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What’s It Cost To Be A Top iPhone App? $1,875 A Day

If you plan to use advertising to promote your iPhone app, don’t expect to break the top 100 without paying a pretty penny.

To do so, it will cost $1,875 a day, according to Adwhirl, which aggregates a handful of ad networks to help publishers monetize their apps on the iPhone. (If you remember, Adwhirl recently got attention for sparing with AdMob about its policies on aggregators).

Since paying that big sum is not practical, Adwhirl has another suggestion: develop a free iPhone app that will generate a large user base, and then leverage those users it to drive traffic to your paid app. The idea is not super original. Game companies commonly offer free versions to get people hooked in hopes of converting them over to paying customers. However, Adwhirl does a good job of explaining why. More on that after the jump….

Adwhirl writes in its blog that this approach works because it takes about only 2,500 downloads a day to become one of the most downloaded free apps for a particular category — which is more attainable than becoming a top paid app. “For us, the solution was simply to release a few free apps, which quickly gain many

4 Responses to “What’s It Cost To Be A Top iPhone App? $1,875 A Day”


    What about ad relevancy?? AdMob's ads are "rarely" relevant. I use it in one of my apps (soon to be released) and the ads have little to no relevance even if you specify the keywords. I think until this problem is solved mobile ads are not going to bring in ANY money! My 2 cents.

  2. Roger Grice

    I agree with you on the metrics Dane. I would expect the free to paid ratio to be around 2% vs 98%. But I don't share your faith in the mobile ad industry to deliver revenue. It's just not there right now and they don't seem to be able to move the game to a level that is viable. It's old "Emperor's Clothes" tale. Despite the hype and common thinking in the industry; there is simply not enough revenue capacity in mobile advertising to support the industry. So what do we do?

  3. Dane Cemal

    I am surprised the estimate is that free apps only generate 95 percent of downloads, I would have pegged it much higher. With so many apps vying for users attention and the choice between paid and free, unless the commercial or paid for applications have an exceptionally high or unique value proposition, free will definitely bubble to the top of the list on the users download list.

    As an experienced app developer myself, I have tried both models but in the long term have my bets placed on giving the app away for free and capitalizing on the higher amount of downloads and higher usage rates leveraging off in-application advertising with the likes of 365AdSolutions and AdMob etc. Its all about selecting the right partner to help monetize the actual application than about trying to get it before the customer walks in the door …