~ 7 min read

In App Advertising on BlackBerry With QuattroWireless, MillennialMedia, SMAATO and NexAge a bitter experience

Preface

At some point in the past I was trying to monetize free application on BlackBerry and since most of the advertising networks that actually work with BlackBerry don't have an SDK, I had to work with their WEB APIs directly.

This did not work for me at all (with minor exception for Quattro Wireless). Maybe this was personal to me, I don't know, probably not. The monetization through advertising on BlackBerry is unfortunately does not work. I am talking from a lot of experience supporting free applications with ads on Android and iOS.

I've spent a lot of time looking for advertising agencies working with BlackBerry and then signing up and then getting the necessary information from them and then working through their documentation to implement a custom web client to pull the info from their web APIs - all this to learn once again that the revenue I could get is a joke.

Quattro Wireless

Advertising with Quattro Wireless actually turned out to be the best BlackBerry advertising experience I had so far... As long as it lasted (not very long unfortunately).

Starting Sept. 30 1020 Quattro is iAd exclusive and stopped serving any ads to BlackBerry. Since I do not ever trust what I can get from advertising service, when the service stopped, the application was not impacted but other developers that were less careful (something you should not ever do though) might have had some problems.

NexAge

NexAge left me with the worst impression of all. First these guys at NexAge took a hell lot of my time with manual sign up and many  many phone calls I had to have with them to get anywhere. It looked very suspicious to me that they can't implement an automatic sign up and to actually sign up for the service you had to talk to them over the phone. I should have known better at this point. Coupled with their awfully looking website, this fact should have stopped me from moving forward with them and saving a lot of my time and frustration. But since there were not many options at a time, I decided to try them out. The interesting part is that when I voiced my concerns about the manual sign-up to some higher up developer relations manager, he told me "We are the BMW of advertising, we give you a personalized and best service out there"... yeah... right...  After signing up with them and integrating their code (there were a few hiccups on the way but nothing deal breaking) I started to serve their advertisements and the results were - well... simply put horrible. When I talked to them they were not really helpful and they kept saying "we will investigate and will try to optimize". I wonder if they are optimizing the ads manually as the sign-up. After couple weeks of my pilot with them, during which I wrote them and called them to complain about the ridiculousness of the revenue with not much results (they mostly simply ignored me) I shut them down and decided to forget about them and about the partial revenue I have generated in these couple weeks for the sake of my own mental health. I have to point out that they did have an SDK - a ridiculously large SDK, so I decided that I can not add an SDK which is almost as much as half of my whole application size, especially while I can implement the same thing with couple classes.

SMAATO

With SMAATO everything was much simpler, but the revenue was as bad if not worse as with NexAge. After trying them for some time and not seeing any improvement, I gave up on them.

MillennialMedia

With Millenial, it was more complicated. At some point I was simply furious with them and if there were any other options to advertise on BlackBerry, I would definitely avoid them, but since there aren't I still work with them in a very limited capacity. I was so so sorry to learn that they are going to handle the technology side of RIM's advertising service. The reason is simple - they are SUPER unorganized. And coupled with RIM, they just doubled the amount of mess. For example, they say you are ready to serve ads and you are fully operational and you publish your app and then you see some super weird stats and you ask them and they tell you some BS and then you wait a little more and then you ask again and then a few weeks later they say - "Ohh the ads you were serving are test ads". To make things even worse - this happened to me more than once.

Summary

In summary, unfortunately, if you want to monetize your free application on BlackBerry - you better prepare yourself for the worst. I was hoping the official RIM advertising service will solve this problem, but unfortunately it didn't. It's a complete mess, as I mentioned and I don't think they are going to sort this out any time soon. If you are a developer that knows of a better service - please let me know, I would appreciate it. Hopefully my experience also helps you to save some of your time. If you are eager to try anyway, I plan to post the custom integration code that I wrote here so that you (again) can save some time reusing this code.