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Microsoft Advertising Windows

Windows Store In-App Ad Revenue Plummets 196

Posted by Soulskill
from the sorry-about-your-luck dept.
jfruh writes "One of the hooks Microsoft has used to get developers to build apps for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 has been pubCenter, an ad network that's easy to add to apps and provides revenue back to publishers. But many developers found that on April 1 that revenue abruptly dropped by an order of magnitude, with most potential ad impressions going unsold; one developer reported only 160,000 ads served to 60 million requests, a fill rate of less than 0.3%. Since many of the ads before April 1 had been for Bing, this may be a sign that Microsoft is no longer willing to subsidize its developers — and that advertisers aren't that interested in buying ads in Windows 8 apps."
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Windows Store In-App Ad Revenue Plummets

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  • As a customer... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JMJimmy (2036122) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @03:15PM (#43594237)

    ...I know I certainly don't want to see ads in Windows 8 apps.

    • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @03:16PM (#43594261) Homepage Journal

      I'd watch an ad...

      Not to see Windows 8!

      And I run AdBlock Lite + Ghostery on everything!

    • by swschrad (312009) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @03:24PM (#43594355) Homepage Journal

      dirty little secret: those ads loading are data you are charged for.

      • by firex726 (1188453) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {627xerif}> on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @03:30PM (#43594431)

        One more reason why people are not too keen on metered internet.

        Unlike say a cell phone, I know if I use it for 30 minutes I have used, 30 minutes. Whereas if I visit a random website it might have multiple videos playing and will eat up a bunch of data, and I have no way of knowing this till the page has loaded.

        • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @04:20PM (#43595035)

          This could be abused. Create a website taylored to appeal only to a particular social or political group your dislike, and hide somewhere an image tag - display size 1px by 1px, but actually referencing a two-gigabyte jpeg. While your victims are on your site browsing whatever you put up there, it's draining their credit with a ridiculously huge background download.

          • This could be abused. Create a website taylored to appeal only to a particular social or political group your dislike, and hide somewhere an image tag - display size 1px by 1px, but actually referencing a two-gigabyte jpeg. While your victims are on your site browsing whatever you put up there, it's draining their credit with a ridiculously huge background download.

            Just make that a picture of child pornography, then you'll actually have described some website defacing I've cleaned up multiple times before... Which is why it shouldn't be illegal to have 1's and 0's of any configuration "in your possession". Having bits doesn't even mean you've seen them.

            You don't need a 2gig data file. A 3meg file is a "HD" JPEG, and serves the same purpose -- Just reload a new image each time the "onload" event of the element fires, which is what I observed the XSS exploit doing.

        • by Traf-O-Data-Hater (858971) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @05:57PM (#43596019)
          Mozilla in their 'wisdom' decided to disable the ESC key that a lot of people used to stop animated gifs running https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=614304/ [mozilla.org]. It also stopped the page loading - dead in its tracks - which I personally loved. However some Mozilla devs didn't like it (as scripts etc may not be loaded properly). So they've now taken control away from the annoyed user who is going to cop entire page loads of crap.
          • by exomondo (1725132)

            So they've now taken control away from the annoyed user who is going to cop entire page loads of crap.

            You can download the source, change it back if you don't like it, isn't that the whole selling point of free software?

            • by glennrrr (592457)
              Have you ever tried to set up the toolchain to compile FireFox? It's been a couple years, but it was ridiculously hard.
              • by exomondo (1725132)
                No I haven't, I didn't mean to come across as though that's the answer, it was more that I see that espoused as the great thing about open source - that it puts control in the hands of the user but all to often - as you rightfully point out in this case - actually exercising that control is impractical anyway.
              • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

                I have, and gave up. I used to remember the details, but the installer alone was ridiculous. I tried debugging it for ReactOS, and it turned out to be a simple resource/image issue. Maybe things are better now, but I refuse to take a look.

                I remember finding functions, only to see unused code in abandoned folders and not knowing which was actually part of the project. Not just a few, I estimated maybe 25% of the source distribution was dead code.

                The build chain, considering that the UI is written in XUL,

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          Perhaps if you are running Firefox you should consider this https://addons.mozilla.org/En-us/firefox/addon/smartvideo-for-youtube-mytube/ [mozilla.org]. It gives greater control of video stopping them from automatically running.

