Monthly Archives: June 2015

The App Store’s Another Fight Against User Acquisition Black-Hat Strategies

 

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Apple recently made a number of changes to the way it features and organizes mobile apps in the iTunes App Store particularly aimed at the mobile game community.

 

This created significant buzz among industry insiders. Opinions from industry insiders, such as Oliver Kern, predict the close end of burst campaigns like Top 25, Top 5, etc. Is it an attempt for Apple to kill User Acquisition by removing burst campaigns or just a normal cleaning session from the App Store?

 

Apple has removed the possibility for games to surface among the featuring slots of a category page based only on data. Lists such as New, What’s Hot and All iPhone (Free & Paid) were changed by featured lists curated by Apple’s editorial team rather than algorithms in the same fashion as the main page.

 

These pages now have their own banner art at the top to better highlight the best new games within those sections. Within each subcategory page, consumers can browse editorial collections including Best New Games, All Time Greats, etc. Top charts such as Top Paid, Top Free and Top Grossing are still available.

 

This significant update is showing that Apple is moving from algorithmically generated sections increasing its focus on editorial content. This means that a fast rise in installs generated by burst campaigns or other user acquisition techniques will no longer automatically land your game on one of the featured categories as it would have in the past. If Apple staff judges the quality or relevance of your game to be lacking, based on their undisclosed internal list of criteria, your game will be weeded out of the selection no matter how many times it was downloaded today.

 

Essentially burst campaigns still work in the sense that their primary objective had been reaching Top charts. This is where burst campaigns can be sustained and scaled as an ingredient in a good marketing mix. What has disappeared is only the one-off effect of maybe getting featured in a category, which should always have been a secondary target given that there is a bit of luck involved. More importantly because this added bonus element has little impact on a sound, long-tail plan.

 

A burst campaign consists of acquiring cheap and low-quality users often from incentivized traffic sources in sufficient amounts within a short time frame (less than a day) so that the app will rise up on the App Store charts. When surfacing in the Top 10 or reaching the top of a category, the app will see an organic uplift that offsets the cost of buying poor traffic.

 

The best detailed resource about how such burst campaigns are executed in the app world is included in Eric Seufert’s “Trampoline Launch” slide deck. Although he is quoting that, there is no need for User Acquisition at all. “I don’t need to run mobile user acquisition. If I make a great game, it will grow on its own”. As a technique, User Acquisition has grown due to persistently rising competition, especially in the gaming category where the number of certain clones can reach hundreds. When Apple is clearly aiming to increase the quality of content, games and apps distributed on the App Store, cleaning out clones and artificially boosted apps, the User Acquisition technique will clearly decline.

 

Why is it only happening right now? Apple is searching to maintain its loyal end users. With more than 1 million apps on board it becomes a complex issue for end users to discern a worthy app from a clone app. Users have to dig through over dozens of referrals, review sites and social pages to gather user feedback in order to find the right app solving a particular issue. The App Store changed the algorithm to clear the ground from “weeds” and increase potential for high-quality apps to prosper.

 

It’s also a chance for smaller mobile app development companies publishing high-quality content to get noticed by Apple rather than compete in terms of budgets on burst campaigns with bigger publishers, which would be winners by default.

 

Here at ComboApp we are fully welcoming the fact that Apple is cleaning out “black hat techniques” and transitioning to transparency, measurability, scalability and productivity for developers while leaving behind costly and inefficient burst campaigns. This policy update is showcasing market development and maturity, which could not please us more.

 

The decline in using burst campaigns would probably be compensated by the growing demand for PR and Community building tools. ASO tools, including an icon, app description and keywords optimization, would probably attract more attention of developers. High quality design of promo screenshots, video previews media-kits and press releases would be the right assets to put more efforts on in order to get a featured position on the App Store.

 

The ComboApp team will help you to liaise effectively with the right media outlets and get you the right connections. The most important thing, however, is to build an app that is top quality. It doesn’t matter how much buzz there is or who you know at Apple, if your app is not an efficient, well-designed product that serves a genuine purpose it won’t get featured. If your startup has something that consumers will want or need and if you have designed it with love and care, then you stand a better chance of being recognized.

