On the occasion of the largest central-european mobile conference “M-Days 2012″ Kjell Fischer, CEO and founder of apprupt, gave an interview to leading mobile magazine ‘GFM-Nachrichten’. Check it out!
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.
CEO & Co-Founder, apprupt
Want to create more value for your users and increas your own monetization at the same time? The answer to this question would probably be “yes…but how?”. So what is the challenge here? In the last days and months we have increasingly been thinking about how to increase value and monetization of apps while maintaining its original utility. Of course, there are many ways to increase the value of an app: extra functionality, more levels, better graphics, usability, social features and so on. There also are a lot of ways of increasing monetization of apps: increase price, subscriptions, In-App sale of virtual goods or extra levels as well as more advertising and new advertising spaces (like showing an ad while the app is launching). Many of the latter examples fit in both categories: selling additional levels, for example, increases your monetization while providing more and extra utility to the user.
So maybe we should redefine the question: how do you increase value for your users as well as your app monetization without making the user pay for it? The answer to this question we do not have. But we have a guess – connect them to the offline world. Lately, we seem to have seen and heard about quite a few mobile apps that help the user better orientate in the immediate offline (“real”) world or simply make it more fun (or both). RedLaser is a perfect example of this. “Real World Mobile Social Gaming” (sorry, our own term) is another one. Services like Fourquare, Gowalla and since today Aka-Aki (congrats!) seem to be popping up increasingly – and they seem to be providing a lot of utility to their users.
(On a side note: check out this crazy app we came across today – it’s basically a military app but can be used to services like police or firemen as well).
Many of the above named apps have been and still are top sellers in the App Store, so it is safe to say that “making mobile more real life” is an almost safe bet in terms of providing utility. And we think herein lies a great chance. By leading customers to certain locations, retailers, bars, restaurants or even gyms, these apps provide value to the location as well as to the user. And most certainly, they will see an increase in revenue by customers being led to them. So why not make them pay for it?
Of course, this isn’t our or a new idea. Foursquare has been playing with this for some time now e.g. by having local venues give out free drinks or the like to the “mayor” of that venue. Discount coupons (as barcodes) are another example of how this could work. In our opinion the real challenge lies in the extensive long tail of localities these apps need to reach in order to generate a lot of revenues. Reaching out to the bulk of venues in a certain city, asking them for some kind of special deal or discount is not an easy task – and it only works for both sides if the service has reached a certain scale. But we are sure this can be done.
So the point of this article was not to just think out loud, but also to show the potential services may have in terms of making money while providing value to their users. If both of these are aligned, the potential just seems massive. Have some more ideas on how to align them?
Two days ago we came across this video of the new Google Goggles App. In Google’s own words it is a “Visual Search Application”. You should go and check out the video, we think it is a really cool program. Naturally, it also has a lot of potential for improvement (so it seems), but the basic functionality already appears to provide a lot of utility. Not only can you search by taking a photograph, you can also use the GPS-compass combination to get some really useful augmented reality features, like names and reviews of local businesses in your immediate environment. Bottom line, it’s a great app!
At the same time, it makes clear that Google is planning to become the augmented reality industry leader – at least regarding the search element of augmented reality. This also relates to our blog post on augmented reality, in which we described this particular segment as one with a bright future. Of course, for a company like Google this makes complete sense. But it also means very strong competition for every start-up in the visual search and augmented reality field. Although Google does not really control the Android platform like Apple does the App Store, this has some implications for developers and their choice of platform to develop for.
We talked about this before regarding Apple, when they appeared to be looking for engineers to build gaming apps. It is common sense that large corporations like Google and Apple have in interest in various strategic markets. But the fact that an infrastructure provider (App Store, Android Market) is getting into the market to compete with market participants (app developers) should not necessarily be taken lightly. This will not only shake up the ground base of developers, it is sure to shake up big existing industries, like int the case of Google vs. TomTom.
