Ad-Supported Apps Aren’t Free Unless You Have Unlimited Data

You probably already know many developers rely on in-app advertising to earn money on their free apps. But do you realize that every time those in-app ads refresh, the app is sending and receiving data?



What Data Is Being Sent?
The outgoing data sends the message that it’s time to refresh the ad(s), and in the case of location-aware advertising, general location information. Some apps will gather and send additional data, per the app’s permissions (e.g., device type, gameplay statistics, etc.). The incoming data is new ads.


Why Does This Burn Up Data Allowances?
In some ad-supported apps, the ads refresh very frequently. Some are set to refresh with every on-screen button tap, every time a level is completed, or based on a timer (e.g., once per two minutes).

Those little packets of data can add up quickly, and if the ads are large, animated, or include full-motion video and/or sound, the packets may not be so small to begin with.


How To Avoid The Charges
If your mobile device’s data plan is unlimited, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Otherwise, be sure to switch to WiFi whenever possible so the advertising activity won’t be counted against your cell service data allowance.

If frequently switching to WiFi is impractical or impossible for you, consider buying the paid, no-ads version of the app where one is available. Far better to spend a couple bucks on an app you’ll play for many hours than to find yourself hit with a huge, unexpected data overage charge at the end of the month.


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