Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Ad Strategy

I'm trying a new strategy for serving ads in the free versions of my Android apps. Sales on Golf Solitaire slid way down after the first week, so I've released a free version using a "day pass" model, similar to the way Salon.com or some videos on Hulu work.

Basically, when you open the app for the first time, a dialog appears with an ad, explaining that you need to click on the ad to visit our sponsor's website. If you do that, then relaunch or reset the app, you can play the app ad-free for the next 24 hours. After that time period, you'll see the ad box again.

I decided to try this model because the old way I was serving up ads periodically throughout the game, and people were just closing the ad window more and more without visiting the ads. For the past two months, I'm serving between 150,000 and 250,000 ads per day, but only getting 100-200 click-throughs.

This strategy focuses on serving far fewer ads, but getting many more click-throughs. If the model works well with Golf Solitaire, I'll go ahead and apply it to Spades. I expect some complaints, but I think some users might actually prefer such a system. We'll see.

Implementing it was a pain, though. AdMob doesn't make it easy to detect whether one of their ads has been clicked, so I had to implement it in a pretty clumsy way to capture that an ad had been visited. I had asked for help in a couple of forums, but got no responses. Luckily I was able to figure it out on my own.

Updates on how well it works will be forthcoming.


dm1973 said...

Have you checked with admob about if this is a violation of their terms of service? I had thought about doing this a while back but I couldn't determine if this would be considered click fraud or not.

Derek James said...

Well, I posted a message in their publisher forums asking about it last week, and got no replies. And I'm no lawyer, but their terms of service don't seem to expressly forbid this kind of thing. I mean, these are still end users knowingly clicking on an ad. I'm not sure how that would constitute click fraud. If I were somehow making them think they were clicking on a button to play the game and it unwittingly launched an ad, okay. But I just don't see how this would be unacceptable. I guess I'll see if they contact me with an issue about it.

dm1973 said...

Click fraud might not be the exactly right term. Terms of service violation might be more accurate. I could see an argument that you are "paying" people for clicks which I think they forbid. It is a bit annoying that they don't give you an upfront answer. Please let us know how it works out.

Derek James said...

Will do. I certainly hope they would warn me before doing something drastic like suspending my account. I'm not attempting to defraud anybody...just try a strategy that hopefully is more appealing for everyone. Users see fewer ads, AdMob serves fewer ads, there are more click-throughs, so advertisers, AdMob, and myself should all be happier. And none of this is occurring under false pretenses.

Are you a developer? Working with Android or iPhone, or some other platform?

Anonymous said...

I'm very curious what will happen, if you'd be using Adsense then your account would be closed within no time.

Derek James said...

All right...I got an email from AdMob on this. They say it's not kosher. Something about how a click should indicate interest in an ad rather than a tit-for-tat situation. So I'm back to serving ads the old-fashioned way. Blah.