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Making money on mobile / apps for information sites
Ideas on how to make some money
GoNC



 
Msg#: 4642554 posted 8:37 am on Feb 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

This was being discussed in another thread, so I thought I'd move it here...

Me:
Today, our most common question: "why don't you have an app?" I don't say this, but I always wonder, "why do you think you need a separate program to use my site?"


lucy24
They want to visit your web site without having to type its address on the micro-keyboard or go hunting for the wee little Favorites menu. (I know Mobile Safari has got one, but it always takes me at least three tries to find it.) At the moment, the apps I use most often are YouTube --even though it's a lousy design-- NFB and Cracked. See what they've all got in common? They're simply web sites.


You make a good point, lucy, but the question I have is, how do these sites make money on their app? More importantly, how do I make money on an app?

I know that, until recently, Facebook lost money every time someone used their app, because they had 0 ads on it. I can't find the articles on it now, but I know it was before the site went public because I remember talking about how going public would change that. While it's all good that Facebook wanted to personally finance a new industry, I can't afford to do that.

I don't really use YouTube on my mobile very much, but I don't recall seeing ads on it... unless maybe they're embedded at the beginning of the video?

I had mentioned this on another thread, but with my sites, mobile users view an average of 2-3 pages per visit, while a desktop user views an average of 10-11 pages per visit. Further, I show a total of 7 ads per page to a desktop user, but only 1 to a mobile user (at the bottom of the page). But that 1 ad is worth about 1/10th of one of those desktop ads (e-commerce sites don't pay as much for mobile ads, since they don't buy). So the mobile user doesn't contribute as much content to the website, and brings in a lot less revenue than a desktop user.

So if ads are virtually worthless, how is a user-driven website (message boards, classifieds, etc) supposed to make money on a mobile app? As far as I can tell, encouraging people to use mobile hurts me a lot more than it helps.

 

mack

WebmasterWorld Administrator mack us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4642554 posted 12:52 am on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

Apps are more about getting your content displayed to the end user. It's about getting users to use you as opposed to the competition.

An app can be a lot more user friendly as opposed to using the phone or tablet's native keyboard.

Every time a user is browsing content via your app you have opportunities to get them to visit your main website.

Some companies simply display a mobile friendly version of their website within the app. That way you can get the user to surf your site without the need to open their web browser or surf to your site. They simply open the app and it's all there before them.

You mentioned Facebook. I donít think it's fair to say they lost money when people used the app. They probably gained money as a result.

Facebook is all about numbers, the more popular the service is, the more useful and addictive it is to the user. The app gave it market share, it allowed people to use the service when they where pretty much anywhere. This was in part responsible for generating growth and therefore income.

Youtube does show adverts within the app, although they are embedded within the video content in much the same way they are on the website.

As for your own app. You need to think in terms of how does your user interact with your existing website. What are the long term goals of your app and how will it be different to the website.

If you are only interested in generating revenue and nothing else then it is unlikely you will succeed. You need to deliver a product that is useful. People are not going to settle for an app that they really donít use. It will simply be deleted from their device.

Focus on the user first and foremost. Then understand how they are using the app. Then you can think about methods of generating revenue that donít effect the user experience.

Mack.

GoNC



 
Msg#: 4642554 posted 1:16 am on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

As for your own app. You need to think in terms of how does your user interact with your existing website. What are the long term goals of your app and how will it be different to the website.

If you are only interested in generating revenue and nothing else then it is unlikely you will succeed. You need to deliver a product that is useful. People are not going to settle for an app that they really donít use. It will simply be deleted from their device.


That's just it, there aren't any long-term goals with an app. Frankly, I wish that mobile didn't exist; IMHO, in the long run, mobile is hurting everyone other than data providers and app developers.

Regardless, in trying to keep up with the technology and stay a step ahead of any competition, I need to figure out how to provide this app, and at the same time, not lose money.

My sites only make money through ads. We provide news, message boards, classifieds, personals, and a few other localized features, so we rely on a high amount of traffic to view the ads and pay the bills. The content is highly used, and we could easily provide the data in an app. The problem is that there's simply not enough screen to provide the data along with ads.

And as I said earlier, even if we did find a way to squeeze in an ad, they're worth about 1/10th of an ad on a desktop. So, at best, if we made $5,000 on a website, but then everyone suddenly went to mobile, we'd make $500 for the exact same content.

So to answer your last statement, I think we have a fair understanding of the user, and deliver a useful "product" (ie, content). What we don't know, though, is how to make money on it in a mobile environment. Ads are virtually worthless, and we can't expect the user to pay for an app. So what's the third or fourth option that I'm not seeing?

mack

WebmasterWorld Administrator mack us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4642554 posted 3:39 am on Feb 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

One point you are maybe overlooking is brand loyalty. If a user likes your service they will install your app. If you do not have an app they may install one from a competitor and end up using their service across all devices.

An app may be seen as a "loss leader" but I'm not sure it's a factor we can ignore.

Mack.

tangor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4642554 posted 11:48 am on Feb 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

Given the industry reports for device use, ignore mobile at your own peril. Mobile also includes tablets... a larger screen. It is a pain to deliver different layout (hence code in fluid design), but if your regular visitor is on the commuter (bus or train, etc.) and has a yen to visit... that app makes it easier.

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