Apps appstore

Published on April 2nd, 2012 | by treysmith


How I’m currently making money with apps…

If you would have asked me how I was making money with apps 3 months ago, I would have said almost 100% with In App Purchases through Apple.  This industry moves fast and times are quickly changing!

I was just looking over my stats and thought I would share how I’m currently monetizing my  apps.

Let’s check out data from the last 7 days:

Click To Enlarge

So here’s a quick breakdown of each column:

In App Purchases – This is either .99 sales or in app purchases from Apple.

iAd – This is money generated form Apple’s ad platform.  Mainly from banners.

AdMob – Google’s Ad company. I show their ads when iAds is out of inventory.

MoPub – This manages iAds and AdMob.  Really cool free system that rotates ads based on who has inventory currently available to share.

Chartboost – Great company that we do extremely well with.  They show full screen ads on start up.

Revmob – This one is amazing.  It’s a fairly new company by my friend, Gui (who made the popular Ant Smasher game).  UPDATE: I’m now making more money with RevMob than anywhere else.  Hidden gem.

As you can see with this data, we are making about 77% of our money right now form ads.  Pretty crazy, but there is a very good reason for this.

A few months ago I was focusing on promoting my OWN games.  I really wanted to focus on building up my own network and have a large “traffic source“.

Now that’s happened.  We are doing about 20,000 clicks per day and we’ve found it’s easier to make money promoting apps that have large payouts.


If I have a game that generates an average income of .10 per download, then that does not compete with a .70 payout from a larger company like Zynga right?

So if you monetize with ads then you immediately will start making less with in app purchases.  It’s all about figuring out which makes you more money in the long run.

There is a negative side to promoting other apps.  It doesn’t help you grow your network.

The end goal is to promote your own HIGH CONVERTING apps.

In a week we are releasing our first really big social game called “Animal Mall”.  Since this will have a much higher RPI (Revenue Per Install) we will start pushing more traffic to it instead of ad companies.

Check back for a breakdown of how that goes later on!

Talk soon,


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About the Author

Trey Smith is the founder of Kayabit, a game company with over 10,000,000 downloads on mobile devices, Secret Headquarters, Inc, a marketing company that teaches entrepreneurs how to build their businesses and L-System records, a house music label from San Diego, CA.

77 Responses to How I’m currently making money with apps…

  1. jeff says:

    Hey Trey,

    Isn’t it kind of a bummer that there isn’t a long life to alot of these games- unless you come up with angry birds? In this business are you always having to come up with new ideas for new games for when your previous game gets old?

    • treysmith says:

      Not sure what you mean? My old games all still do good. I mean, there is a definite “launch” to this. When you release a new game it’s first month is typically it’s best, but it’s not like it dies out completely (at least in my experience).

      • jeff says:

        Cool – I gotcha — I was under the impression that after a while a game kind of just fizzles out. Like in the Xbox or PS3 world -
        you launch a game – but to HUGE numbers because the games are 60 bucks a pop – and you probably get a 2 year life out of em’ sometimes one until you have to make your next one.

        So I was under the impression that it might suck with apps because you are only making 99cents a pop -even in launch — but if the games keep some traction over time – then that can be pretty cool.

        Glad to see you having success with it man!

  2. jeff says:

    Where do you see yourself in this business 5-10 years from now? Are you just going to keep churning out new games or is there a bigger plan behind it?

    • treysmith says:

      I think it will just keep getting bigger for sure. Only something like 27% of people have a smartphone. It’s crazy.

      It’s all about a portfolio of super fun high converting games. That is my goal.

  3. Itachi says:

    Nice stats, Hey maybe you should look into PC gaming aswell :), A successful game can make money I believe !

    • treysmith says:

      Dude, I just skyped a buddy of mine and said “Next step is Steam and Mac App Store”. We are going to have a meeting on that this week.

      • Itachi says:

        Nice :D do you look for people with tons of ideas maybe ? i feel like i could help i always been looking to do what you do :p and im a huge hardcore gamer of all sorts !

  4. Jimmy says:

    Hey Trey, whats the best course of action to make an App. I have an idea but not sure how to proceed.

  5. Jeff says:

    Trey, was this just a way to show off how much you are making weekly?



    ….in which case, awesome :)

    I’d like to be at that level someday, gotta brainstorm ideas and get more developed.

    • treysmith says:

      Haha, you got me there for a minute. I do like showing proof though. I feel like there is so much B.S. out there it’s good when someone backs it up with firm numbers.

