Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Let Your Ad Space Work for You 100%

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Photo by Kalyan Chakravarthy

Some Windows Phone apps are just starting their journey up the Marketplace charts and some feel pretty comfortable close to the top. While it’s obviously reasonable for the former to care about marketing more than monetization, it’s not that obvious for the latter.

Developers making healthy income from their popular ad-supported apps are happy with what they get and are eagerly waiting for Windows Phone’s market share to implode with the release of Mango and the next generation of WP hardware.

Spending a part of monetizable ad space for anything other than making money seems to be wasteful to developers. Especially since Microsoft’s pubCenter pays really well for those ads. What’s missing from the pubCenter stats though, is a pretty standard metric in online advertising world called “fill rate”. Fill rate tells you how many of your ad requests were served with actual ads.

Since pubCenter doesn’t disclose this metric the actual ratio of ad requests to served ads remains unknown, but if stats on other networks and/or platforms are of any indication it’s safe to assume it’s far from 100%. The numbers reported are from as low as 17% to as high as 96% but it’s never 100%.

So a chunk of your ad inventory does nothing. It doesn’t make you any money but just occupies the allocated space. You can fallback to some other ad network when this happens, and then to another when the second one fails and so on. There’s an easy and flexible solution to achieve that. Or you can just fallback to a network with virtually 100% fill rate – AdDuplex – and use the underserved portion of your ad inventory to further promote your app and make it even more popular == more money in the future.

You can use the excellent above mentioned Windows Phone 7 Ad Rotator to do that or you can just use a simple hand-made switcher. The point is that your app can never be too popular and there’s no reason to waste unused ad space. Make it work for you!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Port Your App To Windows Phone – Get Free Promotion

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I’m a fan of Brandon Watson’s hands on approach to helping developers migrate their apps to Windows Phone. Microsoft owns the platform, but it’s beneficial to all of us in the Windows Phone ecosystem to have an easy migration path for users from other platforms. Windows Phone provides great user experience out of the box, has a good number of really great apps, but quite often not having an app that users learned to love on their current platform is what stopping them from joining us.

So we decided to join the quest of encouraging developers on other platform to join WPDEV and offer a 20,000 ad impression to every app migrated from some other mobile platform (iOS, Android, webOS, Blackberry, etc.) until the end of the year. Here is the deal.

Rules

  1. Have an app published in the official application store on other mobile platform before August 22, 2011.
  2. Port and publish it in Windows Phone Marketplace from August 22, 2011 to December 31, 2011.
  3. Request your 20,000 ad impressions coupon by sending links to your app on the other platform and Windows Phone platform to info@adduplex.com

That is it. You don’t have to join AdDuplex in order to participate, but you are very welcome! You’ll get even more exposure for your new app and help other developers in the process. Learn more here.

Welcome to the Windows Phone developer community!

40% Back to School Discount

Yes, it’s that time of the year and we are offering you a 40% discount to advertise on AdDuplex. Check out the reasons to advertise on the site and don’t miss your chance.

Offer is valid until September 2nd, 2011.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Version 1.2.2.1 of XNA Library Released

We have just published a new release of XNA Library for AdDuplex. As usual you can download it from the Download page in Client Area.

This version brings AdLoaded, AdClick and AdLoadingError events introduced in the last Silverlight control release over to XNA. In addition the size of the library DLL has been reduced 4x.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Release Date Is A Feature. Especially In Mobile.

I remember reading Jeff Atwood’s blog post titled “Version 1 Sucks, But Ship It Anyway” a couple of years ago. I encourage you to read it and I think it’s even more important in mobile projects and here is why.

Web projects usually don’t have a lot of dependencies on some client side features that become available at some specific point in time. Usually feature availability takes time to propagate across all the major browsers over time making it a moving target. The situation is similar on the desktop. At least in the Windows world.

In mobile, on the other hand, each major mobile OS release adds new possibilities for app developers. New APIs allow us to build apps that were not possible before and whoever is there first gains a huge market advantage over those who come later.

You don’t need to spend a lot of time and money on marketing, if your app is the only one in it’s class. And there’s a huge chance that every blog doing a review of apps for the brand new mobile OS release will mention your app and the mention and link will be there forever.

