Since the dawn of the smartphone and subsequent explosion of the mobile app market, developers have had different methods of earning income from their work. In the industry’s earliest times, this normally meant charging for mobile apps.
Since then, the practices changed a bit, thanks to the audience’s decreasing willingness to pay a high price (or even at all) for an app.
First, we witnessed dramatic price drops. It became standard to have apps offered under the price tag of only $1 or less. As the prices reduced, it was normal to offer apps at no cost at all.
This is where monetization strategies like in-app purchases, offerwalls, subscriptions, sponsorships, merch sales, etc. entered the stage. However, one mobile monetization strategy has risen above all others in both profitability and applicability – advertising.
Over the past few years, advertising has taken over in-app purchases as the preferred method for turning apps into a strong source of revenue. This is justifiable considering the fact that in-app ads drive over 50% of revenue in several app categories, most notably the hyper casual games.
However, as with most things in life, it doesn’t come without problems.
Consumers come first (or do they?)
Sometimes, in the rush for success and the money it brings, we can forget some of the factors that play a huge role in the process. In the mobile app publishing business, publishers can become guilty of one big mistake – not taking their consumers’ opinions seriously.
Too often while scanning an app’s reviews section, you can notice some that have been left unanswered. What’s worse, the publishers haven’t even bothered to fix some of the most common problems the consumers are complaining of.
You’ll see complaints dating from six or more months ago, only to find out the problem still persists once you install and use the app yourself. So, what do you do? Either you just shrug at it and continue using the app, trying to tell yourself it’s alright , since it’s free anyway, or you just remove the offending app altogether.
A lot of times, ads are the subject of users’ complaints, such as:
People are being tricked and even offended
Sometimes the content of an ad might seem interesting and relevant to the user so he or she will click on it, only to realize it has nothing to do with their interests and offers no value to them. In fact, as much as 15% of people have been tricked into opening an ad at least once.
And this is far from being the only problem with content. Not long ago, outrage erupted over a mobile game’s playable ads that featured a bound and gagged person, offering the player a choice to torture, kill, or even seduce them. I’m sure everyone will agree that this is a rather bizarre concept, not to say offensive from many viewpoints.
While in rare cases shock value can bring you some attention, it is usually the negative kind and can cause a lot of trouble in the long run.
Too many ads will likely lead to deinstalls
More often than not, users complain about the amount of ads plaguing the app. While many people understand that they are necessary in a free app, there is such a thing as too many ads. Overwhelming your users can annoy them, especially if ads pop out every five seconds and make the app virtually unusable.
Many app publishers offer their users an option to get rid of the ads forever with just a one-time payment or a subscription. However, there is a thin line between a suggestion and coercion. Forcing them to choose between being incessantly bombarded by ads and paying to get the proper functionality is what will actually make them delete your app.
I have done this for the exact same reason. It was one of those exercise apps that reminds you to work out on specific days at specific times. As soon as I started using it, I was immediately faced with an ad (totally expected). But when the loud and long ads started appearing every few seconds, interfering with my workout, I simply removed the app and found a new one, also free, but with fewer interruptions (still using it).
The same ad over and over and over
Another problem is the repetitiveness of ads or rather lack of diversity. Not many of us feel like watching the same ad all over again every time we open an app. Additionally, ad content should reflect the target audience’s tastes, at least in general.
Accomplishing this can be difficult but today there are many platforms and tools (SOOMLA comes to mind) that allow you to analyze and segment users into groups so appropriate ads can be delivered to them.
There are some hideous ads in your app
Humans are visual beings. We like eye-pleasing graphics and well-balanced color palettes. This is why it is important to have this side of the design in mind. Users will notice a poorly designed ad and this will affect their overall satisfaction with the app.
Publishers can rarely control how the ads in their apps look like but they still need to listen to their users, check out the app themselves every now and then and contact the ad network they’re working with, in case the problems with certain ads persist.
Some advertisers are guilty of hiding their ‘x’ button so that users cannot easily close them. This is a very unfair practice to the user and a common problem that needs to be addressed. Not to mention that the ads themselves can sometimes be loud or long, so wanting to stop them as quickly as possible is legitimate.
It’s high time to start talking openly about the most common problems in mobile advertising so we can find the best ways to deal with them. Sweeping them under the carpet won’t make them go away and the users’ dissatisfaction will remain. Customers are the main reason why developers create apps to begin with, and if they’re not happy with the mobile ads being served to them, they should be taken seriously.
The first step is to listen to your users. Carefully go through the reviews and try to answer them all. Most importantly, try to solve them as soon as possible. Sometimes it’s impossible to directly influence the content and quality of ads, especially if they’re being served by a third party. But in these cases, communication is key – reaching out to ad networks and advertisers in question and discussing the issues with them.