Size Matters: Shorter Ads Get More Clicks

shortads

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 😉

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.

25 Ways To Promote Your Windows Phone App for Free

When you release a Windows Phone app you get one passive marketing channel for free – the new apps list. Fortunately for Microsoft and end-users, but unfortunately for you, more than 100 new apps are released each day. So this free theoretical exposure boost dries up pretty quickly.

If you have an advertising budget you can spread the word by pouring money into marketing. But most of the indie developers have no (or very small) advertising budgets and even when you have some money, there are plenty of ways to get some exposure for free.

25ways

Here’s a list of 25 techniques I was able to think of (or notice others use) to promote WP7 apps:

  1. Make a great app that solves a real problem or brings user experience to a new level for a problem that has been solved before. Or just make a great and addictive game.
    Obviously the better and more unique your app is, the easier is to spread the word about it. And if your app is just a lousy exercise with no particular use or fun factor, there’s hardly a technique to get it anywhere. So obviously it all starts with making an app you believe in.
  2. Ask developers (and soon average users) to beta-test your app.
    Not only this will help polish and refine your app, but you are recruiting first members of your “street team” this way. You can find people willing to help you on Twitter or App Hub forums and probably some other places. If beta-testers like your app, they are quite likely to help you spread the word around once your app is released. For now you can ask developers with unlocked phones to sideload your app. But when Mango hits the streets you will be able to publish your beta through the official channels.
  3. Make an attractive Tile.
    We have already established that you have a good app. So this statement doesn’t apply to you. However your Tile is the first thing people see when they browse or search the marketplace. Especially when yours isn’t the only app addressing the same problem a good or bad Tile could make a huge difference. So make yours stand out. And not in a bad way.
  4. Start with a free app
    Your app could be your best marketing tool. It’s no secret that way more people download free apps than paid apps. Even with free and fully functional trial you are looking at a fraction of downloads you can get with an absolutely free app. You can make a premium version later and charge for it, or you can monetize your app with advertising. And hopefully in-app purchases will come soon enough. You can even go from free to paid with the same app later, like Chicks’n’Vixens did. And it was the #1 paid app for a couple of weeks because of this trick. This technique might be slightly over you “gray area” line, so it’s up to you to decide. But I would argue it isn’t wise to limit your reach by charging 99 cents at this stage. (unless your app has an expiration date)
  5. Make a video demo of your app
    It’s not the first thing you think about, but it’s way easier for people to watch a YouTube demo of your app than to download and try it. So, many will watch your video even if they wouldn’t download and install it based on your (or someone else’s) description. And you get an extra chance to capture their attention in the video.
  6. Join AdDuplex
    I’ve created AdDuplex after witnessing numerous developer frustrations with low-to-no visibility they were getting for their apps. AdDuplex helps developers promote each other’s apps for free. There’s a catch that you have to have some visibility to exchange for extra visibility, but hopefully this list gives you some ideas and results.
  7. Tweet about your app
    Tweet about the initial release of your app. Tweet about every update. Tweet about it in-between updates. Decorate your tweets with #wp7 hashtag. Even if you don’t have a lot of followers there are lots of people (and some important and influential people) monitoring the #wp7 tag. Manage to get attention of some of them and it can go a long way from there.
  8. Notify your friends about your app
    Let your Facebook friends, tweeps, real-life friends and family know about your app. Even if they don’t own a Windows Phone or have nothing to do with technology. You never know who they’ll be talking to tomorrow or a month from now. And there’s a really good chance they’ll mention your app when appropriate. They are your real friends and family after all and they love you, right?
  9. Make a Facebook page for your app
    Making a Facebook page is an easy way to get free promotion from your Facebook friends and get onto feeds of other Facebook users.
  10. Create a dedicated Twitter account for your app
    Same as with Facebook but for the twitterverse.
  11. Join AdDuplex
    Did you know that if you join AdDuplex by October 1, 2011 you have a really good chance to win a brand new next generation Windows Phone running Mango. Could that be a Nokia Windows Phone? Quite possibly. And this is in addition to free promotion you are going to get through AdDuplex.
