Mobile App Monetization Strategy: Paid or Free?

choosing app monetization strategy Mobile App Monetization Strategy: Paid or Free?
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Developing a mobile app monetization strategy one of the most important questions you have to answer is whether an app will be paid or free. App monetization strategy is a plan of how to make your product profitable. So, what is the essential criteria to make the right choice?
Here at Smartum Pro we believe that the core decision of mobile app monetization strategy “paid or free” strongly depends on app purpose. When the main purpose of your app is to raise brand awareness and customers loyalty, attract customers, give them an opportunity to communicate and share experience, etc., the application should obviously be free. Even a small charge of less than a dollar can lead the whole effect of mobile application launch to zero: the majority of customers don’t want to pay for such services. When you main goal is to get profit, there are numerous ways of app monetization strategies to choose.
When making decision which app monetization strategy will be the best variant for you, you should make competitor analysis: how they monetized the app, which app monetization strategy they chose, which results they got and so one. It will help you choose the most suitable variant. Now let’s consider mobile app monetization strategies.

Freemium (free+paid)
It’s possible to use a basic free version, and pay for a Premium one. A basic version solves most common problems, while paid features provide extra capabilities valuable for advanced users so that they are willing to pay for them.


A person has a chance to use your awesome app free of charge for a certain period of time, and this is a key difference of Trial from other app monetization strategies. After the end of the test period user receives offer to purchase a paid version. This method is recognized as one of the most effective for regular use applications: people get involved and soon get used with your app and, if it’s functional and handy and they have a totally positive experience with your app, they are willing to pay for familiar and useful service.

In-app purchases

You can use an app for free, but there’s a possibility to pay for some digital goods inside. This is a most common way to monetize games. Actually, this is the most profitable app monetization strategy. At the same time, the implementation of this method is quite time-consuming because it requires a lot of work on different mechanisms to involve users into in-app shopping. But you always have a chance to create something so interesting and useful that people will pay to have it.


This mobile app monetization strategy includes small payment from user, but it will be withdrawn every month. It’s very convenient for those who wants to get acquainted with the application and its functions, and at the same time not to pay a lot of money to download it.


This mobile app monetization strategy includes advertising. Users see ads and app owner gets paid by advertisers. Display advertising may be organized in your app quite intelligently: have targeting, rotation, etc. Ads are a great value in case of monetization of some extra popular apps designed for wide audience. If your app is “for everyone” ads may generate you significant revenue.

Traffic Redirection

User is given the link to another application, and those visit is paid by advertiser or may relate to initial application owner (who apply the tactics of saving money on advertising). This mobile app monetization strategy is quite similar to the previous one, but it causes less negative reaction.


There are several other app monetization strategies, for example, donation (when it’s suggested to use the application for free, but you are given an opportunity to thank developers sending them some money). This method may work well for one region and have poor performance in the other one because of mentality issues.
Now you know that there are lots of mobile app monetization strategies, even if it’s free to download you can get profit from it.
When making decision whether the app will be paid or free, and also making the choice of mobile app monetization strategy you’d like to make money on, we recommend you take into consideration the target audience, its needs, and functions users will be ready to pay for.

5/5 - (5 votes)

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