Marketing and Monetization Interview Series #13. Getting to the top.

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Back in January we’ve celebrated AdDuplex’ 4th Birthday and ran this festive contest where Mini Golf Club was selected as one of the winners.

Mini Golf Club is a physics based mini golf simulator for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8. It is also one of the most successful games created by Zoltán Gubics.

Zoltán started developing and publishing games during his studies. And after graduation he became an entrepreneur and founded Obumo Games. In this interview Zoltán shares personal experience and lessons learned while getting his Windows Phone and Windows games to the top.

Could you tell us more about yourself? What is your background? Is app and game development your full time job?

I live in Budapest, Hungary. I studied software engineering at Budapest University of Technology and Economics and graduated two years ago. During my studies, I focused on Microsoft technologies mainly and that’s how I got involved in Windows 8 application development. I’ve been interested in game development since the start of my studies, so I developed my first game for Windows 8 called Offroad Racing. Luckily, Offroad Racing has become very popular in the Windows Store and that was the point when my hobby became my daily job. I’ve been developing games ever since as an independent developer using Unity game engine.

I usually work alone, however I have had some help from a friend at the beginning.

In your opinion what are the reasons that Mini Golf Club is loved by users?

minigolf3I think players love Mini Golf Club because of its casual yet challenging gameplay and wide variety of levels. Most of the levels can be completed in several ways, which makes players think about new solutions. Currently, there are 170+ levels and the collection is growing month by month. They can also create their own levels in the editor and send in their creations by email. The best of player-made levels are added to the collection every month as an update. They get all features for free, because I decided to monetize my game primarily with ads instead of IAPs and it turned out well for me.

Which of your own games do you like the most? Why?

battledroidsPersonally I like Battle Droids the most. The game is a recreation of the popular Bomberman game for Windows and Windows Phone. It’s a player versus player multiplayer game for up to 4 players and it has an action packed gameplay that requires some skills against other player. The multiplayer features are also cross-platform, so player from Windows Phone devices can play against Windows 8 users. It’s my third published game and I haven’t really got much experience back then and the game didn’t get much attention in the stores.

You have published 7 apps already. So you should have noticed what works best while setting up marketing and advertising strategies. Could you share some of your insights?

Sure. I usually set up my advertising campaigns for the launch date. I also use AdDuplex cross-promotion network and house ads in all of my games to boost user acquisition. I have a website and Facebook page which I keep updating at least weekly, so I can utilize my existing fan base at a new release. Blogging and newsletters can also be efficient tools to keeping your existing players engaged. Reaching out to review sites is important too. At a new release I try to focus most of my resources for the first 1-4 weeks and generate as much exposure as possible.

What is the biggest struggle that you find in acquiring new users for Windows Phone and Windows games?

The biggest struggle I found in user acquisition was localization. Publishing your game in English only is not enough anymore. You can reach only 20% or less of the potential users if you ignore other languages. My advice to other developers would be to localize at least your store content and game. Of course the more content you localize the more chance you have to acquire users. This includes your advertising campaigns too. A localized app or game has higher chance of being reviewed by local review sites too.

Can we expect any new apps or games of yours to be released in near future? If yes, are you going to try any new marketing strategies?

Yes, I plan to release at least 2 new games in 2015 which are currently in development. One of them is 2D casual game and the other is a 3D resource management game. I’ll publish more details about the games later, so if you’re interested in stay tuned at Obumo Games Facebook page.

I’m really excited about AdDuplex Interstitial ads and I’ll definitely try it out. Furthermore, Microsoft announced Video ads for Windows 10 last week at BUILD which opens up lots of possibilities for developers.

Thank you Zoltán for sharing your experience. It will be really interesting to hear how did it go with your new games!

Ads in Apps 101. Part 3. KPIs for Advertisers

In part 1 of the series we’ve covered some reasons to monetize your mobile apps and games with ads and in part 2 we’ve talked about the types of ads and ad providers as well as the very basic terms used in the industry.

In this part I want to concentrate on the key performance indicators advertisers care about when they run campaigns in your apps and games. Why is this important to you? Well, it is always valuable to understand what are the goals of your direct or, in this case mostly indirect, customers. Additionally it is very likely that you’ll find yourself on the other side of the equation once in a while during your app publishing career.

So let’s begin with the simplest things and go down the road to more elaborate and meaningful metrics.

Click-through Rate (CTR)

It isn’t easy to measure if/when your player actually looked at the advertiser’s ad, but very easy to know when they clicked on it. So a click-through is the very first and basic result of an ad campaign. And CTR is the metric telling you what percentage of the ad impressions result in an actual click.

What is a good CTR? Well, from our experience the average worldwide CTR on in-app banners is around 1% and for interstitials it’s somewhere in 5-10% range. Obviously a lot of factors can influence the specific CTR for your campaign. Your creatives and your targeting are the primary influencers for the click-through rates your campaign gets.

How do you improve CTR? Unless you are paying for clicks (CPC), your goal is to increase the CTR as much as you can. Obviously creating a very luring but absolutely misleading creative can backfire on your credibility, but other than that, whatever makes the user want to tap on your ad is generally great.

