Boing Boom Chock

iPhone Advertising with AdMob…Wow…Disappointing

by on Jan.16, 2009, under Uncategorized

Given the release of Mr. Texty, I decided to run some ads for it using AdMob, which is a site that does mobile advertising. This is pretty similar to what you would do with Google AdWords, only they’ll place advertisements within iPhone apps that have been set up to host ads. I’ve had pretty good results from AdWords, and those ads are just web-based, so I expected much better results from AdMob, where a click on my ad will bring the user right to the app store page selling Mr. Texty. Unfortunately, I was extraordinarily disappointed.

So, the first thing to note is that you can run advertisements on a number of different mobile devices, but there is a special category for iPhone advertising. The ad will contain a small picture and some text. Mine looked like this:

AdMob Ad for Mr. Texty

AdMob Ad for Mr. Texty

The second thing to note is that AdMob is a pre-paid service. Unlike Google AdWords, where you just get billed for the ads that you buy throughout the month, you have to maintain a balance on AdMob in order to have your ads run. When you run out of money, your ads stop running. The minimum amount you can add to your account is $50. You can set your Cost Per Click (CPC) at a fairly low level, when compared to AdWords, and the default is $0.04 so I had assumed that my $50 would last me at least a little while. On first glance, this seemed like an incredible value. Again, the only other experience I have with online advertising is with AdWords, and $50 can last quite a while, especially with a maximum CPC as low as $0.04.

I was colossally wrong. If you’re thinking of buying ads with AdMob, you should really know that your first $50 will go very quickly. Mine was gone in half an hour. Yes, 30 minutes. You can set a maximum amount of money that you want to spend daily, but the lowest amount you can select is $100 per day, so there’s really no way to limit spending to less than $50 a day. And to do that, you have to actually fund your account daily with the $50 minimum. On the one hand, I was alarmed at how quickly it went, but on the other hand, they were reporting 67,516 impressions with 1,250 clicks, so I had high hopes for sales that day. Out of those 1,250 clicks, if I had sold 72 extra copies of Mr. Texty, I would have made an immediate profit. That’s a fairly reasonable expectation of 5.8% people who clicked the ad making a purchase.

Now comes the alarming bit. I didn’t see sales rise at all this first day. That would be a 0% increase in sales. Not exactly what I was hoping for. So, I poked around on the AdMob website a bit, and noticed that I had made a mistake when I ran my ad. I had accidentally run what they call a “Web Ad” rather than an “App Store Ad”. I didn’t see the other option at first, so I had set up an intermediary iPhone-formatted web page with information about Mr. Texty. Users who clicked my ad were taken to this page, with an optional link to the App Store. However, AdMob does offer a different option where users are taken immediately to the App Store page selling your app, which has its obvious benefits: users can buy your app right there. So, I figured the error was my own fault, and I decided to run another $50 worth of App Store ads the next day.

I may as well have gone to the casino. Another $50 spent–in about 20 minutes this time. Another 0% increase in sales. I’m not going to give out exact sales numbers, but Mr. Texty is selling at a fairly constant rate on a day to day basis. Advertising should generally cause some bump in sales, but I got absolutely nothing for my $100.

Anyway, I’ve written AdMob to see if I’m doing something wrong, or if they have any suggestions, but I haven’t received any response. Please note that I’m not accusing them of any wrongdoing here. I have no reason to believe that I’ve been defrauded or anything like that. This is just one person’s experience with the service, which I have to say, was colossally bad. That said, if people are clicking on ads at this incredible rate, maybe selling ads with AdMob is worth a shot.

[edit 01-16-2009]

I did here back from AdMob support today. They recommended targeting just the United States rather than Worldwide, “as worldwide targeted ads with your bid will┬ámost likely┬ánot get traffic in the United States”. That’s an interesting point. I don’t know if I’m going to bother trying again, but I thought I’d post this in case it helps somebody else who’s considering iPhone advertising.

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