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Advertising with appsfire

As a quick follow up to our experience with iAd, I wanted to do a quick post about our experience promoting one of our apps with appsfire‘s appstream app. I connected with the awesome folks over at appsfire as a result of the attention our iAd post received, and agreed to run a campaign on their advertising platform to see how the results might compare.

apppstream is an app discovery tool for the iPad that feeds off of the appsfire system to help you find apps that might interest you. Their advertising slot is along the right margin of the app and prompts the user with a “You may also like…” message and a brief description of the app. We ran an ad for our My Recipe Book app on their platform for 9 days and had the following results.

  • 120k impressions
  • 1346 clicks (1.12% click through)
  • 141 purchases (10.48% conversion rate)

I would attribute this much higher conversion rate to the fact that the advertisements are showing within an app who’s purpose is finding new apps. So the fit is really natural. I would definitely recommend this platform for anyone looking to get a little more exposure on the iPad. Plus, the people I worked with there were amazingly responsive and generally great to work with. [More Info about appsfire]

Posted by on Sep 22, 2010

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iAd for Developers

For those with a short attention span.

Advertising for apps within the App Store, even on the new iAd for Developers platform, is likely ineffective for driving sales.

From August 19 through August 25 I ran a campaign on the newly released iAd for Developers platform for our Audiobooks Premium app. The results were, to say the least, disappointing. For all the promise of selling your apps directly within an advertisement, it appears that so far this is not a viable way to drive traffic and create an economically sustainable promotion. For $1,251.75, my campaign generated a total of 84 downloads, thus a Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) of ~$15. For a $0.99 app, those economics just can’t work out.

For the intelligent reader who wants the details.

This campaign is the last in a series of trials with just about every mobile advertising platform to try and find an edge in promoting our apps. The goal is to find an economically viable way to introduce our apps to new customers, who might not find them through the typical Top Charts within the App Store. When iAd for Developers was announced I was really curious if Apple had finally cracked the puzzle of discoverability with a way to put our apps directly in front of users and provide a seamless way to buy them. Here is my experience for all the developers out there who are considering this for themselves.

The Process

The iAd for Developers program is pretty straightforward. You just go to the launch page for the program and submit your contact information. A day later you’ll get an email from someone at Apple asking you to setup the paperwork and provide the ‘creative’ (i.e. the banner image for the campaign). You need to provide them with a portrait and landscape image formatted for a standard and retina display. The pricing for a campaign is based on a Cost Per Click (CPC) of $0.25.

Given that the cost for the campaign is entirely based on clicks, we designed our banner to try and provide the audience with all the basic information they need to understand what Audiobooks is and whether they might be interested in purchasing it. This lead to a more textual treatment than a graphical one. Since we don’t pay for impressions we only wanted truly interested people clicking on the advertisement. Our final ad looked like this:



From here you give the Apple Reps a budget and say GO. They set you up with a reporting website with real-time stats to monitor and track. The two Apple Reps I worked with were incredibly helpful and professional. While I can’t say the campaign itself went well, I can say that the actual experience of running the campaign was very well done. Compared with my experiences at AdMob and Flurry, I really appreciated this level of professionalism and attention to detail.

The Target

We chose our most successful application, Audiobooks, to be the target of the campaign. I want to eliminate any doubt that the campaign’s performance was lackluster because the app it targeted wasn’t compelling. Our audiobooks app suite has generated well over 1.6 million downloads since it was launched and has consistently been in the Top 10 Book apps for its lifetime. The app provides the user with easy access to well over 3,500 public domain audiobooks as well as a few hundred modern titles available for In-App Purchase. While it may not be an Angry Birds, it is nevertheless a highly popular app with a well established user base.

The Results

The campaign began running the evening of Thursday, August 19. The initial day of data wasn’t especially promising:

Day Spend Impressions Clicks CTR Downloads CPA
8/19 $255.00 400,991 1,020 0.25% 19 $13.42


From my conversations with the iAd Reps this was somewhat to be expected. They use a targeting system that requires a bit of data before it is able to predict with some accuracy who is a likely ‘converting’ impression. We then let the campaign run over the weekend (typically our best performing days of the week). The results didn’t really improve.

Day Spend Impressions Clicks CTR Downloads CPA
8/20 $258.25 449,338 1,033 0.23% 17 $15.19
8/21 $253.73 422,354 1,015 0.24% 15 $16.92
8/22 $254.00 413,144 1,016 0.25% 18 $14.11


At this point I was about ready to pull the plug on the whole thing but was convinced by the Apple Reps to give it a couple more days at a lower daily budget to see if their targeting algorithms could improve things with a few more days of data. That didn’t really go well.