Having said that, clicks are almost never your end goal, so CTR is primarily a KPI for figuring out the most attractive ad copy.

Install Rate (IR)

While getting a lot of clicks is great, it doesn’t give your app’s ad campaign much, if no one installs the app after clicking on the ad. This is what IR is here to measure – percentage of clicks resulting in an app installation. This is one of the metrics that is not very easy to measure, but there’s a number of companies providing 3rd party (read unbiased) conversion attribution tracking.

What is a good IR? I’ve seen a lot of numbers, but my understanding is that around 10% is normal for a free mass market title (or a well targeted campaign).

How do you improve IR? Provided that the user has already clicked on your ad and ended up on your store listing page, the listing’s copy, your screenshots and reviews are the main factors affecting your install rate. Your goal is to close the deal with a clear and attractive store listing.

One thing to note, though, is that the more specific your ad leading to the click was, the more logical it is to expect an install to happen (meaning higher IR). However very clear message ads are not necessarily attracting the most clicks and it’s easier to close the deal when you can present more information in the store, than to fit it all in an ad. The key is to find the right balance.

Cost per Install (CPI)

If you are an app/game advertiser one of the first actually meaningful results for you is app installation.

What is a good CPI? Again this depends on a lot of factors like platform, country, genre/category etc. but a ballpark number is somewhere from around $1 to $4-5 or even more.

How do you improve CPI? In this case improving your cost per install means lowering it and to do that you improve a combination of your CTR and IR. If you manage to improve at least one of them without sacrificing the other your CPI will go down.

Obviously if you aren’t paying for your campaign on a CPI basis the quality of the network your ads go to affects the CPI a lot. Finding the best source of installs is mostly a trial & error process. One network can work great for one type of apps in one region and be totally worthless in some other case.

Return on Investment (ROI)

At the end of the day the only thing that you care about is how much you make from each dollar invested in advertising. Sometimes direct returns are not an objective for you at the current stage. You may be doing a push up the app store charts or doing something else that is not directly linked to monetary returns.

But when you do advertise to acquire new users whom you plan to monetize then the basic formula is pretty simple – you want to buy users cheaper than their lifetime value (LCV). In a very simplified form you know an average revenue from your users and you compare that to the price you pay to acquire them. In reality a lot of other variables come into play. Things like virality (how many “organic” users does one “bought” user bring via word-of-mouth) and quality of a particular user cohort (not all the users were born equal) can affect ROI of a particular user acquisition campaign dramatically.

How do you improve ROI? In theory it’s very simple – acquire better users cheaper and improve their LCV. Improving LCV is outside the scope of this series and acquiring better users cheaper is basically an exercise in trial & error. You can obviously rely on recommendations from your colleagues in the industry, but it’s quite common that what works for one person doesn’t work for the other and vice versa.

In the next part we will look at the other side of spectrum – KPIs that you as a developer monetizing with ads should care about.

Marketing and Monetization Interview Series #12. NONOGRAM2 – classic game in Modern UI

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As Evgeniy Vodnev, the creator of NONOGRAM2, says this game is another realization of classic game – nonogram, also called griddlers or hanjie. Game was built in accordance with Windows Phone design guidelines and looks rather well.

NONOGRAM2 was announced as one of our 4th Birthday contest winners. And here we are talking with Evgeniy about the ways he uses to acquire users for his first Windows Phone game.

How would you describe NONGRAM2 to someone who is not familiar with it at all?

NONOGRAM2 is the time killer for smart guys – well-known classic game in Modern UI.

I know that NONOGRAM2 is the first game that you’ve developed. How did you decide to make this type of game? There are 300 nonograms. Have you created it all by yourself?

I like this type of games but existing nonograms for Windows Phone have different shortcomings. So I decided to make my own game to be the best one.  

I took all nonograms from old sources. It is a hard task to make resolvable and at the same time interesting nonogram puzzles from scratch.

NONOGRAM2 

What is the key point that helps NONOGRAM2 to stand out against other similar games?

This game was built in accordance with Modern UI design guidelines. It has lightweight and simple interface at the same time adapted for large puzzles. NONOGRAM2 contains large amount of puzzles, maybe the largest among other nonograms for Windows Phone. All this can give user many hours of playing.

This game is supported only on Windows Phone. Do you plan to move it to other platforms? Why?

On my full-time job I am Windows developer, so I used my familiar tools and known technologies. I live inside Windows ecosystem for years, it is my contribution in its development. If users will like my app I will think about moving it to other platforms.

Don’t you think that it is hard to create a really successful game working just several hours per week?

Game development is just hobby for me but, as I said earlier, I am professional Windows developer. From my experience I do think that really great products can be made only by teams working 24/7 on the project.

NONOGRAM2 just recently joined AdDuplex cross-promotion network. What other marketing methods did you use before to acquire all users?

AdDuplex is the first and today the only one method I use to promote my application. It gives very interesting experience and useful statistics and, of course, attracts new users.

What’s the most difficult part for you about making Windows Phone game?

As for me as a developer, promotion is the hardest part. You already have a product and … oops… nobody downloads it. It is frustrating and you don’t know how to change the situation.

