PhotoMeta iAd revenues

PhotoMeta, my first iPad app, became available in the App Store about six months ago. PhotoMeta is a photo metadata app that excels in ease of use and has a couple of unique features. But with a lot of similar apps in the App Store, I thought it would be a good idea to make it a free app with iAds and an in-app purchase. That way a lot of photography addicts would install it and give it a try. If they like it and therefor use it on a regular basis, I would earn some money via iAds. And users who don't like ads could get rid of them via the in-app purchase. Note that the in-app purchase also reveals extra functionality. It seemed the best of both worlds. 

In reality though it turned out quite differently. The PhotoMeta iAd statistics for the past 6 months are:

  • 46662 ad requests were sent from PhotoMeta to Apple's iAd servers.
  • 1022 of those requests resulted in an actual iAd banner. That's a fill rate of 2,2% which is pretty disappointing. 
  • 13 of those 1022 displayed iAd banners resulted in an actual tap on the banner. That's a click through rate of 1,27% which is pretty high.
  • People in 110 different countries are using PhotoMeta while the 1022 iAd banners where all delivered to users in the US.
  • I earned $ 2.10 with the 1022 iAd banners and 13 full screen iAds. 

A fill rate of 100% would have resulted in about $100 iAd earnings which is still rather low compared with the in-app purchase earnings (~ $1000).

What I cannot measure exactly is how many users actually bought the in-app purchase because they wanted to get rid of the iAds. I only know it's less than 20% since 80% of the in-app purchases were done outside of the US.



For PhotoMeta, iAds don't seem to be a good idea. Unless some iAd miracle happens, the next major PhotoMeta release will be without iAds. Maybe I'll make it a paid app and get rid of the in-app purchase too. Maybe I'll keep it free, but with new features "hidden" behind an in-app purchase.

What's your opinion on this? Use the comments below to ventilate your opinion.


The Forum

Since I moved the Galarina website to Squarespace a couple of months ago, I've been contemplating whether it would be a good idea to add a forum/discussion area. I finally decided to just give it a try and see how it goes.

If used properly, the forum will be an interesting place for users (or potential users). A place where questions are asked and answers are given. A place to share experiences. A place for constructive discussions.

For me as a developer, I hope the forum will give me a better idea how people are using my apps and what functionality they would like to see added. Therefor I kicked off the forum with a "Feature request" post for each of my apps. Feel free to add your feature requests to those posts or to start as many new posts as you see fit.

The forum is not intended to be a replacement for support questions. You can always contact me directly for support. Most of the time you'll receive an answer within 24 hours.


Leveraging feedback

Today I pushed PhotoMeta 2.0 out of the door. I don't want to go into detail about what's new in this release. You can read about that in the press release or in the App Store.

When PhotoMeta was introduced in the App Store about 4 months ago, it was the first time I had an app with a built-in "Request a feature" button. I was pleasantly surprised when the requests started coming and after a couple of days I already had a couple of must-implement-in-the-next-version features.

In total I received about 30 feature requests and 90% of the changes in PhotoMeta 2.0 are based on these user requests. The feedback forced me to redesign a number of UI elements/layouts. The result is a more functional and at the same time slicker app that requires less taps to achieve to same goal. 

There are still a lot of user requested PhotoMeta features to implement, but now I'm going to start working on a new version of GeoLogTag. One new feature will certainly be added: a "Request a feature" button!


Traveling with an iPad instead of a laptop

I just travelled for 3 weeks through Turkey. For the first time in years I left my MacBook at home. My iPad and iPhone took over. 


Every evening I imported my (and my sons) photos on the iPad using the Camera Connection Kit. Besides being a backup plan for the photos, the iPad also allowed me to remove the bad ones before I'll import them on my Mac at home. 

iPad apps used

Photos is obviously a mandatory app. After importing my photos I sometimes used PhotoMeta to check out photo metadata when I experimented with settings.

Flying back home I used Photogene to do some basic editing. 

Oh, and both my kids love Starwalk.

iPhone apps used

Since geotagging my photos is important to me, I used my GeoLogTag app on a daily basis to track my location while traveling through Turkey. 

For panoramic shots I used both Pano and Dermandar.

Darkness always comes in handy to know sunrise and sunset.

