app reskinning

How to Optimize Chartboost eCPM

On our last post, we got a question about ad networks. The lingo and all the functions can be pretty overwhelming–I know it was for me at first. How do you best use ad networks for app monetization? Is there a way to set up campaigns that will yield the best results? I’m going to give you some tips that will boost up your Chartboost eCPM because in my opinion, Chartboost is probably the most complicated to understand since it has the most options. If you see a term you don’t understand, look at the end of the post–it might very well be in the glossary. So let’s get to it…


If you have an app that is a game, chances are you’re using Chartboost. It’s one of the most popular ad networks for games out there. It’s most commonly used ads are shown as pop-up ads (also known as “full screen interstitials”) and the famous Chartboost More Apps page. While you can technically still put the Chartboost SDK into an app that isn’t a game, if Chartboost finds out, they could stop you… so only publish campaigns in Chartboost

The first screen below shows what a typical Chartboost interstitial looks like. You can usually tell right away that it’s a Chartboost ad because of its size. Unlike other ad networks, a Chartboost “full screen” ad doesn’t take up the whole screen.

The More Apps page is usually connected to a “More” button in your app and displays a list of apps–your own, other people’s ads, or a combination of both. The orange theme is how I usually know that it’s Chartboost.

Set Up

How do you set up Chartboost? Here’s the quick breakdown, assuming the Chartboost SDK is already implemented into your app:

1. Add your app – this should be pretty straight-forward. However, if you can’t figure this out, I’d recommend our video tutorials.

2. Create campaigns (sets of ads) – Don’t create only one campaign. Create a few–maybe one that has lots of filters and only accepts a minimum $4 per install. Set that as your “highest priority” campaign and then for the “high” priority campaign, set a $3 or $2.50 minimum for an install. By doing this, you will force Chartboost to give you the highest paying ads first. If there are none that match your criteria, it will go to your next highest priority campaign and try to find an ad that fits that criteria. For your lowest priority campaign, don’t include filters–that way you will only show low-paying ads if Chartboost couldn’t successfully find a better one first.

3. Set up the More Apps page (if your app uses it) – This part is easy to miss. Open up your app in Chartboost, and navigate to the tab: More Apps. There’s a search bar on the right side. Click in the bar and type in your own apps (if you want to promote your own) or the names of your campaigns to show other people’s ads there!


Where should you place your ads? First, if you’re not familiar with Xcode and Objective-C, or you’re not developing an app from scratch, chances are you have no say over this. But if you do have the control, then the answer is… it depends.

If you have an awesome code with great retention, you probably don’t want to bombard the user with ads right when they launch your app. Actually, you probably aren’t doing that if your app has great retention, because most people are turned off by ads and will steer away from apps that have loads of ads appearing within a minute of launching the app.

However, if you’re reskinning a game a bunch of times, and you expect that most users will only use your app a couple of times, might as well take advantage and show an ad or two right at launch and whenever you can. Note that Apple can reject you for showing too many ads. It’s happened to us before, but we found a way around that.

This is something to experiment with (some ad networks have A/B or Split Testing, which allows you to try different strategies at one time). Each app will be different, and if you’re able to master this, you should go into marketing for an app development company, because this kind of knowledge is powerful.


Should you do it? Well, unfortunately, again the answer is “it depends.” You’ll find that some huge apps only use cross-promotion. Other times, like with Flappy Bird, you’ll see that the app only advertises other people’s apps. Sometimes you’ll see a mix of both. So what strategy should you use?

Here’s how to think about it. In general, if you wanted to advertise your app, you would have to pay around $0.50 f0r an install of your app. On the flipside, if you advertise someone else’s app, you would make somewhere around $0.50 every time someone installed that person’s app. So what would you rather have? $0.50 or a download of your own app? Personally, I would rather have $0.50 because my app probably won’t make $0.50 from that person that downloaded it. Make sense?

However, there are some things to take into consideration. Let’s say you have two apps: a photo-framing app, and an app that gets you more followers on Instagram. Those two are very complimentary. A user of the Instagram app would probably be interested in a photo-framing app… so in this case, it might work to cross-promote. You’ll probably get a higher CTR and IR with your own app compared to an ad of Candy Crush Saga or Clash of Clans. Also, that user might spend money $1.99 in your photo framing app, and now you’ve made a lot more than if you were advertising someone else’s app.