Are there any other games on the way? If yes, do you plan to change your marketing strategy and how?

Yes, there is one more game in the development process. The difference is that now I work not alone but with my colleagues. I think we will try to use the power of social networks to increase the popularity and downloads of future product. And, no doubt, we will integrate AdDuplex into it.

Thank you Evgeniy for sharing your experience. Looking forward for your new game!

 

And we encourage everyone to download this game and try to solve at least some of these 300 nonograms!

Getting the Best Results from Your Ad Campaigns

We have tons of happy customers and then we have a few unhappy ones. Every time someone is not getting the expected results we feel bad and would love to help you succeed in every possible way. While every situation is different there are quite a few common tips that can help you get the best results and I wanted to share them here.

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Advertising is not a suitable user acquisition strategy for every single app or game out there.

The most common source of advertiser unhappiness is campaigns that just can’t achieve positive ROI “by definition”. If you are advertising a paid app or game with no extra sources of income, most likely that it would be very hard for you to profitably acquire users via paid advertising. A free-to-download Windows Phone app/game can acquire users for about $0.5 or more per user (depending on a lot of factors). Industry data says that only 1% to 5% will ever pay for anything in a free game/app. So even if you get downloads at $0.5, convert them at 5% and you can only do it once you are looking at a ~$10 price per buyer. Clearly this doesn’t work for a $0.99 app. Unless, obviously, you believe that your app is so good that one “bought” user will bring 10+ organic users via word-of-mouth.

Now if your app is a free-to-play game or is monetized with advertising (meaning you monetize every user) or other ways of recurring revenue, it could very well be a different story.

This topic, obviously, deserves a separate long-form blog post, but the point is that you should think about the reasons you invest in the campaign. You may want to do a burst campaign to boost your store rankings and disregard the ROI in such case, but if you advertise to acquire users, just make sure that the math works for you.

We are all about helping indie developers succeed and we are happy to help you be successful. Even if it means that you don’t spend your money with us.

Test your ad copy before running a full scale ad campaign

We see many developers creating campaigns with just a single ad. While a few of them have tested this ad elsewhere, the vast majority are just willing to place the whole bank on their gut feeling about a single banner ad.

The reality is that your gut feeling is more wrong than right. So you should allocate a small portion of your campaign budget to figure out a couple of “winning” ads. Run a campaign with 5-6 dramatically different ads for a couple of days to figure out a couple that produce the best results before you set out to do your “real” campaign.

General “winning” ad copy tips

We’ve seen quite a few successful and unsuccessful campaigns and here are a few things that we’ve noticed:

It’s not about the beauty

Most of the times (for an indie developer) the same person who designed your app will design your ad. While you can be sure that they will make an ad that is as beautiful as your app or game is, it doesn’t mean that it will be the most effective.

A good ad attracts attention. So in a way you can say that the ugliest ad attracts the most attention. Obviously “ugly” is not the message you want to send to your potential users, so you have to find a great balance between representing the aesthetics of your game and attracting user’s attention with bold statements and calls to action.

Try text ads

Initially we’ve started as a text ads only network and when we introduced support for image ads, graphical banners were few and far between. But right now it’s text ads that are more rare. Additionally, unlike image ads, they are animated. So try including a couple of text ads in your test run.

Be concise

Ads are not books, they aren’t articles or even tweets. People don’t read sentences in your banners. Try to distill your message into as few words as possible. Shorter ads get more clicks.

Include a store logo

Including a Windows Store logo/badge in your banner ad sends a signal to a user that this is an ad for an app. They are more likely to pay attention to app or game ads, than to random stuff they’ve learned to ignore. They will also know what will happen after they click on the ad (they’ll be taken to the store) which gives them more confidence.

Run a separate campaign for each of your goals

While it’s easier to manage a single campaign targeting all the regions and store categories you care about, it doesn’t give you actionable insights into what is going on and where.

Define granular goals and create a separate campaign for each of them.

For example, if your goal is to reach English-speaking users, running a single campaign targeting all the English-speaking countries could be fine. But if your goal is to move up the charts in all the English-speaking countries, targeting all of them at once doesn’t give you enough control of what happens in every one of them. So in this case create a separate campaign for each country and adjust them as needed.

Localize

The rule of thumb here is this: your ads should be as localized (or more localized) as your app is. If you’ve invested time and money into localizing your app, screenshots and store listings it doesn’t make sense for you to undermine these efforts by promoting it with a “generic” English ad.

This is a list of tips I wanted to share at this point. If you have any other tips we, and the whole community, would appreciate if you could share them in the comments below.

Happy advertising!

Marketing and Monetization Interview Series #11. Majid Khosravi about Fruit Bump. What, Why and How?

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“Since the launch of Fruit Bump, we were thrilled with the positive feedback it received. With such a strong reception, we are putting in more effort in further development of our main project, and what we hope will become a series of future casual puzzle hits. Twimler is growing daily, and there’s plenty in store for our fans and new players alike.” – sais Majid Khosravi, the Managing Director at Twimler and creator of Fruit Bump. In this interview Majid will share his experience of what it takes to create a captivating match 3 puzzle game and where to pay more attention while building mobile games in general.

