Feels a little like 1999, except this time it’s on mobile:
Advertising is a key part of acquiring new users for mobile apps, and thus ascending the all-important top lists on Apple’s App Store and Google Play.
It’s advertising with one big caveat: In deals between app makers, money often does not change hands.
Disgruntled by the high cost of acquiring users on mobile ad networks, a subset of app makers have created an informal barter economy to promote their products in which they swap ad clicks in hopes of driving installs among users.
There’s nothing new about barter ad deals in old or new media, but these kinds of deals have become a bigger feature in Silicon Valley’s mobile-app economy over the past year. via How Barter Ad Deals Fuel Silicon Valley’s Mobile App Economy | Digital – Advertising Age.
That’s fine as long as you don’t let it get out of hand like AOL did:
Like many Internet companies, America Online often swapped combinations of cash and online ads for in-kind payments of equity, equipment or advertising, then treated the value assigned to the in-kind payments as sales revenue
They got hit by the SEC pretty hard.