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App Monetization Strategies Beginners Guide

March 24, 2021 |

Usually, there two main goals in making a mobile app. The first one is to support the marketing program of the company or to optimize some other processes. The second one is to start an app business and make some money with it. In this article, we will be talking about the second type.

If you are reading this, you must be wondering, how do mobile apps make money? Well, there are at least five ways to do that.

Next, we will talk about each of the methods in more detail. So you could choose the one that suits you best. And here you will find top mobile app development companies where you can find top app developers and can develop your own app. 

The most obvious way to make money with your app is to sell it! Thus, such apps make money simply by charging people to download them. But before making your app paid, you have to be sure that your app really worth it. Does it have any unique features or extraordinary value? Making a mobile app will more beneficial with these features. 

The trick here is that when your mobile app has a download cost, this is most likely its only way to monetize it.

Charging people additional money you a risking to make them angry about your app. This can lead to them leaving bad reviews for your app in the app store. In turn, too many bad reviews can lead to the loss of your application at the bottom of the search.

In-App Purchases

There two types of In-App Purchases – Consumable and Non-consumable.

A good example of consumable purchases is in gaming apps. Often, games offer to buy some extra coins. You buy them once, and after spending them, you have to buy them again and again. So, in other words, consumable purchases are the type of purchases that you consume. 

Talking about non-consumable purchases, we can define them as purchases that once bought stay with you forever. There are tons of examples down the app stores.

You can often see this in apps that have trial and full versions. Such as photo editing apps that have twenty free filters of hundreds. To get access to all of them, you usually have to buy these filters one by one or just purchase a full version of this app.

Another good example is apps where you could buy an ads-free version to play without in-app ads. Or, for example, some cooking apps offer several free recipes. But, if you want to, you can buy one separate recipe you like, or the whole category such as keto recipes, vegan food, etc.


Today one of the most popular app monetization methods is a subscription. This makes a lot of sense from a business point of view. Because you’re getting paid each month, week, or even year, instead of receiving a one-time payment.

The distinguishing feature of this strategy is a trial period. During the trial, users can familiarize themselves with an app, its content, and features. This allows them to feel safer and more comfortable buying a subscription – they already tried your app, so they know what they pay for.

Just a couple of years ago, this monetization method was common among different streaming services, such as Netflix, Spotify, and many others. However, today this model popular among almost all types of mobile apps. You can find this in various industries such as education, dating apps, fitness & wellness, food delivery, games, media, photo & video editing, and many others.

In-App Ads

To start making good money with in-app ads, you need to have a broad audience. The second thing to do is to implement a special ad SDK to your mobile app, so it could get statistics about your users and show ads from their advertisers.

But remember that different ads cost differently and generate different income for you. Usually, the cost per click is about 30 cents, but roughly only one of a thousand users click on the ad in mobile apps.  So, a trick in this monetization model is if you have a thousand people a day, you can expect about a 30 cents income in a day.

As mentioned earlier, to start advertising, you should install an app monetization SDK into your app. Today there are plenty of different platforms. It’s up to you which one to choose.

You may pick from such giant app monetization platforms as AdMob by Google, Facebook Audience Network, The Amazon Mobile Ads API, or one of the no less popular like Unity Ads, Tapjoy AdColony, and many others.


Almost the most non-obvious way to monetize your app is to include sponsorships. It works great when your application has a targeted well-defined user base. This allows you to offer sponsorship to a specific business, so both you and this company could have benefits.

Featured profiles are another interesting sponsorships variations. You can see this in some map apps or in apps that help you find a place or service you need.

For example, if your app allows users to find the best restaurant in town, you could include sponsored profiles for restaurants. You will be able to put their accounts in the first place or somehow highlight them above the search results in exchange for a certain fee.

Another example is an interior design gaming app that could have sponsorship relations with furniture manufacturers to include their furniture in the game, instead of coming up with new pieces.


The methods that we have discussed in the article are the most common today. However, remember that you are not limited by the strategies listed above. Also, you don’t have to choose just one of them. 

Analyze your app and your audience. Then, based on the knowledge gained, formulate the monetization strategy that suits you

Using different mobile apps, you may have noticed that often in-app ads and in-app purchases work together. Because, usually, you can view an ad to continue using the app, or you could buy an ad-free version. 

Also, a combination of subscription and non-consumable purchases works pretty well. For instance, in some streaming apps, you can buy a separate movie or a subscription and watch everything you want but only for a limited amount of time.

To sum up, you can use each strategy separately or combine them as you like. Perhaps, you will create your own strategy.

Katya Uvarova

Katya Uvarova is the lead marketing manager at Messapps – one of the top app development companies. She understands that even though she is not working on projects directly, she must have a deep understanding of development processes and industry insights.