Chris Bick launched his FitBit-finder as a paid app in the App Store and Play Store in 2016. The product’s robust adoption led to the founding of Bickster, which quickly expanded to offering twelve apps.
Finding a scalable revenue source
When Chris launched Bickster, the company relied on subscriptions and in-app purchases for revenue. But that paid-only model created barriers to broad adoption and made it tough to compete against free apps. “For so long,” Chris says, “we were focused on the 5% of people who were interested in paying for our apps, and not the 95% who are interested in the app but not ready to pay.” So, the Bickster team decided to start testing an ad revenue stream and ran A/B tests with Firebase to understand the impact of paid apps vs. freemium ad-supported apps with AdMob. Though in-app purchase revenue decreased slightly with ads, they found that overall revenue per app increased, giving the team the confidence to pursue a freemium, ad-supported model across all of their apps.
Ad-supported monetization unlocks massive growth
Bickster’s pivot to apps supported by ads had a dramatic effect: revenue grew 600% within a year and total app income is expected to double this year. “Shifting to an ads-based revenue model was a game changer,” Chris confirms. The biggest impact, though, is that Bickster can now make their apps free, which allows more people to access their tools and also helps them compete more effectively.
Ad revenue enabled us to make our apps free to use, opening us up to a much larger user base and allowing us to compete with other free apps. And we can finally start hiring and are looking for an ad operations specialist who can help us optimize our strategy even more.
Exploring new revenue opportunities with ads and data insights
With ads integrated into the apps, the resulting revenue growth allowed the team to focus on optimizing their user experience. “Having a digital business is pretty amazing,” Chris says. “You can measure everything. With the data we get from AdMob and Google Firebase, we can customize the ad experience for each user and balance ads and in-app purchases. This makes their ad experience more relevant and less intrusive. It’s a win-win for us and the end user.”
Bickster combines their AdMob and Firebase data with several other platforms to paint a full picture of business performance. This data helps power their internal reporting to understand sales, conversions, lifetime value, and more.
Chris and the team are planning to grow Bickster by building new apps, hiring more people, and doing what they love. “Ad revenue has transformed our business and given us the boost we needed to grow,” he concludes. “We’re all excited about the opportunities ahead and that we’ve been able to build a business we love.”