Fruit Bump now has over 600 levels of match 3 fun and more than 2 million downloads on three leading platforms: iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Currently there are about 300,000 daily players from which half have completed at least 100 levels. This is an exceptional retention rate for a new pick-up-and-go game!

1. What is your background? What did you do before mobile games?

I was always fascinated with computers and the creative possibilities available in programming. I found ways to teach myself the core fundamentals behind computers and pursued a relevant degree in the field. Delving into many areas of computer science and finally focusing on software development. I started working thirteen years ago as a software developer, and more recently, I decided to start my own software development company which has evolved into Twimler. 

2. How did you decide to make match 3 puzzle game in such a competitive genre? Where do you get your inspiration and knowledge on how to acquire more users?

FruitBump

I was always a big fan of mobile games, especially puzzle games. The idea started to take shape around early 2013, when we decided to design our first game. Every member of the team pitched in with original ideas in a number genres and styles; however, after thorough discussion, we felt a match 3 title was perfectly suited for smaller mobile screens, was easy to get into and had almost infinite variations which we could experiment with. Initially, the focus was to build a game that we enjoy playing ourselves, although we have implemented feedback mechanism and in-game statistics tracking from day one to let our customers know how they felt about the experience they were getting. From then on, client feedback shaped our design, and we like to think it turned out rather well! 

Fruit-bumpWe were aware that this was a competitive market but did not let that stop us from building our game. Our team did not follow the herd, putting in and experimenting with original game rules that were not at all common in similar puzzlers, although we kept the basic framework of match 3 very familiar and easy to play. It was a risky approach, but creative and original content is the only sure way of grabbing a significant user base from giants like King and Gameloft.

Originally, we faced many challenges and lots of questions were raised as we were new to the market. We had to try most of the platforms, popular and obscure ones, to find out which ones worked best for us in both monetization and user acquisition. So yes, our inspiration comes directly from our customers and plenty of statistics. Facebook integration from the very early versions of Fruit Bump was also a huge long term boon for us. 

3. We must say that Fruit Bump is on the TOP list in AdDuplex Direct catalog. How do you feel about it from your side? What other ways do you use to monetize this game?

I am pleased to see Fruit Bump is up there and doing well! It was a pleasure to work on, and everyone at Twimler rooting for its success. User feedback was higher than our expectations and we are delighted to see the results. Moreover, AdDuplex Direct platform takes away all of the hassle of building a mediation tool for us to fill up our inventory. And AdDuplex SDK is very easy to use, its stable and doesn’t compromise the game play at all.

For monetization we use a combination of both: ads and in-app purchases. We also experimented with retail priced releases of the game and chapter based pricing, yet skill focused free-to-play model with optional add-ons seems to resonate exceptionally well in the current market, attracting players from all social and age demographics.

4. Do you dedicate specific time on Fruit Bump marketing? If yes: What marketing strategies have you tried on different platforms to promote Fruit Bump?

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Yes, the main challenge after releasing the game was marketing it, and we had to try a number of approaches. Everyone chipped in with ideas in this area of production. We also had a dedicated member of staff responsible for generating marketing materials and getting in touch with distributors, publishers and media.  

Using social platforms such as Facebook was the first approach. With Facebook SDK we made it possible for our players to connect and share their scores with their friends. Currently we have around 45,000 fans on Facebook and bountiful number of likes.

We have also tried several advertising platforms to get new players with CPC, CPI and CPM campaigns at regular interval, normally coinciding with major updates to the game. Furthermore both paid and exchange traffic models played a part.

5. Can you identify what works better on Windows Phone?

On Windows Phone, the main challenge was filling up the inventory. We were looking for a platform that was stable, doesn’t compromise user experience and enables us to monetize and promote the game at the same time. AdDuplex, after a number of trials, happened to be the best choice for our needs!

6. Fruit Bump is quite popular on Android and iOS too. How do those platforms compare for you to Windows Phone in terms of user acquisition and monetization?

On Android and iOS, the competition is higher, so it is more difficult to keep up and stand out. Big companies are bidding higher each day on their campaigns and outbidding smaller companies. Since Windows Phone marketplace was itself a new thing, it was much easier to take the fight to the big boys and compete on equal footing. Of course, we had to make sure that we have built a good game which captures the attention of our audience. Without solid content, success won’t come easily regardless of what marketplace is chosen. 

Monetization, on the other hand, has its own challenges for iOS and Android. There are lots of advertising players in the market. Choosing the right one for the game might be frustrating and will take a lot of time and trials. You just cannot take some of their marketing figures at face value. A dozen or so look great on paper but rarely deliver close to their stated metrics. This is why Twimler relied on in-house statistics and monitoring to weed out poor performers. 

7. What was/is the biggest struggle in acquiring new users for Windows Phone games? What Windows Phone game developers should pay more attention to?

