Don’t Use Ad Spam in Your Apps, Please!


In our Facebook group one of the developers received an email from RevMob. He posted the email to the group. The email began by asking the question: How do I maximize my app’s revenues? Innocent enough, but then RevMob proceeded to list 7 ways to do this. The first thing that they suggested was to make sure you are running the latest version of their SDK in your apps. No problem with that, it’s always a good suggestion to run the latest and greatest code. It’s the other 6 suggestions that I have a problem with.

First let me state that I’m really disheartened by some of the things I’m seeing in iOS apps because of the influx of internet marketers. I believe a lot of IM marketers see apps as the new Adsense. A place where they can create the lowest common denominator garbage in order to make money. They’re not really interested in creating great apps or a great user experience. They simply want to use apps as a vehicle for ads. If you’re creating apps for the express purpose of using it as a transport for ads then you’re setting yourself up for a short term business. This is a similar business strategy used during the Adsense boom days when people put up one page websites littered with Adsense ads. The content like some of the apps being developed simply had little to no value. Apps developed in this manner will only be used once or twice, and then will be forgotten about.

RevMob is one of the darlings of this group of IM marketers. They use RevMob to spam the user with ads while using the app. Now don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with using ads in an app. But, I think Apple has developed an elegant solution to displaying Ads in apps with the same banner iAds that you can use either at the top or bottom of your apps view. One banner in the view. Simple. Elegant. Uncluttered and annoying. Most users accept these ads and don’t mind them in the app. Users understand that developers have to make a living, and iAd or AdMob type banners don’t interfere with the user experience. Now on to RevMob:

Suggestion #2: Fullscreen ad units are better than popups!

Uh, no. I don’t want to see your ad at fullscreen unless it was attached to a banner ad that “I” clicked. Apple’s iAds are fullscreen ads, but only after you have clicked the initial banner ad. I think this is much better than showing me a fullscreen ad unannounced.

Suggestion #3: Use Banners together with Fullscreen ad units to monetize your apps.

NO, just use banner ads period. See my response to #2.

Suggestion #4: Fullscreen ad units: they are interstitial ad units. Show them as many times as possible during the session but be careful not to annoy users. Our suggestion: show them in the beggining of the app (including after multi-tasking!) and at every 60 seconds when no action is required by the user (eg: “Game Over” or “Level Cleared”).

NO, please don’t show me fullscreen ads repeatedly. What IM gurus are telling their followers is to show a fullscreen ad immediately once the app opens, and then every time there is no action happening in the app. You can not believe how annoying this is until you use an app that does this. If you are showing me a fullscreen ad as soon as I open the app then you really don’t want me to use your app. What you really want is for me to click an ad. These apps get deleted from my iPhone. This is usually done in games, and makes for a crappy user experience.

Suggestion #5: Banners: keep them visible during the entire session. Show them on the bottom – it’s easier for users to click! Make sure to display them in a visible area to increase your Clickthrough-Rate (CTR). You can also manually INCREASE the size of your banners – this considerably increases the CTR, and therefore, the eCPMs. So, feel free to increase the size of the banners if you want extra revenue.

This starts out ok, but goes bad when RevMob suggest that developers increase the size of the banners. Why would you increase the size of the banner? Google and Apple have come up with the perfect banner size. These banners don’t get in the way of enjoying the app and are still visible for anyone to see perfectly. I don’t want extra large banners in my app. It’s distracting and looks ugly and abnormal.

Suggestion #6: Include a button in the main screen labeled “More Games”. Show our Fullscreen ad unit if the user clicks on it.

I have no heartburn with this one if you’re displaying one fullscreen ad only.

Suggestion #7: Do not use in-app purchases. This will only decrease the life time of 95% of your users.

What?!? Don’t use in-app purchases! Are they crazy? In-app purchases are used by almost all of the successful iOS apps in the store. A quick check of the app store shows that 5 of the 10 ten top paid apps use in-app purchase. In the Games paid app category 7 of 10 apps use in-app purchase, and in the games free app category 9 of 10 apps use in-app purchase. Of the Apple top 25 all time paid apps 16 of 25 use in-app purchase.

I think either offering an in-app purchase to turn off the ads or a premium version of the app with no ads is a great way to monetize your apps.

I hope that developers will resist this type of ad spamming. And use the more understated but user friendly ad conventions.