Achieving the same level of ubiquity will cost you a lot more if you are late to the game. Even if your product is much better and way more polished. You’ve already lost your first battle.

This applies to any mobile platform, but, since this blog (and AdDuplex in general) is targeted at Windows Phone developers, I’m obviously aiming this at the Mango release. If you are in the process of developing an app with core value proposition depending on new APIs in Mango (camera access, sockets, local db, etc.), place “Release date” close to the top of your feature backlog.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

About Monetization on AdDuplex

Since we’ve launched a “mixed model” feature I get at least one email about it every day. Sometimes it’s because the mechanics of it are relatively complicated. This is something that can be and will be addressed over time.

Most of the times, however, the questions in the emails are based on the assumption that AdDuplex is a monetization platform for apps. I’m sorry to disappoint a number of users, but it’s not. AdDuplex is a self/cross promotion platform first and foremost. The mixed model (aka monetization) feature is only a bonus add-on for the main purpose of the system.

The point is: if you don’t value the promotion of your app at least as much as money you can get from the ads, then AdDuplex is most likely not the right choice for you. There’s no option to participate in the monetization part of the system without participating in the exchange part. And there are no plans to change that concept in the nearest future.

I understand that this explanation may turn some developers away from AdDuplex, but I’d rather see them happy elsewhere, than unhappy over here. Everything has it’s purpose and everything has to solve some problem for someone. AdDuplex aims to solve the free app promotion and exposure problem. If this is something that you need you are very welcome. You may even make some money in the process!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

AdDuplex Apps: Get Extra Promotion

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We have added an extra option for apps participating in ad exchange called “Public member”. What it means is that you can opt-in to let us use the fact that your app is participating in AdDuplex network in our promotional activities, interviews, etc.

We may start featuring some AdDuplex apps on this blog, create app of the week section or a whole directory listing apps participating in AdDuplex. However we don’t want to do this without your consent, so that’s what this field is about.

If you want to opt-in into this program and possibly get extra publicity for your app, go to the client area and to “details” page for your app and click a link next to this field.

Thank you for using AdDuplex!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Per-ad Stats for Commercial Campaigns

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We have added a per-ad breakdown of statistics for commercial campaigns. Now you can see which of your ads perform better and make informed adjustments for even better results.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Size Matters: Shorter Ads Get More Clicks

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Looking at AdDuplex stats I always had a suspicion that shorter text ads get more clicks that longer ads. This was pure intuition, but today I set on a mission to either prove or disprove this based on data.

The average length of all 4 lines of the text ads on AdDuplex is 120 characters. Let’s ignore mid-sized ads by excluding ads from 110 to 130 characters. There’s approximately equal number of ads that are longer than 130 characters and shorter than 110. Average CTR for the longer ads is 1.35%. Average CTR for shorter ads is 1.69%. Meaning that shorter ads get 20% more clicks than longer ones.

Now lets look at the ratios based only on the first line of the ad. The one shown in bold on AdDuplex. The average length is 24 chars. Let’s ignore ads in 20-28 range. Ads longer than 28 chars have an average CTR of 1.25%. CTR for ads shorter than 20 chars is 1.49%. Again, ads with shorter first line get 16% more clicks than those trying to fit a lot of text.

This is by no means a very scientific experiment, but it confirms what I suspected for some time – size matters. And in the case of mobile ads – short ad copy wins.

P.S.: btw, you can use Bing Vision in your Mango Windows Phone to translate the text in the image above ;)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pay-per-View vs. Pay-per-Click in Mobile Advertising

Pay per view vs. Pay per click

Some historical context

In the early days of internet advertising (at least as far as I can remember) banner space was sold on per-impression basis. The prices were quoted in CPM – cost per thousand impressions. This model is basically the same model used in print, TV or radio advertising, just adapted for the web. The concept is simple and straightforward – publisher sells ad space and views, advertiser decides if the platform is a good match for his products and services.