In my opinion, the biggest struggle now is to get targeted users on Windows Phone. It is important that you know your audience very well, and ensure your game description, screenshots and advertising materials reflect the game correctly. You only have a few moments to capture someone’s attention, and if you miss the mark by cutting back on quality content, you will suffer from bad reviews and poor retention rates. For a casual game to succeed its appeal must be broad, but it would be foolhardy and risky to release a jack-of-all-trades click trap, and we certainly do not recommend this approach. Find your audience, listen to their feedback and craft experiences deserving of their time — Twimler lives by these principles, and we must say they have not failed us yet.

8. How would you launch your first game if you were starting today?

I would probably launch it across all major platforms at once — a synchronized launch, and give it a higher advertising campaign budget to create the right buzz early on. I believe the first weeks after releasing the game are very important and developers should try their best to get as many of the target audience flocking to their games. Moreover, since Twimler has grown and has a lively community of active users, I believe it would now be much easier to get relevant media outlets and distribution portals interested in working in partnership with us; resulting in a much wider exposure than a start-up can muster.

As it was mentioned before, Fruit Bump is a member of AdDuplex Direct program. For those who are not aware: AdDuplex Direct is a platform for app and game developers and advertisers which enables you to do your advertising directly without having to worry about the technical side of the deal. Are you there yet?

So you can advertise your app or game directly through Fruit Bump right now. And of course take a challenge to complete all 600+ levels! Follow Fruit Bump on Twitter, Facebook and Twimler.com for the latest updates.

The Secret Benefits of Cross-Promotion

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Here’s a popular fairytale – when you finish developing your great app and publish it in the Store, you just relax, sit and wait for the users. “Build it and they will come!”. Unfortunately this is nothing more than a fairytale. Most likely your future users won’t be aware of your new app. That’s why you need to do some marketing for it. And as we all know marketing campaigns are not that cheap. Besides, the vast majority of developers do not have a big marketing budget.

This time we’ve put together a list of the main advantages of AdDuplex cross-promotion network and what you as a developer can get from that. But first…

What app cross-promoting actually is? App cross-promotion is a marketing and user acquisition strategy that encourages users to use another similar app or game. In other words developers share the love by helping their developer friends by advertising each others applications.

So the secret is that there are no secrets at all. We identified four main points why AdDuplex cross-promoting might be the best marketing choice for your Windows Store or Windows Phone app or game:

  1. Free of charge. Cross-promoting is a perfect solution for developers with low budget because it’s FREE. The exchange ratio is 8:10. This means that for each 10 ads displayed in your app 8 of your ads will be shown in other apps (the remaining 2 ads are being sold to support the service).
  2. Focused. Another huge advantage is that cross-promoting is highly focused. AdDuplex cross-promotion network is precisely focused on Windows 8 and Windows Phone apps and games. So you can be sure that your app’s advertising space will not be filled with shower gel adverts, etc.
  3. 100% fill rate. AdDuplex helps you to utilize 100% of your ad space. Why is this important? If you are serving paid ads in your application you should know that the average fill rate in mobile ad space could be as low as 10%. This means that you are wasting your ad space 9 times out of 10. Combining paid ads with AdDuplex cross-promotion might become one of the most effective strategies because the fill rate will increase up to 100%. So even when you are not making money from the other ad network you get free promotion for your app.
  4. Global. There are more than 8,500 apps in AdDuplex network with users from all over the world. And that generates more than 30 million ad impressions per day. Therefore your ad will be shown to users from more than 200 countries and it will definitely help you gain access to a wider user base. 

To sum up, AdDuplex cross-promotion network enables you to reach a wider audience of new users from different apps you wouldn’t normally have access to. It is a free win-win solution for Windows Store or Windows Phone developers to effectively promote your apps and acquire more users.

Best Internet Sources to Follow to Get Daily Windows Phone News

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Last months challenge attracted quite some attention so we got a great view of what are your favorite internet sources to keep up with news about Windows Phone.

We got more than 150 different titles of internet sources from more than 4000 responses. And we are glad to share the list of WP internet sources our blog readers admitted to be the must follow to keep yourself up to date:

Most favorite internet source worldwideWP Central

Here are TOP-5 websites that were declared as great internet sources to get news about Windows Phone:

  1. WP Central
  2. WMPoweruser
  3. The Verge
  4. Engadget
  5. DVLUP

Most influential Twitter account@joebelfiore

Since the challenge got a lot of attention from Brazil, we must note that the most favorite Brazilian internet source is Nokiatividade.

If you haven’t picked up your favorite one then follow them all 🙂

And be sure to follow our blog to find out what August Challenge will be about and what devices we will be giving away to the winners. We will announce it very soon!

P.S. we will announce the winners of Special Challenge of July on Monday (August 4th)

AdDuplex Direct is Here – Advertise in Great Windows Phone Apps and Games!

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Back in March we have announced that we are working on a new product called AdDuplex Direct. I’m happy to report that AdDuplex Direct is finally here!

Quick reminder of what AdDuplex Direct is… AdDuplex Direct is a platform for app publishers and advertisers to conduct direct advertising deals without any ad serving, paperwork and payment processing hassle.

For our initial launch we have invited 10 great apps and games to participate in the program and you can promote your apps, games, products and services in them right now!

