Mobile App Burst Campaigns – a comparative analysis of service providers
If you read our recent item on burst campaigns, you now know the good, bad and ugly about this important technique. You also understand exactly what you need to consider before pulling a yay or nay on it. But if you pulled a yay, the next important decision is who the right partner for this activity is. And that’s exactly what we are going to look at today.
Just a short recap, Burst campaign platforms help app developers push their app to the top of the charts by promoting the app to their user base, through a variety of ad formats (push notifications, in-app banners, app of the day mechanism, etc.). The cost of these services varies, but they usually use one of three business models: Cost per click, cost per install or fixed fee per campaign. The underlying assumption is that the vast majority of users do not look beyond the top of the charts when searching for apps. Therefore, hitting the top of the charts is critical, and can make or break an app’s success. Still, as we mentioned in our initial item on burst campaigns, this tactic can be risky as well.
As always in our comparative pieces, it’s important to remind you that what we write is totally impartial. We are not working with any of the vendors I am going to cover here, have no special relationship with them, or any interest of promoting them over anyone else. We did research them, contacted them with questions in an attempt to better understand what they offer. Some were more responsive than others, and all the information we gathered will be shared in just a bit. In any case, the goal of this item is to help you evaluate vendors for your specific needs.
When planning a burst campaign, there are a few important parameters that you need to look into, so you can make the best decision possible. These are the exact parameters we looked at, so you can have it all in front of you in one read. Here are some of the parameters we looked at: What is the burst mechanism the company is using? (App of the day? Banners?), supported platforms, pricing, geographical focus, willingness to guarantee or commit to certain results, SDK integration, targeting options, and more.
There are many other vendors out there who may not be covered here, and if you choose to work with one of them, that’s great.. Just make sure you ask the right questions and get the information about all the parameters covered here before you make a decision. We are here to help you make smart choices for your specific needs.
So, what are we waiting for? Let’s start!
Pricing range: High -medium (depends on the territory, category and volume of installs)
- Services offered: One of Fiksu’s burst campaign solution is called FreeMyApps (though they might be using 3rd party networks as well, such as Tapjoy). FreeMyApps is an incentivized network for app and game publishers who are looking to drive large volumes of installs quickly and cost effectively. They are unique in the fact that they were among the first to offer real gift cards as incentives. You can reach a community of 1.6 million monthly active users. The service is available for both Android and iOS and it varies a little between the two. iOS users visit freemyapps.com from an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. Android users can install the FreeMyApps app. Users browse sponsored apps and decide which ones they want to try. Then they are directed to the app’s download page. Users earn credit for launching and engaging with sponsored apps. FreeMyApps rewards users with gift cards for iTunes, Google Play, Amazon.com, Hulu+, and many others. Fiksu claim that FreeMyApps burst campaigns can deliver +100,000 installs in 72 hours: http://www.fiksu.com/products-technology/products/incent/freemyapps
- SDK: Fiksu works with major mobile-app analytic solutions – including Localytics, Has-Offers, Appsflyer, ADx and more. You can also embed the Fiksu SDK if your app does not already have one of the analytics solutions that they work with.
- Customer support: Fiksu offers a self-service platform, but for major burst campaigns, when significant budgets are involved, you will enjoy a hands-on customer support over the phone or via F2F meetings (Fiksu has local offices in several countries)
- Targeting: Fiksu claims to have 1.6 M monthly active users on Freemyapps. While they do not reveal the split between iOs and Android, we can say that 65% of their iOs users (logging to Freemyapps.com) are logging in via iPhone and 26% via iPad. As for Android users, 91% are phone users vs. only 9% who log via tablet. 81% of their users are males and the majority of their users are between 18-34 years old.
- Social – “Free my apps” has over 1M Facebook page likes (with descent engagement) and over 500k Twitter followers. If you could get them to support your burst campaign by promoting your app on their social channels, you can earn some nice buzz here.
- Countries – Fiksu claims to be the biggest burst platform in the US, and generally, it seems like they focus more on English speaking countries. Unfortunately, we did not manage to get Fiksu to deliver a list of supported countries and stats per each country.
- Business model – CPI
- Price – The price varies based on the country, the app category and the volume of installs you are looking to reach within a given time frame. Prices can be between $0.5 per install and ~$2 per install for a massive burst campaign in the US (Tens of thousands of installs in one or two days). For example, we managed to get an offer of less than ~$1 per install for a burst campaign for an iOS app in the productivity category in the US (asking for 20K Installs in one day) with the assumption that this iOS campaign would get us to top 5 in the category (Fiksu does not commit to rank). In order to reach the same rank in the Utility category we needed to get over 50K installs within just one day at the price of ~$1.75 (!!!) per install.
