App monetization
for mobile

Monetize your app with ads that fit seamlessly into the app cycle. ironSource’s mobile app monetization solution helps developers drive maximum revenue to their app, while boosting user engagement and retention.

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What is app monetization?

App monetization is a means by which app developers generate revenue. There are various forms of app monetization, including in-app ads, in-app purchases, one-time payments, and subscriptions, which re listed more in-depth below.

Over the last several years, most mobile apps have embraced a free-to-play, or freemium, model. Today, there are significantly fewer apps requiring users to pay before they download. As a result, free-to-play apps must find other ways to generate revenue and make money from their apps.

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App monetization strategies

Mobile app advertising strategy

For many developers today, a popular strategy for driving app revenues is mobile app advertising. Developers are paid each time their users interact with ads in their app. The ads are normally integrated directly into the app experience and, in the case of rewarded ads, complement the in-app economy to ensure a non-disruptive user experience and increased engagement. In fact, good in-app ad implementation can increase the number of users who make in-app purchases as well as improve retention, getting them to spend more time inside your app.

In-app purchases

In-app purchases are premium items or features that normally form the bulk of the in-app economy. When integrated well, they are typically an integral part of game or app design, with prompts to purchase in-app items or services displayed at times users are likely to convert. While only about 2% of users convert to paying users, the revenue coming from in-app purchases can be significant.


For apps that host continuously updating content and different features, offering a subscription can provide a reliable revenue channel. Subscriptions allow members to access premium content and features while building a loyal following. Apps can also provide different subscription tiers, giving users greater flexibility and capturing a broader range of potential paying users.

Paid apps (one-time payments)

Some apps may opt to offer access to the entire experience for a one-time payment at the start. As opposed to in-app purchases or subscriptions, one-time payments are ideal for apps whose content is not refreshed as frequently or who provide a very specific or high-quality service which users would be willing to pay for.

How to measure app success

There are several ways to track the success of an app’s monetization strategy, and the most complete picture involves measuring a variety of factors, from value or revenue for every user, to retention, engagement, and length of session.
Tracking revenue over time

Using lifetime (LT)—how long users are on an app before they stop using it—and lifetime value (LTV)—how much each user is worth over their lifetime—is a valuable place to start. These metrics show you how your monetization strategies work per user for their entire life cycle. More importantly, for app developers running user acquisition campaigns, these metrics can be compared to the effective cost per install (or eCPI) and can help determine whether an app is making money or losing it.

Tracking retention

Using lifetime (LT)—how long users are on an app before they stop using it—and On a more specific level, tracking retention can show the impact a monetization strategy has on how many users continue using an app regularly. Of course, monetization is only one element which impacts to retention, but depending on your choices and implementation, it can have a significant impact – either negatively or positively.

Tracking ARPDAU

To determine how effective a monetization strategy is on a more granular level, tracking the average revenue per user is crucial. An even more specific measurement is ARPDAU – average revenue per daily active user. By measuring the average revenue per user, it is easier to determine the success of a specific strategy, ad implementation, or of the strength of an in-app economy.

Monetization examples

PickCrafter boosts revenue by 165% with ironSource rewarded video

“ironSource offered a fast and seamless placement implementation within PickCrafter and the addition of rewarded video ads placements yielded significant engagement and revenue growth. From ad execution to reporting, ironSource has been a true and steady game monetization partner in every sense.”

– Chris Lewis, Co-Founder at Fiveamp

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Earn to Die 2 boosts engagement rate by 38% with ironSource rewarded video

“We always knew rewarded video mediation would be a smart way to approach monetization. We had to offer a variable reward that increased depending on the strength of the vehicle in the game, otherwise watching the video wouldn’t be worth our users’ time.”

– Jason Daskalopoulos, Senior Business and Marketing Manager at Not Doppler

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Big Fish doubles revenue with ironSource rewarded video

“After implementing rewarded video with ironSource, we saw double digit increase in revenue – both gross revenue across the entire game and also revenue coming directly from players who are engaging with IAPs. We saw those players actually choosing to spend more while they’re also experiencing rewarded video.”

– Jon Grande, Senior Director of Product Management at Big Fish

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Dots users ask for ironSource rewarded video ad unit

“We did a test where we actually took out ironSource’s rewarded video ad unit. But then we saw a lot of negative reviews in the Google Play Store. So we knew that users were very happy with the ad unit and it was incorporated well into the game.”

– Chris Calderon, Former VP of Marketing and Revenue at Dots

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Mobile app monetization
with ironSource

Android mobile app monetization

Follow the instructions here to monetize your Android app.

iOS mobile app monetization

Follow the instructions here to monetize your iOS app.