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    Wednesday
    Dec012010

    Get 75% instead of 70% from the App Store

    The 70% that Apple pays to its developers is pretty reasonable when you consider the backend expenses that are handled for you with the App Store, such as Hosting, Bandwidth, and Marketing.  Although Apple has a way in which they will give you an extra 5% on your App Downloads, and possibly even more.

    The iTunes Affiliate Program is a program that Apple created to allow for anyone with a website to provide links to iTunes content and receive a commission based on the downloads for the traffic that they generate.

    If you already have a website for your App, you can join the affiliate program and then modify the existing url on your site to now include your affiliate id, and you will now receive an extra 5% from every download that you send to the App Store from your site.

    I set this up for my apps in a matter of minutes, just fill out the Linkshare application, and apply to join the iTunes program.  Once you are approved, you will be taken to the link generator for iTunes.  From here just find your application and it will generate an html url tag that you can insert directly into you web site and start receiving 5% for all traffic off that link, as well as 5% off any other purchases made within 72 hours.

     

    You will have the option to create a text link, a small image link, or a large image link.

    Traceroute Pro - Remarkable Pixels

    Traceroute Pro - Remarkable Pixels

    Traceroute Pro - Remarkable Pixels

     

    For an indie developer like me this is a great opportunity for some more revenue with really no overhead on my part.  Also the opportunity to generate revenue not just for downloads from my app, but all purchases made in the iTunes store within 72 hours of my referral, is even more exciting.

    Thursday
    Nov252010

    iThankful: What made Remarkable Pixels.

    This has been an exciting year for me and my family with the birth of our first child and the birth of Remarkable Pixels. I started this small company without knowing anything about iPhone development, and now have 3 apps in the App Store.  I thought that on this day of reflection, I would mention some of the resources that I am thankful for that helped me get Remarkable Pixels off the ground.

    iTunes U

    Stanford CS193P - Winter 2010

    Stanford CS193P - Fall 2010

    How to make an iPhone App

     

    Blogs

    iDevBlogADay

    Volon Bon

    Aral Balkan

    Hacker News

     

    Twitter

    @stevestreza

    @aral

    @mattjdrake

    @cocoasamurai

    @nachoman

    @rwenderlich

    @jonsterling

     

    Checkout some of my apps while your here, Traceroute, Traceroute Pro, & BabyLogs.

    Monday
    Nov222010

    Pennies on the Dollar: iAds vs. Admob

    First week of data is in on the integration of AdMob ads into Traceroute.  As I previously wrote about my frustration with the fill rate with iAds, I decided to leverage AdMob ads when iAds fail to populate(why and how).

    The fill rate has increased substantially as I am now nearing 80% fill rate on all ad requests, where previously with iAds alone the fill rate was below 10%.  At first glance this would seem like a win, but then I took a look at the revenue and eCPM for my now blossoming ad views, and my jaw dropped.  I had become accustomed to eCPM of $2-5 dollars on iAds but in AdMob, I am getting pennies. 

     

    AdMob


     

    iAds

     

    It has only been a week so far, so I will continue to watch as more impressions come in to see if the eCPM improves, but so far for a niche app like Traceroute with ~1000 requests a day, AdMob doesn't seem to be worth the hassle of presenting ads to my users.

    Looking around AdWhirl peeked my curiosity and I plan on looking into that further during free time over the holiday to see if I will get better results from integrating more ad networks into Traceroute.

    Sunday
    Nov142010

    AdMob To The Rescue?

    As I wrote last week, I've been unhappy with the fill rate of my iAds in Traceroute.  I've been exploring my alternatives, AdMob, Mobclix, Medialets, etc and decided to settle on AdMob.  AdMob implements ads in a very similar way as iAds(320px, 48px), so it makes the integration much more straightforward.  

    While I have been unhappy with the fill rate of iAds, I have been very happy with the revenue I receive per click, so instead of just replacing iAds in Traceroute, I decided to populate AdMob ads when iAds fail to load.  This way I would have a much higher likelihood of delivering ads, and in theory get the best of both worlds.

