Monday, December 22, 2014

"House Ads" vs AdDuplex

Microsoft has recently released what it calls "house ads" these are a way to promote one of your apps from within another.
This might sound very similar to what's possible with AdDuplex* so let's look at the similarities and differences between the two.

House Ads are a way of having PubCenter show ads for your other apps if it doesn't have any paid ads to show.
AdDuplex is a cross promotion network that allows you to show ads for other apps and in exchange they show ads for yours.

So, you see, there's similarity in that they both allow you to show ads for your apps.

Let's look into the similarities and differences in a bit more detail though.

  • Both are free for developers to use and integrate
  • Both support integration with Ad Mediator and AdRotator
  • Both work well as a fall-back for when no paid ads to display
  • Either could be used on their own to just show non-paid ads
  • Both must have a network connection to be able to serve ads.

  • House Ads only works with PubCenter - some people don't like this
  • House Ads is a Microsoft product - some people take comfort in this (knowing it's from a big company). AdDuplex is independent and grew out of the community.
  • House Ads Provides a mediation capability without having to use a mediation/rotation tool.
  • House Ads are capped (at 5) per user per day so users won’t experience "ad fatigue" from seeing the same ad repeatedly - AdDuplex doesn't need this as it has a wide variety (1000's) of apps to show ads for
  • House Ads can only be used by accounts that have multiple published apps. AdDuplex can be used even if you only have one app in store/
  • House Ads are only available in limited markets ( - AdDuplex can be used anywhere.
  • House Ads may be prioritized over paid ads from other ad providers - AdDuplex gives you greater control over this (via Ad Mediator or AdRotator)

So, which should you use?
Simple. Use whatever is best for you, your circumstances and your apps.

My personal opinion:
If House Ads are available to you, then, if you’re already using PubCenter as part of your monetization solution with an existing successful apps and you’re about to launch something new that will appeal to the users of your existing app then House Ads are a good tool to use while your new app is still gaining traction.
For all other scenarios and as a final fall-back in addition to using House Ads in the above scenario, you should always include AdDuplex as part of a multiple ad provider strategy.

* Disclaimer: I'm an advocate forAdDuplex which means that I'm paid (a small amount) to talk about them - but all opinions are my own. Don't be fooled though. I believed and talked about them in a positive way before I became an advocate. That's one of the reasons I became one. If you question my objectivity I'd love to hear why.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pricing apps in the Windows App stores

Earlier today I tweeted this:

Are you selling you mobile app in Russia? Have you upped the price to reflect the falling value of the Ruble? #wpdev #windev
— Matt Lacey (@mrlacey) December 17, 2014

It prompted some discussion on how the store adjusts prices between different currencies and how often these are adjusted to reflect changes in exchange rates.

Some discussion of this has already started on twitter (feel free to carry it on there or in the comments) but I wanted to share a bit more than I can fit in 140 chars.

Let's look at how the Windows Store translates prices at the moment.

The lowest price tier is 0.79 USD or 0.99 GBP which the store translates as 34.00 RUB

However, right now, Google says that 1 USD is worth 64.59 RUB

That means that the 34 RUB you get for a sale in Russia is really worth 0.53 USD

This may mean that you're getting much less for sales of your app in Russia than you are expecting.

If you've set your price based on the cost per user this may seriously matter to you. Getting new user (in Russia) could end up losing you money!

On the plus side, this means that your app just got cheaper for people in Russia. Maybe you're considering this an early Christmas present for them ;)

The solution: increase the price in Russia.*

The take away (for everybody even if you;'re not selling a lot in Russia) : If you're business is based on selling in multiple countries then you need to keep an eye out for large, rapid changes in exchange rates.

* If you want to adjust the price in an individual country see

Monday, December 15, 2014

Why using just one ad provider is being foolish

So, you've built an app and now want to make money from it. That seems a reasonable desire.
For whatever reason (hopefully strategic, but often for simplicity) you decide to put ads in the app as a way for making money.

