Archive for February, 2012

When is in-app advertising ok?

A popular sports-app provider this week (we won’t name who) released a new version of their app in readiness for the upcoming football season in Australia. In previous years, this app and its associated website have been one of the more popular among sports fans Australia-wide. However, in less than 7 days, this app has earned them a substantial amount of negative reaction and press. Why?

Well, it all comes down to the idea of advertising. The app provider in this case is charging $2.99 for the app on both the Apple App Store and Android Market, which in terms of sports apps is quite a high amount. But the sticking point is that the app, even though it is a paid app, still contains a considerable amount of advertising. Now, for free apps, it’s easy to understand why there may be advertising in the app. The fact that the app developer is taking no revenue for each sale of the app means that they have to offset that loss by making earnings from advertising revenue. And, more often than not for a free app, users are quite understanding of that, and are prepared to suffer the tradeoff of advertising for a free app.

So, how could this company have approached the idea of in-app advertising differently?

  1. Offer a free app with less features and a few ads, as well as a full feature paid/premium app with no ads, and allow the user to choose which app they want
    This is the approach that many companies take. If you offer a free app, which the user can simply download with no hassles from the App Store or Android Market, then it gives the user the opportunity to try it out first before purchasing the premium app. That way, if they like the free app, but want the fully featured app without any ads, they can simply upgrade for $2.99. The app is still earning advertising revenue from everyone who uses the free app, and you are also earning sales revenue from those who want to upgrade to the premium version.
  2. Offer the paid app for $2.99 without ads
    The idea of advertising in apps is that it is there to offset the loss you are taking by offering an app for free. If you are charging for an app, you are essentially saying that this is the amount we think is right to charge, and the amount that will allow us to be profitable from the app. The only form of advertising that should even be considered in a paid app is cross-promotional advertising for other apps by the same developer, and even then it should be unobtrusive and in no way ‘in your face’.
  3. Offer the paid app for $3.99 instead
    Instead of trying to make up a piece of the app revenue pie with advertising, just make the app slightly more expensive. Users are going to be far happier to pay the extra dollar for the app without advertising, than they would be to put up with advertising in a paid app.
  4. Offer the app for free with advertising
    The fact remains that where there are two similar apps, and one of the two is offered for free, that the free app is going to garner a substantially larger amount of downloads than the paid one. Therefore, if the developer in question is so keen on having advertising in the app, offer the app for free. Why? Because by offering the app for free it will be downloaded more, and your advertising in the app will reap more impressions, more clicks and more revenue, possibly offsetting the loss taken by offering the app for free.

As you can see, there is no point 5 to the above list. No ‘paid app plus advertising’ option to choose. And that’s why the app in question, in less than 7 days, has been rated 52 times on the App Store, with 39 of those ratings being 2 stars or below. And we won’t even start on what the feedback on the app looks like…

The importance of an ‘app’ press release

One of the most crucial stages, in our opinion, when it comes to promoting your new app or software is the writing of a press release. Commonly the job of a public relations or marketing expert, the press release is, in essence, simply a pro-forma article with details of the app, its features, a few quotes from you or your customers, some links to media files members of the press can use and contact details for you or your media officer. Typically for small businesses however, you’re not going to have a PR person or marketing specialist on staff. That’s not to say that issuing a press release is therefore out of reach – it isn’t. In fact, there are a few services and steps that app and software developers can take advantage of that make writing and issuing a press release relatively simple.

The first step is to write up your press release and issue it to a PR distribution channel.¬†This is surprisingly the easiest step in getting your press release out there. Our first port of call when releasing our own apps is PrMac is a free service for app and OS X developers that will distribute your press release to over 700 media outlets free of charge. They also offer a bunch of paid services, like video releases and press release writing. PrMac work on a 3 day turnaround from submission to publication, so if you know when you’re going to be launching your app, make sure you’re on top of your press release a few days before your app is launched.

From here, your press release will begin to get distributed to those media outlets, listed on the prMac section pages and also indexed and spidered by search engines, news aggregators and the like. This means that your press release is now in the ether, and from here it’s like you’ve laid your net in the water and you’re waiting for the fish to swim inside.

Now, that isn’t to say your job is done and you can just sit back and wait.¬†Distributing the press release through a service like prMac is fine, but you need to target it more specifically as well. For instance, if your app is aimed at kids, then send the release to local and national kids magazines, the kids section in your local newspaper, kid-specific app review website, and kids blogs. Usually, most local and national newspapers, through their website, have a press release or newswire contact that you can send your press release to. This may not result in your story being picked up, but there is no harm in trying.

If you’re releasing an app for iOS, keep in mind that for each version of the app you release you have 50 promo codes you can send out to press, bloggers and reviewers so they can download and test your app without having to pay for it. This can be a useful addendum to your press release, and may be the difference between the person you’ve sent it to to deleting the email or downloading the app and trying it out.

The other positive about¬†writing a press release is that it makes you think about exactly what it is your app does differently or better than the competition, as well as what the most crucial and important features are. This can come in handy when answering calls or emails from interested press outlets, websites or bloggers. It can also be useful in putting together a promotional website for your app, as your screenshots and feature lists are already ‘ready to go’.

So, when you’re in the final stages of testing and distributing your app or software, make sure you remember to take the time to sit down, draft, write and publish a press release, as it is a crucial piece of the promotional jigsaw.

Ultimate A-League Plus coming soon

One of our businesses, Ultimate A-League, are in the process of releasing a brand new iteration of their popular app; named Ultimate A-League Plus. Here’s a small teaser video for you below to show you some of the new stuff, so check it out and let us know what you think…

[Source: Ultimate A-League Blog]

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