    The folks over at AdMob have a great wiki that will walk you through the necessary steps to get the AdMob library imported into your project and the necessary dependencies. You can follow that guide here so I wont bother going into the basics of how to implement AdMob ads.

    Instead I'll just show you the simple two lines of code that placed strategically I believe will solve my fill rate issues. My implementing the AdMob ad call within the iAds presentation failure, I ensure that there will not be contention, as well as that AdMob will pick up the slack where iAds fails.

     

    - (void)bannerView:(ADBannerView *)banner didFailToReceiveAdWithError:(NSError *)error {

    // iAds failed to load, lets take advantage with AdMob

    // Request an ad

    adMobAd = [AdMobView requestAdWithDelegate:self]; // start a new ad request

    [adMobAd retain]; // this will be released when it loads (or fails to load)

    }

     

    Monday
    Nov082010

    iPhone Niche App: Ad Supported or Premium Download?

    It was my day off and I was traveling to a wedding with my wife out of state when I received an emergency page from work, customers were reporting that they were unable to access our web sites. Without my laptop, I only had my iPhone available to do some tests. The reports indicated that it was only limited to customers on the west coast, but that everyone else could access the sites fine. Immediately I started doing some google searches for looking glass sites on the west coast. This yielded nothing but broken links and sites that did not work well on the iPhone.

    My frustration with this experience gave me the motivation to produce a mobile looking glass application, that would make my life much easier. I spent the next few weeks aggregating ISP’s looking glass devices, writing code, and eventually came out with an app that I was happy with. I really wanted this application to be widely available so that no one would have to deal with the same frustration as I did, but I also wanted to be able to cover my costs. I thought that the best way to handle this would be a free application, supported by ads.

    Apple approved “Traceroute” (LookingGlass was taken) on October 1st and with excitement I watched as the downloads accumulated each day. Traceroute was being downloaded across the world, and by November 1st it was being used in 57 different countries. Yet each day when I checked in on my iAd performance, it was disappointing. The number of impressions to the number of requests was abysmal. Traceroute has a very diverse international user base approximately 60% of the users are outside the US, and as of writing this iAd support is just starting to trickle out internationally. Each day hundreds of people were using Traceroute but I was only getting credit for a small population of these users. On one hand I was happy because I had produced a useful niche application, but on the other hand I was hoping to be able to at least be able to cover my apple licensing costs.

    Come late October and only having generated enough revenue to purchase a few Americanos, I decided to start thinking about other ways to monetize the application. I never liked it when developers put out free but crippled versions of an application to push people to convert to a paid application. Although if you could get the same functionality in the free version as a paid version who would choose the paid version? I shrugged my shoulders and with nothing to lose thought I would give it a try.

    I got to work and stripped out all of the code for Ad support in Traceroute and published Traceroute Pro, to the app store.

    Results:

    Apple approved Traceroute Pro on November 2nd, and in the one week since that approval Traceroute Pro has generated very low double digit downloads. Although comparing the revenue of Traceroute Pro vs. Traceroute, the 99c downloads have yielded more revenue in a week with very low volumes than the Ad views on the thousand plus applications of Traceroute that are in use.

    Given the revenue numbers in just one week it would seem that it would be better to release future applications as a paid applications instead of the ad supported model, although I think that there are some variables to watch before I come to that conclusion.

    • Its difficult to tell if the paid downloads are current Traceroute users who upconverted to Traceroute Pro to avoid ads, or are these new users?
    • If I integrate a secondary Ad platform to fill in when iAds fails to generate an Ad will that have any impact on revenue?
    • As Apple roles out iAd international support will the fill rate increase significantly to impact revenue?

    I plan to explore using Admob to step in when the iAd requests fail. I’ll follow up with a new blog entry for if this works and how well it performs in comparison to iAds.

    I’ll keep an eye out on these variables and report back as things progress but at this point the best recommendation I could produce for utility application developers is to utilize both application types and see what works for your audience.

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