Articles was a great addition to the classic travel guide.

In Istanbul I discovered a great restaurant close to my hotel with the Lonely Planet app for Istanbul.

For the first time I facetimed (is this a verb?) from abroad on a slow internet connection and it worked pretty good.

Other apps used: Camera+, Squarespace, Twitter, Facebook, Mail, Safari, Weather, Clock (alarm), Shazam, DropBox, Air Sharing, Trainyard, Easy Calendar

What I missed

In those 3 weeks I never had a moment that I missed the MacBook. I could help all my app users who asked for support without exception. 

There was one thing though. Wouldn't it be great if I could use GeoLogTag to geotag the photos imported on my iPad?  ;-)


Life @ the App Store - Part 3: Choosing an app (feature)

Although I have chosen to only develop photography related apps, there is still an almost infinite number of apps I could develop. This post is about how I decide which app to develop next or which feature I’ll add to an existing app.

When I started developing for the App Store in August 2008, there wasn’t a lot of decision making involved. I made GeoLogTag for myself, because at the time no geotagging apps were available in the App Store.

My second app, Scotty (named PhotoToMac at the time), was a GeoLogTag spin-off. The main new feature of GeoLogTag 2.0 release was over-the-air geotagging to a Mac shared folder. I knew that it would just take me a couple of weeks to build Scotty by reusing that functionality. I also expected that over-the-air photo transfer would soon become a standard feature of iOS, but I took the chance. Now, two years later, Scotty still stands strong although recent rumors point to cloud syncing of photos in iOS 5. We’ll see.

I then started adding features to both apps, based on my own experience or based on user feedback. As iOS evolved, it also became possible to add features that were just not possible with earlier iOS versions.

When I had time to start developing a third app, I spent quite some time choosing from my ever growing list of app ideas. I finally went for WiiPhoto, an app that displays iPhone, Mac, Flickr, Facebook and SmugMug photos on a TV screen via the Wii console attached to it. With the exception of setting up the initial connection, everything is remotely controlled by WiiPhoto on the iPhone.

How did I make that choice? Well, it bothered me that it was pretty hard to display photos on the biggest screen in my house. At the time, the first generation Apple TV was available but it wasn’t cheap ($300) and required a syncing step. Since I had a Wii console attached to my television set, I started thinking in that direction. The WiiPhoto target audience is the average family with a couple of kids (hence the Wii) and a bunch of digital family and/or vacation photos.

So where did it go wrong with WiiPhoto (< 500 downloads in 9 months)? Is it too hard to configure? Is it too expensive ($2.99)? Does the app require more promotion? Is the app not intuitive to use? To be honest, I don’t know. Probably a combination of the reasons above.

I worked pretty hard to get WiiPhoto in the App Store and to make the first version as complete as possible. Several months of work without a lot of results. That’s also life @ the App Store. But I’m not complaining. I learned a lot while developing the app and it was also fun to fetch photos from different websites (Flickr, Facebook, SmugMug).

Next on the list was a new GeoLogTag release. I added native SmugMug geotagging support based on what I learned while developing WiiPhoto. I thought I would address a whole new group of (professional) photographers by adding SmugMug support. Again months of work went into this release, but the result on overall sales was negligible.

It was January 2011 and I thought time had come to develop my first iPad app. I immediately went into the direction of photo metadata because I had been looking for such an app (for personal use), but without a lot of success. Although a dozen of metadata iPad apps were already available (some of them free), I started working on PhotoMeta. I managed to add a couple of unique features and made the app free, but with an in-app purchase. PhotoMeta has been available in the App Store for about 7 weeks now and I’m happy with the results: 5000+ downloads and 250 in-app purchases.

But the most interesting part of PhotoMeta is the built-in, easy-accessible “Request Feature” button. A lot of people are using it and the result is that I now have a good idea what I should add in the next PhotoMeta release(s).


I obviously don’t have a recipe for “blockbuster apps”. But that’s also not what I’m after. 

I want to make serious, useful, high-quality photography apps. Of course I want to reach as many people as possible, but that’s not the main target. 

As long as I’m having fun developing iOS apps, I’ll keep enhancing my existing apps and maybe I’ll add a couple of new ones too.