Making money with mobile applications

Whether you are a business that is seeking to get a foot in on the mobile gold rush that is happening, or a developer looking to get that extra shilling to fund your pet projects, the issue of monetization  or return on investment is always top of mind. For businesses, the objective of building a mobile application may not be tied directly to the generation of revenue from the app but can be looked at from a larger mobile strategy that ties into other business processes that will lead to the actualization of revenue.

While you can try innovate your business model, there are some models that you should always give a thought to before trying too hard to create your own.

Sponsored development would be one way to go for developers who have interesting ideas that perhaps address a niche market and would not bring much by way of application downloads and a large user base. Fairly straight forward these are commissioned jobs. From a business perspective, taking an example of the hospitality industry , you could pay for application development for an app that showcases the beauty of Kenya and allows you to capture user details that can be used in your current sales pipeline to funnel potential customers. You can then roll out the mobile application in partnership with the relevant bodies in the tourism industry.

Paid downloads is yet another way that you can generate revenue from application development. The biggest challenge however lies in the creation of content or services that are sufficiently compelling for a user to want to pay for your application. There is also the element of perpetual development or innovation  to keep the revenues up by way of new purchases or upgrades. Locally, Nokia is working on ways of supporting paid downloads by way of mobile money and shortcodes. If targeting global market places, payment channels are already in place.

Virtual goods or in-app purchases afford you the opportunity to offer you application for free but have users pay for certain items within your mobile application. A dating application would for example have a user buy virtual flowers to send to the object of their desire using virtual currency that is purchased using real money.

Advertising is perhaps the default model that most would consider, but it carries with it the challenge of generating sufficient number to make any meaningful returns. One can use the numerous mobile advertising networks such as Admob and Inmobi, or leverage a mediation service that would offer the highest fill rates for available inventory, serving adverts from multiple ad networks, that give you the highest return as well as options for running house ads – which is inventory that you source directly.

The key thing across any model that you choose to deploy is that the content matters, at the end of the day it’s a numbers game.

An Africa based entrepreneur in the pursuit of opportunities without regard to resources currently controlled striving to build services that have real-world value for my beloved continent and beyond while having fun along the way.

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