Cover of a guide with app monetization benchmarks

App monetization benchmarks: a full guide

Monetizing your app is the most important step in creating substantial revenue streams and sustainable growth. But navigating the complex landscape of app monetization does require an in-depth understanding of different strategies and metrics to measure success accurately.

Did you know that almost 97% of apps on Google Play and 95% of apps on the Apple App Store are free? Which begs the question: How do nearly 3 million free apps in the app store actually make money? The truth is, it doesn’t matter how good your app is if it isn’t generating revenue. So let’s talk about the benchmarks you need to know to make your app monetization strategy a success.

Our full guide has everything you need to know about app monetization benchmarks. By the end of this article, you should fully understand the importance of benchmarking your app monetization to optimize revenue generation. Understanding these benchmarks will provide valuable insights into your app's performance and help you make informed decisions to maximize the profitability of your app.

But before we dive into the lucrative world of app monetization benchmarks, let’s answer some commonly asked questions:

Common questions about app monetization & benchmarks

A person is watching a live video stream on a mobile phone, surrounded by floating chat bubbles, each representing a different app monetization method.

What is app monetization?

App monetization refers to the process of generating revenue from apps. Over the last decade, the demand for apps has skyrocketed, leading app developers, marketers, and product managers to explore various monetization strategies. App monetization can happen in lots of different ways, like making users buy things within the app, charging a subscription fee, showing ads, getting sponsorship, offering a free version with paid extras, and more. Each strategy offers unique opportunities and challenges, and the choice of monetization model often depends on factors such as the nature of the app, target audience, and market trends.

What are the different types of app monetization strategies?

There are several app monetization models that you can integrate into your strategy to generate revenue from your app. These methods include in-app purchases, where users can buy additional features or virtual goods, such as extra lives in games or special filters known from photo editing apps. Another approach is advertising, where developers display ads within the app and earn revenue based on user interactions. Subscriptions are also common, allowing users to access premium content or features for a recurring fee, typical in streaming media or productivity apps. Freemium models offer basic features for free but charge for premium upgrades, attracting a larger user base while monetizing a portion of users who opt for additional features. Paid apps require users to pay upfront for access, suitable for apps with unique functionalities.

Graph showing the most popular app monetization methods

Source: Statista

What is the definition of benchmarks in mobile app monetization?

Benchmarks in app monetization serve as standardized metrics and performance indicators used to evaluate the effectiveness of monetization strategies. These benchmarks offer insights into an app's revenue generation, user engagement, and profitability, allowing developers to measure their app's performance objectively. By establishing benchmarks, developers can identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions to optimize their monetization strategies, ensuring sustainable growth and success in the competitive app market.

Six benefits of benchmarking for app monetization

Why is benchmarking important for app monetization?

Benchmarking is essential for app monetization as it provides developers and businesses with insights into industry standards, competitor performance, and user behavior. By comparing key metrics against industry benchmarks, developers can evaluate their app's performance, identify strengths and weaknesses, and set realistic goals for revenue generation. Benchmarking also helps developers track their progress over time and adjust their monetization strategies accordingly to stay competitive and maximize profitability. In essence, benchmarking serves as a reliable framework for refining app monetization strategies and reaching long-term success in the app market.

What are the key metrics for measuring app monetization success?

The main metrics for app monetization success are Average Revenue per User (ARPU), Cost per Install (CPI), Retention Rate, Lifetime Value (LTV), and Conversion Rate. ARPU shows how much money each user brings in on average, while CPI measures how much it costs to get each new user. Retention Rate indicates how many users keep using the app over time, and LTV considers how much each user is worth to the app overall. Conversion Rate tells us how many users actually make purchases or subscribe to services within the app. These metrics help app developers understand and improve their monetization strategies for better financial results.

Key metrics for measuring app monetization

Essential app monetization benchmarks

Industry-standard benchmarks for app monetization provide developers with valuable reference points for evaluating their app's performance and optimizing monetization strategies. By comparing their app's performance against these benchmarks, developers can gain insights into industry norms and identify areas for improvement.

