AppBank Helps Facebook Users Make Money, Looks to Become the Ad King for Social Apps
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optimize advertising (which AppBank runs) for those apps. It also displays a dashboard interface that shows how much money you’ve made this week, how many users click on the app per day, their demographics, where they’re based, and so forth. App creators—the startup has about 3,000 signed up so far, earning an average of almost $800 a month—receive ad revenues deposited in their accounts via PayPal, and AppBank takes a cut of those. AppBank also has direct advertising relationships with some big companies, including Netflix, whereby AppBank gets paid whenever it sends them a new user signup.
AppBank faces competition from the likes of San Francisco-based LOLapps, Los Angeles-based Sometrics, and any number of online ad networks. But Hsu says AppBank is unique in that it focuses on multiple aspects, like the app building, the dashboard and analytics, and the ads, whereas competitors “mostly focus on one area” like analytics or ad monetization. AppBank’s main differentiator, he says, is that “nobody [else] pays people. We’re experts and religious about building our own platform.”
Which raises the broader question of how to build a successful business on top of Facebook. In fact, AppBank is trying to get its ads seen by a broad customer base of 300 million Facebook users—but it’s already looking elsewhere as well. “We have good relationships with Facebook,” Hsu says, but “the next step is to build beyond Facebook” and into social sites like Bebo, MySpace, and others.
Hsu says Facebook apps made through AppBank currently reach 8 million users per month. The goal is to reach 50 million users per month by the end of the year, and about $1.2 million in revenue. Then, after the next quarter or two, the company will focus on building its software out to other social networks besides Facebook. Hsu says he is targeting three types of end users: college students, stay-at-home moms, and, increasingly, working professionals who have some time to spare and some expertise that can be useful in making useful and entertaining apps (psychologists, for example).
AppBank started private beta testing in June, but today marks the first time the site is open to the public. On Facebook, any user can click on a button, say, to “create your own quiz and make money.”
Lastly, Hsu reflected a bit on his bootstrapping philosophy, harkening back to the early days of Oversee.net in 2000. “I started the company with zero in my pocket,” he says. “I keep my head ducked down, and build, build, build.”