Learn how Google AdMob complemented sales for Dictionary.com


  • Leverage mobile to make it easy for users to access Dictionary.com's educational content when and where they need it
  • Create a sustainable and profitable business while maintaining a great user experience


  • Invested in AdMob and AdSense for Mobile Content to monetise mobile assets
  • Customised to create a unique mobile user experience
  • Ad-supported free apps, or allow users to pay for the app without the ads
  • Responded quickly to user feedback, creating Spanish version of the app


  • Over 30 million app downloads as of April 2011
  • Mobile traffic is growing 4x faster than online
  • Engagement levels on mobile are nearly 3x online levels

With more people accessing the web from mobile devices, Dictionary.com launched their mobile website in November of 2007 and, using Google’s ad network across platforms, now sees 9 million unique users per month. The company has since added an iOS, Android and Blackberry app with more than 30 million downloads as of April 2010 making Dictionary.com the world’s most downloaded mobile dictionary.

Ad networks complement direct sales as mobile business grows

As more users were accessing Dictionary.com's website from mobile devices, it was natural to build a mobile specific website to optimise the content for the smaller screens. As Dictionary.com focused on understanding the mobile use case and improving their mobile site, the company was able to easily generate revenue from the beginning through ad networks such as Google's Adsense for Mobile Content. With Dictionary.com's expansion into apps, ad networks such as AdMob provided a monetisation solution while the company learned how to incorporate mobile advertising into its direct sales efforts.

Create a user experience for the mobile context

Building an engaging mobile experience requires more than just porting desktop content to mobile. Dictionary.com provides a clean, easy to navigate user interface on mobile web that only contains the key features most important to a mobile user. By understanding how and why users engage with their content on mobile versus online, Dictionary.com is able to tailor the content and experience by platform keeping users engaged with their content regardless of what device they have with them.

Diversify business model on mobile to appeal to a broader user base

Dictionary.com started with a free app in order to achieve scale, so the ad-supported business model made sense. As their user base grew the company found they needed to expand upon the single business model approach to satisfy the needs of different customer groups. The company responded by creating a paid ad-free version, giving the users choice. This resulted in both a new revenue channel and decreased negative reviews on the free app, boosting its rating.

Build scale by starting with a great user experience

As well as making sure of a seamless user experience, to build scale Dictionary.com uses a number of tactics.

  • Brand recognition: in crowded app marketplaces, it is important to find ways to stand out. By building a trusted brand online, Dictionary.com found that users embraced their mobile app
  • Getting featured: by offering compelling features that best leverage the user interface of each platform, Dictionary.com was featured in app marketplaces and ranked amongst top apps in user voting contests
  • Cross-promotion: the Dictionary.com website, mobile web, and other apps in the portfolio are great places to advertise the latest mobile app for free

Test and iterate

Dictionary.com looked to improve mobile monetisation by experimenting with AdMob's rich media ad formats. These high value CPM ads can be videos or interactive websites that the user can either engage with while in the app or close and return to the app. While monetisation is important to Dictionary.com, they value users even more. Therefore, it was important to slowly integrate these formats to gauge user response. In rolling out rich media ad units, users and their preferences were the most important component to keep in mind.

“Engaging with our users on multiple platforms enables us to create stronger relationships as they can always access our content.” Lisa Sullivan-Cross, GM of Mobile