Apple may be making millions in its app store, but advertising on the iPhone is only as good as the application that it's on. 

According to AdMob, over half of the free apps on the iPhone aren't really making any money at all.

The ad network serves ads to over 2,300 free apps, but their new study shows that 54% of those apps had fewer than 1,000 users in May.

Silicon Alley Insider estimates that the earnings from those apps is "probably not not enough to buy a sandwich":

"For every 1,000 times an ad loads on your app, you'd get $1-$2 after sharing revenue with the ad network. Assuming a 1,000-active-user app actually gets 1,000 people to look at, say, 10 ads per month, that's a mere $10-$20 in revenue. Assuming 500 users and 5 ads a month... you get the idea."

Popular apps on the iPhone, of course, are doing just fine. The top 5% of apps on the iPhone had more than 100,000 users. The biggest had more than 2 million, and about 11 apps had more than 1 million users.

Admob allows all free apps to serve advertising, regardless of their sucess rate with users. But now Google is getting into the market and the search giant may make a bid to capture the top app performers on the iPhone.

Yesterday, Google announced that it was opening its AdSense for Mobile for the iPhone and Android. Google's service will compete with AdMob and gets around the monetization barrier by requiring app developers achieve a certain level of popularity before signing on:

"To participate, developers must have an app that's ready to implement, is free, already gets a minimum of 100,000 page views daily and runs on either Android or iPhone."

Meghan Keane

Published 25 June, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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Comments (4)

David Iwanow

David Iwanow, SEO Product Manager at

Im sure that Apple App product managers love this kinda of data being released just in time for their iPhone 3G S...

Typically Google pitches its product at the mass market, so why the sudden change why go for only a small potential market? I would have thought if they wanted to sink Admob they would start at a much lower number of page views?

If there is going to be extra development costs to add in Adsense to replace Admob, im not sure how many developers would be doing this.  Most smart developers talk about wanting to develop an iPhone app, but dont have the development time or budget.  Adding further requirements and trying to split the market between two Ad platforms is just going to annoy the development community. 

While im sure there are a number of apps that would qualify such as News & Social Media apps, it still seems a strangly high level for Google to offer an entry level ad product.

The Lost Press

about 9 years ago


Fox Tucker

This news gives me the arse. I've been banging on for over a year about how AdMob doesn't work for iPhone developers. I've carried out numerous tests at great personal expense, just so I can be sure my fact are right.

One year on, AdMob get to release data that says Free iPhone Devs aren't making, all while they're using the very same developers to fleece advertisers.

So the bottom line... AdMob doesn't work for publishers, which means it doesn't work for advertisers... and still AdMob get to shout about how great they think they are.

Google have annouced the beta release of their advertising solution for iPhone/Android App platforms. Move aside Admob. The game is up.

about 9 years ago



No, thanks!! GOOGLE

CPM on apps?

CPM on video?

There is not money in this business for a small developer!!, but only for

a Google!!

Wake-up developers!!

about 9 years ago


Kost Enloseapps

with admob (now a part of google) developer can get at least some money for their work

over 8 years ago

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