Here is how mobile app developers can make money from their “free apps”.
1) Using mobile ad networks like InMobi and AdMob is probably one of the best ways to earn by way of in-app advertising. These networks offer easy integration with apps, thereby helping you start earning your revenue almost immediately.
The only disadvantage here is that CPM rates are very low. This can initially put a lot of strain, especially if you are an amateur developer. But this will improve as your app’s popularity catches on with users.
2) Employing rich media ad networks such as Greystripe helps catch and sustain the interest of your viewers, sometimes even making them to return to you more often. Because these ads are appealing to the eye, they automatically attract more viewership and higher CPMs.
The downside here is that they also can put a strain on your resources, both in terms of server space and finances.
3) Singing up for ad exchanges can be of immense help to you, since it lets you integrate with several ad networks at one and the same time. This offers you much higher fill rates too, as compared to a single ad network.
The disadvantage with this is that you, as the developer, would have to spend more time and resources to optimize content for several types of ad networks. This may lower your net returns.
4) Getting sponsorship for a mobile app is the best way of getting assured high returns from it. Also, creating an app for the advertiser assures smoother and better integration of the app with the sponsoring brand.
The downside with this form of earning from an app is that the app has to be a perfect fit for the brand. Besides, this being an expensive affair, only the biggest publishers can hope to sustain a long-lasting relationship with the sponsoring brand. Hence, this is definitely not for amateur developers.