Day Spend Impressions Clicks CTR Downloads CPA
8/23 $128.50 229,958 514 0.20% 9 $14.28
8/24 $102.25 137,144 409 0.30% 6 $17.04


At this point we pulled the plug, there really wasn’t any indication that this campaign would be heading to a successful place with more time. So in summary the results were:

Day Spend Impressions Clicks CTR Downloads CPA
8/19 $255.00 400,991 1,020 0.25% 19 $13.42
8/20 $258.25 449,338 1,033 0.23% 17 $15.19
8/21 $253.73 422,354 1,015 0.24% 15 $16.92
8/22 $254.00 413,144 1,016 0.25% 18 $14.11
8/23 $128.50 229,958 514 0.20% 9 $14.28
8/24 $102.25 137,144 409 0.30% 6 $17.04
Total: $1,251.75 2,052,929 5,007 0.24% 84 $14.90


A Quick Comparison.

Out of curiosity I decided it would be interesting to try out the same campaign banner on AdMob’s network to see how it compared with the performance of iAd. So I took $75 and the exact same banner image and did a quick blast campaign there. AdMob can’t do the nice integrated download conversion tracking that Apple can, but the impression/click data is nevertheless interesting.

Impressions Clicks CTR Cost CPC
145,093 1,944 1.34% $77.76 $0.04

AdMob is 6.25X cheaper than iAd, and surprisingly had a CTR that was 5.5X better. This surprised me given all the marketing about how Apple believed that their putting an iAd badge on their advertisements would induce a level of trust and excitement with users.

My Thoughts

The disappointing results of the campaign don’t surprise me. I have tried just about every advertising platform around and have generally found none of them to be demonstrably effective. I think that this stems from the fundamentals of why people buy apps. I believe most people buy apps based on receiving a recommendation, either directly from word-of-mouth or indirectly by their position in the Charts. There is no way to realistically replace either of these recommendation systems by throwing money at the problem. I was willing to try out iAd because it did one thing that no other platform can offer – a seamless purchase experience. The user never leaves the current app to complete the purchase, so the user experience is about as good as you get. However, I think that Apple has found itself falling foul of exactly the same problems they called out when the unveiled iAd. The ads lack engagement and emotion. Clicking on the banner just shows you a simulated App Store page. There is nothing to draw the user in. I think that this avenue might have some success if they allowed developers to create more engaging advertisements that can really showcase the app and its features, including videos, HTML5 mockups and demos.

The expense of this experiment is at least cushioned by knowing that 60% of the price went straight into the pockets of my fellow developers, so I guess I just made a $751.05 donation to the beer funds of my peers. Drink Up!

Written by David Smith. David is the Founder and Owner of Cross Forward Consulting. An App Store oriented company that makes a sustainable income from apps and app consulting.

Posted by on Aug 25, 2010

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My Recipe Book

My Recipe Book – your Recipes, finally organized.  Plus 1000s more for free was designed by 2 moms who love to cook and saw the potential to use the iPad as a great place to organize and store favorite recipes passed down from family, copied from friends, torn out of magazines, and found online.  We also love the full-page view that allows you to see the whole recipe on one page when you’re actually in the kitchen cooking.

We love your feedback on new features & ways to make the interface better.

Great features included in My Recipe Book:

  • SORT recipes by keyword, category, ready time, or dietary restriction
  • GROCERY list to make sure you have all ingredients
  • NOTES about each recipe
  • DOUBLE or halve recipes as needed
  • KITCHEN TIMER built in
  • PHOTOS can be added for each dish
  • CUSTOMIZE your categories & dietary restrictions
  • SURPRISE ME decides what to make for you
  • FAVORITES button © for quick reference
  • QUEUE button to add recipes you want to try
  • FONT SIZE selector tool
  • SHARE recipes with friends via email
  • ADD recipes directly into the iPad
  • SEARCH for recipes on popular recipe sites and save to My Recipe Book
  • NO INTERNET connection needed to view recipes saved in the app
  • CONVERSION tools including temperature, weights and measures, and metric to imperial

Whether you’re a busy mom looking for a great go-to app to get dinner on the table, a gourmet chef who wants to look for a recipe to use up the rest of your truffles, or you typically only cook for one or two, and need to halve all your recipes, this app is for you.

Posted by on Jul 24, 2010