- Similar other – http://www.appredeem.com/
Pricing range: medium to high
- Services offered: AppTurbo offers a campaign to boost downloads via an app of the day mechanism (not incentivized). They claim to see better results in the casual games, travel, ecommerce, and social network kind of apps/categories. The service is offered on both Android and iOS, where users download the AppTurbo app and get an offer to download a different app every day. They are willing to guarantee the app will reach top 25 overall store (free section) in many of their markets. In other markets they are not willing to guarantee results at all. They will also estimate for you how many downloads they will be able to generate based on their past experience in the country you are interested in. When you contact them with your specific app and target markets, you can get your specific information (insist on getting it!). It’s very simple to understand their offering, pricing and how to launch a campaign. You can have a campaign up and running within two weeks from decision point. The campaign will last for 24 hours with additional 2-3 days of “joy effect” on the number of organic downloads. Their recommendation is to run a burst campaign with them every 5-6 months in order to optimize results, not more frequently than that.
- SDK: No SDK is needed. They give you the reports based on the results they see in their app (of the day)
- Customer support: The AppTurbo way of work is totally personalized. You will contact them and have a live account manager to talk to and he/she will walk you through the entire process.
- Targeting: They currently offer geo targeting only. In terms of reach, they claim to have 23 Million users on iOS and 3 Million users on Android. We asked how many of these users have push enabled and are in-fact getting to daily promotions of apps (delivered via push notifications) and AppTurbo claims that 25 Million of their users have push enabled (they didn’t specify the iOS vs. Android split here). One tip that we received from AppTurbo when we asked for tips for getting the most out of your burst campaigns was to consider the day of the week for running the campaign. People tend to make burst campaigns on Friday and Saturday. Therefore these days are crowded and it is harder and more expensive to get in the top 5 overall ranking. A weekday or Sunday sometimes can be the better choice.
- Social: No significant social presence that I could find on Facebook and Twitter.
- Countries: Their top 5 markets are Germany, Russia, Italy, Nordics, and Brazil. They are also confident in running boost campaigns in Canada, LATAM, Spain, and Netherlands.
- Business model: Fixed fee per campaign
- Price: The price per campaign can really vary between markets. AppTurbo also gives different prices to games (cheaper prices) and non-game apps. The cheapest that I saw in their rate card is 1,500 Euro for a game app boost in Singapore and the most expensive is 25,000 Euro to boost a non-game app in Germany. Just to give you a range so you have an idea of what you expect.
- Similar other – http://appgratis.com/
Pricing range medium to low (depends on the territory, category and volume of installs)
- Services offered: Rumor has it that Tapjoy is the world’s largest rewarded in-app ad platform. In other words, the biggest provider of incentivized ad inventory. Tapjoy helps app publishes monetize through incentivized ads, but they also get advertisers, including mobile app marketers, reach their targets using incentivized ads, ads that offer users rewards for taking some action, e.g. installing a mobile app. The company was founded in 2007, and they claim to have reached over 1 billion mobile devices, 210K apps that are connected to their platform and one million daily conversions. That’s big.Their way of work allows users to receive premium content in exchange for their engagement with ads. How does it work? As soon as a user is exposed to some sort of premium content in an app he or she is engaging with, a free alternative is presented, to get that premium content. By the way their platform supports not only mobile app marketers, but also retailers and additional industries.Lately, Tapjoy is promoting what they call an “app promotion package”. They offer full management of what they believe is the perfect blend – phase 1 (usually costly) includes a burst campaign, followed by a more steady (and more reasonably priced) phase of growth, and finalized with an optimization and engagement phase (focusing on higher quality users – meaning acquiring users that are more likely to become loyal). Makes sense to me.I used to be anti-incent. It was not my cup of tea. I was scared of crappy users. But I have learned a few things that changed my mind along the way. I want to share them with you as they may come handy in your decision process. 3 reasons I became a fan:
– Not as good… but still… some quality users- Yeah, activity rates of incentivized users will most probably be relatively low. But still, there is a good chance that a significant chunk of these users will become active. For example, I want to tell you that in most of the cases I used incentivized networks, I saw an activity rate of more than 11%-20% which is not bad considering the fact that the price was so low. So, it was pretty much worth it. So, since my main incentive when using incent ads (nice, ha? ) is the burst effect, any portion of quality users is a bonus!
– Loyalty levels remain– When looking at loyal users (those who really use the app, often) out of active users (those who bothered to try out the app), those who come from incentivized installs do not fail compared to other sources. At least that is my experience, and I also saw the same claim in many case studies I encountered along the years. If you think about it, it makes sense. Incentivized users that bothered to open and try out the app, could be giving it a fair chance.
– The burst, da? And of course, incentivized campaigns are relatively low-cost and can support large volume of installs, helping you gain enough installs within a short period of time and really climb up the ranks.Tapjoy supports several formats – banners, rich media, rewarded videos and more. You will need to decide which ad formats you can use (creative…) and how much you are willing to pay (some format cost more than others).
- SDK: Yes. In order for Tapjoy to charge you only for installs or specific actions, they must have some sort of analytics integration. But apparently, if you are already integrated with an outbound analytics solution such as Fiksu, Appsflyer or ADX, you are all good. You will need to talk to your analytics provider, though.
