Published on May 28th, 2020 | by Manish Gehlot


An Overview of Chrome Monetization: Make Money From Your Chrome Extensions

With the advent of technology, businesses are more about making informed decisions and trial and error are a thing of the past. As entrepreneurs, we find it next to impossible to get through the day without using at least a handful of Chrome extensions or apps. You’ve got absolutely nothing to lose by giving Chrome extensions a try. In work environments, extensions are now available for any job you can think of. Whether you are in development, sales, marketing, design, or support, there are Chrome extensions for each category.

Chrome extensions, if used effectively, can help you focus on your work, increase productivity, and eventually save costs. And when all these can add to revenue generation, there’s nothing better than that, right? Overall, we have seen creating a Chrome extension either to increase productivity or to make money are really viable options and return equally good results.

No matter what type of business you are running, chances are a huge chunk of it is carried out online. And most probably your go-to browser is Chrome! With the evolution of technology, now more than ever, small businesses need to leverage the readily available tools to their advantage to enhance both productivity and revenue. Being the most dominant web browser, Chrome has a web store that offers endless extensions to cover your business operations end-to-end. The right Chrome extension can revolutionize the way you work and maximize results while minimizing time with perfect Chrome monetization skills. And exactly there lies a huge business opportunity for you as the owner of a popular Chrome extension.

The most common way to monetize your browser extension or App is to sell advertising for it. Instead of selling static spaces, you should either create a dynamic script for the extension or sign up for a service that offers a coded extension. With the right program, you can change the ads as needed to keep a fresh rotation. This maximizes your revenues potential, enabling you to reach more potential customers. You have many options for the types of ads you can sell. One of the most common methods is display advertising. Display advertising includes banner ads that can be either static or animated. You can also sell text ads, pop-up ads, and video ads to increase your opportunities for generating revenue. If you code your own browser extension, you’ll need to do a lot of marketing to attract advertisers. Signing up for a service is much easier. However, if you do sign up for a service, make sure you choose one that has access to a large network of advertisers. You’ll increase your opportunities for selling ads and gain access to advertisers that are willing to pay more for their ads. You can publish Hosted Apps, Chrome Apps, Chrome Extensions, and Themes in the Chrome Web Store. Collectively these are simply called “items”. You have many choices when it comes to making money from items that you publish in the Chrome Web Store.

So now the question arises: How do we actually monetize Chrome Extension? When monetizing Chrome extension, the best approach is monetizing the Chrome extension features. There are many approaches that you can take to charging for the features in your browser extension; you can, for example:

Charge for features

Put all your features behind a paywall or offer basic features for free and place enhanced features behind a paywall. Offer a number of free uses a feature for a time before putting it behind a paywall. Unless you provide a feature with a very high intrinsic value, the most successful approach is likely to involve providing users with some free features with additional features for a fee. If you are reluctant to offer free features, consider that developers who have tried to market extensions with no free features report that it is hard to attract an audience to a fully commercial product. An added advantage of providing some or all of your features in some form for free is that users can confirm that your extension does what they expect. If you ask users to pay upfront, some will ask for refunds because the extension didn’t have the features they were expecting.

Choosing a payment provider

The key enabler to implementing paid features in your browser extension or App is choosing a payment processing provider. There are many providers you could use, however, Infatica may be the best fit for your needs and that of your users. Many payment providers will enable you to offer either one time or subscription purchases. One-time purchases offer the simplest approach, as you don’t have to worry about monitoring subscription payments and cancelling licensing if they lapse. On the other hand, with subscription you can offer features at a lower transaction price, reducing the barrier to payment. Subscriptions may also create a reliable, recurring revenue stream.

Implementing a payment and licensing system

If you make your browser extension available on Chrome, you can take advantage of the Google in-app payment API to handle transactions. For Firefox, and most other major browsers, you will need to set up a payment system. A simple and reasonably robust approach is to do the following:

  1. Sell users a lifetime license with a private license key.
  2. On a suitable server, store details of the license key and a related email address.
  3. In the browser, store the license key with a hash code of the key plus some user private data, such as a pin code.