So again, this depends, and you have to take it on a case-by-case basis.

Other Tips

  • Chartboost recommends customizing your frame. The frame is the border around a full-screen interstitial ad. You can change this so that it matches the theme of your app, and will then (hopefully) get you more clicks because it looks less intrusive. I don’t doubt that this works, but we’ve never tried this because it’s pretty labor intensive to create a new frame to match the theme of every app you have.
  • Filter out apps that perform badly! Sometimes a terrible ad will show up hundreds or thousands of times, and it gets either no clicks or no installs. You can analyze this and eliminate the ads that perform poorly. Check out this step-by-step tutorial created by Chartboost. We do this approximately once a month.
  • In addition, to combine Carter’s tip mentioned earlier with filtering apps, you should probably create different campaigns for different categories of apps. For example, gambling apps should probably have different campaigns than Flappy Bird-style apps, because a user of a Flappy Bird app might not be interested in a poker app, and that could be good to filter out of a campaign that is showing in your Flappy Bird-style apps.


They pretty much apply to any ad network.

  1. Advertiser – You are an advertiser if you are paying to show ads for your apps.
  2. Publisher – You are a publisher if you show ads in your apps and make money that way.
  3. Campaign – In Chartboost, you need to create a campaign to show ads and make money. Think of a campaign as a set of ads. You can create just one campaign if you wish; however, in general, it would be best to create a campaign (or a few different campaigns) for each category of app you have. For example, you could create a campaign for your “Gambling” apps and then another for your “Flappy Bird-style” apps. This is optimal because users in a Gambling app have different tastes and preferences than someone using a Flappy Bird-style app.
  4. Cross-Promotion – This is a case when you act as both an advertiser and a publisher. In simple terms, you are advertising your own app(s) inside your own app(s). Note that by doing this, you won’t be making money when users click an ad and install the app, since you are referring to your own apps.
  5. Direct Deal – This might be exclusive to Chartboost, and it’s only available if you’re able to get 20,000 boot-ups of an app in a single day. This qualifies you for Direct Deals, in which you can talk to advertisers directly and make deals to show their apps. This will make you a higher eCPM or eCPI than the normal way of showing ads.
  6. CPC – Cost per Click. That is, how much money an advertiser spends whenever a user clicks on your ad.
  7. CPI – Cost per Install. That is, how much money an advertiser spends whenever a user clicks on an ad in your app and installs/opens the app. Some ad networks, like Chartboost, use both–sometimes you’re being paid for clicks and sometimes you’re being paid when the user installs the app.
  8. eCPM – It stands for “Effective Cost Per Mille.” That’s probably not helpful. In plain English, if you’re a publisher making money by showing ads, it means how much money you make for every 1,000 impressions, whether you make that money from clicks or installs. The calculation is:
    Money/Impressions x 1000. We’ve experienced eCPMs ranging anywhere from $0.01 to $250 on a given day.
  9. Impression – An ad view. One user can experience any amount of impressions while using your app in a sitting. For example, if you show an ad right when your app launches, that’s 1 impression. If the same user sees another ad after completing a level, that would be a 2nd impression. The more ad impressions, the more clicks you should get, and the more money you should earn; however, if you bombard a user with ad impressions, they’re likely to get pissed off and never use your app again.
  10. Bootup – Same as a “Session.” Every bootup or session is counted each time a user opens your app.
  11. Uniques (Unique Users) – How many individual users use your app in a given time period. If the same person opens your app 7 times in one day, that’s 7 bootups or sessions, but only 1 unique or unique user.
  12. CTR – Click Through Rate. How many clicks an ad received compared to how many times it was shown. For example, a CTR of 50% means that every other time the ad is shown, on average, it gets clicked once. The higher the CTR, the higher your earnings (usually) because you are paid per click or install.
  13. IR – Install Rate. How many installs an app received compared to how many times the ad was clicked. For example, an IR of 50% means that every other time the ad was clicked, it resulted in an install of that app.
  14. SDK – It stands for Software Development Kit. You implement someone else’s SDK into your app in order to use their service. For example, in order to show Chartboost ads, you need to add the Chartboost SDK into your app’s code.
  15. Placement – An ad location. For example, an ad might be located (or placed) right when the game launches.
  16. Retention – How often a user comes back to use your app.
app reskinning

iOS Source Codes Update

Alright, back to the stuff that you’re really here for… information on apps, and more specifically, source codes. Which iOS source codes should you buy? Which ones make the most money and why?

