Saturday, August 14, 2010

A look at Apple's iAd from the perspective of a local developer

A Nissan ad running on Simple Paint Free

When Apple launched its iAd platform, it was in part to help developers monetise their apps and thus give them an incentive to stay with the iOS platform. While it is still early days, at least one local developer has given the iAd platform the thumbs-up.

Thanks to iAd, developer Lim Thye Chean of Virtual GS has made close to US$400 from ads on his apps in the one month that he has been on the platform. What he did was to rework a few of his apps as 'lite' apps with ads running in them. These include apps like Simple Paint, Kids Paint, Magic Paint and Doodle Note.


Between July 11 and August 10, Thye Chean earned US$379, or just over US$12 a day. His goal was US$10 a day or US$300 a month so the ads are performing above expectation, he said. According to him, developers get US$1.20 per click-through for ads from premium advertisers like Nissan and Dove and US$0.15 for simple ads by app developer.

Thye Chean kindly gave us a a peek at how iAd works using his app Magic Paint as an example. Magic Paint earned US$84 during the month in question. Throughout this period, some 55,000 requests were made to the iAd server, but only 1,000 ad impressions were delivered.

A developer's ad running on Magic Paint.

The fill rate is low because iAd started with just two premium advertisers and clearly Apple did not want to show only Nissan and Dove ads all the time. The fill rate improved as Apple began to offer developers the option to advertise their ads on the iAd network very cheaply. Another reason for the low fill rate is that the iAd platform appears to be currently limited to users in the US, which means that ads are not served to users outside the US.

The fact that iAd apears to be US-only is one limitation of the system. This means that developers who create apps that are aimed at markets outside the US can't earn any money from this platform. This excludes local developers who create apps like SG Buses, iCash SG and Carpark@SG.

However, for developers like Thye Chean who create apps for a global audience, iAd is working out and the platform has succeeded in giving him an incentive to create more apps for the iPhone. "The one thing I like about iAd is that it allows me to go back to the root of why I love programming," he said. "I like creating simple things, a simple game, a one-trick pony that do one thing well.

"Unfortunately, the App Store has evolved into a place that you have to compete with EA or Gameloft for US$0.99. Even a game like Space War takes at least a month of dedicated programming to write, and it is probably too short and simple for the App Store.

"iAd allows me to go back to free development, write something simple and fun, and not charge for anything. I am looking forward for iAd for iPad to come!"

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