This article explores the various opportunities for #distribution and #monetization, available for app developers outside the main app stores. Starting with WHY reach beyond the traditional stores, then revealing HOW to achieve it, ending with WHO can benefit from it.
Why go beyond the Play store?
As we all know, distribution and monetization of mobile apps are extremely difficult. App developers wage a constant battle to acquire more users, at a reasonable cost, while working hard to extract the most value from their user base, trying to yield a positive ROI from this cycle. Yet most developer’s apps end up losing this battle in most or all cases.
The cause of this situation, product aside, is the combination between immense competitiveness in app distribution, coupled with the very limited ad-supported monetization options possible for apps listed the app store. This reality forces smaller app developers to pay ridiculous prices per user, as they have to compete for users with endless other app developers, some of which are giant corporations with big budgets and known brands.
After paying such high costs to acquire users, the developers are restricted by the app store policies, from generating significant revenues from their users. The store policies forbid the use of the most effective advertising methods, resulting in negative ROI.
Almost all discussions on this problematic cycle are focused on the first problem- cost of distribution, while neglecting the second half of the ROI equation- monetization, as if it is a divine law, yet opportunities lie in both avenues.
How? – The opportunities for Distribution & Monetization:
Many app developers testify that their app got many free users through alternative stores, sometimes even more than through the Play store! This is mostly due to the fact that alternative stores are much less competitive compared to the traditional stores. Obviously, no one will oppose getting additional free users – so here is your first most obvious reason to venture beyond the traditional store.
Second, paid user acquisition outside the stores is very much alive and kicking, yet so far, only a small portion of advertisers make use of it (outside of China). Surprisingly, the main reason for this gap is lack of information (which this article aims to supply).
Third, running a user acquisition campaign for an app outside Play is almost identical to a campaign on Play. The main difference is that when a user clicks on your banner he will be able to immediately download the app, instead of first going to the app’s page on the store. This actually improves the conversion rate from click to install, improving performance compared to regular campaigns in the majority of cases.
One common concern on that matter relates to the warning message that pops up when a user tries to install an app from outside the Play store, for the first time. However, most users have already enabled it in the past and once they have done so there is no need to repeat it for additional apps.
Moreover, distribution of apps outside the stores is significantly less competitive.
Lower competition, coupled with the improved conversion rate, results is a cheaper and more effective distribution channel.
Most app developers will surely agree that the number one challenge by far is monetization. Getting users is hard, but it is much harder to reach utopia, where the users generate enough revenues to cover their marketing cost, let alone reach profitability on your user acquisition budget.
The market is loaded with endless ad networks who promise great monetization capabilities; however they fail to generate high-enough user values, despite all the advanced ad formats they offer. This is due to the fact that the only ads they display are all within the app, which really limits your revenue potential to the small timeframe in which the users are active within your app.
The app stores don’t limit us on how much we pay for acquiring new users, but they do limit us on how much we can monetize our users. They restrict the ads-monetization to the very small fragment of time when the user is actively using our app, while forbidding any monetization of our users while they are not using the app, which is 99.9% of the time, for 99.9% of apps.
Once we distribute our app outside the stores we are not limited by the store’s internal restrictions. This status enables us to use endless new ways of monetizing our users.
Think of it this way: imagine you can display the same banners, videos and messages, that you currently display to your users; however, you are able to display it while the users are not active in your app. Well, the good news is that it is possible and is already happening, thanks to a unique technology called HEROsdk.
HEROsdk is a proprietary technology developed by Performance Revenues, which monetizes Android apps (APK) outside the Play store.
The technology makes use of highly advanced ad types and features to monetize the users when they are not active in your app. This technique generates user values which are significantly higher than any traditional ad monetization network, in some cases up to 5 times higher revenues.
An additional benefit of this monetization is that once the users are active in your app, they are not being distracted by banners which interfere with gameplay and usability of the app. Alternatively, developers may choose to keep their existing monetization within the app and simply enjoy the additional revenues from outside their app on top of their regular earnings.
The above methods of distribution and monetization are open and relevant for all app developers, from all countries, sizes and verticals. Below we identify some specific verticals that most benefit from it, however, ALL APP DEVELOPERS should benefit from it, with the one exception of apps that already have a high average user value that tops $8 per user:
- Utility apps; Casual games; Similar categories.
These are probably the categories (and other similar categories) that may benefit the most, as the user value (LTV) in these verticals is usually low, ranging between $0.1 to $1 per user. This status limits their ability to compete with apps of other categories, such as strategy games and social casinos, where the user value may top $8 and even more. Adding an alternative channel enables the app developers to distribute for a lower cost and to significantly increase their monetization, doubling their user value.
- Forbidden categories on Play.
Google decided to deprive Play users from few of the most popular categories in the world (and on the net), such as Gambling and Adult. Users are forced to reach these categories through a browser or to download the apps from these websites. Distribution outside Play is already a big thing in these categories and is expected to grow rapidly.
- Apps with low user ratings on Play.
Did your app get low ratings on Play due to a bug or a vindictive competitor? No worries, distribution outside Play is not effected by such incidents.
Some countries prefer to get their apps from outside the Play store. China is by far the leader of this trend, with Play owning less than 5% of the market share, yet this is the biggest Android market in the world in terms of downloads and revenues. Don’t neglect it, join the trend!
Bottom line, app distribution and monetization outside Play offers significant advantages. Unless your average user value tops $8, you can’t afford not to take advantage of these opportunities.
You can visit the Performance Revenues website here.