Since it’s way easier to track results and effectiveness of internet ad campaigns than in “traditional” media, it’s understandable that advertisers are eager to pay for the ads on per-result basis. For businesses selling goods, subscriptions, information, etc. the result is an actual sale, so the perfect metric for them would be an event of money changing hands. This materialized in affiliate programs. The problem with affiliate programs is that publishers have to trust in their ability to sell advertiser’s products and in most cases this proves to be one step too far.

Moving one step back from the actual sale is a fact that a user actually came from publisher’s web site to the advertiser’s web site – in other words clicked on a banner ad. The model is known as Pay-per-click. There still has to be some belief on publisher’s part that the products or services being advertised are a good match for it’s audience. Otherwise no one is going to click on these ads and the only asset publisher has will go to waste (even though zero-click campaign could still be valuable to brand advertiser).

This problem was partially addressed with proliferation of contextual advertising led by Google with it’s AdWords product. The system matches relevant ads to the content of publisher’s web site, which (in theory) results in ads with higher probability of being clicked (good for the publisher) while advertiser pays only for some sort of a result (click through). Problem solved. Everyone is (theoretically) happy. After all there’s basically an infinite amount of ad space on the web and a finite amount of advertising dollars. So the market has to lean on the buyer’s side.

Mobile advertising is a new rage. It’s new, it’s hip, it gets better click-through rates (more on this below). And it brings the pay-per-click model from the desktop web to the mobile apps.

Problems with pay-per-click in mobile apps

No context

Most mobile apps have no content or content never changes. So the ads are mostly targeted by categories and/or keywords selected by the app’s developer. On networks with low(er) fill rates publishers are led to select categories and keywords with more/better ad inventory. And the contextual matching is basically in the hands of publishers (via category/keyword selection). So it doesn’t change automatically when new advertising campaigns launch. This results in less relevant ads, less clicks and less revenue. Bad for publishers.

Fraud

Click fraud is a big problem in PPC advertising. Even the Wikipedia article on click fraud is longer than articles on pay-per-view and pay-per-click advertising combined. Networks are able to fight major fraudulent activities to some extent, but this mostly matters to networks. For a regular small advertiser, with cost-per-click reaching more than $1 in some hot areas, even a few fraudulent clicks could be hard to swallow. And how often do we see something like “please click on this ad to support future development” or something like that? Do we know how many developers asked their friends and family to click on an ad from time to time? This is in no way specific to mobile advertising but is an inherent problem of the pay-per-click model. Bad for advertisers.

Accidental clicks

According to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Pontiflex:

… 47 percent of mobile app users say they click or tap on mobile ads more often by mistake than they do on purpose.

There’s not much I can add to that. Except that I believe this to be true. Bad for advertisers.

What to do?

The same article mentioned above proposes basically the same old affiliate program model. This model could work for campaigns negotiated on case-by-case basis when there’s a good match between the app and the advertised product, but in general ad network scenario it would probably result in very low revenue for the publishers. And it’s useless for advertising mobile apps unless app stores create APIs to track these leads.

Microsoft Advertising uses a mix of pay-per-view and pay-per-click model in their pubCenter network for Windows Phone. As far as I understand advertisers bid on per-click basis, but publishers get paid per-impression with rates calculated by some clever algorithm. Publishers are happy. Not sure about advertisers. As far as I know you can’t buy an ad campaign to run on the phones exclusively (unless this changed recently) so this is probably something no one really knows at the moment.

Unfortunately I don’t see anything more balanced than the old pay-per-view approach. It’s simple, predictable and difficult to abuse substantially by amateur cheaters (aka not very honest publishers). That’s what we use at AdDuplex for the time being. Until some bright minds create a model that suits everyone better.

Make sure you have exchange ads setup

Since the launch of AdDuplex we haven’t enforced having an exchange ad setup before your app becomes active on the network. This resulted in some apps not setting these ads up and accumulating impression credits among other side-effects.

This situation isn’t good for the overall balance of the network, so we decided to enforce having an exchange ad setup before your app becomes active on the network and can start getting impression credits.

Starting on Monday, August 8th, 2011, apps without exchange ads won’t be considered active on the network and won’t receive impression credits for ad impressions they serve. Please, verify that your app(s) have exchange ads setup.