It really depends on how much advertising dollars you have to spend, and how much money your app makes per user. I'm going to answer this question assuming you've got a free app with in app purchases and advertising.
Here's a few scenarios that commonly play out with FREE apps:
SCENARIO 1. Reskin Game or Low Value Utility App.
If you have low 4 figures to spend on advertising, and your app has a low Revenue Per User figure, the chances are you probably won't be able to make much of a dent buying installs or clicks, and you would be better off investing in life insurance :)
SCENARIO 2: Indie Budget, Social Game or Valuable Utility.
If you have low 4 figures to spend on advertising, and your app has a high Revenue Per User figure (higher than the cost of buying users) then you could be well on the way to a CASH MACHINE that will print money as long as you buy ads. Your low 4 figure ad budget could turn into 7 figures in a matter of months. You could borrow money to speed up your revenue generating cash monster.
SCENARIO 3. Good Budget, Any Low Converting App.
If you have mid 5 figures or even 6 figures to spend, and your app has low revenue per user - then you could spend it on a Burst Campaign, meaning - buying incentivized and non incentivized users through multiple sources on a short burst in attempt to get into to the Top 15 USA chart.
SCENARIO 4. Good Budget, High Converting App.
You have mid 5 figures to 6 figures to spend on an app that generates anywhere from 25 cents to 50 cents or more per user. You have just won the game. Your next challenge is How Not To Screw It Up. That's another question and an entirely different answer :)
In either scenario, if you manage to burst yourself into the Top 15 USA chart, whether through a paid burst or a viral burst (great referral factor, friends want to share the app) or a lucky burst (notch or Justin Bieber tweet about your app)
then you can expect 1 of 3 things to happen:
1) Good Burst Run. You will get hundreds of thousands, or millions of downloads from being in the top charts, and your app will be a success, and after a week or 2, your app will slowly fade away.
-If your app has a low revenue per user (1-5 cents per user) then you just made anywhere from $25000 - $100,000.
-If your app has a decent revenue per user (10 - 25 cents per user) then you just made $50,000 - $250,000!
2) Bad Burst Run. You will get 50,000 - 150,000 downloads over the period of a day or 2, and if your app doesn't have a high rate of sharing/referral factor, you will then drop like a rock down the charts and settle somewhere below the top 100, below the top 100 is also known as App Purgatory.
-Here you made anywhere from $5000 - $15,000 on your 2-3 days of chart topping.
3) Hit App. You will hit the jackpot and become an indie darling success story. You will stay in the top 100 over the coming months and possibly years, get tens or hundreds of millions of downloads, features from Apple, accolades from your peers, and forever be immortalized alongside the likes of Flappy Bird, Doodle Jump, Instagram, SnapChat and other lucky hits that made their benefactors unfathomable sums of money.
So to recap, depending on your budget and the quality and type of app you have to market, there are different strategies that vary from "save your money" to "re-mortgage your house for ads!".
It's not all about buying users either - I've seen friends use some guerilla strategies for high quality indie apps including taking out Facebook Ads that geo target Apple employees in Cuppertino or placing billboards where the Apple App Store Editors are sure to see it.
The feature is not guaranteed with these guerilla strategies, but nothing in the app store is guaranteed :)
I hope this helps.
To understand where to put your advertising dollars you must understand your budget to build powerful apps. Let us look at your app building cost which will give you a clear idea where you should invest your dollars into. The typical cost to build an app of good quality ranges from $60,000 up to $230,000+. Factors like app type, number and complexity of functionality and design, IT vendor influence the app price, where at 40$/hour rate:
a. Simple app development cost - $60,000 for one platform (e.g. Calculators, Camera)
b. Basic app price - from $60,000 to $120,000 per platform (e.g. McDonald’s Loyalty)
c. Complex, custom (multi-feature) app cost - starts from $230,000+ (e.g.Uber, Instagram)
The app development process timeline also varies from 2-3 for a small app, 3-6 months for an app with a basic feature-set, and 9+ months for a complex product, which is considered an ongoing project.
It makes a lot of sense to launch an app start-up these days. Most of the population utilize different mobile apps as part of their daily activities.
The most reliable mobile app industry studies provided the following quotations for app development cost and timeline:
a) The median app development cost is around $171,450 (at a rate of $150/hour), which represents 1,143 development hours. The total app price could even increase to $727,500 in the case of complex functionality implementation
b) Average minimum app development project is between $5,000 to $10,000. The typical cost to create an app is likely to be far higher
c) Enterprise mobile app development cost is an average of $140,000 (VDC Research, 2017)
d) Available app cost calculators state a price range from $267,000 to $360,000 for complex, multi-feature mobile apps
e) Regarding the app development timeline: over 80% of mobile apps take 3+ months to develop; 40% of apps are built in 6+ months
f) Basically, your app idea, along with business and functional necessities, influences the app development cost.