  12. Make a website for your app
    Or a dedicated section on your website. This would be a place you can direct people to. Showcase the cool features and experiences your app provides. Link or embed all the related activities (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.)
  13. Facilitate the feedback loop
    The more positive ratings your app has in the Marketplace the more likely users will choose it over competition. So, encourage users of your app to rate it. That said, if users don’t like something about your app make sure it’s easier for them to provide you direct feedback than rate it poorly.
  14. Tip Windows Phone blogs
    Tip the major (and smaller) Windows Phone blogs about your app. WPCentral, WMPowerUser, 1800PocketPC are just a few of the better known blogs and there are a lot more. Make sure you include a link to your video demo (you made it, right?) and a concise but well written description of your app. Some of the blogs may even post your tip as is (or with only some minor modifications), so pay attention to this step. It’s one of the best ways to boost your exposure.
  15. Ask your tweeps to tweet (or retweet) about your app
    I’ve been approached multiple times by my Twitter friends to help spread the word about their apps. Luckily I have very good and smart tweeps, so I never had to tweet about apps I don’t actually like. So I guess it would be awkward if someone asked me to promote an app that I think sucks, but I didn’t want to offend my friend. But since we’ve established that you made a great app in step 0, there’s nothing to be afraid off.
  16. Try to get on podcasts
    Windows Phone Dev Podcast has a form you can fill if you want to be on the show. They’ve gotten a lot more popular since their launch (and for a good reason) so I assume it’s harder to get on the show, than it was when they’ve just started, but it’s still doable (at least the form is still there). Other podcasts don’t have a form like that, but I bet you can get on some of them if you have something to say and try hard enough (don’t try too hard though). Here are a few podcasts that are Windows Phone related (or at least had some WP7 related episodes) – Windows Phone Radio, Jesse Liberty’s Yet Another Podcast, DotNetRocks, Hanselminutes, Herding Code.
  17. Add social network integration to your app
    Let users of your app tweet, post to Facebook, etc. directly from the app. Add your @yourAppsTwitterAccount to the tweets. Pictures Lab does it, SurfCube does it and lots of games do it. People want to brag about their achievements on Twitter or Facebook. Help them and help yourself.
  18. Try to get featured in the Marketplace
    All it takes is making a really great app and getting noticed by the team. Easy, right? Seriously though, make sure your deliverables (description, screenshots, tile and background image) are top notch and if you take steps in this list seriously there’s a good chance they’ll notice. Plus keep an eye on special opportunities like “Spring Cleaning”. The effect of being featured is quite substantial.
  19. Mention your app in your social media (and other) profiles
    Mention and link to your app from your profiles on social networks and other communities you participate in. People often check profiles of the people they are communicating with and there’s a chance to grab their attention.
  20. Participate in relevant communities
    I guess this goes without saying. Most likely you are already participating in some community related to the problem your app solves. But don’t forget to mention your app where it’s relevant. A word spreads fast in targeted communities. And don’t forget Windows Phone targeted communities like App Hub forums, XDA developers and everythingwm to name a few.
  21. Join AdDuplex
    In case you’ve published your app through Yalla Apps you are entitled to 20,000 free ad impressions campaign on AdDuplex network. How’s this for a free promo?
  22. Temporarily change your avatar on social networks to your app’s Tile
    Your friends and followers will notice and be interested to learn what’s that about.
  23. Help other developers promote their apps via social media.
    Tweet, retweet and otherwise help fellow developers promote their apps. They will be more than happy to return the favor.
  24. Bring your app to the attention of key people at Microsoft and/or WP7 community.
    Wordament is a great game. That said I first heard about it from Brandon Watson on Windows Phone Radio (if I’m not mistaken). Recently Joe Belfiore has tweeted about it. That’s one of the nicest free promotions you can get. But you have to make an effort to bring your app to their attention. Do not spam these nice people, but it’s pretty reasonable to mention your app to them when it’s relevant. If you go to some bigger WP7 related event be prepared and don’t be shy to approach community leaders and demo your app to them. They won’t bite… I guess.
  25. Add “Easter eggs” to your app
    Add some nice undocumented features or other delighters to your app. People are prone to wanting to share their discoveries with their friends and word of mouth is the best marketing vehicle.
  26. Join AdDuplex
    Did I mention you should join AdDuplex?

