Ads Monetization for Mobile Apps: 4 Hacks to Avoid Churn

This week’s guest post is by our friend Jonathan Raveh, the Director of Monetization at CallApp, a caller ID & call recorder app with over 35M installs.

Monetizing mobile apps

In case you haven’t noticed ad monetization for apps is now bigger than ever. Paid are still relatively rare and In-app purchases only work with applications that offer some sort of freemium model. Moreover, even freemium models now incorporate ads in them as an alternative to paying for an item. Rewarded videos, the most popular buzzword of 2015 and 2016, made almost every mobile game use ads as a partial revenue source. And yet, with rewarded videos actually increasing user engagement at times, many games and non-game apps still rely solely on ads to generate sufficient revenue to sustain themselves.

CallApp and Ads Monetization

CallApp, a caller ID & call recorder app is one of those apps. With over 35M installs worldwide, our app is totally free to use. There are no premium features for the app, but there are a few IAP products – backgrounds, themes and an ad-free version. The vast majority of revenues are generated with the use of ads; implemented natively in most of the features of the app – the contact list, call log, contact details, SMS feature and so forth. So, ad frequency is pretty high.

Related | How to make money with apps

With high frequency comes great responsibility – how do you avoid pissing off your users? As it’s no secret that the patience of smartphone users these days is at an all-time low – any extra irritation may push them over the edge and make them uninstall the app. Retention affects usage, usage affect ranks and App Store Optimization (ASO), and all of the above affects installs and growth. Monetization, therefore, is not a standalone channel that pays off the salary – it is one of the main pillars that support retention and other growth metrics.

So, with ad monetization serving such a crucial part in the app economy, what are the ways to avoid strengthening your users’ intent to remove your app? Here’s what our experience at CallApp taught us:

4 hacks to avoid user churn:

1. Don’t make big changes

Some users actually like ads and engage with them quite often, but generally most users see ads as a necessary evil. They will co-exist with them as long as the ads respect their territory. And by territory, I mean the ad space in the app. Your users are used to having ads appear in certain places in the app, and will automatically look for content above, below or around the ads. If you start changing the location of the ads, you are putting this delicate co-existence in danger. Changes in the ad real estate are bound to happen from time to time, but it’s your responsibility as an app developer to make them as gentle as possible.

Hack

At CallApp, changes in the ad positions happen once every few months. However, quite a few things inside the ads themselves make a difference in the CTR, CR, and the eCPM of the ads. Think about the edges of the ad, the position of the image, the test text font, the color of the call-to-action button – small tweaks and changes there make a substantial impact on the ad performance. It’s not all about size, people.

2. Keep it small and un-intrusive

This is a pretty basic rule. If you don’t know this one, you’re already in deep trouble. You need to find the right balance between revenue and intrusiveness. Any delay the user has in getting what he needs is intrusive, but what the user sees is a part of their experience too. Go easy on their eyes.

Hack

Go native. If you’re using a video or an interstitial as an ad format, there’s not a lot you can do to minimize the intrusiveness factor. However, other ad formats possess better opportunities to incorporate the ads in a way that will not damage the users’ experience. At CallApp, we only use native ads. We can earn a bit more using regular banner ads, but then it would be in exchange for users. We prefer users.

3. Don’t increase frequency

However tempting, increasing the frequency is a classic double-edged sword. You earn more revenue, but lose more users in return. Long term, this is usually a bad deal. Instead of showing more ads in the page, add more pages with value.

Hack

Add more revenue by increasing engagement & functionality. Find what your users need more and give them just that. That extra feature is worth money.

At CallApp we just released one of the most important features in the history of the company – a call recorder feature that gives our users the option to record all their conversations and share them via email or social media. This feature actually adds functionality to any user, which up until now had to use a separate app to do this. The call recorder feature has a separate page… you guessed right – it’s monetized with ads. Added features equal added engagement, added pages, added time spent in your app and added ad revenue.

4. Make the users understand that your app is a service

The best way to do this is to be in touch with them. Users appreciate the human touch, or any other touch when it comes down to creating value for them. Sending a push notification with a free gift every once in while is OK, but it doesn’t make your app a service. Figuring out what your users want and helping them get it, does.

Hacks

Unfortunately, no real hacks here, more like a company internal hack. Turning an app into a service requires a deep understanding at the very core of any app-related company. That understanding results in countless actions aimed at the user. At CallApp, we work tirelessly to give users what they need – answer their complaints on Google Play & their support tickets, offer them ways to improve functionality, and generally just treat them as consumers, not users.

To sum up: Ads monetization

There’s always more you can do. Work with the right networks, work with the right amount of ad networks and so on. However, the basics are still there – a lot of hard work, focus on people, concentrating on small difference that can make a big impact and always try to keep it clean. Ad-monetized apps can still offer quite a high-quality product & service, maintain happy users, and still make you a decent living. Not easy, but definitely possible.

Ad Monetization in Mobile Apps – 4 Hacks to Avoid Churn
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