and read the $0.51 article, I highly recommend you do so before reading this):

Take a look at the apps on the Top Grossing lists, specifically the top 25. You’ll notice that most of them are Free. Top Grossing AND Free?? wtf.

Funnel Free Ebook 1

These apps have enormous monetization pathways within their apps and can pull in upwards of $5 PER DOWNLOAD. That means every time anyone downloads their app, they can expect to make an average of $5 off that person over the lifetime. That’s insane.

Like any business person, these apps get to the point where they can prove these numbers and the developers say to themselves “Wow – we just need to get more downloads and we’ll make way more money!” The Apple charts and regular marketing helps, but they want to DRIVE users to their game. They want to purchase downloads. And at $5 per user, they can definitely afford to do that.

Now, most (99%) of the developers out there who use ad networks to buy traffic are looking to spend $0.05 per click or $0.50 for an install. After fees, the publisher (the person who’s showing the ad) makes a whopping $0.02 – $0.30. Not horrible, but that’s not going to help you retire.

Enter the Goliath who can make $5 per download. He says “Hell, I can pay out $3.50 per install!” A publisher like you or me delivers them an install and, after fees, makes $3!!! Simple as that. The best part? These huge app companies have an insatiable appetite for downloads – their instructions are pretty much “We’ll take everything ya got, buddy.”

Glory, glory, hallelujah. I’ll sell you downloads for $3 a pop allllll day.

Leveraging a Winning Model – The Birth of an Empire

Enter Guilherme Schvartsman, the creator of a few little games called Ant Smasher and Bunny Shooter. They’ve combined for over 80M downloads. No big deal.

The problem, however, is that those 80M downloads were not translating into big dollars. Gui knew he could deliver a ton of installs, but the ad solutions out there were only paying peanuts. Like a true marketer, he realized the above opportunity with top grossing companies and inked a deal that he would try out on his own apps.

The result? A waterfall of money. Millions of dollars. The kind of money that changes lives permanently.

And just like that – the birth of RevMob.

The rise of mobile ad networks

What Gui did was essentially create an entire ad network with premium advertisers in order to maximize the eCPM (earnings per thousand) for developers and publishers that promoted the advertisers. The beauty of this model is that with only a few clients who want unlimited downloads, everyone’s happy.

When I first heard of RevMob in 2012 I was skeptical, per usual, but figured I’d give it a whirl. I had some success with Chartboost and wanted to see if these eCPM claims held up.

I installed the SDK in about 8 minutes and released a few apps with the new code.

Boom.

Funnel Free Ebook 2

The first week I had my apps pulling in anywhere from $18 eCPM up to $125 eCPM. My app revenue went up 10X. I all of a sudden realized that everything in my world had changed – this powerful system was working….and changing my life.  Well, for a short period of time.

The Fall of an Empire

Like all good things, my RevMob campaigns came to an end. Presently in 2015, RevMob can only be found in a handful of my apps and $125 eCPM is completely unrealistic.  With the millions of apps added to the Store since 2012, people caught on to RevMob and other (better) Ad Networks have emerged.  That isn’t to say a $125 eCPM is impossible.  There are going to be some people who make it work with their own apps and strike it big with in-app purchases and various traditional monetization models, but mark my words – Ad Networks are continuing to evolve with more features and smoother UIs.

What you can expect to see are $1-$50 eCPM.  Still solid numbers.  Ad Networks now have a lot of additional functionality.  Instead of the traditional RevMob full screen interstitials, you can:

  • Add buttons, text and colors
  • More Games screens
  • Video interstitials
  • Rewards campaigns
  • Scrolling features to show more apps
  • You can even link ad interstitials to IAPs

WOW!

A lot has changed since 2012 when I was introduced to RevMob.

Apple has caught on too.  More rejections have emerged, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Like us kind good hearted developers, Apple wants to make sure their users have the best experience possible and aren’t bothered by nagging popups.  However, Apple has little control over 3rd party SDKs.  Campaigns can be switched off during the review process and turned back on after launch if a user is really inclined to get it in the Store.

Feel the Vibe

Ad Networks and increasing your eCPM is all about experimenting, you gotta feel the vibe man.  When I noticed my early day RevMob campaigns dropping, I knew it was time to act.

The good news is my gameplan hasn’t had to change too much from the early days.  Get people to download my Free app so they they can get MORE free apps. Turn your pop ups into part of a selling process.  If people like a free version of an app, use ad networks to promote better features in the PRO version.  These convert well, the biggest challenge is testing the right marketing text and image.

People always ask what my favorite ad networks are.  My first response is always Chartboost, hands down.  They’re the best for games, convert better than a Transformer and are just solid guys to work with.  I’ve developed personal relationships with some of their staff, and they genuinely put themselves out there to help others and increase conversions.

New ad networks popup everyday.  Some are worth looking into, others feel like cheap knockoffs.  My advise is to pick some of the popular ad networks and experiment.  Here are a couple ways you can help conversions:

  • Change ad placement and order
  • Change campaign type (interstitial, banner, video…)
  • Target your audience

These 3 will heavily change your ad conversions.  And they’re somewhat painless.

