Google Chrome is the most used web browser worldwide. Google Chrome has a big role in transforming the web from static web pages to web applications, which we also know as the ‘Web 2.0’. Chrome is not only fast and lightweight, but you can also customize it and add features and functionality by adding Extensions. There are thousands of Chrome Extensions available on the Chrome Web Store. But have you ever wondered how do these extensions make money?
You can monetize almost everything on the web with advertisements, but not extensions. Extensions injecting ads on the websites are not allowed. You can, however, redirect the user to your own website, which is one indirect way of monetizing it. But, this destroys the purpose of using a browser extension. Extensions (or add-ons) are made to be used without leaving the website. So, how do the companies making browser extensions earn money? Do they provide all these super cool extensions for 100% free? Well, nothing comes for free! At least not when thousands of people are offering it. So, let’s look at the number of ways of monetizing a chrome extension:
1. Affiliate Business Model
Example: Honey Chrome Extension – It is one of the most used chrome extension. It helps you to save money. And to earn money, it relies on the affiliate business model. Not only Honey Chrome Extension but even most of the coupon apps and websites use the affiliate business model to earn money. All the major online e-commerce stores such as Amazon, eBay, Walmart etc. have affiliate programs, where you can sign up and get an affiliate id. The next step you need to do is to make your users’ purchase products from these stores. And for every sale that you’ll bring, you’ll earn a commission for it. For example, if you have Honey Chrome Extension installed, whenever you buy anything online using coupons found through honey, honey gets some commission. This commission, however, depends on multiple factors such as the category of product, price, etc. The commission can go up to 20% of your purchase. This business model is used by many bloggers and marketers as well, and it’s indeed a good and scalable business model.
2. Freemium Model
Example: Grammarly – One of the fastest growing chrome extension, which recently raised $110 Million rely on a Freemium Business Model. It checks for the typos, grammatical errors, missing articles, plagiarism and more. It is free to install and you can correct most of the things using this extension for free. But, if you’re into professional writing or don’t want to waste time on proofreading, you can buy a Grammarly premium which costs $29.95/month. And, the premium is really worth it. So, quite an effective and transparent business model, isn’t it?
3. Paid Extensions (One-time Payments)
Example: English Grammar – It took me quite a long time to find a paid extension. Almost all the extensions on the Chrome Web Store are free to install. Sometimes, you can install the extension for free, but to activate it, you need an API key for which you might need to pay. This type of earning model is not very successful and is rarely used by companies (or developers). In this business model, you have to pay before using the extension. So, there’s No free trial.
Example: Session Buddy – This is my Personal Favorite chrome extension. These extensions that rely on donations neither inject ads nor they sell your data. They generously ask you for donation and thank you for the support. You can donate whatever amount you want. It is totally up to you. They rely entirely on donations.
5. Sell Data
Many browser extensions sell anonymized user data to the third-parties. And sometimes, they don’t even anonymize it completely! These extensions are usually removed by Google. Example: MyWOT (Web of Trust). However, most of the extensions are never caught selling it. So, we should be careful while installing and using chrome extensions.
6. Sell Extension
Many indie developers, after acquiring users, sell their extensions to the big companies or a group of people for money. You might have noticed that the chrome extensions installed in your browser never ask you for an update, unlike your apps. This is because Chrome Extensions are automatically updated in the background. And these companies, sometimes, take advantage of this loophole. So, if your favorite extension become disastrous all of a sudden, you should know what might have happened.
There are some extensions which are 100% free as well, thanks to the open source community. However, these were the business models which are widely used by companies (or developers) making chrome extensions.