Introducing In-app ads
Thanks to the Pioneers who submitted over 10,000 comments and ideas about how Pi could achieve more sustainable funding about one month ago, and who submitted over 130,000 responses to our in-app ads placement survey three days ago. As we previously reported, the majority of the Pi community are positive in having in-app ads as the most immediate avenue for building a more sustainable funding model. Thus, we start rolling out and testing in-app ads in our app today. Some Pioneers may see ads earlier than others.
Based on your 130,000 responses about ads placements, we decide to initially test the top two voted ads placements: 1) A brief video ad that you can skip after a few seconds during time wasted waiting for the app to load, but not every time you open the app (28.2% of the responses selected this option as the best ads), and 2) A small banner ad at the bottom of the screen in place of the “Send 1Pi” button (47.0% of the responses selected as the best ads). The other two placement options got respectively 12.7% and 12.1% of responses selecting them as best ads.
As our network grows and scales so fast, we need to develop a sustainable funding model that can help cover the costs of maintaining the Pi Network. The current costs of the servers and the phone verification service alone run in excess of $30,000 USD a month just to maintain the account of each Pioneer in the network, not to mention the development, maintenance and operational costs. After reviewing and considering over 10,000 responses submitted through a topic forum open to the whole Pi community, a large majority is in favor of in-app advertising as an immediate revenue stream to mitigate the costs because ads don’t cost individuals any money and are common in free apps. Actually, the current projection on the ads revenue predicts that the ads revenue will likely not even be able to cover the server costs alone, but it’s a start to build a more sustainable financial model. We aim to find a balance between financial sustainability and the user experience, and are continuously seeking feedback from the community, so that we implement ads in a way that is less intrusive. For example, Pioneers have the option to turn off ads in the app if they dislike ads extremely and choose not to help cover the cost of supporting their own accounts by having ads; new users will not see ads for a period of time; and Pi is not sharing any Pioneers’ data in Pi Network to any advertising networks. (Their phones’ operating systems, iOS or Android, may share device based information to ad networks, which may be already the case if other apps on the phone have ads.)
Today, we just started the testing period for in-app ads. This testing period will seek to strike the optimal balance between two key variables: ad revenue and impact on user experience. Advertising revenue is driven by factors like the number of views that ads receive, the number of people that click on the ads, as well as the type of ads (i.e., video ads tend to earn higher revenue than static banner ads). On the other hand, preserving user experience requires that the ads minimize their impact on the core functionalities of the app. We will iterate different ads placements and formats over the next few months and are happy to hear your feedback along the way.