Monetization Mistakes Every Developer Makes

So you’ve decided to create an app. Brilliant! Be warned, though: creating an app may just be the easy part. The hard part is monetizing it correctly.


Image source: Flickr, User: 401K 2012

To help you save face, here’s a list of egregious monetization mistakes. Avoid these and you may just market the next Candy Crush.

1. Defaulting the app to pay-per-install

One of the first monetization challenges developers face is whether to make their apps free or pay-per-install. The risk with assigning a set cost to an app is that a developer could either sell themselves short by charging too little, or overvalue their creation and charge more than users are willing to pay.

More and more developers are overcoming this struggle by switching to free apps. In fact, Gamasutra shows that in-app purchases in iOS apps generate 81% of US revenue from the App Store. Before you write off pay-per-install as the only option, be sure to examine other ways to monetize. Speaking of which …

2. Ignoring monetization strategy

From the second developers start working on apps, they should begin brainstorming their monetization plan. Figuring it all out in advance is crucial. Will you create a freemium app where users can purchase packages (lives, coins, etc.)? Will you opt for in-app advertising? Will you cross-promote your app? Knowing the answer now will ensure that the plan is integrated smoothly into the user experience.

Note: Even after you figure out monetization strategies, it’s best to readjust throughout the app’s lifespan to ensure tactics perform consistently.

3. Creating the same strategy for different platforms

One-size fits all strategies don’t work for iOS, Android and Windows; they require varied approaches. To start, developers must use different programming languages for each – Java for Android and Objective C or Swift for iOS – and understand the Terms and Conditions that affect app acceptance and ranking within each marketplace. Additionally, some ad formats aren’t available on all platforms.

Developers often start on one operating system, usually iOS, and move on to the next once their app has launched and bugs have been fixed. This gives them a chance to market the app first, build name recognition and make final changes to the functionality before it’s live in two or more stores.

4. Misunderstanding analytics

In order to know if a marketing strategy works, developers need to measure everything from installations and app crashes to daily active users and retention rate. Developers can even accumulate metadata about their audience, including gender, age, location and income, to determine what kinds of ads users value. Unfortunately, many app creators often misconstrue the info or don’t measure enough different data points.

Once devs have all the facts, they can specifically see what works and what doesn’t. Perhaps a portion of users read the app description and decided against downloading it, or installed the app to play the game only once. With analytics, developers can tweak every detail of the app to acquire more downloads and sales, leading to a stronger monetization plan.

5. Using intrusive advertising

Users have cited full-screen interstitials as a “necessary evil.” In short, they understand ads are required to access the free apps they love, but find it annoying to constantly click out from pop-ups. These ads are often integrated poorly as well, failing to blend into the app’s interface. At first, intrusive ads can help a developer bring in small revenue, but when used too often, these ads can actually drive away users.

The solution calls for developers to vary advertising with monetization options that users prefer, such as moment-based rewards. Rewards are offered during “achievement moments,” like when a player wins a level on a mobile game, when users are most susceptible to brand influence. Instead of displaying an irrelevant banner or video ad, rewards offer the user something of value: in-app currency sponsored by a beloved brand, or tangible products that celebrate the win.

Developers shouldn’t lurk in the dark when they have questions. Reach out! Kiip is always happy to help developers with any monetization woes.

Go forth and conquer, my friends.

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This is part of Kiip’s ongoing Developer Success Guide.

Kiip is a leader in the field of app monetization. We enable developers to reward their users with advertising they enjoy. We want all developers to be successful in their ventures, so we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide with industry observations, best practices and expert advice.  

To learn more about monetizing your app, visit or email us at


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  • Siddharth

    Hey Brittany, nice blog you have covered the most important corners that one always has to keep in mind while one tries to monetize its app. Being successful as an app developer or app marketer, now-a-days, requires a break from the past. If you want your app to be a success you need to have a up-to-date understanding of the mobile app monetization landscape. Most of the developers make a very common mistake that they don’t try to understand the their consumers as they often wrongly assume them followed by followed by over-promise and under-deliver. App marketing is a part of the overall strategic plan and needs to be considered as important as app development is.

  • Rickie

    Great write up and I’m a fan of CPI ads. CPI installs are mostly incentivised to the end users. One can promote apps as low as 5 cents. Ex: TopApp ( – rewards users for trying great free apps. Advertisers pay per result/install basis. Other CPI platforms are freemyapps, cashonrewards, tapjoy etc. where advertisers like me pay per install. CPI platforms are usually good to increase app store/google play rankings and not very good for loyal users but its better to start with for any advertising efforts. I’m trying to advertise my new android apps with CPI recently and find it interesting including bringing in loyal users.