Are you trying to make money from your downloads? If so, pay-per-download (PPD) is a great way to do it. You can monetize any form of digital content, including apps, digital content, digital media, files, and pretty much anything that can be downloaded. It’s a great way to make money from your own content, and you can even make money from other people’s content, too.

So What is Pay-Per-Download?

While different companies may use the term to mean slightly different things, a PPD network or site is a system that lets you monetize downloads. You can charge users to download the file, or require them to unlock the content by completing an action – such as a survey or quiz – which then generates revenue from a third party advertiser. There is some overlap between the two services, and some online monetization networks offer both systems to their subscribers.

Some PPD networks also include affiliate systems. This means that an affiliate marketer will go to work promoting your paid download. Each time a user purchases your download, you’ll pay them a commission. If you are also working the marketing angle, you can use a PPD affiliate system to promote other people’s downloads and earn commissions.

Making the Most of a Pay-Per-Download Network

If you have content you want to sell, then either the paid purchase or content-locking system should work for you. To find out which one is best suited to your situation, you’ll need to assess the value of your content. Are you monetizing an app? A wallpaper pack? A plugin?

Start by researching the competition. Find out how others are monetizing similar products. Are they charging for the end product or using content-locking? Take advantage of those who have gone before you: they’ve probably tested and re-tested the most effective download monetization strategies. Emulate, then innovate.

In general, less valuable content should be content-locked. You can try charging customers to download more valuable items, such as apps or high quality eBooks. Or, if you have the resources and web space, you can run both systems simultaneously and see which generates more revenue.

Researching Pay-Per-Download Networks

Once you’ve answered the question, “What is pay per download?” you can begin researching available networks.

Here are a few things to look for when doing your due diligence:


Check the reputation by looking for reviews on external websites, read forums, news websites, and see what other people say. Also check for signs of legitimacy on the PPD site. Look for a mailing address, contact phone number, and other signs that the PPD site can stand behind their service.

Secure Payments

A secure payment processor is vital. If the PPD site uses PayPal, Amazon Payments, and other major processors, you can feel pretty safe knowing that the business is willing to register a real identity and bank account with them.


Once you verify that you’re dealing with an actual business that takes security seriously, it’s time to look at the features the PPD network offers. Find out how many payment processors they support, if they have an affiliate program, if they have partnerships with other online retailers, and find out their pricing system. Find out any and all limits they place on the number of transactions and products they allow, and any other details about their shopping cart system.

Pricing Plans

Pricing plans can vary from network to network, and some networks have different plans. Some will set limits on the size of your upload, charge commissions for your downloads, or change other variables based on a subscription model. Do they charge to sign up for an account? Weigh all of these prices against how much content you have and your potential PPD revenue. 

Pay-Per-Download and Content-Locking

Sometimes, PPD and content-locking are used interchangeably. As mentioned above, you don’t charge users for these products. Instead, you lock the content and receive a fee when users complete an action to unlock that content.

With content-locking networks, research is just as important. Go through the same steps mentioned above to discover more about the company’s reputation, what type of security they offer, and what features they offer. Check to see how they stack up against the competition.

Since you’ll often be presenting third-party offers in order to monetize your download, you’ll want to research the available offers for each PPD network. Check to see which ones are most relevant to your target audience and how much they pay. Once you sign up and begin using the network, you’ll be doing a lot of testing.

Typically, payments for locked content or downloads is much lower than what you would charge for a paid product. The production cost of such digital content, however, is often much lower than for a paid product. Instead of selling one large download for a high price, you can distribute many smaller downloads and receive smaller payments for each one.

Pay-per-download networks are one of the best monetization strategies out there, and definitely worth a shot for anyone who has digital content to monetize. Which one you choose will often be based on the type of content you’re offering, your price range, and your goals. Once you make your pick, it’s time to get testing!