Platform for ad-supported shareware


I'm working on a little piece of rich client software that I'd like to distribute for free. That is, I'd still like to make money on it, but I'd like the revenue to come from advertising.

Do you know of an advertising platform that works well for client apps? I'd like the ads to be completely unobtrusive (like Google AdSense is for websites). I'd hate to have any kind of popups or other horrible UX. I just want a tiny little ad in the corner of my addin.

It would be great if ads could be contextual (i.e. if the platform had an API to tell it what the user is looking at the current moment - give some keywords - to show the most relevant ads).

Any thoughts/ideas?


It's true that using Google Adsense would be against TOS, but you could roll your own ad-engine. For instance, you could create an Amazon affiliate account, and show books that match keywords in your little advertising space. (anyone who clicked on the book and bought would earn you money per sale) Anything affiliate-based (assuming your keywords lend itself to this sort of thing) would work. Check with the affiliates TOS, but because they tend to pay on sales, I don't see it being a problem.

Eudora did something similar way back in the late 90's and Microsoft do the same thing now with their 'Live' products. But I'm not aware of someone doing the content delivery side... (an opportunity there!)

Unfortunately other adware programs have gotten a really bad rap. (e.g. Cydoor, Claria)

My advice would be to create the application with the capability to serve ads, and a basic poller which grabs an xml file of available ads from your website. Initially your xml file could have nothing other than a 'like this application? Donate'-ad, but once you've got lots of users and see your app being used a fair bit, it'd then be worth trying to sell ad-space on your app.

I've never found anything like this. There would be a lot of technical issues, and ads-in-client-software isn't something you see very often (I've never seen it myself).

A simple thing you could do (assuming this is Windows) would be to put a webad-sized Internet Explorer control on your form somewhere. You could create a web page that basically just shows a single Google ad (or whatever), and point the IE control to this page.

Opera tried this. They don't do it any more. I suspect that it wasn't very effective. That said, if you make this work, then great.

I was hoping to do the same thing. I have google adwords on my website, and the revenue's been okay, but I'd like to put it into my program.

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