So you've finally finished building your lovely new app and it's ready to be unleashed on smartphone and tablet users everywhere.
Your app is everything you hoped it would be because you've done everything you could to ensure its integrity, effectiveness, relevance, and smooth operation. But if costs aren't somehow recouped you can kiss your career as a developer good-bye.
So, how can you monetize your app while keeping it compliant with legal and third-party requirements?
There are basically four main to make money from an app these days:
- Charge people to download it.
- Let people download it for free but later charge them for other features.
- Sell products from the app.
- Let people download it for free, with all its extra features, but sell advertising space on your app.
Making Money from a Free App with AdMob
Just go to AdMob and create an account. Say which kind of platform your app is built for (e.g. Windows, Android, iOS, etc.). Once you've created your account you can download the Software Development Kit (SDK), which you then integrate into your app. Once that's done, ads from businesses will immediately start appearing in your app. It's that simple.
AdMob also gives you access to Google Analytics to help you see which improvements to your app might prove the best use of your time and money.
Before you start thinking that this whole paradigm gives away too much of your power and control, hold your horses: You retain control of who can advertise on your app. Do you belong to PETA? Scratch ads for fur coats. Are you a gun control zealot? No gun ads. Is your app created to promote tranquility? Just say no to ads for screamo music.
Simply put, by building this advertising platform into your app you allow it to earn ad revenue from a network - or even a network of networks - of advertisers who've signed on with Google to purchase advertising space on apps, including yours.
If your app hosts ads relevant to its users, they'll click on those ads to find out more. The more clicks your app receives, the more money you make.
AdMob offers your business an opportunity to grow, if you're willing to comply with its Terms of Service.
Note that AdMob is governed by the AdSense Terms of Service as part of Google's Mobile Ads SDK:
If your clients' information will be collected by a third party that you've integrated into your app (such as AdMob), you're responsible for ensuring that your clients are aware of this and have the power to allow it - or not.
AdMob is an advertising platform, and advertising platforms make use of clients' personal and impersonal information in order to target those most likely to be interested in their products. And by "personal information" I don't mean who your biggest high school crush was. The advertisers couldn't care less about that unless it might help them sell you cologne.
The information to which the platform is privy might be something as simple as the fact that you're using this particular app. Knowing this gives them power, but a power which the authorities have decided must be strictly limited to the task at hand, with clear statements to that effect.
- You need to protect yourself from liability. Most countries now have privacy laws to protect mobile app users.
- AdMob explicitly requires it.
- As a business owner, you need to inspire trust in your clients.
This is where you go back to good-old fashioned writing rules. Brevity is king. Remember that Shakespeare rarely used words longer than three syllables. Never use a big word when a little one will do and never use four words when one is enough. You may at first pale at the task of reducing those reams of fine print legalese to a few sparse paragraphs, but one consolation is that the writing will surely be better.
More importantly, people will actually be able to read and understand it. They'll know what they're getting into and will have the freedom to accept or reject your app based on accurate information.
To understand the importance of transparency, imagine yourself in a business relationship in which you've given your trust to your partner. In other words, you don't believe that this person will harm, trick, or exploit you to their advantage.
How are you going to feel when your partner stops speaking to you, doesn't come to meetings and gets defensive when you ask to see accounts? Naturally you're going to start thinking they're hiding something.
Now let's suppose you find a business partner who seeks you out often, discusses all transactions with you and never has to be asked to show you their records? What if when they make a booboo they tell you right away instead of trying to cover it up? That person will inspire you with ongoing trust and give you a sense of security. All things being equal, your relationship with this partner is more certain to last.
That's the power of transparency. Embrace it: Your clients deserve nothing less.
A Few Good Examples
Here are a few examples of easy to read, well-organized and transparent Privacy Policies.
This is followed by a list of simply labeled hyperlinks leading you to specific topics in the Policy, including the company's commitment to client privacy as well as general information on topics like privacy laws and how consumers can protect their own privacy..
Game app producer Frogmind places an invitation to email questions in the first paragraph.
It then proceeds to outline a series of the most important issues in a way that's broken down into short, easy to follow paragraphs, sections and sentences.
Everything is simple and clear, and the entire thing doesn't take a lot of time to read.
They then provide a list of 14 need-to-know facts, each written to be short and to the point. Note the mention of and linking to AdMob in point 6:
- Study AdMob's Terms of Service.
- Remember to aim for clarity, obviousness, and transparency.
- Take a look around at the structure and format of other policies to help you decide which approach is best for your company.