 

Oles Dzyub,

Branded Content Manager at ComboApp

 

Apple’s WWDC 2015 – The Keynote

 


WWDC is the world’s largest gathering of Apple developers, alpha geeks and experts of excellence. This year the WWDC was filled with announcements about incremental upgrades and innovations to Mac OS X and iOS.

 

As for us, mobile is playing a central role in this and we would like to focus your attention on all improvements that should make iOS developers and Apple users very happy. At the same time, constant changes have the potential to affect mobile marketers across the world. What are the biggest announcements this year on WWDC? Below is the keynote.

 

 

iOS 9 becomes more user friendly?

According to www.macrumors.com, Apple’s next major iOS update is coming in the fall of 2015. The beta version is to be launched in July and there are plenty of iOS features for iPad and iPhone users to look forward to.

 

While iOS 9 is not filled with innovative and flashy new features, it provides the polished ones represented in the previous version, which is welcomed from both the user and marketer perspective. With the new update Apple’s team is striving to bring excellence into mobile ecosystem and make iOS 9 useful for both developers and for users. iOS 9 addresses very important user related issues such as improvement of battery life and user data protection.

 

Swift 2 becomes open

Swift was introduced at WWDC in 2014. Swift is a multi-paradigm, compiled programming language created by Apple for iOS development. During this year Swift raised several discussions on its pros and cons for developers. Monday’s biggest news for developers is that Apple’s 1 year old programming language is now ripe for developers to create plug-ins, middleware, widgets and more.

 

What does this really mean? Cross platform. With some clever middleware to be defined, developers could theoretically write code once and extend projects to multiple mobile platforms including Android. Now that it’s open source, Swift 2 may quickly become a viable means to extend our iOS apps to Android and Windows.

 

What is Apple’s interest in making it open source? The more developers using Swift as the base programming language for mobile, the more apps, by default, will begin on the iOS platform.

 

Improved Siri and Spotlight

Though Apple has had a long established lead in revenue generation over its major rivals, always putting its innovative products ahead to anticipate customer expectations, there are a few who will disagree that Google is an indisputable winner in the race when it comes to search. Google is always searching to satisfy its users by providing them the access to its knowledge base.

 

While neither platform is perfect for filtering through content, Google’s greater reach beyond the Play Store into the wider world of search has given it extensive expertise in helping users reach the right content.

 

This year WWDC suggests that Apple is seriously coming into play. The introduction of deep linking into Spotlight should help users find the right content within the right apps. The introduction of Siri Proactive should help guide users at relative moments. The introduction of transit directions in Maps suggests Apple understands that users need deeper search options.

 

With Google Now, app install ads in Google itself and a Google Play equivalent of adwords, Apple still needs to convince marketers on the leadership in this search fight.

 

iPad multitasking app usage

Multitasking in iOS 9 will make using new models of the iPad much more productive. There’s a slide over mode that allows you to quickly switch between two apps. A split screen function enables you to show two apps side by side. A picture-in-picture option makes it possible to display and resize a video screen over another app that’s running. This means that users who may have previously left an app to open another one can, on the iPad at least, keep both open. It’s way too soon to conclude how mobile marketers can benefit from this feature, but it could provide additional data in which apps are used in parallel and create considerations for partnerships between app owners or advertisers. Additionally, iPad focused developers can use the multitasking as the key to extending the functionality of their apps having user data under hand.

 

Apple Music

Finally, Apple unveiled their music streaming service for the first time called Apple Music. As expected it could have a significant effect on the music streaming landscape. For $9.99 a month (or $14.99 per month for a multi user plan), users will get access to unlimited music, with the possibility to create curated playlists, communicate with their favorite artists and listen to a new radio station called “Beats1”.

 

The reason why Apple Music is likely to have such an impact is the size and power of Apple. Although Spotify has 15 million paid subscribers and Pandora has around 4.5 million paid subscribers, Apple’s outdated iTunes has 800 million. If they can convert even 5% of that base to paid Apple Music subscribers, they’ll be able to dominate the market.

 

Though Apple’s approach to playlist curation and artist relations will please music industry players, the company’s prudent policy towards advertisers means that most marketers will be unlikely to leverage the potential growth of the music service.

