Ads or no Ads for a web app?


I'm just about to release my first publicly available web app, and I'm wondering what type of revenue model to use.

Basically, the entire idea of the app is that it does not require log ins, so, selling it would be quite difficult.

I was thinking about using Ads (with Google Adsense), but here are the problems:

I don't know if "normal" people still click ads, or have they learned to ignore them or use Adblock
The ads don't really "fit in" with the rest of the app because of the fonts used in the ads
Ads are really killing all the work I put into the interface of the application
I don't know if its possible to make a decent (not full time salary) revenue off of Google Adsense, since the rates seem pretty low.
What should I do in this case? Do most startups make revenue with ads, or are there better, more effective ways to do this?

Another idea I had was I could release the main web app for free (without ads), and then release an iPhone/Android Client for $0.99, but, the client isn't really required for the app to carry out its function, so, I'm doubtful I'll have sales.

All answers welcome.

Finance Web Revenue

asked Nov 7 '11 at 08:15
Dhaivat Pandya
111 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • Not having any form of login is very restrictive to monetization options. Is this not an option? – Joel Friedlaender 12 years ago
  • Really, my value proposition is not having a login. I could have one, but, there's a lot of big players in the market I'm trying to enter (notetaking) – Dhaivat Pandya 12 years ago
  • It obviously requires more intricate knowledge of your business, but it would be a real shame if you need to have no login as your point of difference. Really no login is a short-lived benefit and really restricts your options for both monetization and even features. Can you be innovative to make the login seamless? – Joel Friedlaender 12 years ago
  • Well, its not the only point of difference, I could introduce a login, but, it makes it much more cumbersome to deal with. – Dhaivat Pandya 12 years ago

2 Answers


You need a business plan. Not a long, boring document, but a plan for how to turn your idea into a business.

So now, I would suggest you down tools on the app and think about the following questions. Only when you have solid answers should you start coding again.

  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • Who is your target market?
  • Why will they use your app?
  • What value does it give them?
  • How will you make money out of this? (Hint: Just sticking advertising on isn't a great solution to this one.)
  • How can you create a sustainable competitive advantage - that is, stop someone copying you?

As you can see, your revenue model should have been one of the first things you sorted out - even before you started coding. No revenue - no business. Without it, you have a nice piece of software.

answered Nov 7 '11 at 22:13
Susan Jones
4,128 points
  • I have all all of those questions answered, except for the revenue model. I just can't go forward with it. – Dhaivat Pandya 12 years ago
  • If you have spotted a business opportunity (ie. something you can commercialise) then the revenue generation should become clear as you answer the other questions. If not, you may need to change your answers eg. find another target market etc. Without knowing your answers it is hard to help you. You might want to fill us in by expanding your question and you may get some more specific feedback. – Susan Jones 12 years ago
  • Okay, will do so. – Dhaivat Pandya 12 years ago


The amount of money you can make with Adsense (or with contextual advertising in general) depends very much on:

  • How many people visit your website (this is obvious)
  • What are they looking for when they come to your website
  • If it is possible to target the ads based on the content of the page

A notetaking application wouldn't look like a good match to me, because:

  1. If I go to a website to write or read a personal note I already have a very precise idea in mind, and would hardly notice any distraction
  2. Even if I were ready to read the ads, they would need to be relevant, and this could only happen if Google was able to deduct the subject of the notes themselves, for example based on the URL (if you make the URL contain the title/subject/name of the note, for example), or if the notes were public and more or less "static" based on the URL after being first written.

If you really can only monetize through advertising, it could be a better fit to use in-text advertising, where they would highlight some of the words written by the user and link those to ads. But I don't know how many users would like that.

answered Nov 8 '11 at 23:18
381 points
  • +1 pretty complete – Dhaivat Pandya 12 years ago
  • Glad to help :) – Danmaz74 12 years ago

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