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Does advertising your app on other websites help?

Recorded – watch the full episode on YouTube.

Does it help to advertise your app via adverts on other sites, such as banner adverts, sponsored posts and such?

James Thomson: No. It's a simple answer. I did it for a long time. So I used, I ran Google AdWords for years and spent thousands of dollars on that. Then one day I switched it off, nothing changed.

"I think the best thing that you could do is use Apple Search Ads stuff and put some money into that. Because they have the simple Search Ads set up where you only pay money if somebody buys your app."

If you were spending money right now, I think the best thing you could do is use Apple Search Ads and put some money into that. Because they have the simple Search Ads set up where you only pay money if somebody buys your app. So it doesn't matter how many people go and look at it on the store and click on it. You only pay if somebody buys it. So that's one thing that I do where you can say my app costs, whatever it is, I am going to spend up to ... Say my app costs $10 I'm going to spend up to a dollar making sure that people see adverts for it when they're searching for stuff.

And that way you know that you're not losing money. They do have the advanced advert stuff, which is far more targetable and keywords and everything. But for that anytime somebody clicks on your ad, it costs you money. So that one is a harder thing to do. Also, if you've never used Search Ads before, you get a hundred dollars of credit, and I am still running on the free credit and made several hundred sales worth of Dice out of that. So that's something you can do right now today. Just switch on the basic Search Ads stuff. Set a reasonable thing and use up your free credit and see how it works for you.

I don't want to tout for Apple because the problem is I don't like this because it feels a bit like protection money because it is the sort of “we're already taking 30% but why don't you pay us some more money to get more visibility in the store,” and that feels bad to me. But as a way to actually do something right now that's the best thing. There are some things that can work if it's a very targeted product you have and you can target it. I mean even calculators are too broad, but if you had something that was, like Dice might be a good example, not that I've done it. But if I advertised on some role playing game site, if there was some the destination for everyone who's playing D&D. If I advertised on that, maybe that would help.

Most of the time if you're doing something like banner ads, I've never had a good return on them because most people are either filtering out advertising or fast forwarding through advertising. I mean advertising has a place and I like the fact that it can help support the sites that I like, but the more sites that can move to a direct funding model with memberships and things the better, because advertising is, I don't want to say it's responsible for all the ills in the world, but it's responsible for a lot of them.

Paul Hudson: Your job as a marketer is to make sure that your cost of acquirement is less than the cost of revenue you make from that acquirement. That's it. Once you've nailed that, you can do what you like, if it's five bucks to get someone in, 10 bucks of your revenue from that, then great – take as many adverts as you want to, it doesn't matter. But if it's 11 bucks versus 10 bucks, then you become the next Uber.

“I would not really recommend to anyone, especially at the indie level of going the VC type thinking of, ‘Well we're not going to make any profit for the first 10 years. But then we're really going to make the money.’ That's hard to do, especially for a small or lone developer, it's just not feasible.”

James Thomson: I would not really recommend to anyone, especially at the indie level of going the VC type thinking of, "Well we're not going to make any profit for the first 10 years. But then we're really going to make the money." That's hard to do, especially for a small or lone developer, it's just not feasible.

You ideally want to be making money from day one and it is hard in this environment, the pricing on apps is a standard topic of conversation at developer conferences when people are in the pub discussing their revenue models and like, "Oh we were thinking of moving to subscription for this stuff or we were thinking of doing this." Or you know, "We were going to have free with in app purchase rather than paid upfront and what's working for you?" And what works for one person is not going to work for somebody else.

PCalc has always been paid upfront and it's always done well. That's a simple way of doing it. It's like give me the money, here's the thing and that's the simplest transaction.

This transcript was recorded as part of Swiftly Speaking. You can watch the full original episode on YouTube, or subscribe to the audio version on Apple Podcasts.

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