Mobile App Terminology

In-app purchases

What are in-app purchases?

In-app purchases refer to purchases that someone makes within an application, typically on a mobile device like an iPhone. In-app purchases can vary widely between app categories and include everything from upgrading to a premium plan without ads, purchasing items within a game, and so on. In-app purchases enable developers to offer a free version of their app and still be able to monetize it with paid features after the app has been installed. 

In other words, in-app purchases allow developers to create profitable apps despite the initial free access, which is referred to as a “freemium” model.

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How do in-app purchases work?

In-app purchases allow app businesses to offer premium goods or services directly within their app, as opposed to monetizing users through other channels. 

There are four main types of in-app purchases (IAPs):

  • Consumables: Consumables refer to products that can be purchased and used once and then repurchased later. Within gaming apps this is quite common as users can buy extra lives or in-app tokens that can be used. Purchasing a physical product within an eCommerce app is another example of a consumable in-app purchase.
  • Non-consumables: Non-consumables refer to products that can be purchased once and remain permanently in your app without an expiration date. Examples of non-consumables include purchasing levels in a game that can always be played, or purchasing an eBook that you own forever.
  • Subscriptions that auto-renew: Auto-renewal subscriptions refer to in-app purchases that are paid for on a recurring basis. Common examples of auto-renew subscriptions include streaming apps such as Spotify or premium dating apps that are paid on a monthly basis.
  • Non-auto renewal subscriptions: Non auto-renewal subscriptions refer to purchases that provide access to a premium feature for a fixed period of time but isn’t recurring. Examples of this include paying a streaming service for premium content for a certain period of time, such as a sporting event or renting a movie.

The type of in-app purchase model will vary depending on the type of content, goods, or services provided, although regardless of which method is used it’s essential for app developers to track and analyze the performance of their premium offers and also prevent fraudulent activity.

How does Singular track in-app purchases?

Singular sees specific activity, engagement, and purchases in your app that you allow. Using that data, Singular can calculate ROI, ROAS, and LTV, which are critical to helping you understand both the value of the ads you buy as well as the profitability of your mobile app.

As a leader in mobile fraud prevention, Singular provides developers with in-app purchase validation, which:

…is a process in which Singular evaluates revenue events in your apps (both Android and iOS) and detects invalid/fraudulent user purchases so that they do not skew your revenue metrics.

Analyzing and preventing fraudulent in-app purchases allows developers to accurately analyze their revenue data. By pairing fraud prevention with leading marketing analytics and ad monetization attribution, Singular helps developers increase the ROI of their monetization efforts.

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