A mobile app is a powerful tool that you can use to grow your business. 57% of all internet traffic in the US comes from smartphones and tablets – meaning you need an app to be competitive and provide your audience with an experience they expect to have more than ever.

Statista forecasts that by 2020, mobile apps will be generating around 189 billion U.S. dollars in revenues via app stores and advertising.

If you have an app, there’s no reason that you can’t successfully monetize it!

There are 4 key ways to monetize your mobile app – In-App Advertising, Paid Subscriptions,   Purchases, and Paid Downloads. We’re going to take a look at each of these and help you understand the pros and cons of each.

In-App Advertisements

This is currently the most popular way to monetize apps. In-App ads provide a way for app owners to easily monetize their mobile apps in a way that doesn’t have to detract from the user experience, or reduce the barrier to download for their app.

Mobile advertising drove 75% of all media ad spend in 2018, which proves how popular it really is as a way to monetize your app. There is a wide range of ad networks you can choose from, and many will work on a pay per view basis, so your users don’t even need to click them in order for your app to generate revenue.

If you monetize with ads, it means you don’t have to charge people to download your app. This means you’ll get more downloads, rank higher in the app download charts, and increase your ad revenue further! Many news and content websites with apps will use in-app ads to successfully generate revenue from their mobile app.

Adblockers, which continue to grow in popularity, won’t affect ads within your app like they would on your desktop or mobile website.

It may feel like your in-app advertising monetization is initially lower than the one–time revenues you can generate from in-app purchases or paid downloads. However, in the long-term, a free app will mean more people download it. And if your content is of high quality your users will return to your app more and more, leading to a consistent revenue stream. In-app ads are the most popular monetization method for a reason – it works!

app monetization

Paid Subscription / Paywalled Content

For some types of app, charging a monthly paid subscription could be the best way to monetize. This method of monetizing is also known as a paywall and it can work very effectively for news and content sites, or eLearning or niche community websites.

The New York Times has effectively used a paywall model to scale their business through their mobile app in recent years, and if you provide high–quality content and have a loyal audience, it could be a method worth trying yourself.

But, it doesn’t always work for all sites – make sure you test different variations of how you charge for the content and get feedback from your audience and app users before committing to it.

If your app is content-based, you may want to offer a few free articles per month, and have full access to your content locked behind a paywall – if your content is compelling, your most loyal audience members will probably be willing to pay! This works effectively for sites like Medium, Wired, The Financial Times, New York Times, and other large publications!

The downside of using a paid subscription model which processes the subscriptions through the app is that Apple and Google will take a 30% cut of your revenue – but it may be worth it, as many of your most loyal users may have found you through the iOS app store in the first place.

In-App Purchases

Another method of app monetization that many companies have used successfully is in-app purchases. Different to paid subscriptions, in-app purchases refer to one-time purchases that provide an additional bit of functionality. Your app should work without the purchase, however.

Good examples of in-app purchases include charging users to have an extra life in a gaming app, or an extra workout plan in a fitness app, for example.

A good upside to in-app purchases is that they can be used alongside advertising, and could serve as a nice way to generate more revenue from your app.

The risk with relying solely on in-app purchases to power your monetization efforts is that some users will never buy anything, and you may encounter requests for refunds if someone accidentally makes a purchase that they didn’t intend to.

Pay to Download

One of the most direct ways to monetize your app is to charge users to download it from the iOS and Google Play App Stores.

It’s great as you’ll be earning revenue as soon as people download your app (although Apple and Google do take a 30% cut of that for processing the payments).

If your app business model relies on paid downloads, your users probably won’t be too happy if you’re also monetizing through showing them in-app adverts, or extra in-app purchases, so this strategy works best as a standalone monetization model!

You will also receive fewer downloads than you would if your app is free, and many people don’t expect to pay for apps – in fact, as of Q1 2018, 94.24% of Android apps are free to download.

Paid downloads can work, but you need to be providing clear value to prospective app users – and you need your page and values to really stand out on the app store. You also need to have a high-quality mobile app, any issues with it will be more heavily scrutinized due to the fact that it wasn’t free to download!


Monetizing your mobile app is crucial to making sure that the app acts as a tool for business growth, as well as being a place for your users to access and engage with your content. There are many different ways to monetize your app, and the right one will depend on your business and the type of content you offer to your audience.

This post is brought to you by Georges Petrequin from Mobiloud, the native mobile app solution for WordPress. Mobiloud helps owners find, engage and retain their audience on mobile with mobile native apps.