  6. Hey Trey,
    Didn’t get this post.
    I don’t understand.
    Where you post those game ads? And how do you get the permission to do so?
    I mean, is there a network of mobile apps you can register and then just post some games and apps on your sites?
    Sorry for the mobile newbie questions.
    Mario Bruneau

  7. Alex says:

    Hey Trey…

    Just got back from travelling Africa for 8 months and need to promote a few apps now. :-)

    Some of our apps are now completed and was wondering, if I’m following your logic correctly.

    Basically you have free game apps with inapp purchase.
    On these apps you have:
    1) Promote Other People’s Ads (publisher SDK’s)
    2) Inapp purchases to full version of your app.
    3) Promote the Free apps with a PPI or a different platfom. (advertiser SDK). I.e. this is how you drive traffic to your app.

    Is that about right? Then you check which generates the most revenue.

    Keep up the good work…enjoy seeing some of your results!


  8. Brett says:

    Cheers for the info Trey. Always good.

  9. Matt says:

    Thanks for posting this info.
    I hadn’t heard of ChartBoost or BCFAds. Looks like I was missing out!

    Will be updating my apps to include them ASAP.

  10. Mk akan says:

    Hey cousin Trey, in essence you are saying ‘free apps with ads’ model is more profitable than the paid app model(this is something i keep seeing and reading ). Great i will keep that in mind. I have a number of app ideas but need some investment cash for development. Quick question-would you partner or do you think partnering with a developer is a good idea? By the way,say hi to big Frank k.

  11. Gordon says:

    Question: You say that MoPub is an ad serving platform for iAds and Admob, but why are there figures for each one? Either all the revenue would come from MoPub or if it came from iAds and Admob there should be no revenue for MoPub. Can you explain? Thanks

    • treysmith says:

      MoPub sales ads as well :) It doesn’t do a ton but it’s worth doing as well. If it doesn’t fill space with admob or iads, we fill with mopub. So we have 100% fill rate.

  12. Brad Smith says:

    This is what your make on all your apps put together? or is this just jump pack?

  13. Mike says:

    Hi Trey,

    Quick question. For Chartboost, are you making deals directly with other publishers or are you just running ads from their network so its fully automated and you don’t have to approach any publishers.

  14. Trey,

    You keep giving us more reasons to not give up… Thx

  15. Richard says:

    Hey Trey…Thanks for posting this info.

    I hadn’t heard of ChartBoost or BCFAds.
    I make Apps with Go Mobile Solutions software and I need to know all this info and yes I have your Jump Pack DVD and I thank you for all the help and info. Your a inspiration and a guiding force to my success.
    I know that super fun high converting games Apps is the way for to go.

    Have a great day!!

  16. Morales (pony tail guy) says:

    Hey Trey,

    I was wondering if you’ve build any mobile web view apps (with adobe air)? and how you’ve been able to combine different ad networks (besides the one’s offered in mopub?

  17. Fred says:

    Hey Trey,

    Can you use Mopub or Adwhirl in the same app as BCFAds and Chartboost ? If Chartboost does the nag screens, Mopub the banners, then where are BCFAds displayed ?

    • treysmith says:

      Yeh totally. BCFAds and Chartboost are both nag screens. So we use them on launch. We either rotate them or just use whichever is working better.

  18. vin says:

    Hi Trey,

    what kind of ads does BCF typically show? are they small banners, interstitials, or something else?

    Congrats on your success!



  19. Geoff says:

    Hi Trey,

    This is my first time reading your blog. I’m interested to see if you have any suggestions for the app promotion side. I am wanting to launch a free app that goes with a facebook app I have called birthdayFB. The facebook app has done extremely well and I think I could get some legs in the app store as a free app that coincides with the website. Is there any sort of affiliate network I could utilize that allows me to pay per download of my app that you’ve used in the past? Is it even possible?



  20. Trey, what would be the approx investment cost in developing a iphone game to getting it published using your Mobile Game System?

  21. Oliver says:

    “So if you monetize with ads then you immediately will start making less with in app purchases. It’s all about figuring out which makes you more money in the long run.”

    Why is this? Im new in the business and is currently waiting for development of my first app to be completed. I am currently looking into how ads should be integrated in my app (and now think I will use AdMob Mediation to handle my iAd and my AdMob ads).

    I don’t have in-app-purchases for this app, but it is definitely a large part of my plan for future apps. So I’m very interested in why it is that integrating apps decreases IAP’s.. Is it simply because the ads make the app look “spammy” if you will, thus people will not appreciate it well enough to spend money on additional content via IAP’s?

    Looking much forward to some insights on this!

    • treysmith says:

      Because instead of promoting your own apps (which increases your IAP sales) you are promoting others.

    • Nigel says:

      I think the thought here was losing IAPs on the app that was showing the ads, rather than losing IAPs across the board.

