iPhone App Advertising

by Brook Lenox on June 18, 2011

A lot has changed in the iPhone App Advertising space in the past couple years.

First, you didn’t have to advertise much. In the first few months the app store was open, just creating a great lite and paid app, and updating it often worked really well. There were relatively few apps being updated often, so that added exposure could give you a nice boost in downloads. After the first 3-6 months, I think that strategy got tougher and tougher. Many more apps were being added daily.

Second, you could get a small combination of marketing activities (PR, iPhone app review sites, forum posts, and Youtube reviewers) together and this could give you a nice lift in ranking to launch your initial app. I’d say this worked in the first 12 months after iTunes was launched.

After 12 months it became increasingly harder to market your app with out spending advertising dollars.

So where do you spend advertising dollars today to marketing iPhone apps?

You might try:

  • Ad Networks
  • Incentivized Download Companies
  • Promotional Companies

There are pros/cons to all of these. Let me know give you an overview of each and what I see as their pros and cons.

iPhone Ad Networks

Here are some things you should know about iPhone Ad Networks:

  • These iPhone ad networks promote your app in other iPhone apps
  • Examples of these ad networks include Admob, Millennial Media, and iAds
  • You pay these iPhone ad networks typically per click (~ $.05/click minimum for Admob and $.25/click for iAds)
  • They have the ability to track how many downloads they generate for you
  • You run a test with them, say $500-$1,000 to see if they can help you achieve your cost/download goal

iPhone Ad Network Pros

Here are what I see as the pros to working with iPhone Ad Networks:

  • Relatively easy to get set up
  • You can spend as little as $50 with Admob (but will need to spend more if you want a true test)
  • Most of the time (iAds not included) you don’t have a big $$$ commitment

iPhone Ad Network Cons

Here are what I see as the cons to working with iPhone Ad Networks:

  • You don’t always get the results you want*
  • Driving more downloads doesn’t mean you are driving revenue
  • Some of these ad networks, iAds for example, have minimum spend commitments

* Typically you spend in order to increase your downloads, which increases your rank, which increases your organic downloads. I’ve seen this work. Unfortunately, I also know of developers that have spent $75 and did not seen a single download.

Incentivized Download Companies

Here is how they work:

  • These companies promote your app in other apps (user is given the chance to download your app in exchange for something they want)
  • The user typically gets some reward (i.e. poker chips, coins, etc) for downloading your app
  • You pay these companies (Tapjoy, W3i, Flurry, etc) per download

Incentivized Download Company Pros

Important note: In April 2011 Apple began to reject apps that promoted incentivized downloads. So, although you can still work with these companies, this form of advertising looks like it’s going away.

Here are what I see as the pros to working with iPhone Ad Networks:

  • Also fairly easy to set up
  • You can increase your ranking quickly if you have $$$ to spend
  • Many of these companies can promote iPhone and Android apps

Incentivized Download Company Cons

Here are what I see as the cons to working with iPhone Ad Networks:

  • #1 con – looks like this type of advertising is going away
  • You are not really driving “real” users*
  • Since these users might not want your app, it could negatively impact your star ratings

* So if you don’t drive up your rank enough to get a lot more organic downloads, it’ll not be worth it. These people weren’t looking for your app. They wanted something else and had to download your app to get it.

Promotional Companies

I call them promotional companies because they have some unique way of promoting your app. The best of these offer something that consumers like and help developers drive ranking through a big spike in downloads.

The two that come instantly to mind are App Circle from Flurry and Free App a Day.

How Flurry’s App Circle works:

  • Flurry’s got relationships with thousands of developers
  • They’ve convinced those developers to put a “more apps” button within their apps
  • Flurry will promote you in those “more apps” sections on a cost per download basis

How Free App A Day works:

  • It is mostly for paid apps. You make your paid app free for a certain number of days
  • Free App a Day promotes that now free app to it’s thousands of users and you soar up the charts
  • I currently see several apps they’ve promoted in the pass few days (Chop Chop Soccer and Top Girl) in the top 100 free
  • In most cases you pay them a flat fee for promotion

Promotional Company Pros

Pros for promotional companies (say that 10x’s fast!):

  • You can get your app in front of thousands of users
  • You might see a nice spike in app ranking
  • You can pay per download in Flurry’s case, so you minimize your risk

Promotional Company Cons

Cons for promotional companies:

  • Like all these other solutions you have to have a significant budget to spend enough to make a difference over time
  • In the case of Free App a Day, you might create a nice spike, but it won’t last
  • Again in the case of Free App a Day, you might upset some users going from paid to free to paid again

So there are many different ways to spend marketing $$$ promoting your apps. Hopefully this gives you some direction in where to start. Best of luck!