All that's good but here's a common mistake developers often make. They only use a single ad provider.

Here's why that's a mistake.
No ad provider will have ads for you to show all the time. No traditional advertiser will always have an advert for you to show every time you request one. This is known as the fill rate. It's typically shown as a percentage and is the number of ads delivered divided by the number of adverts requested.

There are variations by country, user and type of app, but for most mobile advert providers, to get a fill rate of 40% from a global app is very good. It's often common to see rates as low as 10%.
That means that for every 10 times you want to show an advert (and be paid for doing so) you can only show (and be paid for showing) between 1 and 4 adverts.

There's a simple solution to this though. When one ad provider doesn't have an ad to show, "fall back" to use another ad provider and ask them for an ad. And so on and so on.

Fortunately there are tools that can help you do this. The two main ones in the Windows world are AdRotator and Ad Mediator.
Both will let you specify a list of ad providers to use and the order in which they should be contacted.

Here's how Ad Mediator visualize the process:

This is all well and good, but what about when none of the ad providers you're using have an ad to show?
There are no traditional ad providers who always have an ad for you to show (100% fill rate) and even when you integrate all the advertising providers there are there will still be times when none of them have an ad for you to display.

This is where AdDuplex comes in. AdDuplex* are different from traditional app ad providers in two key ways that are relevant to this conversation.
Firstly, they do have a 100% fill rate. They will always have an ad for you to show. (Subject to network connectivity - but then if the app can't connect to the web then all bets are off.)
Secondly, they don't pay you for showing ads. When we're discussing making money from showing ads this might seem like a big issue though. But consider the scenario: None of the ad providers you use have an ad to show, so, rather than letting the space in your app where you would show adverts go to waste you can use it for something else. You can use it to promote your app. This is where AdDuplex is different. It is not a traditional advertising platform, rather it's a cross promotion network. You display ads for other people's apps in your app and they show your ads in theirs. It works on a simple exchange basis. For every 10 ads you show, 8 are shown for your app(s) and the other 2 slots are sold to fund the service.

This is the key then. If you've got space in your app that you have dedicated to displaying ads with the aim of making money then if there are no paid for ads to display, use that space to promote the app itself. This will help you grow the number users of your app and, in turn, the number of paid for ads you can potentially display in the future.

If you're not yet using AdDuplex but wish to start, then register using promo code:
ML10-1OFKNH and you'll get an exchange rate of 90% (compared to the usual 80% for the first 6 months)

If you are putting ads in your app you should be using a mediation or rotation service that includes use of AdDuplex.

* Disclaimer: I'm an advocate for AdDuplex which means that I'm paid to talk about them. Don't be fooled though. I believed and talked about them this way before I became an advocate. That's one of the reasons I became one.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

At the end of a bad conference session...

I've been thinking about feedback to speakers at the end of a session.
I'm currently at NDC London and at the end of each session they use a traffic light system to provide feedback. If you liked a session you put a green card in. If you didn't like it or thought it was bad you put in a red card and if you are somewhere in the middle you put in a yellow card.

Here's the thing though. With multiple sessions on at the same time, what are you saying by staying to the end and then putting in a red card?
Yes, it's good to provide feedback to the speaker and organiser if you didn't think the session was very good.
But why would you stay to the end of a session you are not enjoying or don't think is very good? Vote with your feet. If you're not enjoying something or benefitting from listening then go to another session.
If you stay to the end and leave a bad review aren't you saying something about yourself in addition to what you're saying about the session? What does it mean to say "I didn't find this useful or enjoyable, but chose to stay and listen to it all"?

Additionally, providing feedback via a voting system is good. But providing more detail is better! Whether your feedback is positive or negative please share it with the speaker and organiser. Events are organised and speakers speak for the benefit of the people who attend and listen not for the ego of the speaker. By providing constructive feedback you can help the speakers do a better job in future and allow organizers to ensure that session abstracts match what is wanted and delivered and that it benefits the audience and matches their expectations.