This is only a short list of options I’ve written down while exercising my “idea muscle”. Feel free to amend it in the comments below.

200

3469487065_2a309e5f7c_zPhoto by B Rosen

Today we have reached a milestone – 200 live apps on the AdDuplex network!

It’s been less than 6 months since AdDuplex launched and almost 1% of all Windows Phone apps are already using it. Yes, there’s still a lot of ground to cover, but I’m extremely proud of the number.

My sincere gratitude to all the developers using AdDuplex. You’ve literally changed the direction of my life in these 6 months.

Thank you!

Alan Mendelevich.

Verify Your PayPal Email Addresses

In early August we will be making our first payments to developers monetizing their apps on AdDuplex. In order to make this happen we’ve been adding some pages to the client area and removing things in other places.

Initially you were able to specify a specific PayPal email address for each of your apps. This created some confusion both for you and us. For many of you it was confusing if the $50 payout threshold is per app or per user. For us it wasn’t clear what to do when you had multiple apps and these addresses didn’t match.

To fix this we’ve implemented profile pages in the client area and you can now set a single PayPal email address for all of your monetized apps.

When you login to the client area you will see a greeting message like this.

image

Click on your name and you’ll be taken to your summary/profile page. At the bottom of the page you will find your PayPal email (if specified) and a link to edit the profile. In case no PayPal email is set, we will make the payment to your default profile email address.

We have migrated all of the PayPal email addresses from the old system to the new one, but we would like to encourage you to login to your account and verify that the correct email address is set.

Version 1.2.2 of the SDK Released

We have released version 1.2.2 of our SDKs both for Silverlight and XNA.

The main focus of this release is on internal improvements of the network stack, however there’s a couple of tangible changes too.

First of all we decided to try and minimize the number of accidental clicks on the ads. To do that we made the touch sensitive area of the ad smaller. This way if someone accidentally touches a border of an ad while playing a game the click won’t be triggered. This should both improve the user experience and reduce the number of unintentional clicks thus providing better conversion rates for advertisers.

We have also added a BackgroundOpacity property to the Silverlight control. Using this property you can make an ad semitransparent (minimum value is 0.5) without affecting readability of the ad’s content.

As usual you can get the new versions via download page in the client area.

Capabilities Used in Windows Phone Apps

Once again I was interested in finding out some Windows Phone related stats and couldn’t find them anywhere. I’d like to collect more stats from AdDuplex enabled apps but don’t want to impose unnecessary capability requirements on developers using the control. Unfortunately, last time I checked, you had to set “phone identity” capability just to get a model of a phone. (Is this “fixed” in Mango?)

So I set out to repeat an experiment I did last time to check how many apps already use this capability. Maybe I’m overreacting and almost everyone is already using it.

The Method

I did another non-scientific experiment. I bet you can get this data from official marketplace feeds and have exact numbers. But I was just looking for a big picture. So I wanted to get the results as fast and as easy as possible without doing a ton of research on how to get this data out of marketplace. I just checked 50 newest apps (skipping multiple apps from the same developer).

I’ll leave the exercise of getting precise numbers to Windows Phone sites that already do stats, such as WP7applist.

The Results

You can see the pie charts with my finding below (click for a larger image)

image

Unfortunately for me only a quarter of apps uses “phone identity” capabilities. So requiring this capability would be an extra capability for many and I’m not sure how developers react to this. Your feedback would be invaluable.

As for other notable results… Almost everyone is using “data connection” in one way or the other. Surprisingly a lot of apps use “media library” and “web browser”.

You can make your own judgment in areas you are interested in. Or get the real data and let me know if it differs dramatically from my findings.

50% Midsummer Discount on Campaigns

successThis week only – take advantage of the massive 50% Midsummer discount on commercial campaigns on AdDuplex network.

Campaigns on AdDuplex target Windows Phone exclusively and enjoy click-through rate above 1%. Ads open Marketplace directly to eliminate all unnecessary steps between your ad and your app.

Offer is valid until June 24th, 2011.

To get more details and start your campaign click here.