Amazon Lures Developers to Fire Phone With Guaranteed Ad Rates

E-Commerce Giant Offering $6 Per Thousand Ad Impressions

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Amazon's new phone needs apps.
Amazon's new phone needs apps.

The best weapons in today's smartphone wars are apps. And newest entrant Amazon is willing to pay to load its arsenal.

Amazon is offering developers guaranteed ad rates of $6 per every thousand impressions if they develop apps for the e-commerce giant's new Fire Phone, the company said in a company blog post on Tuesday. An Amazon spokeswoman confirmed the offer.

By comparison, the mobile ad network MoPub, part of Twitter, said last fall that interstitial ads were averaging $2.99 per thousand impressions.

The offer appears to be Amazon's way of beefing up its app store ahead of the Fire Phone's release on July 25. Two days before announcing the Fire Phone last week, Amazon released a statement claiming its app store had grown to 240,000 apps and games, a significant annual increase but still far fewer than its rivals. Apple and Google each count more than 1.2 million apps in their respective app stores.

If Amazon is able to stock up its app store, that could raise the profile of its mobile ad network among advertisers. In March 2013 Amazon opened the ad network to any app available in its app store, but it has failed to generate the same level of interest among advertisers as Google's, Apple's or even Facebook's ad networks.

Amazon made $707.7 million in ad revenue last year, according to eMarketer estimates.

In keeping with its thrifty reputation, Amazon isn't looking to break the bank with its offer. For one, the offer is only available to apps that have never been part of Amazon's mobile ad network. For two, it will only apply to full-screen interstitial ads that appear at moments of transition in an app, like after completing a game level or while swiping between articles. And finally the offer will only be good for ads that run in August and September and will stop at 1 million impressions per month.

So at the most an app could generate $12,000 through the program. That's still better than the $100 Microsoft offered to pay developers to create apps for its Windows Phone last year.

In its blog post touting the offer, Amazon quoted Jason Stock from app development firm Firecracker Software. Mr. Stock's company has developed apps such as Word Breaker, which counts more than 1 million downloads in Google's Android app store.

He said Amazon's mobile ad network outperformed other ad networks, generating 215% more money per impression when dividing total revenue by the total number of ad impressions. "Because of Amazon Mobile Ads, we were able to quit our day job," Mr. Stock said.

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