The source codes that we have praised the most in the past were the Random Fact Generator code by Austin Church and Party Slots by Carter Thomas. But I think it’s important that we explain why these codes work(ed) for us and if you can still make money from them.

Party Slots

Let’s start with Party Slots. If you’re a frequent reader of PixtantBlog, you’re awesome, and second, you probably already know that we’ve mentioned multiple times that one of our reskins of this game–Halloween Casino–made a lot of money. Why was it so successful? We got in early. It took some time to figure out, but it makes perfect sense. The faster you are at getting in on a new source code, the better your chances (and with that, the faster you are at reskinning a code, the better).

App Store spam is a big factor nowadays. I was skeptical at first when people started asking questions about source code popularity and what that means for downloads and monetization, but there does appear to be a breaking point… a point at which a source code is just way too saturated and customers know it. Sadly, Party Slots is reaching that phase. If you release a reskin of Party Slots nowadays, you’re most likely not going to hit it as big as you would’ve 6 months ago. Just do a search in the App Store for some sort of theme (like “Halloween”) followed by “slots,” and you’ll see a ton of Party Slot reskin apps pop up. There must be thousands of reskins out there. The competition with that code is pretty fierce, and it’s tough to get downloads.

I don’t want to discourage you completely. It’s still possible to make money with it, but in our opinion, there’s really only two ways–make it look a lot different (do a full reskin), or do the work yourself so it costs almost nothing. As for full reskins, we have a team that can do it. Just contact us.

So what’s the lesson? Be an early adopter of a source code that you believe in, and then reskin the app as fast as humanly possible. Party slots generated over $7,000 in revenue for us, but most of that was in the beginning. We still make residual income, but not nearly as much as we used to. Also, when Halloween Casino was successful, we should’ve published 10 or more at that time, instead of messing with other projects. We would’ve made a lot more money. Stick with what works, milk it, and move on.

In the coming weeks, we’ll point out source codes that we think are worth it. You’re welcome to ask us as well, and we’ll give you our honest opinion. We have our hands on about 20 source codes now, so we’re really getting a feel for which ones work and why.

Random Fact Generator

How about the Jokes app? In our experience, this source code really depends on your marketing–the theme & content, app icon, keywords, and title. If you come up with a good theme that people are genuinely interested in, you can get a steady stream of downloads over the course of months, if not a year+. However, if you pick something unoriginal, like Jokes, you’ll probably be left unnoticed.

Even with its good monetization (this code has generated about $3,500 in revenue for us), there are some things that I wish this code had that could take it to the next level. For example, ads should be shown for every certain amount of clicks… this is such a simple way to improve the number of impressions. A simpler way to add more categories and in-app purchases would be nice, too, so we’re not all limited to 4 categories. We’ve debated upgrading this code ourselves, but we’re not sure if it’s worth it. If you’re interested in that project and getting your hands on a Version 2 of this code, let us know, and we’ll definitely consider it.

So what’s the lesson? It’s similar… be an early adopter and pick an original theme. Put out as many as you can, and hopefully a few will hit.

Final Thoughts

It really comes down to one thing… assuming it’s a good source code in the first place (makes a good amount of money per download), you just need to be fast in every way possible.

– Fast in the sense of purchasing the source code before anyone else
– Fast at reskinning that source code
– Fast at jumping on a trend (theme) or idea (content)
– Fast at publishing more reskins


Of course the other piece is how much you spend, and we always encourage you to dive in, get your hands dirty, and see how fast you can do it yourself. It’s easier than it sounds. You can also hire people, but make sure you’re not getting ripped off and be careful with freelancing websites… better yet, contact us, and we’ll give you reasonable prices.

