Since the dawn of the smartphone and subsequent explosion of the app market, the publishers have been racing against each other in making better, fancier, and more useful apps. This has often included a lot of hard work: learning, research, trial-and-error experiences, dealing with partners in the business, and more.
The learning part has also meant taking lessons from your own and other publisher’s practices, as well as researching and adapting to the trends, be it of supply and demand, customers’ preferences, and more.
Although you should be well informed about the current situation, you don’t necessarily need to act on all of them. Sometimes the trends in the app business can be misleading or unclear, as you’re going to see in just a bit. So what trends have we witnessed recently that should be taken with a grain of salt? Let’s start with…
Going straight for the freemium model
Freemium is one of the most popular choices for monetization these days. It has started its expansion after the rise of the hyper-casual games which usually had a low price attached to them. The prices kept decreasing until finally it proved more feasible to just remove the price tag altogether. This opened the door for various monetization strategies like in-app purchases, ads, and subscriptions that were meant to replace the traditional way – charging for apps.
And while the freemium model definitely has its upsides, it should be used with extreme caution. What I mean is that a lot of times, publishers create a free app only to end up earning next to nothing in the beginning. They give away too much and there just aren’t enough users making in-app purchases or clicking on ads. If you’re an indie developer, you might want to consider starting with the premium version and adjusting the price in accordance with the demand.
Allocating too much space to ads
Ads are definitely taking over the in-app purchases, at least in terms of revenue. In fact, they drive over 50% of the revenue in multiple app categories and have also experienced a sharp increase in popularity thanks to the freemium model.
Ads have multiple advantages. They’re easy to implement and have proved effective in generating a large number of impressions. Furthermore, users don’t mind them, especially the rewarded videos.
However, some publishers, seeing all the positives, make the mistake of completely eliminating IAPs and other monetization methods, entirely replacing them with ads.
It’s useful to know that ads can have their bad sides too: some ad types don’t get along with app’s usability or take too long to load. Users can also become fed up with too many ads, leading to high churn rates. As a matter of fact, some of the most common complaints in user reviews refer to the number of ads shown in an app.
Ads are a great method to make your app pay off, but they should be implemented with great care and in balance with other monetization strategies. That is the only way to ensure a good user experience and generate profit while you’re at it.
(Over)using the subscription model
While subscriptions are definitely going to bring you quite a few bucks, this model doesn’t come without traps of its own. Specifically, there has been a rise in scammers taking advantage of the subscription model to get users to sign up for costly and recurring plans.
They accomplish this by confusing users with the design and appearance of a legitimate app, offering free trials and using other deceptive tactics. While the numbers showing the popularity of subscriptions are high, they obviously don’t tell the whole story.
Another, perhaps even more important issue is that users actually don’t even like the subscription model that much. Many of them are complaining of apps being too pushy in offering them subscriptions with no transparency whatsoever about how the free trials work nor how to stop the recurring payments. The typical user finds it hard to discern among genuine and scam subscription offers, especially when the app in question has high ratings, which leads us to…
Blindly trusting app store reviews and ratings
App store reviews and ratings are an important part of ASO (app store optimization) that a lot of publishers depend on. It sets the score for popularity among users, and consequently the monetization success. That said, app stores have fallen victim to scammers rigging the system and showing an unbelievably high number of customer reviews, duping most customers into thinking they’re dealing with an awesome and trustworthy app.
If you’re an app developer discouraged by other developers’ apps with hundreds of thousands of positive reviews, don’t be so quick to jump to conclusions. This might mean it’s just a huge scam developed to trick customers out of their money. My main point here is to not always trust the app store ratings without thoroughly checking them first.
The scammers can also attack genuine, good apps, flooding them with thousands of negative reviews. Look into this if your app’s rating is suddenly plummeting and take action – contact the app stores or even consider legal remedies.
Relying on rich design and graphics
We are living in an era where technology has allowed us to create and enjoy beautiful graphics and artificial details. That said, it’s easy to get carried away and put too much emphasis on the aesthetics of the app. Don’t forget that most users’ devices just aren’t equipped for handling overly rich graphics, at least not without issues such as slowing down the app, phone, internet connection, etc.
If you really can’t handle the thought of your app’s visuals being less than perfect, then I suggest you at least consider publishing it on an app store that caters to more powerful and expensive devices, like the Apple App Store. And even then, try not to overdo it.
Not everything is as it seems, and sometimes a certain trend is just the tip of the iceberg, while the real problems lurk below the surface. Regardless of whether you’re already in this business or considering jumping in, you’ll not only need to keep yourself informed about the trends and approach them with a healthy dose of skepticism. You’ll also need a strong monetization service to help you along the way, so head over to our website and check if we’re the right match!