In addition to having a way for the user to input the license key manually, it is important to handle interactions with the purchase page so that the license is installed automatically. This saves a lot of support work explaining how to install the license.

Converting from free to paid

If you initially launched your browser extension as a free product your best approach to generating revenue is by adding new commercial features. Converting a free product to a paid one is unlikely to go down well with your users. Even adding commercial features needs to be undertaken with care. You should be prepared for some negative reaction, along the lines of “it used to be free”, even if you aren’t changing or limiting access to free features.

Displaying ads

If you think your browser extension’s user base is unlikely to be receptive to paid features, ads may be a viable option for revenue generation. However, be aware that ads are only likely to generate significant revenue if your extension has a large user base. There are three ways in which you can technically display adverts, but not all are acceptable to ad channels and users. The options are:

  1. Injecting ads into web pages. In this use case you would modify a viewed web page to inject ads or modify existing ad targets. This can be both pages generated by your browser extension and those from third-party websites people with your browser extension installed visit. The practice of modifying third-party web pages is permitted by most browser extension stores, including AMO and the Chrome Web Store. However, user resistance to browser extensions that modify third-party pages can be high and may result in negative reviews and uninstalls.
  2. Displaying ads in the extension user interface using ad click targets. Most ad programs do not allow this method (they check the referrer at link target) because of the risk of fraud, through the extension generating ad clicks. Ifan ad provider allows this mechanism, it’s likely that they will ask to review your extension. If you can find a provider, the advantage of this mechanism, particularly where you make it clear that these ads fund your browser extension development, is that it is relatively well tolerated by users.
  3. Displaying ads in web pages from the extension site. In this case you would include advertising in your extension’s web site and then display these pages triggered by appropriate events in the browser extension. Examples of suitable triggers include when the browser extension is installed, updated, or uninstalled, as well as help, best practices, tricks and tips or similar pages opened from the browser extension. You should be able to use any ad programs with this method.

Choosing an ad program

There are many ad providers ranging from large well-known global providers, such as Google AdSense, down to small regional services. Finding the right provider will depend very much on your browser extension. You can always look at selling ad space yourself. This is, however, likely to be viable only if you have significant resources you can mobilize to sell advertising space and you have the traffic to support that approach. However, you may be able to identify a supplier of a complementary product or service who would be interested in your user base and be able to make a bulk sale of your ad space.

Best practices for displaying ads

Ads present an interesting challenge in Chrome monetization, the need to find a compromise between them being visible enough to generate revenue but not so visible as to put users off. There are no hard and fast rules for good design for incorporating ads, but these are some of the things you should consider. Make it clear that your browser extension is ad funded, such as in its AMO description. Users are more likely to tolerate ads if they know to expect them.

Ask for donations

If setting up paid access to the features of your browser extension or navigating the intricacies of implementing ads seems inappropriate for your extension, asking for donations may be the way to go. However, be aware that most developers report that donations only generate significant revenue where the browser extension has a large user base. Donations may also be a good option, compared to switching to a paid model where you might encounter user resistance, where your browser extension has already been available fully featured and free of charge.

To conclude, we can say that being the most dominant web browser, Chrome web store has endless extensions or apps to cover your business operations end-to-end. Exactly there lies a huge business opportunity for you as the owner of a popular Chrome extension. Once you figure out the pain points of other businesses, think of a solution for it and get a Chrome extension developed to solve that problem. For example, this Chrome extension that keeps track of your working times right from your to-do list made several hundred thousand dollars in a very short time.

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About the Author

I am a privacy, security, encryption and software freedom enthusiast. I am into VPNs, TLS security. Recently I also got into technical writings. I am working as a VPN support and consultant at some nordic VPN providers.

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