Can you help me adding ads in my app?


More and more often, people come to me and ask me about ads in a Modern UI application. Clearly, as the general availability date was getting closer, people were showing a growing interest on that topic. Of course, all the “big” apps, those which will be on the Store for the D-Day (the 26 th of October) do not have to pay back their presence on the Windows Store, and do not embed a specific advertisement policy. But within all those apps which will come along after the general availability, a big part consist in “services” apps that can be paid back by a specific add usage. And, along with a lot of interesting stuff in the Modern UI of Windows 8, the add are to be used with guidelines and sometimes, forbidden behaviors you have to be aware of. Let’s have a look closer to all those points.

The tile.

Pretty simple here, we will start slowly: No add on your tile. Clear enough? Well now, try to imagine if all the tiles were showing ads… What a mess it would be, and I think the Start menu will soon be reflecting a very negative image. So, the rule is “No ad on the start menu”, even if the tile is animated. Try also to avoid all the critical cases where you could expose some content that can be understood as advertisement throughout dynamic tiles. Try to be smart and relevant here. An example? Imagine that your application is gathering prices from various articles from several sources over the net. If you expose one of the articles, with its price and if that article is not shown on the Hub of the application, it can be considered as an ad. Do not mention the price on the tile, and show that article on the hub, and it magically turns into content. That is smart. And always consider to guide your user to the content (a looooot of things in my app) you’re fighting for, not for a specific item (a single, so single object).

General warning

Your application should not display only…adds. In facts, I shouldn’t say “Should”. I should have say: Your application must not display only ads. Understood? And to push on with the “smart” logic, your app shouldn’t display on first sight an ad. And there, I use the “Should” term.

You have an access to the Microsoft store to provide nice contents, and to prove that your content is the best. So, leverage the MS store and provide functionalities and content beyond ads.

Of course, an app must not display inappropriate ads, as it must not provide inappropriate content. For example, your app must not contain pornographic content (rated pegi 18). Same thing with your advertisement. Do not smile, because if your ads come from a web address, you have to make sure everything runs fine and clean. Remember, Windows 8 applications are designed for a global audience.

And what about ads in controls?

Well, you must not use the swipe from edge interaction to display advertisement. Nor the app or the navigation bar. In fact, the user should not think that the system force him to see ads. And as the top and bottom bar experience is really close to the system’s paradigm, you have to avoid this kind of behaviors. In the same way, you cannot place advertisement in the settings, the share, or the search panel.

Anything left?

Yes. Remember that you application should not be focused on the ads it contains. That means that the main scenario of the app must not be slow down by the ads, neither should the ads disrupt the user experience. But it’s up to you to empower the adds with a specific content that let your add do more than just opening a web page. For instance, you can link a page with a specific content, closely related to the ad. You are in charge here to push the ad to do more than just mimic the common “hyperlink” behavior.

And, for security reasons, do not allow your ad to execute code that does not come from the ad provider. Nothing is more terrible than the suspicion of viral threads. In general, try to avoid external code that you do not have reviewed and validate.

But, after you take all those considerations into account, you should ask yourself: Is my ad cool? Does it take place in the right spot? Does it ruin the look and feel of my design? Is it well integrated? Do the colors of the ad fit the graphical inspiration of the page? I probably hate nothing more than a well-designed and graphically inspired web site filled with a bunch of ads, laid all over with no specific orders nor taste. Once again, try to be smart. First thing to take care of is the feeling: do not accept an ad that goes against what your application is saying. It may be obvious, but if you’re trying to demonstrate the coolness of the green power, you should avoid to lay there an ad on alkaline batteries …

Try to layout the things with rhythm: If you’re using tiles, put the ads in tiles also to keep the overall look and avoid ruining the business with something that does not feel integrated.

And the major concern: get into the shoes of your customers, from time to time, and try to feel as he does when he’s browsing your applications. If you do not have enough imagination, hire testers to provide feedbacks. Or get in touch with your local Microsoft DPE division. Sometimes, ads brings something fresh, often, it is just noisy, and mostly it is not seen. To get the job properly done, you have to emphases the ads and to bring unseen content for your ads.

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