Again that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, but it substantiates the point that in the future, besides Apple being able to directly have a say regarding your business destiny, they might also just be following the Google footsteps and enter into your market. And again, we love Apple and the App Store and think it is here to stay in the future, but this is the main reason why for developers, multiple options must be held open (many platforms with user-reach). And for you, the developer, this can only mean: diversify to different platforms when you have the chance.
That said, we will move away from the topic for some time and further focus on what is really important to us: app marketing.
Not to repeat ourselves as we have been emphasizing on this blog that we believe we are only at the beginning of a huge mobile revolution, but sometimes it seems the iPhone is already at its peak in terms of devices sold per quarter and apps being downloaded per month. The sheer amount of apps that users pull onto their iPhones is overwhelmingly impressive. Rather than the iPhone continuing it’s market leadership it sometimes seem most probable that this development could be repeated by other mobile platforms, such as Android.
But really, where is the iPhone going? Is it overhyped or is there room for more? Well, just from the gut feeling, all the hype-news and huge numbers have been mixed up with quite some negative PR lately. There were and still are so many issues and topics related to developers having problems with Apple’s approval process that maybe we tend to forget that the iPhone is still sold by one operator exclusively (in most countries). Basically, it is common sense, that once the iPhone is sold by more than one operator per country, adoption of the device will probably explode. Additional data plans for the user and cheaper device prices will be the main drivers of this.
So, after thinking out loud about other platform in the last few posts, we wanted to make a case for the iPhone again: 2010 will probably be huge for Android. It will most definitely be huge for the iPhone. O2 has already given up it’s exclusivity (or rather was forced to do so) and with AT&T losing its exclusivity in 2010, additional operators will most likely be offering it in the United States as well (though this might not be that easy). If these markets follow in the footsteps of France, sales will double. Yes, double.
Of course, 2010 will be the year of mobile in general. But still, it is our believe that the iPhone will come out on top.
This blog entry reflects an opinion only, or maybe it is just an open question. If so, then our question would be: are there any mobile marketing experts out there? And if there are, how much of their knowledge will be viable in 6 months or a year from now? Furthermore, does anybody have more than a guess on what exactly will happen in the mobile industry in the next years?
The reason why we ask ourself this question is because we find articles on mobile marketing and app marketing on a daily basis, often written by so called experts. And we are not doubting that there certainly are experts. However, it sometimes seems overlooked how young this sector and industry still is. Calling some people “experts” and others “novices” implies that there is a huge gap between knowing and not knowing how to work the mobile channel to your advantage. And frankly, yes there probably is a gap and it is getting bigger every day. But in a time where new ad formats seem to be popping up on a regular basis and statistics on mobile usage and user behavior are barely reliable, the knowledge-advantage cannot be too big, right?
At apprupt we want to basically help you with distributing your app and doing so wisely. From the start we have been focusing on “learnings to be made” and talked about an industry that is just at the beginning of a huge mobile (and app) wave. Of course, this is an opinion too, though it refers to a relatively probable prediction. It is safe to say that no matter what you think the future of marketing your app will be, the time to learn and productively progress is now. Become an expert while you still have the (relatively easy) chance.
The “app vs. web” discussion is a rather complex one and we wouldn’t want to get into the topic of whether the future lies with native or web-based apps and traffic (or maybe both). Additionally, in the short term, this probably isn’t of relevance to app developers out there. However, it is apparent how few web sites out there have a mobile (just mobile, not even device specific) optimized version of their online site. Additionally, without naming anyone in specific, it sometimes seems some companies rather build an app-version of their website instead of creating a simple mobile site. It thus might appear as if mobile web traffic was not relevant for any kind of marketing.
Whatever the case, mobile websites are relatively easy to create and will in the short term probably see an increase in usage (if they are usable). And admob’s recent findings – although of course slightly biased – make clear that there is at least one correlation between apps and mobile web usage. The data implies that about 75% of all smartphone web traffic is made up by either Apple or Android devices and in fact 55% of overall traffic is made up by iPhone OS. The combination of smartphones (thus rich browsing capabilities) with unlimited data plans is probably a main reason for these numbers.
Most important for you: those devices leading in mobile web traffic also lead in app downloads, with the iPhone as a clear leader regarding any kind of key figure.