Here are these amazing apps and games in no particular order:

traffic-race-3dTraffic Race 3D Free – A perfect game for testing your driving skills! Speed through a highway and try to avoid other cars without having a crash. Make sure to collect as much money while you are driving and feel free to spend it all while buying new cars for your collection. The game is really beautifully designed, allowing you to control your car by tilting your device and giving you a realistic feel of driving an automobile.
[advertise in Traffic Race 3D Free now!]

1st4fans-manchester-united-edition1st4Fans Manchester United edition – Happened to be a football fan? 1st4Fans Manchester United edition is one out of many football related apps created by Ranyart Systems and this one is all about Manchester United. The app allows you to track live scores (supports live tile), team standings, all team related news and lots more. A must-have for every real MU fan.
[advertise in 1st4Fans Manchester United edition now!]

daily-wallpaperDaily Wallpaper – A very useful and convenient app for having fresh Bing wallpapers right on your Windows Phone. The app is updated on a daily basis, giving you a new wallpaper every day. Browse throughout the Bing wallpaper history, save the favorite wallpapers on your phone and keep your WP screen beautiful!
[advertise in Daily Wallpaper now!]

my-stocks-portfolioMy Stocks Portfolio – This one is a super handy and easy-to-use app for those who want to keep track of the global stock market and their personal investments. The app gives you a variety of great tools, such as live charts, multi-currency portfolio support, live tile support, etc. It is definitely a number one go-to stock app on WP store.
[advertise in My Stocks Portfolio now!]

phototasticPhototastic – Making super beautiful photo collages now is an easy task if you are using Phototastic on your WP. The app gives you a huge variety of standard collage frames, lots of effects, social sharing and plenty of other tools for you to create perfect combinations of your photos and to share them with the rest of the world!
[advertise in Phototastic now!]

movie-junkieMovie Junkie – A really fun alternative to all the logo quiz games on the store and especially great for all those movie “junkies” out there. The game gives you hours of entertainment with more than 500 movie posters that you need to uncover. A really fun way to spend your time and challenge yourself or your friends.
[advertise in Movie Junkie now!]

tank-onTank ON – Modern Defender – It’s a modern version of the castle defender games including lots of RPG elements. Your mission is to shoot, smash and finally to destroy all the unfriendly forces trying to invade your base. While traveling through the game levels, you get a chance to upgrade your weapons, defense systems, etc. which makes the game a lot more involving and entertaining. So, before downloading this game, make sure you are ready for some serious battle.
[advertise in Tank ON – Modern Defender now!]

solitaire-hdSolitaire HD – This game needs no intro. Simple but beautiful – Solitaire HD is a number one Solitaire app on the Windows Phone store. This game has all that you need for your solitaire match – beautiful graphics, lots of options, smart hints, a high-score page, plenty of card and table designs and etc. Surely a golden standard for solitaire on your WP.
[advertise in Solitaire HD now!]

fruit-bumpFruit Bump – An awesome match-3 puzzle game with delicious graphics and fruity sounds. The goal in this puzzle is to put three matching fruits in one line and to complete the game objectives. Having lots and lots of levels and different modes, the game is really challenging but entertaining, so all you need to do is to get ready for this juicy puzzle adventure.
[advertise in Fruit Bump now!]

weaveWeave News Reader – It’s an exclusive Windows Phone news reader app that allows you to follow any blog or website you want. The app already has a plenty of built-in news sources you can follow (the sources are grouped by categories), while also letting you to browse and add any news page of your own. With a constantly updating live tile and lots of customization options Weave is a perfect choice when it comes to news reading.
[advertise in Weave News Reader now!]

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Don’t miss your chance to place your ads in one (or more) of these premium apps and games! As you can imagine, the space is limited so act quick.

In a few weeks we will invite more apps, so if you have an app and need a platform to simplify your direct ad sales, please apply via the AdDuplex Direct tab in your app’s details page or send us a note at sales@adduplex.com

Marketing and Monetization Interview Series #10. When Robotics and Windows Phone Get Together.

robert-oschlerRobert Oschler, artificial intelligence and smartphone developer, is currently working on a project called Nanabot, that is a robotics app for Windows Phone owners. Indiegogo campaign will end up on 30th June and the fundraiser is looking for the contributions to enable Windows Phone developers to easily build fun and exciting apps for the RoboMe robot. Robert says, that many of you could reveal the possibilities of robotics apps by combining the toolkit with the amazing set of sensors a Lumia phone has, like the Compass, or NFC tags (proximity sensors), the Gyroscope, Accelerometer and Inclinator, and of course the Camera and Microphone! Combined with the incredible Cortana APIs for speech recognition and text to speech, and it truly is a case where the only limit to your fun, and perhaps a lucrative financial success, is your imagination.
 
So today we are talking about the marketing strategies that Robert uses and why he is so in love with Windows Phone development.
 

Your company is called Android Technologies Inc. How come you are developing applications for Windows Phones? Don’t you find it quite ironic? 🙂
 
It’s certainly a strange twist of fate, but it’s a robotics twist to be sure. It’s Android as in androids, humanoid robots with complex intelligence and not Android phones. I am developing for Windows Phones because the tools Microsoft provides and the people that support the ecosystem behind it are amazing.
 
