BuySellAds to Integrate Ads Into Desktop Mac Apps

BuySellAds, a popular internet advertising service (and the company we use for advertising on AppStorm), has today announced a new venture into desktop advertising. They are launching a new service that allows developers to integrate advertisements into Mac applications, in the same way you would a website.

Although this isn’t a new idea – various Mac apps have been ad-supported for several years – it does represent another tipping point in the ongoing shift towards paying for apps with your attention rather than your wallet.

Today I’ll be exploring what this means, and asking for your opinion on whether we should be welcoming this shift with open arms, or becoming a little concerned!

What are BuySellAds Offering?

Before we talk about desktop advertising in general, let’s take a look at what BuySellAds is starting to offer developers today. You can find out a little more at their developer site, which states the following:

BuySellAds' Developer Site

BuySellAds' Developer Site

Information on the mini-site is fairly scarce – this clearly isn’t going to become a flagship product overnight – but there’s plenty of documentation that explains how developers can integrate this feature into their applications today. Kiwi and Bodega are two applications that have already done this, and I’m sure that developers will see this as an interesting new source of revenue to explore.

BuySellAds has long had a focus primarily on design websites, and it’s not surprising to see that they are expanding towards the most design-centric desktop platform first. Details are only available for integrating ads using Cocoa, so it’s safe to assume that this is “Mac only” for now.

Do We Want Ads in Our Desktop Apps?

For me, it depends. Although I have become accustomed to sponsorship slots sitting toward the side of almost every website I visit, my Mac is a relatively ad-free zone. I don’t want this serene, beautiful software platform to become just another place I need to wade through an endless sea of advertisements. I can’t imagine anything worse than flashing, bright, colourful ads adorning the sidebar of Things.

But that might not become the case.

OS X and iOS developers generally seem to have a high degree of integrity when it comes to designing and monetizing their work. Most of my favourite apps have veered towards the likes of Fusion Ads and The Deck for advertising purposes – two of the most design-centric platforms I’ve ever come across. I heard many people comment that, even after purchasing Tweetie, they left advertising turned on because they found Fusion Ads’ content to be so relevant and appealing.

There’s no reason that BuySellAds has to be any different – publishers still have full control over the advertisements they accept or reject from appearing in their app. Hopefully we’ll still be treated to sympathetically designed ads in our desktop software – providing the desire of developers to cash-in doesn’t overcome that of producing something simple and beautiful.

Personally, I think that a near-perfect model is as follows:

  • Allow people to purchase your app and remove ads if they so choose
  • Provide a minimal number of relevant, beautiful advertisements to everyone else

What Do You Think?

I’m interested to hear what you think. Would you rather pay for a particular piece of software, or have an ad-supported version? Do you think that this is the model we’ll see developers taking with desktop software in the future?

Let me know what you think in the comments, and let’s kick off a debate!


Add Yours
  • I think this is a great move by BSA, they’re at the forefront of online advertising, and it seems only natural that they try to break into the desktop market too.

    As for how many developers will use it, I’m not sure, as I don’t know how beneficial it will be. Tweetie is a prime example of this. A trial/free version needs to have some sort of disadvantage to a premium version, but in fact, it’s the opposite. I would in fact pay for the great ads that Tweetie provides. But then again, I suppose Tweetie wins both ways – If people buy the premium version, they get more money from the sale. If not, they get money from the ad revenue..

    I definitely think that ad-supported versions should replace the standard 30-day trial. 30 days just isn’t enough to get a proper feel for an app, especially if it’s some sort of productivity app..

    • Yes absolutely. BSA has the benefit of approving apps that we think will be successful. This includes how we think we can serve them and the Mac community.

      I’ve been a Mac user for over a decade now and soul hate to see my desktop cluttered with ads too. I think, however, when done right can be beneficial to everyone (tweetie for example)


    • I do not want to see ads in purchased applications, but I agree and would like to see them in “trial” applications.So many times I have downloaded a trial and then not been able to evaluate it properly in the time frame allowed.

  • There will be more information tomorrow (including a framework to boot), but for now more information is available at


    • Sounds great Greg – Looking forward to seeing it!

  • ergh! I’d prefer to have a trial version than one filled with ad’s, small or large.

    It just would seem so unnatural and what would happen when we are using an offline app, or are offline ourselves, does that mean ugly placeholder crap. Apps and websites aren’t really designed the same, where as on a website you have major scrolling room, an app is designed to fit your screen size or smaller.

    • @L1

      The model fits well into applications that are ‘internet attached’ like Twitter apps where you have to be online to use them.

      Developers can easily test for internet connectivity and hide Ads if you are Offline. There are ideas floating around to show Ads every X minutes then hide them for Y minutes. Again, kind of like Tweetie.

      Finally, since these are desktop applications (as opposed to web apps) there is much more flexibility and creative control. One of the prime examples is Kiwi. Kiwi is controlling exactly how long the Ad runs and what it looks like in the timeline. This presents a balance between form and function.


  • David, this might have an opposite effect and encourage us to purchase our software. :)

    • @Web Design BC

      We like that too. We love the Mac community and that’s a solid win for developers too.

  • I prefer free versions that are limited somehow and ad-free, so if I need more features I’m willing to pay the price (like MindNode and MindNode Pro).

    Paying only to remove the ads is not good enough.

    I’m not sure about the advantages for the developers either, people must click on the ads? For Twitter clients it makes sense, because I’m kind of browsing, maybe I click something, but in other apps, I’m focused on my work.

  • I’d avoid apps that had a ‘trial’ ad supported version. Sure if the ads kick in after the trial period then I guess you get what you pay for (or didn’t pay for). I certainly wouldn’t consistently use a desktop app that was ad supported. My desktop is all about keeping things clean and distraction free. Ads don’t do that.

  • I’m sick of ads. Sick of them. They are on the cable channels that were once touted to be ad-free. They are on National Public Radio (listener-supported? My sponsored butt!) and plastered above urinals (I’m a guy. I wonder if they are on bidets). They hang over my head on the checkout line and wink at me from my iPhone. They hold me hostage before the movie starts and reach out to touch me from the grocery shelf. I assure you, apps that start out free because they are ad-supported will one day cost money — and still be ad-supported. There is literally almost no way left to be ad-free for more than five minutes, and soon there will be no way, period. That said, I decided on one gray day in the movie theater that there was no fighting it. It’s too endemic to the USA and our way of doing business. Railing against it, as I’m doing now, provides temporary relief from symptoms. So bring it on. This comment sponsored by FORD with Sync powered by Microsoft. Sync your ride today at

  • If ad inclusion means more apps take the free route, I’m all for it! Evernote has ads running in the bottom left and I almost never notice them and definitely don’t feel that they ruin the aesthetics or experience of the app.

  • Honestly, I’m so blind to the ads anymore, they don’t bother me at all. As has been mentioned the ads in Evernote don’t distract at all from the experience of the app. I’m used to apps on my iPhone – again, they don’t bother me there. So long as the app is designed well, and the ad space isn’t a popup or distraction from the work, I don’t mind the sponsorship. Especially if it means free or reduced cost apps!