Do Yourself a Favor

Sign up to Chartboost, Applovin, AdMob, Xplode, and Vungle today (for free). You don’t need to integrate all of them, but scroll around and see which ones you feel comfortable with.  If you have an app, you definitely should. If you’re thinking about it, you definitely should.

If you want to hear more information like this, sign up for my newsletter and download my free ebook by clicking here.

 

See ya!

Carter

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COMMENTS

  • Clive August 8, 2013

    Just started using Revmob this month, already hit $2000 and rising! What a fantastic increase for a bit of advertising. Thank you so much for your blog or I would not have realised where I was missing out!!!

  • Clementine Capparelli August 9, 2013

    Congrats Chelsea. I had been so hoping we were heading to pull it off, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.

  • Brianna Smith August 13, 2013

    Hi Carter,
    My name is Brianna Smith , Im looking to develop on this app I am in the midst of creating. I’m 17 and am taking a growing interest in the app business. I wanted to know if I could get in contact with you soon, so that I can discuss some of my ideas for progressing on this app. My email is : bri.symone919@gmail.com thankyou soo much for the info you put on your website, so helpful!

  • Megan August 13, 2013

    Hi Carter,

    Could you please tell me where you are getting these eCPM rates from? I am doing research for my new app. Love your blog, great stuff!

  • Hayden August 16, 2013

    Hi Carter,

    Just started getting into the blog, and bought one of your source codes. We just submitted our first app last night. After doing some research, I’ve been reading a bit about people not getting paid by RevMob. Has anyone had an issue with this? Have you been receiving your payments from them and all the other ad networks you’ve been using?

    Thanks!

  • Tony August 25, 2013

    Hi Carter, I released my first app a few weeks ago. So far I’m very happy with my downloads but disappointed in my revenue with AdMob.

    I have seen some apps require the user to watch a video to continue using the app or playing the game. Do you know anything about this strategy?

    I think there is a couple points within my app that I can reasonably require them to watch an advertisement video to continue.

    My questions are:

    1) do you know which companies offer these video ads?
    2) do they pay well? How much per view can I expect?

    Thanks in advance!

    Tony

  • Karen August 26, 2013

    Hi Tony and Hayden. We all have been switching from Revmob to Applovin. Also check out Vungle.

  • William August 26, 2013

    Revmob is so funny.

    I have thousand of clicks on Ads everyday and i get money for it, so there is no problem with that!
    But with these thousand of click, i noticed that i had no one install by day, so i ask to one friend to clik on ad then to install the application in the appstore, my friend did, and guess what, my install was still 0…. HMMM

    I contacted admob , they told me it was CPC and CPI, how its possible, my friend install the app from the AD and its not CPI? LOOOOOOOL.
    Of course they didnt give me any examples when i asked when it counts for CPI and not for CPC, maybe when the moon is full or something like that, dont know.

  • Ron Seow August 27, 2013

    @William

    I have similar experiences with revmob, very lousy stats and in the end I dropped the revmob – not worthwhile to ruin UX for a few cents.

  • Barry August 29, 2013

    For anyone that is looking to use RevMob there is a few things you need to know.

    1. If you’re app only has a few thousand impressions a day, you won’t make much money.
    2. You need to have an app with lots of daily users.
    3. RevMob seems to be focusing on CPC campaigns recently ( as of August 17th, 2013 ). They pay around $0.032 per click.
    4. A CPC campaign does not pay you for Installs. ( that’s what they told me )
    5. All of my revenue has been payed on time.

    The difference between an app with a lot of users, and one with not so many users:

    1. With my main app “InstaFit – Post Photos To Instagram Without Cropping Free” I’ve been seeing a CTR of about 9.25% and an eCPM of $2.80 to $3.30. This app has about 90-100k daily impressions and with a CTR of 9.25%, that is around 9,000 daily clicks. 9,000 daily clicks multiplied by what they pay per click ($0.032 per click) = around $288. Every day. Note: A while back with a CPI campaign going on, in one day I saw 80k impressions, 7.9k clicks, 600+ Installs, eCPM of $22.70 and $1,800 in revenue. (this was probably a new app launch which spiked installs)

    2. My app with not so many users “InstaMeme – The Best Meme Creator Free” gets only 620 impressions a day with RevMob. This app’s CTR is only 3% and has an eCPM of $0.85. With only 18 clicks a day, that is around $0.57.

    “But wouldn’t an app with 100k daily uses earn money with any ad network?!”
    No. I also use iAd within my “InstaFit” app and it only generates $20-30 a day with it, which is 10x less than RevMob.

    Conclusion: If you have an app with a lot of daily uses, I strongly recommend RevMob.

  • Karen August 30, 2013

    Wow Barry – thanks for that info. This is exactly the kind of info I was looking to find to give me basic guidance/idea. Now this is all starting to make sense. Have you explored any of the other ad networks?