 

Wrap up

With the iOS 9, Apple is clearly aiming to consolidate the mobile app marketing ecosystem and build a loyal community of developers and marketers around it. Of course, they’re striving to be cross-platform, open sourced, making their own apps to take a part from already established industry players. Would this cause market monopolization? Probably not – at least not right now. Will the iOS 9 create new challenges for developers and make leading marketers use all of their creativity and resources in solving their daily tasks? Of course it will. Would the updated iOS version make users more loyal to Apple devices and apps? Yes, there is potential.

 

Oles Dzyub,
Branded Content Manager at ComboApp

Sleep Disorder Treatment Apps with Melissa Lim, MobileSleepDoc app CEO and Managing Partner

 

Wearables Change Our Lives

This week we feature a special guest, Melissa Lim, the MobileSleepDoc app CEO and Managing Partner. We’re focusing on the app history, marketing challenges Melissa faced when the app was released on a market and how mobile apps help people with a sleep disorder in general.

 

We also touch upon advantages and disadvantages mobile apps have, compared with other means of a sleep disorder treatment and what possible future lays ahead for mobile as the way to treat sleep problems.

 

Melissa is a board-certified sleep specialist, entrepreneur, and medical technology executive, who created the first version of MobileSleepDoc Pro mobile app in 2012, after treating hundreds of her own patients and realizing there were thousands more suffering from poor sleep who needed greater access to care and knowledge about their sleep problems. She attended Ohio State University College of Medicine and completed her fellowship training at Johns Hopkins and the University of California, San Francisco. She founded MobileSleepDoc, LLC which is now owned by Somnology, Inc. Dr. Lim in the Chief Medical Officer of Somnology, Inc. and runs a busy private practice in Redwood City, CA, in the the heart of Silicon Valley.

 

Art Dogtiev,
Head of Branded Content

Wearables Change Our Lives

 

Wearables Change Our Lives

Wearables – a buzz word that has become a part of our everyday jargon but what difference does it really make in people’s lives?

 

The overarching function of all wearables is to capture, transmit and display information. Wearables are a part of the Internet of Things, the technological platform that embeds electronics into our houses, clothing and in places we can’t even image yet. Think of it as the next evolutional step following personal computers and smartphones.

 

 

 

According to the IDC, the total number of wearable devices in Q1, 2015 reached 11,4 million. The majority of these devices include activity tracking bands and smartwatches while smart clothing will soon become mainstream.

 

Fitness Bands

IDC reports that of all of the fitness band companies, FitBit and Xiaomi hold the crowns. FitBit has shipped 3.9 million devices and Xiaomi has shipped 2.8 million Mi Band units in Q1, 2015. It’s no accident that fitness bands dominate the wearable market. The demand for capturing and storing data related to health is outrageous. You can open any recent World Health Organization report to see the magnitude of health problems that exist today and the level of demand for health trackers will then make sense. Activity trackers give people a way to measure their efforts of becoming or staying healthy.

 

These devices alone cannot make major health changes overnight but they do work for people who are interested in living a healthier lifestyle and need more gear to support it. I’m not expecting fitness bands to become as mainstream as smartphones because being healthy is a personal choice that not everyone is interested in pursuing.

 

The total number of companies that produce activity trackers is more than 20 and that number keeps growing. In order for companies to join the activity tracker market, they have to work with medical institution(s) on a regional level. Major players in this market have too much head time for small companies to be able to get their share of the global market.

 

In 2012, the Fitbit One model set the standard for activity trackers. It was a unique duo of hardware to capture data and a mobile app (iOS, Android or both) to store, proceed and display data. Fitbit is getting ready to go public, which shows the company’s confidence in its future. This trend triggered the development of many iOS and Android apps to utilize smartphone tracking capabilities to capture health related data.

 

Smartwatches

The idea of a smartwatch isn’t really new, the first digital watch was designed back in 1972. Though it took 40 years for Pebble to bring the smartwatch on the market. In order for the smartwatch to be recognized by large amounts of people, e-ink technology brought both ability to expand electronic watch capabilities and guaranteed a long battery life.

 

Last year 6.8M smartwatches were sold at an average price of $189. The total revenue generated by all companies that sold these smartwatch units was $1.29 million, which is up from $711k back in 2013. Samsung was at the top of the charts with 1.2 million units shipped (we don’t know how many units were sold, which is different from being shipped). Pebble came in second with 700k smartwatches sold last year. Motorola, LG and smaller companies then followed but didn’t sell a significant number of units.

