Introducing AppRaisin – a new discovery service for Windows apps

AdDuplex is all about empowering indie Windows developers and today we are happy to unveil the next step in our quest to do just that. Please welcome AppRaisin – a mobile-first service aimed at solving the biggest problem in modern app stores – app discovery. AppRaisin helps Windows enthusiasts stay on top of the latest releases, major updates and special offerings, while, at the same time, helping independent developers like yourself get much needed exposure to potential customers.

Users decide what news rise to the top by “raising” the apps they like and ignoring the noise. This way enthusiasts get to make sure that top of the crop apps get the attention they deserve and less active users get a curated list of just the best app news.

The system works similar to other social news sites like Digg, Reddit, Hacker News or Product Hunt – developers and enthusiasts post latest app news while wider community votes on them to raise the most noteworthy items up the chart. The rank of each item is based on multiple parameters including time – meaning that fresher news raise to the top while older favorites gradually slide down. This way users get a constantly fresh, curated list of new apps and important updates and your indie apps and games get a chance to rise above the corporate behemoths occupying official store charts.

Today we are releasing the first public version of the app on both Windows 10 Desktop and Mobile (it’s a Universal Windows App). This release includes basic functionality enabling news submission, rating, sharing and more. A bunch of new features is underway, including more social stuff like user pages, comments and other, but the very core that should bring back the joy of discovering great new apps and games is already there.

You can also follow us on Twitter at @AppRaisinHQ like us on Facebook or subscribe to our newsletter at AppRaisin.com to get the latest gems discovered on AppRaisin and news about the app itself.
And, please, help us spread the word by sharing AppRaisin with your friends on social media and offline. Thank you very much!

Ad resizing in new Windows 10 SDK Release

We’ve just released an important update to our Windows 10 SDK (version 10.0.1.1). Among other minor fixes and improvements It includes one important bug fix and one important new feature. Let’s cover the bug fix first.

Incorrect default ad size

Unfortunately some basic math error has slipped through unnoticed in earlier versions of the Windows 10 SDK and ads defaulted to the 320×50 effective pixel size, which is slightly incorrect aspect ration compared to the actual size of the images you upload (768×128). Sorry about that! We have now fixed the control to default to the correct size of 300×50.

Having said that, we made sure that we don’t break anything for those who had 320×50 hardcoded. In this scenario you will see some letterboxing around the ad, but the aspect ratio of the banners will be correct 6:1.

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Resizable ads

While many of you enjoyed ads being quite small, some reported that this small size looks out of place in their designs on the desktop when the app window is relatively large. So, on a more positive note, we’ve added support for resizing of the ad control, as long as the correct aspect ratio of 6:1 is upheld and the size is at least 300×50 pixels. Like in an example you see below.

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You can implement this type of resizing using adaptive triggers or other technique. The sample above sets the ad size to 480×80 and then flips the size to 300×50 when window gets narrow with code like this:

https://gist.github.com/ailon/1e234dcf1bd4d1176a67.js

As usual you can upgrade to the newest version from the Visual Studio gallery.

Introducing Support for Dev Center Campaign IDs

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With a release of the new unified Dev Center Microsoft has introduced a feature allowing you to track conversions from various marketing activities by simply adding a parameter to your Windows Store link. Read more about it on the Building Apps for Windows blog and in the documentation.

I’m happy to announce that we have added support for Campaign IDs (CID) to AdDuplex for both cross-promotion and commercial campaigns. We will support CID in both implicit and explicit forms for all Store links in the “new” Windows 10 format (those that look like https://www.microsoft.com/store/apps/yourproductid)

Automatic CIDs

If your app’s Store URL on AdDuplex is in this new format and doesn’t include CID parameter we will add one automatically. The format for automatic CIDs is as follows:

  • for cross-promotion – “adduplex-a-<adunitid>”
  • for commercial campaigns – “adduplex-c-<campaignid>”

What if I want to use my own Campaign IDs? Do you support that?

Absolutely! You can use whatever CID you like by simply changing your app’s Store URL to one that includes your own custom CID like this:

https://www.microsoft.com/store/apps/yourproductid?cid=yourcampaignid

But what if I have a Windows Phone or Windows 8.x app and use an older link format?

