Check out the story updating the progress we are making at W3i including a couple of nice quotes from me.
[Originally posted on ClickZ June 28th 2012]
Last year, Apple said it may restrict iPhone trackers used in iOS apps for ad targeting and tracking, namely unique device identifiers (UDIDs). In the August 2011 article, “Apple to Restrict iPhone Trackers Used in Ad Targeting” ClickZ examines this dilemma. Then TechCrunch subsequently reported in March 2012 that the App Store was rejecting apps by the App Store because they share UDIDs.
Eliminating access to UDID information has enormous impact on the industry as these are the common identifiers that app developers and networks use to tie user information together. For example, by collecting UDID on click and again on app installation, two disparate networks can trace the complete activity stream of a user. There were claims that the TechCrunch article is a false alarm but it caused developers and networks to seriously consider how they’ll address the eventual elimination of UDID information sharing.
Industry Response to Date
Key players in the industry are choosing to support a broader set of tracking identifiers including OpenUDID, a freely redistributable open source initiative, and encrypted MAC Addresses (SHA1 or MD5 hashed), a unique device identifier defined for hardware. This approach provides maximum compatibility with leading buyers and sellers of mobile advertising supporting strong mobile ad tracking across a broader reach.
Recently The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple plans to release a new way for mobile app developers to track who uses their software. The WSJ said the new tool apparently aims to better protect user privacy than existing approaches. At this point, Apple has not made any public announcements. VentureBeat’s Devindra Hardawar is predicting what the new tracking tool might look like.
- Opt-in tracking + toggle switch: Giving users the option to toggle tracking off and on.
- Stricter developer rules: Once rules are developed, enforcing the rules by rejecting apps and developers.
- Per-app tracking: The ability to tweak tracking by individual app.
What About Android Apps?
Identifying users is not quite as complicated with Android apps. There are two types of user IDs:
- Android ID, a Google-developed Android device identifier defined by the OS. Google publishes Android, but its actual support varies by device manufacturer.
- Android Device ID, an Android device identifier used on phone devices.
Most ad buyers and sellers choose to collect both identifiers. That’s because Android ID can be used on Wi-Fi-only devices due to incorrect manufacturer implementation so it is not accurate for all devices whereas Android Device ID can be used accurately for all phone devices but is not available on Wi-Fi-only devices.
The saga continues as the industry searches for the acceptable identifier. Stay tuned for an Apple announcement in the near future.
Every market leading platform, including iPhone, Facebook, Windows, and even browser toolbars, has at least one vendor who will sell a consumer app developer installs on a pay per download or pay per install basis.
Most of the pay per download networks utilize some method of cross promotion to drive additional installs while users are installing or interacting with another app.
So, how do these pay per download programs, like W3i’s Application Network for iOS apps, Windows apps and browser add-ons, compare in cost to other channels for app distribution such as search, display, affiliate, and OEM?
To answer this question, I had W3i’s Media Buyers examine past campaign performance across these difference channels and tallied up our effective cost per download by channel. The following bar graph is based upon the actual campaign performance which was achieved.
As you can see from W3i’s campaign results, pay per download programs can create a meaningful distribution channel while lowering an app developers costs by often as much as one third the cost of other alternatives!
Many app developers have tried search and affiliate programs to promote their app because they are more widely recognized tactics, but have failed to launch and optimize their apps for low cost pay per download networks.
Make sure you ask your pay per download program how they adhere to industry best practices, and what care they take in establishing a valued user experience. The engine that powers W3i’s Application Network, InstallIQ, has received the Truste Trusted Download certification and is white listed by Truste.
Whether you have an iPhone app, a Facebook game, a Windows application, or a browser toolbar, contact W3i to learn how you can launch and optimize your app using W3i’s pay per download program.
This article was written for app developers seeking downloads, however, if you have a website and would like to promote W3i’s applications, go to W3i’s affiliate sign-up form.
[Originally posted on GameZebo February 29th 2012]
As you may have heard by now, last week, Apple acquired Chomp – an app discovery engine. This strategic move will play a crucial role in Apple’s effort to renovate the App Store, particularly in search. TechCrunch reported the story first, stating, “investors should be very pleased with the outcome.” Since then, numerous other sources have estimated the deal to be in the ballpark of $50 million. After a record year in sales, Apple is sitting on about $100 billion in cash however they don’t generally put much emphasis on making acquisitions – this one is suspected to be a symbolic jab at Android. We’ll revisit that later. Other improvements we expect include; increased speed, interactivity, and a simpler design.
What does this mean for iOS users?
I think it’s fair to say that most of us with iOS devices have browsed the App Store at one point or another and failed to locate the app we were looking. As a result, we either left the store empty handed – so to speak, some resorted to Google for further research, and others probably skipped over to the Top 25 and found a different app. Regardless of the outcome a clear problem exists.
In all fairness, Apple isn’t a search company. They are certainly familiar with search but it’s not their forte and with the number of available apps exploding from 15,000 in January 2009, to over 575,000 today, they have been quite busy riding the wave but the time has come for an upgrade in the discovery process. This problem is not breaking news, in fact, in January 2009 when the App Store was merely a toddler, 300,000 users downloaded Chomp – indicating they wanted better results. Still today, if you search “arcade games” in the App Store your search will retrieve a list of games that either include “arcade” in their titles or descriptions. If you perform the same search in Chomp you will receive a completely different list of games that is much more relevant – for instance, actual arcade games!
What does this mean for game developers?
As a developer, you should feel giddy about this acquisition! Most app developers have been waiting (impatiently) for such an upgrade because this means their apps have a better chance of reaching the users who want to use them. For a long time app developers and app promoters alike have universally recommended that Apple improve its ranking algorithms and search results for discovering apps. Apple’s current systems are archaic relative to how content discovery works on other popular platforms, relying on velocity of downloads and verbatim keyword matches. With improved rankings, the true value of user acquisition can be accepted by Apple and given their proper placement. In attempt to temporarily fix the issue, Apple launched Genius – a feature that suggests apps to users based on their current apps and the apps used by others with similar tastes. Although the intention was good, Genius required extra work for the user and thereby never made a big enough splash for developers to pay attention.
Other Chomp headlines
Chomp and Verizon reached a deal last September in which Chomp agreed to power search for Verizon’s app store (Venture Beat). Although for Android, the motive behind Verizon’s deal was similar to Apple’s – they too wanted to improve app discovery for users! As of today, Chomp is still available as a standalone app on both iOS and Android, as well as the Verizon app store but their futures are in question. Traditionally after acquisitions, Apple has shut down services on competing platforms and implemented them exclusively on their own products. It isn’t official but I would expect them to do the same in this case, living up to Steve Jobs’ vow to “spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong.” In other words, they’re looking for ways to crush the Android.
The big question is will it work?
It’s certain that if you are an iOS user you can expect improved discovery in the near future. Android users may also get an upgrade but I wouldn’t expect the solution to be Chomp, even if you are on Verizon’s network. In my opinion, Chomp does not have any reason to fail unless it is isolated like Genius. To make this venture with Chomp successful Apple needs to avoid branding the Chomp experience as an added feature that requires extra learning. Instead, they should simply build the technology into the natural search process and alert users that the process has changed. From there better search results, rankings, and features will take care of the rest.
As app promoters we are very pleased to see Apple make this move. In September 2011, we published a study that proved incentivized traffic can be more valuable than organic – you can read the full report here. A better app discovery process will better reward promoters who have the ability to focus on quality as well as velocity, whereas today’s App Store emphasizes velocity.