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There are a million ways to monetize downloads and luckily, none of them are too difficult. Whether you’re a software developer, a publisher, an advertiser, an affiliate, or a website owner, you’ll be able to use some of these techniques to monetize your downloads. As long as you have digital content, such as software, apps, audio, video, or even high quality written content, you’ll be able to find a way to monetize your downloads, probably within a few clicks.

As we’ve mentioned elsewhere, the most popular monetization methods are based on selling and promoting other merchants’ items. Advertising is the probably the most widely used, most diverse monetization method online, but other popular methods include affiliate marketing, and, for software, freemium models.

Why Should You Monetize Your Downloads with Advertising

Wherever there’s screen space, there’s room for ads. You can throw ads on a website, inside a paragraph of text, in your installer, or in an app. They all work, and the only way to find out which ones work best for you is through testing.

Here are a few benefits of advertising monetization strategies:

You Can Target Your Market

Marketers know that targeting is essential to effective marketing, both online and offline. The more you know your audience, the more you can give them what they want. Targeting lets you focus only on the audience that matters: your audience.

You can hone your software and your advertising to meet their needs, which will increase the value of your product, which can increase downloads, market exposure, and conversions for your advertising program. With analytics and metrics that give us insight into customer behavior, we can adapt our advertising on an ongoing basis.

Many existing advertising programs automate much of the targeting and adaptation for you. Advertising networks and platforms will track and measure your visitors and only deliver the ads that actually work.

Advertising is Everywhere

Anywhere you’ve got space, somebody can put an ad. You’ll find ads on billboards, on websites, in email, in snail mail, on coasters, on shopping carts, online, and offline. Since we’re interested in advertising spaces that can help you monetize downloads, here are a couple of the advertising strategies that are trending lately:

Advertising in apps has become one of the most common methods of advertising, and is competing with in-app purchases. App users are more targeted and more engaged than casual web surfers, which makes them more likely to convert on an offer.

You have the added benefit of being able to track user behavior in apps, so you can learn what works and what doesn’t. You can modify your app, your advertising, or both, as needed.

Advertising in installers has also become a popular advertising method for many who wish to monetize downloads. This method offers several advantages.

You can deliver a free product, which users are more likely to download than a paid product, but still earn revenue. This helps with market share expansion and brand exposure. And, as with most other forms of online advertising, you can track your analytics and tweak your installation funnel to improve conversions.

Other Methods to Monetize Downloads

The main difference between advertising and other monetization methods, such as affiliate marketing, is that affiliate marketing often pays on a cost-per-action basis. When the user completes a sale, the affiliate receives a commission. With advertising, however, advertising revenue can be paid whenever an ad is displayed a certain number of times, or whenever a user clicks through an ad.

  • Affiliate marketing methods, while less popular than advertising, do offer a major benefit: they usually pay more. Though affiliate strategies can be more difficult to implement, a successful commission can generate quite a bit of income.
  • Pay-per-download networks often use a cost-per-action model to pay out. For example, if you want to monetize downloads that you own, such as apps or digital content, you can “lock” the content behind links. In order to access that content, users will have to complete an action, such as filling out a form or completing a survey. That’s when you get paid.
  • Freemium models, as mentioned, are becoming less popular, at least in the mobile app space. A recent surve indicated that the freemium model is on its way out. Users prefer apps and games that are fully functional, and almost two-thirds of the time end up removing freemium apps.
  • Charging for your download!  We don’t want to forget this one. But why is it last? Probably because it’s one of the least successful methods of monetizing a download. This monetization method works well in certain circumstances: if your company is well-positioned in the marketplace, if you have lots of resources to spend on marketing, and if you have an extremely unique, high-value download. Otherwise, advertising still rules as the most effective way to monetize downloads.