If you’re able to achieve speed, you’ll be on the left side of the curve and will reap the rewards early on.

Stay tuned for more source code updates! For alerts, coupons, and more, sign up for our mailing list on the right side of the page.

Happy app making,


app reskinning, app results

“Halloween Casino” results from 20 Line Slot Machine Source Code

Update:  We recommend looking into the Bingo source code.

We just crossed the 2-month mark for another casino app reskin that we created, using the same “20 Line Slot Machine” source code that Carter Thomas  has made available at on this page.

Carter Thomas -
Carter Thomas –

Conveniently, we’ve also released a full video course on how to reskin this app from the moment you purchase the source code, to submitting to the App Store. It’s super comprehensive, yet incredibly manageable. After you see these results, you might very well be sold. You can get the course here.

Here are the results for the second reskin we made of this code:

Halloween Casino Icon

Title: “Halloween Casino – Slot Machine with Bonus Games”

Released: September 12, 2013


  • scary, spooky, gambling, slots, spin, win, coin, treat, play, candy, chip, ghost, cash, trick, jackpot, contest, cat
  • Think we’re crazy for telling you this? SensorTower is like 95% accurate, anyway, so you could’ve just looked it up yourself

Expenses: $140

  • Code: $0. Why? We already purchased the code and re-skinned this game before. We counted the cost of the code into that post.
  • Stock Graphics: $40
  • Development: $0
  • TapJoy Ads: $100

Income: $2,109.81

  • Revmob: $32.98 (-5%)
  • Chartboost: $367.73 (+100%)
  • PlayHaven: $39.99 (-27%)
  • AppLovin: $1,669.11 (+307%)(% change compared to our first reskin)
  • In-App Purchases: $116.61 – $34.98 Apple Share = $81.63

Net after 2 months: +$2,051.44

# of Downloads: 7,462 (+68%)


1. Again, we really can do the graphic and development work ourselves. It’s not that difficult… And each re-skin takes less and less time. You can do this, too! Learn how to re-skin the entire source code in about an hour here.

2. AppLovin continues to dominate eCPMs compared to other ad networks in this genre. We learned that from the last version of this code and decided to show more AppLovin ads. We also decided not to promote this through our gigantic Instagram network like we did with Animal Wheel. This improved our eCPM, because we didn’t have a ton of kids coming in that didn’t know what they were getting themselves into. SIDE NOTE: Speaking of gigantic Instagram network, this has been another very profitable project for us, and Lee is currently working on an eBook that explains how we managed to get 100,000 Instagram followers in a month. We’re super excited about that–more details coming soon.

Halloween Casino - AppLovin Income

3. PlayHaven made about a quarter less money than Animal Wheel, but this is probably because we also cross-promoted our own games in the “More Games” page. When we released Animal Wheel, we didn’t have any other games to promote in PlayHaven, so every install was revenue for us.

4. Paying for TapJoy “Rewarded Installs” wasn’t worth it, even at only $0.10 per download. At best, we broke even. We wouldn’t recommend this unless you’re making $0.50+ per download. This app makes $0.30 per download, which is still incredible for the amount of effort put in.

5. Theme, icon, screen shots – Unlike Animal Wheel, I took a whole 2 minutes to do this icon… I just took one of the slot machine images and used it for the icon, and this performed so much better than Animal Wheel. Sure, you can say that it was due to the overall theme, but this icon is just a lot cleaner. Combine that with so little work put in, we’re definitely going to use this strategy going forward. But there’s also a good course on Udemy that gives you Photoshop files and a great tutorial on how to make your own great-looking icons very quickly/cost-effectively. It’s normally $97, but you can access the 50% off coupon here. That course also comes with an automation tool that will resize your icons in like 2 seconds so that you don’t have to keep saving it over and over for different sizes. Very cool.

As for the theme, we thought it would be risky, since “Halloween” obviously has a very limited lifespan and we knew there would be a lot of other Halloween apps out there. But the results speak for themselves.