 

The overall trend I can see is that apart from Apple, Samsung, Motorola and LG, Pebble is the only big player that is focused entirely on a smartwatch. This goes to show that companies see these new devices as an extension of their smartphone businesses. This is a cautious approach because companies simply don’t know the real demand for smartwatches.

 

How does a smartwatch change lives? The jury is still out. A smartwatch was brought to the market at a time when the young generation of consumers simply didn’t wear watches. All companies that have brought smartwatches on the market, including Apple, have to solve the major issue of how to make a smartwatch relevant for the young generation. Among other companies that sell smartwatches, Apple has the biggest and most loyal consumer base and that is something a company can’t build overnight in order to compete.

 

Smart Clothing

Though this type of wearable is in its inception stage, it’s one way for clothing companies to distance themselves from their competitors and bring new features to clothing. We see projects like Project Jacquard which is essentially about making a fabric conductive and to become a tablet computer touchscreen analog. Google has already teamed up with San Francisco-based denim label Levi to create a pair of jeans that can actually warn you when you’ve gained some weight. This is only the first application. Smart clothing can be a remote control to various devices in your home as well as in public places.

 

Smart Glasses

The following quote from Wikipedia sums up the current state of the smart glasses market pretty well:

On January 15, 2015, Google announced that it would stop producing the Google Glass prototype but remained committed to the development of the product. According to Google, Project Glass was ready to “graduate” from Google Labs, the experimental phase of the project

The story of Google Glass, one the most ambitious wearable projects, is a perfect example of what may go wrong with wearables and/or technology. With Google Glass there were two factors stopping it from taking off. People weren’t comfortable (safety wise) and the high price point. We don’t see smart glasses yet from other companies on the market because of the Google Glass failure. Until technology allows us to make smart glasses undistinguishable from regular glasses, this technology most likely won’t take off.

 

Privacy Concerns

Data collection can be hacked and used by criminals. Since data can be collected via wearables, it will raise a certain level of fear on the consumer side. Companies that will consider privacy concerns and put a proper strategy in place will have an advantage over their competitors.

 

Bottom Line

The IDC forecast for wearables growth promises to reach 45.7 million units shipped by the end of 2015 and 126.1 million units by 2019. Personal electronics, healthcare appliances and apparel have already taken off. Given how different verticals are connected, it’s too early to predict what other verticals will join the list but there will be more.

 

Art Dogtiev,
Head of Branded Content

Mobile Game Analytics with Allison Bilas, VP of Product at GameAnalytics

 

Mobile Game Analytics with Allison Bilas, VP of Product at GameAnalytics

App user behavior analysis it’s not an easy task, but when it comes to mobile game user behavior it’s when things become really complicated! There are only a few companies on the market that tackle this hard task and empower game developers with the right toolbox.

 

This week I’m talking to Allison from GameAnalytics and we’re covering the range of questions that the company needs to address to provide such complex service. We also touch upon the recent iTunes App Store update.

 

 

Allison is the VP of Product at GameAnalytics where she leads their efforts in building the best analytics tool for game developers of all sizes. She has over 10 years of data and consumer research experience, including building PopCap’s game analytics team from scratch and assisting on hit titles Bejeweled Blitz and Plants vs. Zombies 2, amongst others. Her favorite games are Animal Crossing and Luminez. She also really likes staplers.

 

Art Dogtiev,
Head of Branded Content.

GoWide Attends Israel Mobile Summit 2015

 

Does Your Brand Need an App?

ComboApp’s traffic sub-division GoWide team is heading to the Israel Mobile Summit 2015 in Tel Aviv! Meet Stanislav Makeev, Head of Business Development, DSP and Dmitry Bogdanov, Head of Business Development, GoWide Affiliate. We have no doubts that this is going to be a fully-packed event filled with presentations, meetings, handshakes and business card exchanges. If you are interested in meeting our team, get in touch with us directly via email and set up a meeting in advance.

 

This year is the summit’s 5th anniversary. It’s one of the leading events in the mobile world!

 

Quote:

The Israel Mobile Summit is the premier annual mobile event in Israel and is the greatest mobile show in town! A full day event that is a true celebration of the Israeli mobile industry with over 1,200 of the best and brightest mobile-minded individuals!

 

See you at the event!

 

GoWide Team.

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