    • by cbhacking (979169)

      Would you rather pay for your apps? Most apps that I've looked at (admittedly this is very few; I find Metro to be largely useless) seem to have both paid (typically $1-$5) "Pro" versions and also free (ad-supported) versions. Sometimes the ad-supported version is simply the trial version of the paid app, other times it is listed as a separate app. The user has choices.

    • Re:As a customer... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rudy_wayne (414635) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @03:52PM (#43594725)

      ...I know I certainly don't want to see ads in Windows 8 apps.

      Exactly right.

      Screw them and their ads. Want to make money? Create something worthwhile and sell it. Want to make money from ads? Fuck You. I get bombarded with enough ads already.

    • Sorry, you've grown too attached to your computer. You're no longer anything remotely respectful like customer. You're a consumer. You exist to have your time sold to other companies.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      And yet, as a customer you still get ads in your Windows 8 apps. Including the apps included with Windows 8 that you paid for.

  • Serves them right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @03:15PM (#43594241) Homepage Journal

    Trying to convert a general purpose computer to a phonelike environment has an inherent failure, that users recognized, then later advertisers recognized that users recognized it. I've heard windows 9 is planned to cede even more ground on the general purpose front. That would actually make me, a windows developer(currently), switch to Linux on as my main platform.

    • by cbhacking (979169) <been_out_cruisin ... nOSPam.yahoo.com> on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @03:29PM (#43594417) Homepage Journal

      Where have you heard that? Considering that Win8 is fully functional as a general-purpose OS (and indeed adds many distinctly non-tablet features, such as Client Hyper-V, the Win+X / right-click-on-Start menu, Windows To Go, improvements to Task Manager, and so on), and that Windows "Blue" (which may or may not be Win9) is probably (based on the leaked early builds) adding back the ability to display the Start button at all times and to boot straight to the desktop, I'm not sure how much less ground it could lose on the general purpose front...

      • Well, it was a friend who's not as into tech news as I am, but I trusted them anyways. What they asserted in particular was that non-verified code wouldn't run at all, so everything had to come from the store, or a "trusted" vendor.

        • What they asserted in particular was that non-verified code wouldn't run at all

          This is true of Windows RT, the operating system on ARM-based Surface tablets. It hasn't been reported publicly with respect to any x86 product.

          • by cbhacking (979169)

            It was also broken months ago; my RT device unlocks that restriction automatically upon bootup (company bought me one as a research target) which is how I'm able to get away with so little use of Metro.

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          That's a Windows RT thing. That's intentionally designed to be limited, and any OEMs are contractually required to maintain the limitations. Whereas normal PC Windows 8 lets you run normal applications all you like.

      • by mea_culpa (145339)

        What it feels like using Windows 8 [imgur.com]

        Yes, it is functional but only enjoyable to a small minority.

      • Windows Blue is 8.1. This isn't speculation anymore. The start button will still just bring up the start screen, not a start menu, which is why people wanted it back.
    • Trying to convert a general purpose computer to a phonelike environment has an inherent failure, that users recognized, then later advertisers recognized that users recognized it. I've heard windows 9 is planned to cede even more ground on the general purpose front. That would actually make me, a windows developer(currently), switch to Linux on as my main platform.

      citation?

    • I've heard windows 9 is planned to cede even more ground on the general purpose front.

      To do otherwise would admit that what they were doing is wrong, which is for some reason worse than annoying customers.

      • See, that comes down to who's making the decisions. There's some dumb VP in Microsoft who pushed for all the changes in Windows 8 to make a name for himself in the company. He still works there, but if he acknowledges that his changes were a bad idea, he'll be fired. If it's "market conditions", and his changes were still "good ideas", then he keeps his job. Microsoft doesn't make decisions that benefit them. They make decisions that benefit the decision makers in the company.

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      Huh? What's a general purpose computer? Does it include netbooks? Does it matter if someone loads Android on their Windows netbook? What's the differnce between an Android netbook and Android tablet with keyboard? Where are you drawing the line on this mythical "gp computer?"