1. Average Revenue per User (ARPU)

 Average Revenue per User (ARPU) is a key metric that measures the average revenue generated by each user of an app over a specific period, typically monthly or annually. It is calculated by dividing the total revenue generated by the app by the number of active users during that period. ARPU provides valuable insights into the app's revenue-generating potential and helps developers understand how effectively they are monetizing their user base.

Average revenue per user formula

Case Study: Instagram, the popular photo-sharing app owned by Facebook, boasts a high ARPU due to its successful monetization strategy. By offering various advertising options, such as sponsored posts and Stories ads, Instagram generates significant revenue from its large user base. Additionally, Instagram's focus on user engagement and high-quality content attracts advertisers willing to pay premium prices to reach their target audience. As a result, Instagram consistently achieves one of the highest ARPUs among social media platforms, demonstrating the effectiveness of its monetization efforts.

2. Cost per Install (CPI)

Cost per Install (CPI) is a metric that measures the cost incurred by developers or advertisers to acquire each new user for the app. It is calculated by dividing the total advertising spend by the number of app installs resulting from advertising campaigns. CPI is a critical metric in app monetization as it directly impacts the profitability of user acquisition efforts. Lower CPI indicates efficient user acquisition campaigns, while higher CPI may signal the need for optimization or adjustment of marketing strategies.

Cost per install formula

Case study: TikTok, the viral video-sharing app, has managed to achieve low CPI through its innovative user acquisition strategies and compelling content. By leveraging user-generated content and viral marketing campaigns, TikTok attracts a large and diverse user base at relatively low acquisition costs. Additionally, TikTok's algorithmic feed and personalized recommendations keep users engaged and encourage organic growth, further reducing CPI. As a result, TikTok has become one of the most downloaded apps globally while maintaining efficient user acquisition costs.

3. Retention Rate

Retention rate measures the percentage of users who continue to use the app over time after initially downloading it. High retention rates are crucial for long-term revenue generation as retained users are more likely to make in-app purchases, engage with ads, and subscribe to premium services. By retaining users, developers can maximize the lifetime value of each user and ensure sustainable revenue growth.

Customer Retention Rate formula

Case study: Duolingo, the language learning app, excels in retention through its gamified learning experience and personalized feedback. By offering engaging lessons, progress tracking, and rewards, Duolingo motivates users to continue learning and return to the app regularly. Additionally, Duolingo employs push notifications and email reminders to re-engage inactive users and encourage them to resume their language learning journey. As a result, Duolingo achieves impressive retention rates, leading to sustained revenue growth and user loyalty.

4. Lifetime Value (LTV)

Lifetime Value (LTV) represents the total revenue generated by an average user throughout their entire lifecycle as a customer of the app. It takes into account factors such as user acquisition costs, retention rates, and average revenue per user to calculate the net value of each user to the app. Maximizing LTV is crucial for optimizing app monetization strategies and maximizing overall profitability.

Customer Lifetime Value calculator

Case study: Netflix, the leading subscription-based streaming service, maximizes LTV through personalized content recommendations and continuous user engagement. By analyzing user preferences and viewing habits, Netflix delivers highly targeted recommendations, keeping users engaged and subscribed for longer periods. Additionally, Netflix invests in original content production to attract and retain subscribers, further enhancing LTV. As a result, Netflix achieves one of the highest LTVs in the streaming industry, demonstrating the effectiveness of its user-centric approach to content delivery and monetization.

The best sources & tools for app monetization benchmarking

Where to find industry-standard benchmarks for app monetization

App developers can find industry-standard benchmarks for app monetization through various sources:

1. Industry reports: Consulting firms, market research companies, and industry associations often publish reports on app monetization benchmarks. These reports provide valuable insights into key metrics, industry averages, and best practices for app monetization.

2. Online platforms and forums: Online platforms like App Annie, Sensor Tower, and Statista aggregate data and insights on app performance, including monetization metrics. Developers can explore these platforms to access industry benchmarks, trend analyses, and case studies related to app monetization.