Photo credit: U.S. National Archives, edkohler


App Marketing

by Brook Lenox on May 22, 2011

If you’ve read many of my app marketing articles, they are typically very how-to and practical.

This article is going to be a little more high level. More basic.

If you need the practical how to app marketing try these articles:

If you want a bit of high level info on app marketing, proceed!

Here are the questions I will try to answer in this post:

  • What is app marketing?
  • How is app marketing the same as online marketing?
  • How is app marketing different from online marketing?
  • What are the “keys” to app marketing?

What is App Marketing?

Marketing is:  “Everything you do to place your product or service in the hands of potential customers.”

So app marketing is the simply: “Everything you do to place your app in the hands of potential customers.”

Before you even start driving people to your app, marketing includes things like:

  • Creating an app that people not just like, but love
  • Picking a great app title and icon
  • Writing a great description that is concise, clear, and compelling
  • Having a clear plan on how you will monetize those users

After that app marketing might look like this:

  • Getting app review sites to review your fantastic creation
  • Creating a FB page for your app
  • Running ads on Admob or with Tapjoy, FreeAppADay, or others

How is App Marketing the same as Online Marketing?

In both cases:

  • You are trying to drive awareness, sales, and revenue
  • Some activities are more awareness (PR) and others are more pure sales driving (ads you pay for)
  • There is a need to track how you are doing

How is App Marketing different from Online Marketing?

App marketing is different in that:

  • It is currently dominated by the iTunes app store
  • Being fairly new, what works is constantly changing (just making a free app or getting promoted by Apple had a much bigger impact 2 years ago)

What are the “Keys” to App Marketing?

This is probably going to frustrate you.

It depends…

If you have a niche business app the keys might look like this:

  • Reach out to business blogs that target your customers
  • Start a specific LinkedIn group and/or Twitter account focused on the issues your app fixes
  • Find ways to collect emails within your app (without being annoying) and build your user base

If you have an app from a huge brand (i.e. Facebook):

  • You don’t have to do anything…just kidding!
  • Cross promote your app in the right places within your website
  • Make sure you listen to current users so that the app fits what they need (they might need something different in an app than online)

If you have a great app, but you are unknown:

  • Test admob, Tapjoy, and other ways to drive app downloads like FreeAppADay to see if by driving a better rank you drive enough more downloads to make it worth your while
  • Make sure you build in reasons for users to come back again and again and have ways to contact them
  • Do lots of grass roots activities (contact app reviewers, bloggers, etc) if you have time

So in the end, the “key” is to apply some of the marketing concepts above to your particular app.

Hope you understand just a bit more about app marketing!

Best of luck!

Photo credit: Valerie Everett, dougbelshaw


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Tweet In my previous post, I gave an overview of Cost per Install Marketing (CPI).  If you’re new to CPI marketing, that should give you some good background. Now let’s look at several companies in the cost per install space: Tapjoy Flurry TapZilla Tapjoy was started in 2009 and was acquired by Offerpal Media in 2010. […]

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Cost per Install App Marketing

February 12, 2011

Tweet I’ve talked a lot about the various ways to market iPhone apps. Every day there seems to be more. In this post, let’s look at Cost per Install (CPI) marketing, so you can see if it could help you. What is Cost per Install (CPI)? It’s what it sounds like. You only pay when someone installs […]

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Tweet Ever wonder if you’ve made “big” SEO (search engine optimization) errors on your website? If left unfixed, these mistakes can keep your website from ever being found by people wanting your stuff! If you’re as busy as I am, you might find a simple checklist helpful. Here is a quick 7 point SEO checklist to help you make […]

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