      Is it a problem if I hook my phone up to a 60" TV and use a bluetooth mouse and keyboard to control it, playing games and movies in HD on a TV?
      • by rsborg (111459)

        Huh? What's a general purpose computer? Does it include netbooks? Does it matter if someone loads Android on their Windows netbook? What's the differnce between an Android netbook and Android tablet with keyboard? Where are you drawing the line on this mythical "gp computer?"

        Is it a problem if I hook my phone up to a 60" TV and use a bluetooth mouse and keyboard to control it, playing games and movies in HD on a TV?

        If you reread the GP comment, it's clear that commenter was focused primarily on Win8/Metro (and maybe, sort of, OSX 10.8) - which has been "mobile-ized". Asus Transformers were doing a tablet OS on a "netbook" for years, and that model seems to work decently.

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          So, putting a desktop OS on a mobile device is "bad". Good thing iOS isn't based on OSX (which was then based on an older desktop/server OS) and Android isn't based on Linux.

          You focused on where you think I didn't get it, and didn't even consider the possibility that I did get it. You need less slashdot and more time among competent and intelligent people. The "successful" mobile devices are based on GP desktop OSs. The unsuccessful mobile devices were often on dedicated OSs.
          • So, putting a desktop OS on a mobile device is "bad". Good thing iOS isn't based on OSX (which was then based on an older desktop/server OS) and Android isn't based on Linux.

            The kernel of Android is Linux with wake locks, but the GUI of Android isn't based on the GUIs commonly used on GNU/Linux when the Dream came out (GNOME 2 and KDE). What draws people's complaints in Windows 8 is the change to the GUI, not the kernel that has changed comparatively little since Windows Vista and Windows 7.

  • by oldlurker (2502506) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @03:18PM (#43594277)
    ok, so ad networks (as search business) are winner takes it all. Because of the dynamics of the bidding engine when you get volume. Any ad developer that have a business guy worth his salt would go for one of the leading ad network opportunities over the small me-too player that Microsoft pubcenter is, also when you develop apps for Windows 8 (contrary to what the summary might seem to apply, Windows 8 app developers are in no way limited to pubcenter).
    • by symbolset (646467) *
      The suggested solution to this problem is blindingly obvious: the app developers should buy ads from each other! Then everybody will have ad income.
  • Good, very good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by All_One_Mind (945389) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @03:28PM (#43594415) Homepage Journal
    Both as a developer for nearly all platforms, and as a consumer, I despise software monetization through ads. Sure, I understand that not all apps have a clear method of monetization, and so many developers rely on ad revenue to offset their development time/costs, but I personally won't touch their adware, period, meaning they lost the opportunity to monetize me at all. Adware wasn't acceptable to me in the 2000s with ad supported Windows software, and it's never been acceptable to me on iOS, Android, or Metro, or any other platform since then. It seems to me that ad supported software was largely rejected by consumers up until the proliferation of smart phones, but I still reject them and refuse to support a business model that under the hood is really after collecting consumer data. From my prospective, adware is spyware, albeit less innocuous, but still privacy invading, unwanted, and annoying.
    • Re:Good, very good (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Albanach (527650) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @03:35PM (#43594483) Homepage

      So, I'm curious. What sort of revenue can you expect from adds from a user?

      Say I use an app like the Slate.com app and read 6 articles a day. Plus the menu page, that's seven possible impressions. Maybe they'll be obnoxious and split some articles over two pages, so maybe 10 impressions. Let's say I'm religious about this app and use it every day. So you serve me 3,650 adverts per year.

      Are you paid on ad views or clicks? What sort of revenue would you expect from one user who sees just shy of 4,000 adverts per year?

      I'm trying to figure out what the value of a non-ad version of some popular free apps should be.

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        Before The Times went behind a paywall, it was making about £1 per reader per year from advertising revenue. It had 10s of millions of readers.

      • So, I'm curious. What sort of revenue can you expect from adds from a user?

        From Gigacom, Oct 4, 2012:

        We know that not every app is Angry Birds and not every app developer is Rovio. But just how tough are things for the workaday app developer? In a recent GigaOM Pro study (subscription required) of app developers, more than half of the respondents say they make less than $500 a month from their paid apps (see chart below). Perhaps not surprisingly, app development isn’t a full-time job for most of them. Some 75% of 352 respondents either hold another job or do app developme

      • Re:Good, very good (Score:4, Informative)

        by AuMatar (183847) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @05:19PM (#43595649)

        I make 1 or 2 cents per user. Most ad networks pay on a click-through basis, and nobody clicks on ads. The ones that pay per impression pay pennies per 1000 impressions. If you have any costs its not a sustainable way to run a business. If you make an amazingly popular app, you may be able to pay for 1 developer for a year at US rates. You'd need to shotgun out an app every few weeks to really stay alive.

