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Guest Article: Why clicks for your apps are a tricky media buy

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Guest Article: Why clicks for your apps are a tricky media buy

When app developers make applications, their clear intention is to get as many users as they can to use the app. The most engaging apps in the world will fail if their audience doesn’t know it exists. Naturally, app marketing entails a lot of promotions; getting written about, getting reviewed. But PR practices can only get the app so far and then the only option that remains for app developers is advertising. There were two identified ways that apps can advertise to their target audiences.

1. Pay-per-click Media: Media buyers buy clicks from ad networks, send people to a page where the application is hosted. Have them download it if they like the app.
2. Pay-per-download Media: Media buyers buy downloads from App Stores directly.

The marked difference between the two is obvious. When buying clicks, the onus of conversions lies entirely on the ad, the landing page and the app itself, which lands up becoming very expensive, when measured per download. Further, the download abandonment rate is higher if the banner leads to a download directly. A user not expecting download, will not invest in fulfilling the download. Additionally, on blind networks where one cannot know where the app’s ad is showing up, developers might be courting the wrong quality of users.

When buying downloads from app stores, developers are paying directly for the result i.e. a download. A large portion of the risk of media consumption is taken over by the app store. App stores (at least some) believe that if a customer is looking for an app either for a specific use or for general consumption, their propensity to download an app and actually use it increases. And that benefit an app store packages in a slightly higher, but surer and better quality download from a willing user.

Apples to apples, for application developers, buying downloads from app stores is a whole lot cheaper and delivers better returns than buying clicks from networks

Not all app stores allow this. Platform app stores like Android Market Place or Nokia Ovi have no concept of advertising. Apps get featured based on ratings, feedback and downloads. Which is quite “chicken and egg” i.e. in order to get downloads, you must already have downloads. Operator app stores lean more towards high revenue and high engagement apps. Independent app stores and free app stores like Mobango however have a clear goal. Help developers gain the visibility they need by allowing them to consume high visibility positions across the store to inform users about their application. In most cases, such app stores have sophisticated targeting that allows you to select the geography, platforms and devices to further reduce media wastage.

While there are ways to build audiences purely with PR and word-of-mouth, your app has to either be revolutionarily brilliant in its function or should deliver real value to a consumer. Every app isn’t a blockbuster, however, with efficient media buying, a large audience can be created for your app in a short period of time, get it the visibility, usage and recognition it deserves.

(Alap Ghosh is the Head of Sales at Mobango, a free app store.)

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