I have an Android app which, in free version, has an ad block at the top of the screen. Of course users can see ads only if they're connected to internet. If they are not connected they get the same screen size as PRO users which is kind of cheating :)

So, now, I'm in a dilemma: should I make the place where ads are always show and, in case if there is no internet connection, display only black empty space - or the other option, to leave it be and let the user experience "full screen" even if they hadn't purchased the Pro version?

  • 3
    I think that this is a business question, not a UX question. Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 12:13
  • Thank you for all your answers. I will still use ads but when there won't be an internet connection they simply won't be displayed (but no black box).
    – c0dehunter
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 13:48
  • Or maybe @Matt 's way.
    – c0dehunter
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 13:54
  • Something else to consider: it is possible for rooted users to block advertising servers. There will still be an internet connection, but no ads.
    – josh3736
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 15:00
  • I am aware of AdFree and though I don't encourage the use of it I am not against it either. So if the user want to block the ads so badly I am not going to try stopping him.
    – c0dehunter
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 17:00

7 Answers 7


Just have a stock 'advert' that advertises your Pro version and show that in place of the advert block when no connection is present. The experience is then the same/very similar whether there is an internet connection or not.

  • 18
    This is a repeat of the second part of Jon's answer which preceded this answer by over 2 hours. Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 14:30
  • 2
    Would clicking on this stock ad try to take the user online? ;)
    – bhagyas
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 8:33

Well, from a pure User Experience point-of-view, no adverts at all would be better - you can use the full screen real-estate to present more content, plus you won't be annoying the user in that special way that in-your-face adverts have a habit of doing.

Aside from advertising, how else does the user know they're using the trial version? Do they get email alerts suggesting they upgrade? Is it still feature-complete in both editions?

  • If it is a feature-limited version then you can probably do away with the advertising because they're not experiencing the full product so they don't get the full benefit and therefore don't receive something-for-nothing. (Plus there's no point displaying adverts where views won't actually be tracked - its annoying the user for no benefit to yourself and as with all ad supported applications you'll risk losing them as a user alltogether).
  • If the trial version is a feature-complete edition then I guess not displaying adverts isn't suitable to your business case, so why not use this advertising space to advertise the full-version of the product when it's off-line? OK, it's not perfect because if you're off-line you won't actually be able to purchase it, but you can at least provide information as to the benefits of the full release over the trail version.
  • 9
    +1 You need to balance creating incentives with maintaining goodwill between you and your customer. It's always worth remembering that a user who is on your side is far more likely to convert - treat them well, and you'll be rewarded; BUT, on the flip side - if you leave no incentive to convert, the majority won't. Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 12:46

If possible place 2-3 permanent ads maybe from your company or brand. And in case user is not online replace the online ads with the static ads.

This will fully serve your purpose, now even in offline-mode free user is less privileged than Pro user.

Also it wont also look user-unfriendly cos of the black space u said.


There is a dilemma showing stored ads, as if the user reacts to the ad and cannot go online for further action, she will be discouraged to press that area again. Ads that does not link anywhere is less useful.

I think I would not give away the space for free, but take the opportunity to use the box to inform about other things, e.g. If you pay, this box goes away or Did you know? This app has awesome features. Clicking on it could navigate to (info) pages within your app.


Next time you update your application, add a few adverts for your business, AND, include pages of information within the application, this way, online, or offline, if the user clicks the advertisement, it will load anyway. I know a lot of people hate advertisements, but that's the life of today, and I am speaking from the point of view of a podcaster. All my income comes from the advertising on the web-site, youtube, or my mobile application. Annoying as it may be, I am surprised at times, how much people don't understand why the advertisement is there in the first place, it is, after all, the advertising the makes the product free, and why news papers don't cost hundreds of dollars each, as well.


I think it is not a good idea to torture the user needlessly with a blank area, which can be used to show more information -> user-friendlier.


I was tempted to say you should provide a set of adverts providing reasons to convert to a paying customer - I think the general principle is sound, but you could perhaps be a little more inventive.

You could collect information about usage.

  • Number of hours spent using the app
  • Number of day's it's used.
  • How many sunrises have passed since it was first installed.

Show the passing of time in interesting ways - provide variety, maybe use animation or graphical visualisations .. highlight how useful the application has been to the user.

... and then let them dismiss the message and get on with using the app.

You have an incentive to show adverts - you get paid / but you don't have an incentive to annoy your user. Show them your message once (on load) in a memorable way and then let them use your application to its full extent.

In this case, I don't think providing full functionality is counter-intuitive to obtaining more conversions. Very few people will want to use their smart phones on a sustained basis without using mobile internet - and those who occasionally do, will be provided with an indication of just how great the experience is without adverts.

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