Getting media attention is quite a big achievement. Could you share your secret how you managed to get published in New York Times?
 
It was a combination of several years of persistence and the strength of the personal robotics market at the time, especially for entertainment robots between the years of 2005 to 2010. I aggressively pursued all the consumer robotics manufacturers for advanced looks at their newest products. The instant I got a new robot to look at I quickly wrote up a review and in many cases, simultaneously published a video review to YouTube. As soon as I published I tipped all the major gadget web sites about my reviews, sites like Gizmodo, Engadget, Wired, Crave, etc. This established me as an authority for the latest news on personal robotics, leading to my robotics web sites RobotsRule.com and Robodance.com ending up at the top of the search results for the major search engines. That raised the visibility of my efforts to the point that a reporter from The New York times looking for experts on robots for home security, contacted me and decided to write me up. Note, your readers can use a service like HARO (Help A Reporter Out) to get interviewed on various subjects and potentially get written up and linked to from various publications.
 
Windows Phone developers should consider becoming an authority on the category of apps their apps fit into. Help the major web sites out like Windows Phone Central, etc. by providing them with a steady stream of valuable application tips or reviews, but make sure they are unbiased and useful tips or reviews, not just spam tips to your own apps. Then when you do have a tip about your own apps, they will be much more receptive to taking a look at it and publishing it. Another way to get downloads for your app is to offer to write a “guest article” for a Windows Phone related web site. Most sites usually allow you to include a link in your bio with the article but again, the article must be genuinely useful and not promotional or it will be rejected.
 
What other marketing strategies do you use to promote your applications? Which ones are most effective?
 
Publishing instructional videos to YouTube can be a big help, but remember to promote them to popular user groups and the digital press outlets. Create a video that shows just how useful your app is but remember that It really helps to add a few funny bits to the video.
Even if you have a serious app you can add humor to it. Show people going about their lives without your app and over-dramatize just how awful things are for them. Be creative. For example, here you can watch the video that shows an early demonstration of an app I created that used Skype to control a robot remotely and has nearly a million views on YouTube. There’s a couple of silly parts just to keep the video from being too dry.
 
You should always create at least a micro-site for your best Windows Phone apps with photos, articles, and videos on it to drive traffic to your app. Make sure you track that web traffic with a decent Web Analytics package.  Analyze that traffic for geographic and keyword (search phrase) information and adjust your efforts to your findings.
 
Finally, never forget the value of the occasional press release. Learn how to write one and when you release a new app, publish a press release on it. If you can afford one of the press release distribution services, use them.
 
Few more days to go for your open source robotics project Nanabot on crowdfunding site Indiegogo. The market of robotics is not that empty. What is your key vehicle to get on top of it?
 
As far as an affordable consumer robot that does more than the usual “bag of tricks” like guard a room, explore a room making canned simple responses, etc., the market is completely empty. A consumer robot that is mass produced like RoboMe, (the robot Nanabot runs on), and that does all the things Nanabot does simply does not exist. Next year there is Pepper from Sony & Aldebaran, but that’s not until the second quarter of 2015 and that’s a $2000 USD robot. You can buy a RoboMe on Amazon for under $100 USD. Then all you need is a Windows Phone and if you don’t have one, you can get a Lumia 520 off-contract for $69. There’s the amazing Nao robot from Aldebaran, but Nao is about $6900 USD and you have to program it yourself. Nanabot will track faces, play games, chat with you, etc. right “out of the box” when its finished after the fundraiser. Therefore my unique selling position is a truly affordable consumer robot paired with an amazing Windows Phone that gives people a robot that’s a lot more fun and advanced than the current crop of home robots. Remember, none of those other robots support Windows Phone or Windows Store app like Nanabot will if funded.
 
You introduce Nanabot as a game playing, face tracking personal robot. In 2013 the world was crazy about the Oscar winner movie “Her” about operating system that is designed to be as a friend or companion in your everyday activities. Do you see Nanabot’s or Cortana’s future in a similar perspective?
 
Yes I do but some perspective is needed. Nanabot is not a full fledged artificial intelligence personality. That’s still off in the future, but not as far off as some people might think. Microsoft has the resources and talent to be the first to make that happen with Cortana, just like they were the first company to make personal computers a global reality. Perhaps there’s a version of Cortana hidden in a secret lab in Redmond that is that advanced. But if that’s true, they are not letting me talk to her. Nanabot uses the Cortana APIs, a powerful open source chat-bot engine called ChatScript, and quite a few clever tricks to create a virtual personality that’s funny and conversational, but in a limited way and nowhere near the capabilities of “Her” or “Hal (2001)”, or the android in “A.I.”.
 
Note: Developers can learn more about ChatScript here.
 
As you mentioned you want to create something that iOS or Android users can’t get. How come you chose to build it only for Windows Phone users? Are you affiliated with Microsoft in any way? Or are there any other reasons?
 