3. Developer communities: Joining developer communities and forums, such as Stack Overflow, Reddit, or specialized app development forums, can provide developers with access to peer insights, discussions, and benchmarking data shared by fellow developers. Engaging with these communities allows developers to learn from others' experiences and stay updated on industry trends.

4. App store analytics: App store analytics tools, such as App Store Connect (for iOS) and Google Play Console (for Android), offer developers access to valuable performance data and metrics for their apps. Developers can compare their app's performance metrics against industry benchmarks provided by these platforms and track changes over time.

5. Industry events and conferences: Attending industry events, conferences, and webinars focused on app development and monetization can provide developers with valuable networking opportunities and access to expert insights and benchmarks shared by industry leaders and professionals.

A person is watching a live video stream on a laptop, surrounded by floating chat bubbles, each representing a tool for app monetization benchmarking.

By leveraging these sources, app developers can access industry-standard benchmarks for app monetization, gain valuable insights into industry trends, and optimize their monetization strategies to drive success in the competitive app market.

Read more: 20 App monetization stats you should know in 2024

Tools for benchmarking app monetization

Several popular benchmarking platforms offer developers comprehensive insights and analytics for app performance benchmarking. Platforms like, Sensor Tower, and Mixpanel provide features such as app analytics, user segmentation, cohort analysis, and revenue tracking. These platforms allow developers to monitor key metrics, track user engagement, and compare their app's performance against industry benchmarks and competitors. Additionally, they offer advanced features like app store optimization (ASO) tools, market intelligence, and audience demographics, enabling developers to optimize their monetization strategies and drive success in the app market.

Best practices for using app monetization benchmarks

Tips for interpreting benchmark data accurately

Analyzing benchmark data accurately is crucial for making informed decisions in app monetization. First, understand the context of the benchmarks and ensure they align with your app's category and target audience. Next, consider factors such as market trends, seasonality, and user demographics when analyzing benchmark data. Additionally, look beyond surface-level metrics and delve into the underlying drivers of performance to gain a comprehensive understanding of your app's monetization performance.

Strategies for implementing insights from benchmarks

Implementing insights from benchmarks requires a strategic approach to optimize app monetization. Start by identifying areas of improvement based on benchmark comparisons and prioritize actions that align with your app's goals and user preferences. Experiment with different monetization strategies and measure their impact on key metrics to identify the most effective approaches. Continuously monitor performance against benchmarks and iterate on your strategies based on real-time data and user feedback to drive long-term success.

Recent trends in app monetization strategies

Recent trends in app monetization strategies reflect the evolving preferences of users and advancements in technology. Subscription-based models have gained prominence, with more apps offering premium content or services for a recurring fee. In-app advertising continues to evolve, with a focus on personalized and native ad experiences to enhance user engagement.

Additionally, developers are exploring innovative monetization approaches, such as gamification, virtual goods, and influencer partnerships, to diversify revenue streams and maximize profitability. The rise of subscription bundles and cross-platform monetization strategies highlights the importance of flexibility and adaptability in app monetization.

The role of in-app social features for new revenue streams

Have you noticed that most of the apps we use every day have a social layer to them? While the most downloaded apps in the world are social media apps, other apps are also diversifying their offerings to socialize their apps. Think Venmo and how they exploded after making money transfers a more social experience. Adding social features like chat, community groups, and activity feeds to apps is becoming an essential strategy for successful monetization. 

An overview of six outcomes of adding social features to apps.

Integrating social features not only enhances the user experience but also helps app developers generate more revenue and build sustainable business models.

Social features not only boost user engagement and retention but also open up new avenues for monetization. By creating a sense of community and enabling user communication, these features can lead to longer user sessions, resulting in more ad views, in-app purchases, and subscription renewals. They also encourage users to share content and interact with each other, which can attract more users and advertisers. 


Looking ahead, the future of app monetization and benchmarks is promising and dynamic. With advancements in technology, changing user preferences, and evolving market dynamics, app developers must stay agile and adaptable in their approach to monetization. By embracing innovation, experimenting with new strategies, and leveraging benchmarking tools, developers can navigate the evolving landscape of app monetization and drive sustained success in the ever-changing app market.


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