        • by Albanach (527650)

          Thanks, this is pretty much what I figured. Ad revenue is tiny.

          I imagine the likes of slate, which obviously has a huge number of readers, it's possible to make money. But equally it should be profitable to sell an ad-free version very cheaply and still make more money.

          What had me curious was the shift to pay-walls for newspapers. Many seem to have gone from trying to be ad supported to being a dollar or several dollars per week. The leap seems to be huge. Of course it may simply be that they were hugely lo

          • by AuMatar (183847)

            Eh, its not easy to get people to pay for apps either- they aren't used to doing it. But yes, I make far more on paid apps with lower volume.

            I think newspapers jumped up too much too quickly, and with too much reliance on the AP- why should I pay for news when every paper has the same damn articles and most are free? Really only the best papers can make money that way I suspect.

      • I've been on both sides - both purchasing ads and providing content on which ads were sold.

        In the business, we track ad impressions with a metric called "CPM" or "cost per mille" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_per_mille [wikipedia.org]. So I read your question as "what can I expect for 4CPM/yr." Let's say I'm looking at a very targeted audience that frequently (2%) clicks on my ad for a $1K product, of which I know 25% of my clickers will start an eval and 20 of those will buy, and my ad budget is 10% of revenue. I

      • by Macgrrl (762836)

        Possibly a better question would be what is the ROI on all those Ad Views for the advertisers. It's possible there are less ads being served in some markets because the advertisers were not really making a profit against the expense of serving the ads.

    • Perfectly accurate. Somehow we went from developing ad-aware and such to deal with this shit, to making it a fundamental part of new operating systems. At some point we just stopped fighting back, then we started losing.

    • I think adware does make sense for trialware. About half the apps on my phone are free ones, because I barely use them, or because I'm testing them out. For test purposes, I'd rather have a full app with ads, than a neutered app that won't let me test the advanced features I'm probably most interested in. For apps I barely use... I understand the dev's need to make some money.

      What I can't stand is pure adware apps, that don't let me pay up to get rid of the ads.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        These are essentially applications that no one would ever pay for. If the developer needs to make money then why can't they make money writing useful applications instead? Most of these app developers are just doing it as a hobby, this is not a sad sack story of starving developers, and advertising is not the economic foundation of the nation, so I won't feel guilty if I keep adblock on and I avoid any and all phone apps.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      This whole trend towards advertisement becoming a major top tier industry is just weird. If you went back to 1950 and listed the top 50 companies in terms of profits, I don't think there was even one company there that was primarily involved with advertisement. And yet today Google is number one and it's main revenue is ad based and people will vigorously defend the advertisement models on the web, some even calling adblock a crime. Advertisement used to be a minor side industry, it provided a necessary

  • Could the explanation be that Windows RT users prefer to pay for apps rather than to be served -- and to click -- ads? That's certainly the case for me. I own a Windows RT tablet and spent about $10 on apps thus far, including on Book Bazaar Reader, GVoice, and IM+. When there's a way to get rid of ads by paying for an ad-free experience in apps I value, I do.

    Microsoft is also encouraging more significant apps by setting the minimum price in its app store to $1.50. I can easily imagine that more significant

    • >> Microsoft is also encouraging more significant apps by setting the minimum price in its app store to $1.50

      Are they stupid? Do they know that the dominant competing platform (starts with "i") sells millions of apps for 99 cents? Do they know how much easier it is to sell a 99 cent anything than a $1.50 anything better?

  • Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anubis IV (1279820) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @03:39PM (#43594553)

    Apple has run into similar issues with their iAd advertising network that they run for iOS devices. It had an initial rush of advertisers who spent big money placing orders for "premium" ad space, followed up by results that didn't justify the additional costs. Apple extended the program to developers who wanted to advertise their apps in other apps, offering them a smaller minimum ad impression order size compared to general advertisers. That minimum was later reduced, and then reduced again, and I believe reduced yet again, along with the rates involved, indicating that interest has been weak and weakening. It seems to have finally stabilized, but it's FAR cheaper than it once was, with minimum orders that are significantly lower than they used to be.