  • Barry September 6, 2013

    @Karen

    When I first started using ads in my apps I chose Greystripe, the daily revenue was low but back then I didn’t have many users. eCPM with Greystripe was about $2.40 which is pretty good now that I think about it. Greystripe is a little harder to integrate and their website UI isn’t the best.

  • Muller September 9, 2013

    The RevMob ship has sailed. Check out the net (Facebook Groups) for actual stats. Pretty low in most cases.

  • Adam A September 11, 2013

    I’ve noticed really bad returns over the last couple months with Revmob, it’s like they don’t report installs anymore..

  • marzilla September 12, 2013

    I just signed up with RevMob, created a campaign, and got this message:

    “Not enough balance to run this Campaign, Mobile application must have market URL, and Bid value not in valid range: min. $0.00 – max. $0.30″

    You mean I have to pay them first? lol how much do I need just to start?

  • Ken October 10, 2013

    RevMob worked great early in 2013 (was $12-15 eCPM) , but now it stinks with the same daily users. More like $0.50-$1.00 eCPM.

  • Jeff October 14, 2013

    RevMob is awesome, but sometimes it is nice to have more control over what offers your users will see. I like to create my own affiliate links and then create webpages that I can change anytime I want to promote different affiliate offers. Here is a video of how we do it. http://www.apprushacademy.com

  • George November 20, 2013

    Thanks for sharing your insights Carter.

    The problem with banner ads and the likes, is that over time mobile app users started developing a filter for ignoring them. This means less revenue for the publishers and more annoyed users. What we need is a way to make money from apps without disrupting the user experience.

    I’m not sure about the rules here but I think it’d be useful for the community to share about my company Avocarrot (http://avocarrot.com) and how we help developers make more money by transforming ads into engaging rewards for in-app actions.

    Exploit natural pauses in your app and reward your users for their actions (completed a game level, completed a workout etc). You make money every time a user claims a reward. Consistent monthly payments, whitelabel SDK and average integration time is 10 minutes!

    Best,
    George

  • Luka December 16, 2013

    Hi everybody,

    I started doing app business few months ago, and I’ve been doing only casino apps till now (scratchers,video poker, slots) , integrated with Chartboost and RevMob ad networks, and for me RevMob work horribly bed, while Chartboost is doing very fine. I’m showing adds from RM and CB equally and CB makes me about 25 TIMES MORE MONEY then RM in all of my apps, I don’t know is it something bad going on around RM, or maybe it doesn’t work well with casino (becouse it’s not costumable) ? Just wanted to know if anybody here has any simliar problem, couse I’m planning to replace RM with something more effective if you have some advices ?
    Cheers !

  • Ehsan January 1, 2014

    Wowww…. That’s great i am surprised to see Revmob monetization response. Does it really give such high eCPM. I am going to try this. Let see i will comeback and share my experience.

  • Ehsan January 16, 2014

    Hi Carter, After reading your blog post about Revmob high CPM. I move one step forward and complied a list of top 4 high paying app monetization networks here http://theappmedia.com/4-best-app-monetization-networks-high-cpc/

    List of these 4 high paying app monetization network really helps the reader to find right app monetization network for their app.

    Cheers!!!.

  • Daniel March 12, 2014

    Great I hope you can keep this up! The reviews I read are saying that since february the demand has fallen a lot on revmob. Can anyone can confirm that or give some insight?
    We are currently monetizing with Sulvo X and they are doing great so I wouldn’t want to waste impressions if we don’t have to.
    Thanks!

  • Alex Bx April 7, 2014

    I am interested in an idea which you can put you add whenever you want and App owners get paid on each user action. This will increase user experience as well. i came across two startups pollfish and yoyobutton. do you have any suggestions?

  • Andy April 14, 2014

    I am very young and have big dreams on making an app because I love creating things so I
    thought designing an app would be cool but I don’t know if I will make more on advertising
    on my free app I could make,or creating a paid app so I make money from people buying it?

  • Tiffany April 14, 2014

    I hope you write an update on this soon. It’s now 2014 and obviously the Revmob model has been noted by other players and the eCPM has leveled out a little, at least from my experience. How is this looking in the future from your inside perspective?

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas April 14, 2014

    @Andy – typically free apps will make more in categories like games. If you can make the conversion rates work well for IAP, then you can do really well in other categories like photo or fitness or whatever. Paid is viable, but you need to have a great product.

    @Tiffany – Sort of. This basic model still works, but yes it has changed. For example over the weekend some big games were doing a burst campaign and spending $11 per install on downloads. I had like $85 eCPM on some of my apps.

    It comes down to targeting. Are you just installing the SDK and letting a network do all the work to allocate your traffic? Or are you optimizing, targeting, and creating your own deals with advertisers? My most recent posts talks about this. Huge eCPMs are not crazy if you connect the dots the right way.

  • Sofia November 10, 2014

    My experience in using ad networks has been really bad until I discovered adtomatik. The best ecpm and the highest fill rates

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas November 24, 2014

    @Sofia – Interesting. I’ll check them out. Is it just games?

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