Have you ever wondered how software companies that offer free products make money?
Well, for most of them there's always an upsell available. There usually exists a higher valued package that they advertise in hopes that the users will eventually upgrade to it.
However, in recent years, there are a lot of browser toolbars and other widget products that don't possess this popular revenue model and marketing tactic. Instead, they deploy partnerships and other indirect advertising methods that put money in their bank accounts instantly.
A perfect example of this tactic in the wild is Somoto. For those unfamiliar, Somoto is a toolbar company, like the ones exemplified above, that has had to get creative to start bringing in money with their free browser toolbar offering.
For example, on their website found at www.somoto.net , they mention a partnership opportunity for any third-party software developer to team up with them to add a pop-up that invites users to install their toolbar as well. If the user does end up downloading the Somoto toolbar, the partner makes a commission. The relationship also extends the other way - where Somoto will pay the partner for the same scenario when a user chooses to install their product.
It's partnerships such as these that allow companies to not only monetize their product(s), but also create awareness and word of mouth possibilities by appearing in front of more engaged users. If you consider it logically, it makes a lot of sense to do something like this. After all, it's your demographic that is installing similar software products. If you catch them at the right moment, they'll feel willing to try your product out as well (two birds with one stone, anyone?).
How have you monetized your product in an atypical way? Leave your comments below and let's discuss.