The most influential factors which determine the final cost to build an app are:
a) Vendor type and location
b) Complexity and the number of app features
c) Back-end infrastructure and connected APIs
d) Complexity of UX/UI design
e) Inclusion of additional branded visual elements
f) Development approach (native, mobile web, hybrid, etc)
g) Number of platforms to be developed (iOS, Android, web, etc)
The key findings suggest that the cost to develop an app ranges from just $5,000 to $500,000 based on up-to-date industry surveys.
Our team has also created a detailed investigation on the cost to build an app that lists estimates based on widely used app features, design complexity, and software development stages.
As a result, our conclusion supports the main findings regarding the cost to develop an app in 2020. An application with a core set of features costs upwards of $60,000, while the complex mobile app development cost starts at $230,000.
The following elements should help you understand the app development cost, so you are able to influence the price range and set your project’s budget.
Native vs. hybrid app
The app development approach influences the final cost to build an app. An application that suits the guidelines of a specific operating system is called native. Thus, you can only build a native app for each system separately. Logically, the app development price increases in proportion to the number of platforms you want to target. In contrast, a hybrid or cross-platform app works with multiple operating systems, which means that you can save money by building only one application for all required platforms. However, due to the technical superiority and performance of native apps, most app development companies recommend this approach.
Android vs. iOS app
You may also ask if there is any difference in app development cost based on the platform. The answer is no. These days, the app development timeline for Android and iOS apps is almost the same. If you target both platforms, your applications can be built simultaneously, which allows the apps to be launched at the same time.
Types of apps and costs involved:
1. The most basic app development cost
a) App Cost: > ~$15,000
b) Timeline: ~1 month
c) Examples: Calculator, Camera, Clock, Local games, SMS apps, Local audio/ video players
Basic apps are simple apps with 5-6 screens and no backend or necessity for a network connection. These apps are not that common today. There should be a clear purpose to develop this type of app. These days, most apps need to operate with the Internet, as people consume lots of information online.
2. Data-driven app development cost
a) App Cost: ~$15,000+
b) Timeline: ~1-1.5 months
c) Examples: Calendar, Weather, Stocks, Maps
Data-driven apps are defined as those that consume and process only specific information. For instance, Today Weather app uses third-party API information. These apps are also not that common today, but they still exist. In most cases, these apps are either the extension of a larger software product or include additional features. Other examples of apps in this category are calendar or stock apps. Note that these apps may need some back-end work, and so the cost to build an app increase.
3. Authentication app development cost
a) App Cost: starting from ~$60,000+
b) Timeline: ~3-6 months
c) Examples: McDonald’s Loyalty App, Google Drive
Authentication apps need a user to log in to provide full app functionality. The app development cost for this type increases since there are many subordinate features. Here, the user has a personal account and interacts with the data, which is synchronized among devices. This also requires a corresponding admin panel for content and user management. It is advisable to employ registration via social networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc). This is a one-step procedure that is quicker to implement. Our team has vast experience in developing apps with login functionality.
4. Social networking app development cost
a) App Cost: ~$60,000 - $230,000+
b) Timeline: ~3-6 to up to 9+ months for ongoing project
c) Examples: Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yummi
Logically, social networking apps imply social interactions, chats, and information sharing. Therefore, the back-end infrastructure should be planned with the intent to process lots of data. There are also many subdued types of social apps like media sharing, apps for consumer reviews, communities, blogs, anonymous and interest-based networks, dating apps, etc. Making a clone of the most widely used social products like Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube does not lead to greater success. These products have existed for years now and your social app simply cannot include all their functionality. All of them started from either an MVP or a first basic version with their core features. For example, in the beginning, Instagram was an app working with photos - adhering a photo into a square. This is known as the Instagram MVP, the key functionality which allowed Instagram to succeed in the app business. Building the first version of your future custom full product is a great approach to begin any project.
5. E-Commerce app development cost
a) App Cost: ~$60,000 - $230,000+
b) Timeline: ~3-6 to up to 9+ months for ongoing project
c) Examples: Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, ASOS, GoPuff
E-Commerce apps include the functionality mentioned earlier: user registration, user account, social features. These apps are equipped with detailed product catalogues, separate product pages, and a user check-out system completed via payment transaction. For the payments, services like Braintree and Stripe are great to integrate.
The e-commerce app infrastructure is a complex one, as it requires a well-planned back end and admin panel to manage users, orders, catalogue pages, payments, inventory, etc.