You can’t use CID parameters with “old” links. However you can use the new URL format even if your app is not specifically built for Windows 10. Those URLs will redirect to a correct Store based on the user’s OS version. To get a new URL go to your Dev Center Dashboard go into the details for your app, “App Management”, “App Identity” and find “URL for Windows 10” at the bottom of that page. Then just update your AdDuplex listing with that URL and you are set.

Where can I see conversion reports?

You should be able to see the conversion reports for your campaigns in the “Analytics” –> “Channels and conversions” section in the Dev Center.

We will integrate that data into AdDuplex reports in the future. This will require an update to AdDuplex SDK.

Let us know how this works for you!

We would love to hear from you about our implementation of support for campaign ids and the results you see from the Dev Center reports. Please post your feedback in the comments bellow or share it privately at info@adduplex.com

AdDuplex Windows 10 SDK is here!

Baneris_797x435Just a few hours have passed since Windows 10 SDK became available to app developers and we are proud to present the first native Windows 10 cross-promotion network and (to the best of our knowledge) the first ad SDK for your Universal Windows Platform apps!

TL;DR version

  1. AdDuplex SDK for Windows 10 is out – get it here;
  2. It’s beta quality;
  3. It supports banners and interstitials (same specs as for Windows Phone apps);
  4. Go create a new Windows 10 app listing in the Client Area and add SDK into your app or game – it’s as simple as it was for Windows Phone;
  5. Watch your user base grow!

New but familiar

Up to now we had 2 fairly separate sub-networks – one for Windows Phone apps and one for Windows 8.x. With Windows 10 UWP you will be able to build universal apps supporting all sorts of devices, so the boundary that we had doesn’t make a lot of sense going forward. We had 3 choices: start a brand new “sub-network” for Windows 10 apps or continue with one of the existing branches and keep the other one for the “legacy” apps.

While starting clean looked attractive, we felt that giving developers an established network to promote their apps on is way more important. So that left us with 2 choices: move forward based on the Windows Phone subnet or continue with Windows 8. While the timing for Windows 10 version releases suggests the later, everything else was in favor of going forward with the Windows Phone branch. We have about 8x more apps on the Windows Phone network than Windows 8, we have interstitial support on WP, more streamlined ad formats (we have 7 ad sizes on Windows 8 and most of them are sparsely used), etc. And, to be honest, even Microsoft admits that Store apps never really took off on Windows, even with a much broader user base than that of WP.

So we are building our Windows 10 cross-promotion network on top of our Windows Phone foundation. This will give your universal apps a much broader network of potential users once Windows 10 Mobile is released.

Getting started

If you are familiar with AdDuplex client area setting up a Windows 10 app won’t be a problem.

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The main difference is that now, in addition to selecting your app’s platform, for Windows 10 apps you have to specify supported device families. You will also need to provide a new format Store URL that you can get from Dev Center (App Management –> App identity)

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Then everything is the same as it is for Windows Phone apps – you can create one or more ad units which are either for banner ads or interstitials. Image formats and specifications are the same as well (768×128 <25kb for banners, 1600×900/900×1600 <256kb for interstitials).

Note: we are aware that you may want to have other banner options when running on a bigger screen (like vertical or square banners) and we will address this at a later stage.

As for the code, it’s pretty much the same as it was for Windows Phone – just download the SDK from the Visual Studio Gallery and follow the instructions in the Code tab of your app’s listing.

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Known issues

There could be some issues if you add a “close ad” button in the corner of the ad control. We are working on fixing this and improving overall process for implementing such a button. We recommend that you refrain from implementing it with this version of the SDK.

It’s a first release, so be gentle

Windows 10 is brand new, Windows 10 developer tools are brand new, so is our SDK and overall support for it in the AdDuplex system. Inevitably there will be smaller or larger issues and we apologize if you hit one of them.

On the other hand, it is impossible for us to eradicate the bugs and fix all the quirks without your help. So, please, do integrate our SDK into your great UWP apps and games at your earliest convenience and test it out. Send your bug reports, comments and suggestions to support@adduplex.com.

Thank you, and let’s build the greatest cross-promotion network for your Windows 10 apps together!