It’s not that I chose to build it only for Windows Phone users.  It’s my sincerest desire that Nanabot is compelling enough that iOS and Android users will become Windows Phone users to get it. A Lumia 520 off-contract is about $69 USD and that’s a low enough price for someone to get it as a second phone. It will most likely become their “first phone” because it’s such a great smart phone. I chose Windows Phone because the fantastic people at DVLUP showed me just how extraordinary a platform it is for developing complex, powerful apps that users love. That, combined with the rich and capable tools Microsoft provides to developers to make Windows Phone apps, and I fell in love with the Windows Phone development platform. My only affiliation with Microsoft is as an avid fan and user of their development tools and devices.
 
 
We wish Robert all the best with Nanabot and all other projects he is / will be working on. And as we mentioned before the fundraiser closes on June 30th. So we encourage you to go to Indiegogo’s page and contribute now “to help Microsoft to avoid being late to the personal robotics market”.

Introducing AdDuplex Direct – Monetize Your Apps

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Over the last few months we were actively working on something that we really wanted to share with you, but couldn’t. There were just too many moving parts and unknowns. We are still some time away from launching the product, but we have the concept ironed out and couldn’t resist the opportunity to discuss it freely with our friends while at BUILD. So, today we are unveiling AdDuplex Direct!

A little bit of history

AdDuplex was created with a vision of helping independent developers succeed on Windows Phone (and later Windows 8). Our goal was helping you grow your userbase for free or with minimal investments and we were laser focused on that mission. Our reasoning was that there are ways for developers to monetize their apps and the biggest challenge was getting to a usage level when monetization efforts even make sense. Helping with that was our mission from the day we launched in 2011. This is still our main mission going forward.

Having said that, we’ve heard from developers times and times again, that growing the audience is not their only challenge. Not every app is well suited for selling additional functionality or content. Not every indie game developer has skills and resources to spend months optimizing the economics of the game for maximum revenue. And let’s face it, almost no one is buying paid indie apps and games these days.

Advertising continues to be the most hassle-free way for small and medium app developers to monetize their apps. Our developer friends often tell us that they like monetizing their apps with ads, but the problem is that current offerings do not deliver. They loved the cross-promotion part of AdDuplex and continually asked us to step up on the monetization side.

We always wanted to help. But the thing is – we are not a company built around advertising sales. We are a company started by developers. Doing a product to help developers. So we had the question of how we can help with the monetization on our mind, while we were actively working on other things. And with time it materialized into what we are unveiling today…

What is AdDuplex Direct?

As I mentioned above, we are not sales company. We won’t do the sales for you. What we will do, is give you a platform to do your own ad sales. A platform that will help you find your advertisers. A platform were you can sell and buy advertising in the best Windows Phone apps and games out there.

AdDuplex Direct is a marketplace where the best apps meet the best advertisers and do business together without having to worry about the technical side of the deal.

As an app developer you will be able to apply to AdDuplex Direct and have a listing for your app in the AdDuplex Direct Catalog. As an advertiser you will browse the catalog, select the apps you like and initiate advertising deals. When both parties agree on the scope of the deal the advertising campaign starts and when it’s over the developer gets paid. AdDuplex takes care of the catalog, ad serving, money handling – you develop the apps.

Great! How do I apply?

The application process is open to all Windows Phone apps running AdDuplex SDK v.2 (Windows 8 coming later). Just go to your app’s details in the new Client Area and you should see an AdDuplex Direct tab at the bottom:

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We plan to select a small number of apps for the initial AdDuplex Direct launch and will gradually invite more and more apps.

 

Questions?

Obviously you have a lot of questions about AdDuplex Direct. Here are a few questions that we’ve anticipated. Feel free to ask more in the comments below or over email.

Q: When is it going live?

We aim to launch publicly in Q2, 2014.

Q: How much does it cost?

Listing your app in the AdDuplex Direct catalog is free. When you get paid we will take a 18% commission to cover the costs.

Q: Who can apply?

For technical (read bureaucratic) reasons we are only able to work with developers representing legal entities. We are working hard to figure out a way to work with individuals, but it is unlikely that we will have all pieces in play before the initial launch.

Q: Why is it invite-only?

We want AdDuplex Direct to become the de-facto go-to place for advertisers looking to advertise in the best Windows Phone and Windows apps. Therefore we need to control the quality of the catalog.

Q: Do I have to participate in the AdDuplex cross-promotion network to apply?

At this stage – yes. This won’t be a requirement in the long run.

Q: Why don’t you accept apps that deliver less than 10,000 ad impressions a day?

Direct deals involve a bit of manual labor on both sides of the deal. We feel that it’s counterproductive to spend people’s time individually negotiating small deals. We encourage you to use AdDuplex cross-promotion network to grow your app’s popularity and monetize it later.

Q: What happens when I don’t have enough deals to cover all of my inventory?

You will be able to select what you want to do in this case. One option will be to fallback to AdDuplex cross-promotion. The other will be (pending an SDK update) to raise a special event that would let you hide the AdDuplex control and show whatever you want instead.

We will provide more details as we are nearing the public launch, but we would love to hear what you think about AdDuplex Direct. Please do not hesitate to provide any feedback you have.