Why could this be relevant for your marketing? Well, the data implies that in the future mobile websites will be relevant for your app marketing not only because the devices that you build your apps for are the ones most widely used for smartphone web browsing (or web browsing overall) but also because you can target certain devices or device-specifics via mobile web browsers. On top of that, it means that wherever your target group might be browsing, they are highly prone and used to downloading apps.
Knowing where and when to market on the mobile web might be an invaluable knowledge for the success of your app performance and thus your app business.
Throughout the last weeks we have been blogging on app marketing and issues that come along with it, as well as topics related to making an app successful. Many of the topics we pick up and that are discussed in the blogosphere refer to recent events or problems and anticipated short-term developments of the App Store and the app industry in general. Although there are statistics and numbers out there, predicting market conditions, market size and market shares by OS, it becomes quite obvious that this still very young market has so many issues to solve in the here and now to be thinking about, let’s say, 2013.
Take for example the recent (or never ending) discussions on the app approval process and Apple’s treatment of developers. Cases of developers being and feeling mistreated and misguided, tales of unjustified rejections and approvals, intransparent processes and guidelines increasing delay in app (and update) approval time just seem to be adding and adding up. Of course, this is probably not something that Apple is taking lightly, as recent examples have shown. Apple even seems to be using “robots” now to test applications before approval – although this one could be rather negative than a step in the right direction, it shows efforts to automate and thus speed-up the approval process.
However, the discussions around solving the before mentioned issues appear to be solely about what to do now, like “increase transparency” or “clarify the rules for app approval”. Rarely do we see discussions about whether the system itself is sustainable in the very long term. That is fine, considering the massive success of the App Store as a centralized distribution platform, having revolutionized an entire industry (or even created it in the first place). Apple and the App Store principle have been a game changer for many market participants.
We do not want to argue about what makes sense and what does not. We love the App Store and think it is here to stay. But if you want to get your head around the long term perspective and some thought provoking arguments, we recommend you read this post. Additionally, this blog entry underlines the power of instant approval and the risk that Apple is running by creating a delay between creation and distribution of content. Enjoy reading them before getting back to the “here and now” of selling apps
As mentioned before (about a thousand times) and probably agreed by the bulk of you, PR is one of the most important channels for a developer in order to push sales. You’ll get an (hopefully) honest review on your product, relevant to your target group and in most cases you will get to the crowd you want to reach. We think it will stay that way in a way, at least for sites that are only about iPhone (or mobile) apps and reviews and niche or, let’s say, topic specific sites. Of course, with the mass of apps rushing into the App Store this environment is also becoming more competitive and increasingly, your network or networking skills will be advantageous when trying to get reviewed.
But what about the more “mainstream” tech blogs with a broader and larger but still very relevant target group for you? This article on Techcrunch got us thinking. You find one of these types of app reviews in one of the larger techblogs every other day (if not every day). This particular article reviews an iPhone karaoke app that is the result of a collaboration between Lady GaGa and iOKi. This is without doubt a smart idea (the T-Pain app should be prove enough), but the amount of smart, funny, extraordinary and shocking apps, sometimes flavored with a celebrity name, is just growing very quickly. At some point, this will either lead to the tech-blogs not taking an interest in them at all anymore or to simply review only the few truly extraordinary ones (whatever this means).
Either way, unless you’ve contracted a reknown celebrity to co-brand your new 3D-Shooter, chances are your chances to get some public attention via any kind of blog or website are getting slimmer and slimmer. The PR channel seems to have already become just like any other marketing channel: one that requires experience, network and hard work to really make use of for yourself. So, in our opinion – assuming that your product is well thought through and interesting to at least a few people – we believe it’s time to forget about mainstream PR (even mainstream tech PR) and start focusing on niche sites that have a similar target group to your app.
Sure, there is a lot more to it and we cannot help you with the PR part, but we can help you with finding out on what kind of target groups to focus your efforts on, by looking at which channels work better for you than others. And that’s knowledge that serves you in the long run.