App Monetization: 6 Ways To Make Money With Apps

Mobile app monetization can be tricky. Doesn’t everyone want to ultimately address the following question: “how to make money with apps”?

Monetizing an app is certainly not easy.

And a common belief is that there are only three monetization strategies: paid app, freemium and free app with advertising.

What you didn’t know is that there are many more ways to make money from the mobile application you got developed.

We’ve done the research and identified 6 such strategies with tools that will help you make money with apps in different ways – choose the one that best fits the nature or category of your mobile app.

#1 Use surveys within your app

Thousands of marketers and businesses are continuously looking for people to share their important opinions, knowledge, and feedback.

So, conducting surveys through mobile apps by inserting ads, in the form of survey questions could potentially make money for app developers.

Your app can make money for having your users take surveys.

Pollfish is one such platform that inserts surveys instead of ads through mobile apps.

Andreas Vourkos, Co-founder & COO of Pollfish told us, “At Pollfish we provide a new interactive way of monetization, delivering surveys instead of ad through mobile apps, providing high payouts with minimal intrusion. These surveys can be used along with any ad network you are already using in your app. The app developer gets minimum revenue of $0.30 for each completed survey through the app.”

#2 Reward your app users and yourself

Kiip (pronounced as Keep) is a tool that rewards users on completion of certain defined in-app events and the app developers make money while rewarding users.

Brian Wong, Kiip CEO & Co-Founder says, “When ads appear at the wrong time, they interrupt the in-app experience and annoy users. Instead, team up with a platform that pinpoints what users want to see ‘in the moment’ and supplies relevant rewards. For instance, if you have a fitness app, Kiip can celebrate finished workouts with a free sample of Propel Fitness Water. If you have a cooking app, we can recognize when a user favorites a new recipe and offer a discount for one of the necessary ingredients. This approach will not only help you monetize your app, but will retain users at a much higher rate.”

Kiip’s technology integrates with Android and iOS apps, allowing developers to incorporate a code that connects brands with users during relevant moments such as striking off a task in a to-do list app or levelling up in a gaming app.

The brands reward users with free product samples, gift cards, mp3 downloads and more for their publicity. In exchange, the app developers make money from their app when brands sponsor their in-app currency. App developers can even customize the reward experience to fit their app and user preferences.

With this app monetization model, app developers have their hands full as they make additional money with apps as well as gain happy and engaged users.

#3 Barter with other apps

Tapjoy is an advertising network which is particularly popular with gaming apps. Developers who use Tapjoy take part in an incentivized monetization model called Mobile Value Exchange. This program allows app users to select advertisements with which to engage for virtual rewards or premium content.

Users are encouraged to click on and interact with advertisers through video ads (sometimes downloading another app outright) in order to gain virtual currency or other bonuses in the app they are currently using. The payment from these ads comes from the maker of the other apps, who benefit by acquiring new users and increasing their exposure, thus helping both the stakeholders make more money from apps.

#4 Selling API’s, source code and app data

First, if the core proposition of your app is valuable to other apps, the peers will approach you for the availability of your API. While it is a good idea to provide free-to-use APIs, you can consider selling your API if your product is niche.

Second, app reskinning is a popular practice nowadays. To speed up the development process, some developers prefer to buy source codes of similar existing apps. To make more money from your apps, you can put multiple versions of your source code with slight tweaks and sell it to other developers. Chupamobile is one such marketplace where you can sell the code and others can re-skin it to their liking.

#5 Get advertising sponsors instead of integrating ad networks

Instead of having random ads on your app, you can find a sponsor for your app, which matches with your app’s personality. A sponsorship or an integrated sponsor would generally involve an exclusive or semi-exclusive partner who owns the entire ad space on your app, for a period of time.

This deal is less annoying for app users as well as this integration looks more natural and the sponsored content is integrated more thoughtfully into the app. You can charge the sponsor for a flat monthly or annual fee.

But this option is easier to integrate only if you get a good number of downloads and monthly active users for your app.

#6 App Merchandising

Remember, those stuffed soft toys of angry birds characters in every kid store?

Yes, app merchandising can also add to your revenue. In 2012, 45% of Rovio’s revenue (developer of Angry Birds app) came from consumer products.

If your app is already a franchise or has some distinct characters, offline merchandising could be a good way to extend your brand to make more money from apps.

Be creative and you can launch an associated creative line of t-shirts that promote the concept of your app – in a creative manner of course.


As you can see, in-app purchase, advertising and pay-to-download are not the only means to make money with apps. We’ve demonstrated a few other ways and tools with which you can make more money – but there shouldn’t be any stopping here. Think creatively and I’m sure you can come up with many more!