Mobile app developers share their opinions on the state
of app distribution and monetization
With the growing volume of mobile apps available in app stores
and markets, user choice is at an all-time high. At the same time,
app development is becoming riskier and developers are finding it
increasingly difficult to attract, retain and monetize users effectively.
The key findings from this report show app developers, particularly
smaller indie developers, are not clear on the benefits of different
mobile marketing channels. A lack of clarity and trust in ad network
providers are the main reasons why 70% of developers are frustrated
with the current state of app marketing.
Trust was seen as the most important factor in determining which
advertising network to choose for app launches while surprisingly,
cost was only the third most important factor. Even though trust was the most important factor, most developers
felt ad networks were not honest about their revenue claims with 71% of developers expressing the view that eCPM
(effective Cost Per Thousand Impressions) was exaggerated.
With trust such an integral issue for developers, most were found to be adopting a “do-it-yourself” approach to app
marketing and the majority (78%) spending less than USD$5,000. Smaller developers said they “took a chance” when
it came to app marketing.
Developers gravitate towards big name ad networks and service providers in the belief that they can “trust” these
brands, however, the vast majority of developers are unhappy with the results, suggesting a gulf in expectations
between themselves and the ad network providers.
Ad providers must work harder in gaining back this trust and expanding app developers’ marketing knowledge.
To achieve this, they must be more transparent with their app marketing offerings and provide better tools to help
developers to understand and calculate return on investment for their app marketing campaigns.
Developer Attitudes to App Marketing | 1
“A lack of clarity and trust in ad network providers are the main reasons why
70% of developers
are frustrated with the
current state of app
The Developer Attitudes to App Marketing report analyses the findings of a survey carried out by AppFlood with the
goal to better understand developers’ perspective regarding the complexities of app marketing.
The survey was undertaken across 1022 app developers of varying sizes. Throughout this report we compare
results between large, medium and small developers. Large developers are defined as those with more than 51
staff, medium with 16 to 50 staff and small having 15 or under.
The survey looks to address attitudes across two segments. The first section is around developers acquiring new
users/customers and the second section looks at how developers are making money by publishing advertising
inside their apps.
About this Report
AppFlood is a mobile advertising and cross-promotion network for Android and iOS developers who want to buy, sell,
and exchange users for free. AppFlood enables developers to earn at least 40% more revenue than traditional mobile
ad networks. Being completely commission-free also makes AppFlood the most neutral, transparent network in the
industry with leading data visibility, campaign controls and deeper insights developers trust.
AppFlood launched in July of 2012 and has since acquired over 3,000 developers using its services every day. More
information can be found at http://appflood.com or alternatively contact email@example.com
AppFlood comes from the mobile distribution and monetization company PapayaMobile, providing software tools for
Android and iOS developers to create freemium mobile social games. Papaya hosts games on its self-titled mobile
social network which has over 80 million worldwide
users. Papaya was founded in 2008 by CEO Si Shen
and CTO Qian Wenjie. It has its headquarters in Beijing
and offices in San Francisco and London.
Developer Attitudes to App Marketing | 2
gsocial games. Papaya hostsp y
Small developers are the most frustrated with app distribution at 72% versus large developers who are the least
frustrated at 62%. Overall, the variation is not huge and it appears that across the board developers in general are
frustrated with existing app distribution methods. However, greater frustration amongst smaller developers stands to
reason as increasingly they have to undertake the role of marketing manager and commercial manager and analyst if
they wish to publish and promote their own apps.
The complexities that come with analyzing customer acquisition campaigns through the use of in-app analytics and
other tools means that the average developer may lack the necessary skills to do this and thereby acquire customers
optimally/effectively as well as monetize those that have already been acquired. In contrast, larger developers have
access to greater resources and so can spend more time and effort on test campaigns as well as analyzing the results.
Frustration all round
Developer Attitudes to App Marketing | 3
Have you ever felt frustrated with app distribution?
20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
This section looks at developer attitudes towards marketing apps and acquiring customers.
“One developer described their experience in frank terms. “Mobile Advertising in general is a huge pain in the ass”.
Overall, the majority of app developers surveyed had tried mobile advertising to acquire customers. Medium
sized developers seem to have used mobile advertising the most at 65% versus large developers at 61%. It is
no surprise that small developers lag behind at around 50%.
Majority have paid for mobile advertising
Developer Attitudes to App Marketing | 4
20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Have you ever used mobile advertising to acquire customers?
$10,001+ $5,000 -10,000 $4,999 or less
20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
What was your allocated budget?
Whilst small developers have the smallest allocated marketing budget with 88% having under $5,000, it was very surprising
to see that the medium sized developers actually have higher budgets allocated than the large ones of whom 48% have
allocated $5,000 or under.
Smaller developers often cited worry in losing too much money when starting out and having nothing to show for it as the
primary reason for their reluctance to invest more in marketing.
Small developers rarely spend $5,000
or more on app marketing
Developer Attitudes to App Marketing | 5
“One small developer explained,“I am just getting started in mobile advertising. It has been a learning experience.”
The most popular acquisition tool for all three groups was cost per click ad network (CPC) with 51%, 55%, and 58%
of small, medium and large developers respectively saying they had used it ahead of install networks. Most surprisingly
though was the high instance of web advertising and site sponsorship across the three groups with 42%, 53%, and
56% respectively having paid for site banners, sponsorship or takeovers. This is surprising considering the difficult
nature of tracking conversions from web to mobile. This route does have brand awareness value, but this might be
difficult to justify for most developers, considering the high cost per acquisition.
Most developers are still not investing in using a specialist PR agency or cannot currently see the value. Double the
amount, or 18% of large developers had used a PR agency versus 9% of small and medium developers.
Mobile CPC is still the most popular paid acquisition channel
Developer Attitudes to App Marketing | 6
App review website
Specialist PR agency
Cost per thousand
Cost per click
20% 80%40% 60% 100%
Which marketing methods have you used to acquire customers?
Big developer Medium developer Small developer
The overwhelming factor that determined which network or service to use was trust. Being able to trust in a provider
to deliver positive results at an appropriate price is most important to large developers of whom 57% said it was
a key factor versus 47% of small and medium developers. Trust and prior awareness of a service seem to be the
key determinants across all three groups for choosing a network or marketing service, but the service that gave the
cheapest cost was also important to all three. Of the three groups, small developers take the biggest leap of faith
with 26% of them saying that they had simply ‘taken a chance’ versus 18% of medium and 11% of