6. On-demand app development cost
a) App Cost: ~ from $70,000 - 80,000+ (per platform)
b) Timeline: ~5-7+ months
c) Examples: Uber, UberEATS, Postmates, Nimber, Melabiz
On-demand apps are thusly named as their goal is to satisfy specific needs or wants. The most well-known example of this type of app, conquering the market worldwide, is Uber. The cost of Uber’s project can be identified by simply looking at its funding. The information on Crunchbase states that the company received $1,300,000 solely during the seed round. On-demand apps can have functionality like that of social apps, such as a login or communication component - chats, calls, and more. Like e-commerce apps, these apps can have ordering, delivery, and payment features to purchase goods and services. As well, these products usually consist of two apps with totally different experiences. Thus, their functionality also differs, e.g. rider and client app in Uber. As a result, app development cost rises along with the development timeline. It is necessary to build two separate applications with their own logic, UX/UI design, and functionality. This is especially true if you plan to launch this type of app on both iOS and Android.
7. Marketplace app development cost
a) App Cost: ~$230,000+ (web platform)
b) Timeline: ~9+ months
c) Examples: TripAdvisor, Booking.com
A marketplace app includes features from both e-commerce and on-demand services, as it is an extensive version of these apps. The marketplace app concept has two sides of the economy - demand and supply. The logic and interaction in user experience should be well-defined. This process takes time, so the cost to develop an app of this type is higher. For instance, Uber focuses solely on transportation services. In contrast, TripAdvisor offers hotels, restaurants, airline tickets, and more services with the help of a website and native iOS and Android applications.
8. IoT & Hardware app development cost
a) App Cost: starting at ~$60,000+
b) Timeline: from ~3-6 months
c) Examples: Beacons, Amazon Dash Buttons, WeMo, BELI Printing Service, Jo
Internet-of-Things apps interconnect particular physical objects or equipment with technology. Once the IoT technology is applied, these items are considered ‘smart.’ These ‘smart’ items could be medical tools, pet collars, devices for home assistance, and so on. These apps need to connect with a device either via Bluetooth or WiFi technology. This helps to send requests and receive data. To develop this kind of app, it is necessary to have a ready-made device and its comprehensive documentation. The hardware should work properly and in accordance with the documentation. It is then possible to estimate the cost to develop an app, at least roughly.
Campaign types are basically business models that mobile ad networks use to run ad campaigns. There are five main types:
a. Cost-Per-Mile (CPM) means charging an advertiser for each “mile” their ads are shown. In this case, a “mile” means 1,000 showings. This business model is best for you as a mobile app owner and publisher, as it allows you to charge each time an ad is shown.
b. In this case, it does not matter whether an ad campaign is successful or not – you’ll get revenue in any case, and that revenue will be easy to predict. However, this is also a downside. If ads are effective, you may lose out on money you could have earned from their success. The next model would work better for you in this case.
c. Cost-Per-Click (CPC) is better for advertisers, as they pay only when their ads actually attract users. In the case of a successful ad campaign the publisher wins as well, but the risks in this business model are higher for you. If few people click on ads, there is a good chance you’ll be showing most ads for free.
d. Cost-Per-Install (CPI) means that you will receive money only when users actually install an app that’s being advertised. This model is also good for advertisers because they can count their ROI by looking at the price they pay for each new customer.
e. Cost-Per-Action (CPA) works similarly to CPI; however, it is even more detailed. With CPA, an advertiser pays based on a specific action the user takes – for example, making a purchase, buying a subscription, or just signing up. This model is the most equitable for both parties, as it gives you more ways to monetize your app and gives advertisers more opportunities to grow their business.
f. Cost-Per-View (CPV) is the last business model on our list, and mostly it concerns video ads. Video advertisements are growing in popularity as video has proven to be one of the most memorable types of content. Consequently, the CPV model is becoming more widespread among advertisers and mobile app owners.
In general, mobile ad networks support five types of in-app advertising:
a) Banner ads are the most common for mobile ad monetization and are familiar to everyone. They can be static or contain animations integrated into the app’s UI.
b) Native ads are a more advanced version of banner or video ads. They are even more integrated into the UI, making them less intrusive.
c) Interstitial ads are often displayed between app screens or levels in games. They take up the whole screen and cover an app completely.
d) Video ads are usually used in media apps and take no more than 60 seconds. They’re divided into two types: in-stream and out-stream. In-stream videos take the whole screen and are displayed either before, after, or in the middle of other video content. Out-stream ads are placed in any other part of an app.
e) Offer Wall ads are interactive banners with offers for third-party applications.
f) Rewarded video ads are popular in games: users watch ads in exchange for rewards they can later use in the game
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call: https://clarity.fm/joy-brotonath