Apple, Incentivized Downloads and Making The Right Decision

We just heard the news that Apple has made two important decisions:

1. Not admitting anymore apps onto the App Store which work with an incentivized download model (read more here)

2. Supposedly making changes to the App Store ranking algorithm, away from overall downloads towards a more usage and user activity oriented model (read more here)

At apprupt we have been right in the middle of this quickly growing and changing mobile ecosystem. And especially mobile advertising (not only for apps) has seen a great development. But the fast growth has also had its downsides.

One of the models that has gotten increasingly popular with app developers was buying/selling incentivized downloads. For app developers, this seemed to be the cheapest way to get up into the top rankings.

The way this worked was fairly simple: users of gaming apps were offered virtual goods and other virtual incentives in exchange for downloading multiple free apps. Of course, for many users, this was the cheapest way of getting to virtual goods, so they downloaded the offered apps in bunches without ever being interested in or using any one of them. And because of the relatively low barrier to download a free app, a few networks were able to offer new user acquisition (app downloads) on a comparably low price per download.

For advertisers, this was fine since the only goal was getting up into the top rankings, from where more users would see and download their product. The overall effect was basically a spammy App Store, where the top rankings were filled with apps that had no real user value and should not even have been up there in the first place – at least considering quality and user value.

When speaking to our customers, we have always made it a point that the most important thing is to acquire users that are interested in the product itself and are likely to use the app afterwards. Read here how the ‘myTaxi iPhone App’ generated massive Premium Downloads through our network, climbing to top of the app store category ranking. We found out that those users, who downloaded the app via our Premium Network actually use the app’s service three times more often than users who downloaded the app via other channels.

For us, there are three key facts for successful app & mobile advertising:

1. It is important where ads are placed and how they are presented to a user, which is why we focus on integrating only within premium mobile destinations.

2. It is important who sees an app and that it matches a specific user interest, which is why we focus on technology and targeting.

3. It is important to offer products that can lead to an action (e.g. a download) and that have direct value to the user, which is why we focus on performance.

Many of Apple’s decisions regarding the App Store have been controversial and have not always seemed entirely healthy for the ecosystem.

With the decision to fight incentivized downloads and (supposedly) make changes to the App Store ranking algorithm, we think Apple has started correcting some of the things that have gone wrong with the App ecosystem in the past.

We are supportive of it, not only because it proofs our model right, but because it will make the App Store better and enable app relevancy. In the end, relevance is what the App Store as well as mobile advertising should be about.

Kjell Fischer
CEO & Co-Founder, apprupt

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