- Customer support: Well, if you sign in as an advertiser, they send you an email with some useful links including support email. You can also use mobile agencies and/or mediators such as Fiksu, and still ask for Tapjoy ads to be included. That way you can minimize the effort (as many of these agencies/mediators offer a self-service system). If you have significant budget for the burst you may just send an email directly to Tajoy mentioning the budget you have at your disposal. I assume that when a nice budget is on the table, the personal support is there too…
- Targeting: Tapjoy suggests apps to users, based on their preferences, as revealed via apps they already installed and used in the past. Tapjoy offers optimization as well, once they have learned the advertised app’s trends – they offer to focus on more engaged users’ profiles. Note: the incentivized ads arena is mostly used by games. It means that probably a big chunk of “Tapjoy originated” users are users who play mobile games. Yes, that’s wide – aren’t we all playing mobile games of some sort? Well, no, not all of us. Naturally – those who install and engage with apps following incentivized offers are probably the “heavier” gamers in the gang, just thinking. So if I had to take a guess I would say that Tapjoy isn’t the best platform for targeting broad segments. Unlike Facebook, for instance. If your app is in a specific niche, and if you are looking for low cost installs that still present some quality… you better do some thinking around the relevance of your app to users who are playing mobile games, who are probably young, who… well, enough with the predispositions.Still, you could target by device, OS, age, gender, WIFI or mobile network, specific countries (even city level in some countries) and in the US, even by income level.
- Social: 1.7 M Facebook fans & 14.9 k Twitter followers. Let’s stick to Facebook. The question is how you will get them posting and talking about your app. Big promotion budget maybe? Anyway, the engagement levels of their Facebook posts are nothing to write home about, so I would try to add some social support on their side in case I use them, but wouldn’t bend over backwards.
- Countries: They say they are global. I would advise you to make sure they are strong enough in your target country, either by asking them directly (support) or through your mobile agency. The best indicator is of course the volume of installs they can deliver on daily basis.
- Business model – CPA/CPE (cost per action/cost per engagement), bidding style – Means you can pay per install or pay only when the user completed an action you have predefined. Installed and registered, for instance! Pricing is higher for if you want to pay per action, of course, but the risk is lower.
- Price – depends on territory, ad format, type of user action you are willing to pay for and volume of installs within a given time. When I worked with them I enjoyed Tapjoy installs with a CPI as low as $0.3 or as high as $1.5.
- Similar other – Fyber (formerly SponsorPay)
Pricing range: Low
- Services offered: MagicSolver offers non-incentivized downloads for iOS apps (iPhone and iPad), through its main app of the day app. They also have seasonal apps (Valentine, Halloween, etc.) and sometimes they release such app around an event (Rugby World cup, Euro cup, etc.). They will only recommend free or freemium apps, not paid-for apps. The best categories they see themselves bring value in are casual games and quality utility apps. They also claim to see better results with new apps, rather than existing apps that are over promoted many times. They also recommend not to exceed a frequency of once every 6-8 weeks, running a burst campaign with them. I would recommend to go even lower than that. They never guarantee ranking position, or number of downloads. They did give us a range of their average performance that runs between 1,000 and 50,000 installs per campaign, depending on territory of course. You can set up a campaign within 48 hours if you need to, but they would much rather work with you at least a week in advance. Their campaigns would usually run for 48 hours, but the organic effect will last a bit longer than that of course. They claim to see usually a 1:1.5 to 1:2 organic to paid ratio, following their campaigns.
- SDK: No SDK is needed. No prerequisites. They give you the reports based on the results they see in their app (of the day)
- Customer support: To initiate the campaign, you will fill in your details and the campaign information on their website. But from then on, nothing is automated or self-service style. It’s all done with a live account manager who will work with you from start to finish.
- Targeting: They claim they can do segmentation, but don’t do them de-facto. So basically, you can try and ask for specific targeting and see if they can deliver. They don’t do it as a standard. Usually, 70% of the installs they will generate for you will come from Western Europe, 20% from North America and 10% from the rest of the world. They claim to be able to reach over 2 million users by push notification.
- Social: MagicSolver has 7,785 likes on Facebook, and 7,170 followers on Twitter. Can be a nice addition to the buzz, so ask them to talk about you there as well.
- Countries: They can run global campaigns in 7 languages but Western Europe and North America are their 2 strongest areas.
- Business model – CPI or fixed fee. They are open to both.
- Price: You will need to prepare between $1,000 and $5,000 for a campaign in FreeAppMagic, their app of the day. More for campaigns running on seasonal apps.
- Similar other: Appturbo
Summary and my two cents:
This initial competitive analysis of providers who can help you execute burst campaigns will be constantly updated to give you even more options and more information for better decision making. Just figure out how much you are willing to append, and evaluate if it can get you to the top of the chart (category or general store) in the territory you are interested in. if the answer is no, raise your budget or move on to a different, cheaper territory. It sucks. It happens. All the time.
Don’t forget to consider targeting options when choosing your burst provider, and seriously consider another campaign, following the burst, to make sure you don’t quickly slide down the ranks once the burst campaign is over. Yes, the idea is to ride on the success. Big burst followed by a more moderate app promotion campaign. As for the risks involved with running burst campaigns? If you haven’t already, take a look at our recent burst campaign item in order to understand how to be well prepared to deal with these risks. Good luck!