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I have been researching the AppExchange and I'm trying to figure out how free apps are being monetized.

Can you embed advertising or in-app purchases in an AppExchange app? Or is it simply a way to generate brand recognition and gain experience with the exchange?

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    You cannot embed advertising, but can offer added features or "upgrades".
    – crmprogdev
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 18:56

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From what I've seen a lot of them are land and expand applications. A company with a multi-faceted solution will create a free app exchange app with one piece of their solution that an organization could derive value from. They then reach out after you install and use the free appExchange app and discuss a more financially lucrative relationship.

This isn't always the case, but I know of multiple organizations who take this approach.

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