Think about this: 36% of all ad spending in the US will be digital within a few years. By next year, spending on digital ads is expected to completely surpass television advertising. According to the well known industry analyst company Forrester Research, advertisers will be spending nearly $109 billion on digital ads by 2019 – $13 billion more than TV ads.
These are some pretty serious numbers, but they’re not to convince you to become an adman. Instead, their purpose is to illuminate another opportunity entirely: Adblock apps. Fortunately for all of us online ads, unlike TV ads, can be blocked with mobile apps.
New apps like Blockr and Crystal are making some waves, but their only the first examples in what will be a wave of adblocking apps. This is especially true when it comes to ad blockers for Android, as there is no current app that does this well.
Most noticeably, Crystal has been making some waves in the world of ad privacy. Despite charging ($0.99), Crystal has been a wild success. Within the first few weeks, Dean Murphy (Crystal’s creator) made nearly $75,000 – not including Apple’s share.
How’d he do it? Part of it was timing. While Peace was the first big iOS content blocker, it was suddenly removed from the app store and in its wake Crystal was launched. It’s unlikely that Murphy planned this, but it never hurts to have no serious competition!
That being said, timing isn’t everything, contrary to popular belief. Crystal has several other key features that helped its success. Why don’t we dive a little deeper and find out how to make a successful adblocking app.
Ads Are Hogs
One of the biggest issues most users have with ads is the increased load time. Ads take forever to load, so if you open up an ad heavy site, be prepared to wait for a while. This is actually a really important tangential point for entrepreneurs with apps and mobile websites: Yes, advertising is necessary; yes it’s frequently the best path towards monetization.
BUT, having too many ads can slow down your website, costing you millions in organic every second. Build your website to strike the perfect balance between ads and UX. In fact, one of the biggest selling points of Crystal is that it dramatically speeds up web load times (nearly 4x as fast as phones with no adblocking apps).
One of the reasons for this is because it is the first fully integrated iOS ad blocker. Other adblocking ventures, such as Adblocker Plus, are third-party applications that have to work around Apple and Safari. With Apple now accepting fully integrated adblocking applications, the user experience will become more enjoyable – not to mention actually running smoothly and correctly.
Coupled with decreased load times is an increase in bandwidth. Obviously, slow load time is almost always due to restricted bandwidth. So when Crystal blocks ads it frees up your bandwidth and decreases the time you spend online.
We’ve already covered how ads hog bandwidth and internet speed, but this is a mobile world in which we live. This means we need to look at it through the lens of a mobile user. I think it’s probably safe to say that most people are more irritated with side effects of ads, rather than the ads themselves.
So yes, limited bandwidth and slow load times are annoying. But, 40% of all internet traffic is mobile, which means that slow websites mean more time spent online; this translates to more data spent and a battery that dies far too fast. This may seem unimportant, but I would argue that it is the biggest selling point for most adblock apps.
It’s All About That Cash
By this point and time, there are probably a few of you out there thinking that this sound all fine and good, but how do I make money off this? At the top of this blog, I mentioned that Murphy made $75k in a week or two, and yes, that’s a decent amount of money. But, is it sustainable business numbers?
Possibly, but there is a limit to the amount of money one can make with Murphy’s monetization model. Crystal is a unique in that it people are more than willing to pay its $0.99 one-time download fee. That’s how Murphy made cash so quickly after launch.
Unfortunately, trying to get people to pay for most apps is like trying to herd cats. A large, angry clowder (yes, that’s the correct name for a group of cats) of cats that thinks you’re dinner. Even worse, there’s a cap to how much money can be made with a one time fee – it’s one time after all.
Understandably, this is worrisome. Eventually, enough users will own Crystal, so Murphy’s revenue will substantially decrease. The app has yet to launch on Android, so there is a possible revenue source with Android’s massive market; however, if you thought getting iOS users to pay is difficult, wait til you meet Android users. It’s like trying to herd those cats again. If you were made of catnip and tuna.
So, how can you monetize your adblock app? There are several strategies.
- Instead of a one time fee, many highly sought after and robust apps charge a subscription fee. At SDI, we have found the best way to monetize via subscriptions is to offer a baseline version of your app free. This gets users interested at little to no risk to them and raises your apps awareness. Then you can offer a more complex version, for a small monthly fee.
- Many of the normal paths to monetization include advertising. Obviously, this won’t work with an adblocker app….right? Turns out this isn’t right. Murphy, following in the footsteps of adblocker giant Eyeo GmbH, creator of AdBlock Plus, is in the process of creating an ad “whitelist,” or ads that are acceptable (i.e. non-intrusive). Already nearly 100 companies, including Google, pay ad blockers to let their ads through. While it may seem a bit like the fox guarding the hen house, it is a legitimate and excellent way to make a profit.
- Other monetization models are being created everyday. If you got an idea you think might work, why not run it by our expert marketing team? Take this new innovation for example: Been Choice is another ad blocker (this one lets you block in-app ads!) company. They recently launched in the US and their monetization scheme is nothing short of brilliant. They offer users the opportunity to sell their data. Every user has the option of letting Been Choice sell their data to advertisers. If a user decides to do so, they get a minimal cut of the profits. Pretty cool right?
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