Sunday, May 13, 2012

Monetizing your mobile apps using IBM Worklight and Ad networks - Part 2

In part 1 of this article, we discussed how to leverage ad networks to monetize your apps by showing targeted advertisements through simple tweaks using the ad network SDKs.

Another, relatively less explored way of advertising when you do not want to go through the ad networks or just want to use your app to advertise your own business, is to use IBM Worklight adapters and push notifications.

What are Worklight adapters? An Adapter is a transport layer used by the Worklight Platform to connect to various back-end systems. Worklight supports SQL and HTTP adapters out of the box, which means you can also do RESTful operations using the adapter.

Some ways in which you can use adapters are:
  1. The simplest way an adapter can be used to retrieve ads is to create a UI element on a page in your application and render this UI element using the data returned from an adapter, which can fetch advertisements from a back-end enterprise database. For example, if you're working with an android app, create a web view using height as "wrap_content". You can also use other UI elements such as Gallery for images or layouts. And then call your adapter to fetch the ad-related data to be rendered in the UI element.
  2. Use two or more worklight adapters to mashup data and display targetted advertisement. Eg: Get the city from a page where the user has to select his city -> use an adapter to query a database to fetch a city ID -> use another adapter which can fetch ads related to that city ID from another data source or application. The worklight city weather demo app shown below is a great example of how such a mashup can be done. Read the Worklight mashup tutorial to learn more.

Adapters can be combined with push notifications to yield yet another way of showing ads. How can this be done? An adapter can listen to an event source and push advertisements as notifications through the app store mediator (Google, Apple). These notifications can be in the form of a notification dialog or a badge. (A badge is a small notification which appears on the corner of the application icon - think facebook mobile app which shows notifications and message alerts right on the icon). The worklight server comes with a browser-based console that can be easily used to dispatch notifications to all devices that have the app installed and subscribed to the notifications.These ads are nice when a user has installed the app and subscribed to the notifications, although they don't provide a very powerful way of in-app advertising, which can be done using ad network integration or adapters. A good example of push notifications is special offers that your business rolls out from time to time. Eg: Christmas Offer - Upgrade to the full version of the app at just 49c. Push notifications give you the power to broadcast ads whenever you want to, thus customizing them according to the needs of your business. The figure below shows how the worklight push mechanism works. 

Push notifications can be used in other ways as well. You can  use them to notify users of new versions or upgrades of the app as soon as a build becomes available. This method truly combines the power of effective lifecycle management of mobile apps with the Worklight builds. This even works in the context of enterprise apps where the primary users of the app are the employees themselves. Eg: if you're using IBM Rational Team Concert (RTC) and you build your app using the Jazz team builds, you can create an adapter that listens to the Jazz server  (or an app store) and as soon as a new build of the app is available, automatically sends push notifs to all devices with the app to upgrade to latest version. Additionally, RTC source control can help in modularizing the adapters into components, so that different departments/units in the company can maintain their own components independently of the apps and yet support an app which is used across departments/units.

Note: To send push notifications to Android devices, you will need to use Android Cloud-to-Device Messaging (C2DM). You need a valid Gmail account to register to Google’s C2DM service at To send push notifications to iOS devices, you will need to use Apple Push Notifications Service (APNS).

There are also other powerful tools that can help in making sure that the ads you render, either through ad networks or adapters have a look and feel of your app, and don't look forcefully shoved in. While you cannot control the way the ad will be shown, because they're creatives of a third-party, you can ensure that the UI widget in which the ad appears matches your app's look and feel. You can add custom style sheets to the UI elements if you're using say, the Javascript SDK of InMobi which integrates directly with hybrid/ mobile web apps. You can even use tools such as IBM Rational Application Developer which provide WYSIWYG editing for commonly used UI toolkits such as Dojo mobile.

So join the mobile bandwagon and start making money from your apps!

Catch me at IBM Innovate 2012, and hopefully not by the collar! ;)


  1. My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

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  2. I have read both the parts of this article and find it really useful. The reason is that you have explained all the process in detail and the best is that, the pictures gives the right way to do it. Thanks for this technology related post and do posting such type of informative articles in the future also. Thanks.
    Mobile App Marketing