Monday, 14 March 2011

Monetizing Windows Phone Apps without the Microsoft Ad SDK

There has been a lot of buzz lately about apps going to an add support / free to download model. This seems great for those living in the states as at the time of this article were the only ones to have access to the Microsoft advertising SDK.

For the rest of us plebs, there are alternatives. I'll discuss a couple of options and implementations below.

After digging around on the interwebs for a while, these guys seemed like a good option. Website was pretty schmick and there was plenty of press about award etc. So I signed up.

Once signed up and the SDK was downloaded, the actual installation of the control was really easy. I had a nice little spot up the top of my app all ready to go. It was simply a matter of adding the smaato dll included in the SDK and dropping it in.

You need to set you AppID and PublisherID in there from when you signed up. There are a couple of properties for the control including LocationUseOK.

I set this to true thinking there would be some framework to warn users remember settings etc. Unfortunately this isn't the case. My initial application got rejected for not allowing users to turn off this feature as well as providing a policy for how the information will be used.

I asked Smaato for an example of this policy and they didn't seem to know what I was talking about. The recommendation from them was to turn it off. Problem is, after using the capabilities detection tool from Microsoft it still comes up in the location capability (ID_CAP_LOCATION) still comes up in the manifest. I didn't want to risk another failed submission so I gave up on these guys.

aldarIT SuperAds
This was recommended on a few blogs and in the app hub forums so i thought i'd give it a go.

This control was born of of the same frustration i was having. aldarIT are not an advertising company like Smaato, but through the control they do allow you to retrieve ads from various providers which is a massive advantage if a particular ad server is unavailable it can move to the next one.

The other big advantage of this control is the location area functions are included in a separate dll. So if you don't want to include them just leave that dll out. Nothing will be present in the manifest and no additional application certifications will have to be met. This is great if you just want to get something out the door and worry about pushing location aware advertising later.

They support Admob, Smaato, ZestADZ and MobFox. Out of these,  I struggled to work out the correct settings to use with Admob. Smaato I already had an account with so I'll use them. ZestADZ was flagged as still having problems with at the time of writing so I steered clear of that one. MobFox seems very promising though, seems like it has a set rate per number of impressions whereas Smaato is more click through orientated so i gave this a higher priority in the control. So it will only revert to Smaato if it can't get MobFox providers.

Early days, my first app Metro Match was only uploaded a few days ago, but i'll re-visit this when i have a bit more data.


  1. Cool, I'm tempted to switch from the Smaato control that I'm currently trialing to MobFox but it would be good to get further initial impressions from you.

  2. I just posted my results from testing the Smaato ad control on my device.

    I'll be testing the MobFox ad control next and will post the data when available.


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