      I can see that showing ads on your game will drive players to other games rather than your own, hence the drop in IAPs, but if ads are making more money than IAPs, then it’s a no-brainer.

  22. Nigel Woolcott says:

    Hi Trey. Sorry to jump on this blog, but do you have another place I can contact you about the Jump Pack Story dvd? Thanks

  23. Patrick Orr says:

    Did you use any of your personal money to advertise your gaming apps?

  24. Ben Long says:

    Yo Trey! any tips on where I can send my programmer to learn how to implement a generic nag screen? Seems like an easy, but potent thing to do

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  26. Nigel says:

    Hi Trey

    I’m still slugging it out with a slow programmer, but it keeps giving me time to adapt the game and think about other ways of generating income.

    What are your thoughts on offering one FREE app with adverts and a PURCHASE app without ads? Both will have IAP.

    My thinking is that short term gain on the paid app might be outweighed the revenue that ads can bring in, but can I risk turning off players because of continuous ads?

    Are there any stats about this area?

  27. Maeve says:


    I’m a working mom with three young kiddles who have put my technical writing career on slow mo. I’m so inspired by your success I’m going to try building a game of my own. I’ll write to you again a year from now to tell you how much I make in a day. :)


  28. shawn says:

    Hey Trey,
    I clicked on the link for your Jump Pack DVD and it says it is sold out.
    How do I purchase a copy of it?
    Shawn Morgan

  29. Jon says:

    When are you planning to release your next game?

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  31. Alex says:


    So is it currently better to still use Mopub to manage iAd and Admob for the banner ads while using Revmob full screen ads OR should we be using Revmob for both now? Basically just asking if Revmob pays more for banner ads then the other choices

    thanks for this great blog btw

  32. Fred Y. says:

    Hi Trey,
    Just wondering if you can tell me what is the percentage Apple pay us for in app purchase? Would you please also tell me how and where to look for that ?I have several apps for the singer and I recently add “in-app-purchase” But no idea how I will get paid.
    Thanks in Advance

  33. thanks for sharing!
    Every now and then I get contacted by “new” ad companies and never feel like I should trust them or at least go through the hassle of implementing their stuff in my apps.
    It’s awesome to see some real-life numbers to better understand. Also, I didn’t know about MoPub, ChartBoost and RevMob. Will definitely check them out. Which one you advise I should start from?

    Question: in my apps I implemented my own system where AdMob is used as a fallback. However, I noticed you actually get revenue from MoPub. How does that work, getting paid twice?

    Also, could you explain what is so good about RevMob/how it’s different?

    thanks again!

    talk soon,

    PS what’s BCFads??

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  37. Hi there Trey,
    Wow awesome site you have here. Fantastic content, feel, and vibe.
    Im currently getting ready to launch my app and i’m hoping it takes off just like everybody else. This has given me so much knowledge on apps and the eco system supporting it. Just wondering, i want to promote my app on revmob and was wondering what you think the best way to set up an campaign would be with 2k? I’m serious about promoting it.
    Thanks bud.

  38. Demetri says:

    Hey Trey,

    Is there a specific template you use to plan your P&L for your apps?

    I am looking for something that will take into account revenue from ads, virtual goods, paid downloads.



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  42. Jason Hunter says:

    Has Anyone here tried Tapgage? I’m getting pretty good eCPM’s $5.8 which is getting me a few hundred per week. They only use Interstitial Ad formats though. Im using that and Chartboost on rotation but I’ll also put RevMob in the loop after reading this one. Thanks :)

  43. Grant Barrow says:

    Hi Trey,

    Myself and a friend have designed four apps and we are ready to put the word out and find a developer to put these games together. I have read your helpful blogs and really appreciate all the advice you share with everyone. Is it possible I could look at a few of your past Ads just to try and get my head around how to do it with out giving away to much info to soon.

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  45. yash udernani says:

    hey trey i am launching my first app next month for both ios and android and i would like to know any good way to increase popularity and which site or company is best for advertising , though theres one problem being only 16 i dont have a great budget
    thank you :)

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  47. Nathan says:

    Hi Trey, Very useful information. I was inspired by you and after following your article I released my first FREE kids educational app “Story Train’ for iphone.

  48. Ricky Nguyen says:

    Hi Trey,

    I can’t submitting form in site Jump Pack Story to get DVD. Please support if submition is out of date.



  49. Oliver says:

    Some interesting stats that you have, I primarily have non game apps and I’m looking at expanding with a combination of ads and iap.

  50. Jesicca says:

    Hi all,

    Great article on making money with your apps :)

    I’ve used nag screen and that really helped too.

    You can use this resource for free to create a nag screen:

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