100 developer events that wouldn't have been the same without me!

Tomorrow I'll be speaking about Mobile app security at NDC London. Not only will this be the biggest developer event I've been involved with it'll also be the 100th.

Yes, I've spoken at or organised 100 developer events.

There are also many dozens that I've been to as an attendee, I just haven't kept track of all of them.

Here's how it breaks down:

  • Organised and hosted DevEvening 27 times
  • Organised and hosted WPUG/WinAppsLDN 48 times 
  • Spoke at or hosted events organised by other people 25 times, in: Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bradford, Bristol (twice), Dundee (Twice), Edinburgh, Glasgow, Gloucester, London (five times), Newcastle, Norwich, Reading (twice), Southampton, Taunton, Telford and Woking (twice).

With an approximate average audience of 50 people that's an awful lot of developers I've helped to build better software. Most of which has been related to creating apps for Windows and Windows Phone.
I want to build great apps and that's made possible by learning from and with others who are also building apps. That the only way opportunities for developers to meet and learn from each other is if I put the events on is by-the-by. It's not just all about me though. I know the ecosystem benefits when more people build better apps and that's what we all want--as it benefits everyone, not just me.

I'm not very good at self-promotion. That's partly the reason for this post. It was more that I just wanted to mark this milestone .
I'm quite happy not shouting about all I do. I put the time, effort and energy into promoting the events to people who may be interested in coming. If you ever find me talking more about how great I am for putting on events (or running a user group) rather than taking the time to actually put on events, please call me on it.

At a time when it seems community events stopping and organisers stepping down is becoming a regular occurrence I can only say that I haven't got any plans of stopping soon. Getting to 200 events is more than I'm thinking about at the moment. For now I'm just focusing on all the exciting things planned and being planned for 2015.


Tuesday, December 02, 2014

What does it mean to "Advertise before you monetize"?

If you weren't aware, one of the slogans for AdDuplex is to "advertise before you monetize". But what does this mean?

If you've built an app with a view to making money from it, there are two basic options for you.

(There are other options but I'm just looking at the simplest ones here as these are what most developers use.)

Firstly you can charge people directly for using the app. They either pay once, up front, for it (possibly after a trial period) or on a recurring basis. Either as some form of subscription or through the repeated purchase of in app/game consumables or access to more functionality (or levels).

Alternatively, you can indirectly monetize the app based on selling access to the people who use it. This may sound like a strange description or one you've not heard before but that's what you're doing when you put adverts in your app that you are paid for on a CPM basis. From a user/consumer perspective you should be aware that if you're not paying for something you're probably the product.
It can be summed up this way: If people aren't paying to use the app you force them to look at something (an advert) that someone else has paid (or will pay) to show to them.

It's if you're considering using the second approach that the idea of advertising before you monetize is relevant.

If you're income is based on advertising then it's the number of people using the app, and therefore looking at the ads that matters to you.

A common thought process is that having spent time building an app it would be nice to see some return as soon as possible.
There's a problem with this approach though:
You're trying to monetize a small number of users but for advertising to provide a good return you need a large number of users.

This is where the intent behind the AdDuplex slogan comes in.

Rather than using the advertising space in your app to show adverts that you are paid for, use it to help you promote your app and get more users.

This is a great way of integrating the AdDuplex control within your app. You put the control in your app and rather than be paid for showing ads, you exchange the ads you display with adverts for your app being displayed in other apps.

In time, once you have a large number of users for your app you can start to introduce paid adverts as well. Using AdRotator or AdMediator you can have a smart solution for combining paid ads when the provider has one to show, and AdDuplex ads for when the ad provider doesn't have an app to display. This combines the opportunity to make money from adverts and promote the app and get new users so you can make more money in the future.

If you're not already using AdDuplex and would like to start. Email me (adduplex [at] and I'll send you a promo code, to use when registering) so you can have even more of your ads shown.