Because a huge volume of the apps on the iPhone are free, many wags have assumed that ad revenues will dominate the platform. But Apple introduced in-app sales, a feature that allows users to buy virtual goods inside a game or app, a year ago. Now, in-app sales are overtaking ad revenues.
Flurryâ€™s data is based on a sample of apps with 2.2 million daily active users on the iPhone. As you can see from the chart below, the majority of revenue from advertising occurs during the holiday season. But aside from December, virtual goods revenue is now dominant in every other month of the year. In September, about 80 percent of revenue generated by apps on the iPhone came from virtual goods.
Flurry notes that Madison Avenue ad agencies ought to step up their efforts to put ads onto mobile platforms, since the low level of ad revenue suggests that big brands are missing out on an opportunity on the iPhone. Or, perhaps ad executives (like the fictional Don Draper, pictured, from the Mad Men show on TV) ought to start selling virtual goods instead.
â€œItâ€™s clear that virtual goods offer superior monetization opportunities for application makers, who are reaching large, engaged audiences,â€ said Peter Farago, Flurry vice president of marketing. â€œWe are working with top agencies to help them harness the sheer demand consumers have for virtual goods to deliver more powerful campaigns for the brands they represent.â€
Over the next two years, Flurry expects to see growth in both virtual goods and ad revenue from social games on mobile platforms. Earlier this week, Flurry noted that the audience for iPhone apps is starting to exceed the audience for major TV shows.