    Meanwhile, Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 have been seeing worse-than-expected sales since their launch, so I don't exactly find it surprising that an advertising network focusing solely on them would be faring worse than the one on a platform that is doing quite well. Not to mention that both Apple and Microsoft make their money from selling products to customers, whereas Google, who seems to be running the advertising network that's actually doing well, makes around 98% of its money from selling ads. Small surprise that they'd manage to succeed here as well.

    • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Informative)

      by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @04:37PM (#43595219) Homepage Journal

      Google, who seems to be running the advertising network that's actually doing well, makes around 98% of its money from selling ads.

      FYI, Google does make the vast majority of its money from ads, but not 98%. Here are recent percentages (calculated from http://investor.google.com/financial/tables.html [google.com]):

      2011: 96.3%
      2012: 94.9%
      2013: 91.9% (Q1 only, obviously)

      For Q1 2013, Google's non-advertising revenues saw 150% year-on-year growth and 27% quarter-on-quarter growth, to just over $1B for the quarter. At that rate, Google is on track to have ~6B in 2013 in non-advertising revenues, and for advertising revenues to drop to less than 90% of total revenues. Perhaps even more.

      Note that none of the above includes Motorola Mobility revenues. If you count Motorola, Q1 advertising revenues were 85% of total revenues.

      Also note that this isn't because Google's advertising business isn't doing well, it's because it's non-advertising business is doing even better (except for Motorola, which is still posting losses).

      (Disclaimer: I work for Google, but this is all public information.)

      • Thanks for the info. I honestly pulled that number out of my head from something I heard a long time back, so I've very grateful to have better numbers posted, especially ones that are so detailed.

        Thanks again!

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @03:40PM (#43594577)

    I mean their phone was doing so well.

  • by inputdev (1252080) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @03:44PM (#43594623)
    I never am able to get a straight answer - if you put out a popular indie game, for example, and you decided to make it free and ad supported, for example, let's say you get 100k people to download it, and 10k people are playing it regularly what kind of money do you make? $100/month, $1000/month, $10k/month? anybody know?
    • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @04:36PM (#43595211)

      I never am able to get a straight answer - if you put out a popular indie game, for example, and you decided to make it free and ad supported, for example, let's say you get 100k people to download it, and 10k people are playing it regularly what kind of money do you make? $100/month, $1000/month, $10k/month? anybody know?

      I googled and posted this above, meant to post it to you. From GigaOM, 10/4/2012:

      Most app developers make less than $500 a month (chart) By Rani Molla - Oct. 4, 2012

      We know that not every app is Angry Birds and not every app developer is Rovio. But just how tough are things for the workaday app developer? In a recent GigaOM Pro study (subscription required) of app developers, more than half of the respondents say they make less than $500 a month from their paid apps (see chart below). Perhaps not surprisingly, app development isn’t a full-time job for most of them. Some 75% of 352 respondents either hold another job or do app development only as a portion of their main job. (The picture is even grimmer for developers of advertising-dependent apps — a third of those developers make less than $100 a month in ad revenue, according to the study.)

      On the high (and much more rare) end of the spectrum, about 5 percent of app developers in the survey make over $20,000 a month. These developers tend to be part of big app firms. (see chart at linked page)

      http://gigaom.com/2012/10/04/most-app-developers-make-less-than-500-a-month-chart/ [gigaom.com]

  • Executives in any industry tend to follow the lemming herd. Customers follow what works best.

  • If this is part of its own ad network or a smaller network, it'd explain the problem. These apps can drive a lot of traffic, but it's not in a place the market particularly has interest from advertisers yet.

    It'll probably clear itself up as time goes on. Either that or we'll see ad supported apps disappear from the Windows platform... and I wouldn't shed any tears over that.

  • by pseudorand (603231) on Tuesday April 30, 2013 @04:30PM (#43595153)

    Wait, Windows has an app store? Even more surprising is that anyone bothered to advertise there.

    It seems to me that for this "revenue" to plummet from $0, it must mean they're paying businesses to advertise on their site. Sounds good. Sign me up!

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