Screen shots were exactly that—screen shots—nothing special, but again, the images just looked a lot cleaner this time around.

Screen Shot example

Again, we didn’t bother spending time to add text and call outs on these images. Personally, I don’t think this is worth the time.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and insights on what worked and what didn’t in your opinion, and if you’ve bought this source code, what you’ve learned as well.

Coming soon: More results coming (and yes, we made a holiday/Christmas version of this app), and crazy ways we’ve been able to get nearly a quarter million app downloads in 6 months using Instagram as an ad platform. You’ll definitely want to hear about that!

Sign up for the mailing list on the right side of the page for updates and coupon codes!

app reskinning, app results

“Animal Wheel” results from 20 Line Slot Machine Source Code


Carter Thomas -
Carter Thomas –

Update:  We recommend looking into the Bingo source code.

Want to create tons of versions of this app for yourself? Learn here.

Today, we’ll be talking about the “20 Line Slot Machine” source code. Carter has been an inspiration for us with a very positive attitude and huge drive and Alex has been great with support for this code. Carter’s results were pretty astonishing for this slot machine app, and he set the price to reflect that: $750, which is probably his most expensive code. He seems like a great guy that wouldn’t make the numbers up, so we had to test it out for ourselves.

Here are the results for the first reskin we made:

Animal Wheel Icon

Title: “Animal Wheel – Slot Machine with Bonus Games”

Released: August 16, 2013 (exactly 2 months ago when this was written)


  • gamble, slots, spin, win, coins, video, play, poker, chip, casino, money, cash, vegas, jackpot, contest, bet, pets
  • Think we’re crazy for telling you this? SensorTower is like 95% accurate, anyway, so you could’ve just looked it up yourself

Expenses: $947

  • Code: $750
  • Stock Graphics: $60
  • Development: $0
  • Marketing: $137

Income: $698.44

  • Revmob: $34.76
  • Chartboost: $184.10
  • PlayHaven: $54.58
  • AppLovin: $410.34
  • In-App Purchases: $14.66

Net after 2 months: -$248.56

# of Downloads: 4,440


1. We really can do the graphic and development work ourselves. It’s not that difficult. In fact, we are planning to release a video tutorial explaining how to reskin this app from start to finish.

2. AppLovin dominates eCPMs compared to other ad networks in this genre. So how can we exploit that? If I remember correctly, the original source code uses Chartboost for ads while spinning. What if we show AppLovin during spins instead? Where else can we add more AppLovin and take out the ads that don’t perform as well?

Animal Wheel - AppLovin Income

3. Downloads were decent in the beginning, but have been averaging 6 or so each day for about a month, and revenues are pretty much done. Is it worth trying to change the keywords/title/icon/screen shots, or just create a new skin in that time and capitalize on the rush of downloads from being new?

4. While we were net negative on this one, the next skin will only cost approximately $60 for graphics, and a couple of days of work. If we make the same amount of money ($683.78) but only have $60 of expenses for the next app, we’ll be making $623.78 for about 16 hours of work. That’s a decent salary, and it doesn’t include the fact that subsequent releases should be optimized to make even more money.

5. Theme, icon, screen shots – I spent time making the icon myself. I thought it was funny, but wasn’t worth the time after all. There’s a good course on Udemy that gives you Photoshop files and a great tutorial on how to make your own great-looking icons very quickly/cost-effectively. It’s normally $97, but you can access the 50% off coupon here.

As for the theme, we thought animals would be great, but this definitely wasn’t a homerun. The animal theme in the App Store is pretty saturated and could explain the lackluster performance, although it could also be due to the fact that I’m not an experienced designer and used stock images.

Screen shots were exactly that—screen shots—nothing special.

Screen Shot exampleWe didn’t bother spending time to add text and call outs on these images. Would it really help? Personally, I don’t think this is an issue converting users to download the app. I believe getting them to find the app (keywords/theme) in the first place was the bigger problem.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and insights on what worked and what didn’t in your opinion, and if you’ve bought this source code, what you’ve learned as well.

Coming Soon

We released 3 more skins. How did they do? Stay tuned… And be sure to join our mailing list on the right side of the page to be updated when more reports are released!