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If you’re a mo­bile de­vel­oper you’ve most prob­a­bly re­ceived your share of E-Mails from mon­e­ti­za­tion plat­forms, all of them mak­ing at least one in­cred­i­ble claim. Some of them are es­pe­cially in­ter­est­ing as they claim the abil­ity to mon­e­tize your app (and earn up to $$$ per month) with­out hav­ing to use any ads. I hope that most of you will just ig­nore these E-Mails, but I for once de­cided to dig a lit­tle deeper into the world of ad free” mon­e­ti­za­tion. It goes with­out say­ing that the ma­jor­ity of the Services I’ll be look­ing at to­day are shady in some way and you should gen­er­ally avoid them.

This sounds pretty promising (until you actually do the math).
This sounds pretty promis­ing (until you ac­tu­ally do the math).

Luminati

Luminati is the com­pany op­er­at­ing the pop­u­lar Proxy VPN ser­vice Hola VPN, which sur­pris­ingly is free. When you look a bit into how Hola works,you’ll soon find out that their VPN ac­tu­ally uses the in­ter­net con­nec­tion from their users to proxy their traf­fic. As a user of Hola other Hola users ac­cess the Internet through your con­nec­tion, as well as pay­ing cus­tomers of Luminati. Their large col­lec­tion of ori­gin IPs al­lows easy scrap­ing of web­sites with­out hav­ing to see any Captchas or be­ing rate lim­ited. The Luminati SDK al­lows your users to be­come part of the Luminati net­work and in re­turn get ad­di­tional fea­tures in your app.

Well I don't see anything wrong with this?
Well I don’t see any­thing wrong with this?

Conclusion: With Luminati you are lit­er­ally sell­ing your users in­ter­net con­nec­tion.

MobKnow / MobiBurn

MobKnow and MobiBurn are very sim­i­lar in that they just straight up tell you they are col­lect­ing user data. MobKnow is­n’t very spe­cific re­gard­ing what the data will be used for, MobiBurn on the other side will boast about how they help build­ing au­di­ence data for mar­ket­ing pur­poses. On top of that it’s also not very clear how real ei­ther of these so­lu­tions ac­tu­ally are, none of the part­ners linked on the MobiBurn site seem to ac­tu­ally use their SDK.

MobiBurn shall not be the solution either!
MobiBurn shall not be the so­lu­tion ei­ther!

Conclusion: Do you re­ally wanna di­rectly sell the data of your users? Oh, and risk the chance of these SDKs ac­tu­ally be­ing mal­ware?

Huq

Huq is sim­i­lar to MobKnow in that it col­lects user data and they sell it off to in­vestors, gov­ern­ments and re­searchers. Huq fo­cuses on geo and be­hav­ior data to find out what con­sumers are do­ing in the real world. As all of the other providers on this list they talk big about pri­vacy and how much they love it, we all know this is a lie and the only rea­son it’s there is to com­fort them­selves and de­vel­op­ers think­ing about in­te­grat­ing their SDK. Hey, at least they seem to ac­tu­ally ex­ist!

It's sellout time baby
It’s sell­out time baby

Conclusion: Hell yes, let’s sell out to make some big data com­pany very rich and gov­ern­ments very happy!

Tutela

Tutela col­lects net­work and de­vice data from around the world to gather data about net­work cov­er­age and speed out in the world. This data is then used by tele­com com­pa­nies to im­prove their net­work ser­vice where de­mand ex­ists. I did­n’t ex­pect my­self to say this to­day, but Tutela ac­tu­ally seems rel­a­tively okay. I would­n’t use it per­son­ally, but out of the bunch it seems like the least in­tru­sive so­lu­tion which might ac­tu­ally be used for good.

Obviously the exact same claims as always
Obviously the ex­act same claims as al­ways

Conclusion: Best out of the bunch, I still would­n’t use it though

Conclusion

Monetizing your app with (moderate) ads and iap is still the best way to mon­e­tize your mo­bile apps while still con­sid­er­ing your users pri­vacy and trust. You’re also not go­ing to get rich us­ing any of these plat­forms, they all pay rel­a­tively low rates and prob­a­bly earn much more with the data col­lected. All in all soft­ware mon­e­ti­za­tion is of­ten shady as a whole, stay safe and keep your users safe!

Thanks for the great cover im­age to HrX.

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