Game Over for Incentivized App Downloads

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Editor’s note: Guest author Gurbaksh Chahal has founded three startups and is currently CEO and founder of RadiumOne, an online ad network that aims to combine social and intent data to serve ads.

The business model of incentivized app downloads was recently dealt a death sentence by Apple.  Apple said incentivized app downloads were driving inaccurate rankings in the App Store, almost certainly because essentially paying consumers to download apps was a way of gaming a ranking system that used downloads as a key metric.  To be fair, there were many quality apps taking advantage of the loophole in the ranking system, but that era has ended. And so have the days of companies making money hand over fist in the incentivized downloads business, better known in the industry as Cost Per Install or CPI.

So how exactly did it work? Say you’re playing a game that offers you virtual currency; the game might ask you to download an advertised application in exchange for virtual credits within that game. You install the app and get your in-game currency. The app gets a new install and pays for that.  This quickly generates bursts of installs, immediately boosting an app’s ranking in the app store.

My feeling about this change in the App Store ranking—“Hooray!” I’m glad that Apple put a stake in the heart of this “quick buck” scheme. It’s going to force everyone in the mobile space to get back to making money the old school way—with real and targeted advertising.

The companies in the CPI business (TapJoyFlurrymdotmw3i) were slowing this transition and this focus. And they all knew that CPI was a house of cards revenue stream that was not sustainable and wouldn’t be ignored by Apple indefinitely. Furthermore, CPI is a business model with constrained inventory. You can only monetize to the number of apps in the network. That’s always going to be a finite number and a small number when most app developers aren’t big enough to even afford CPI.

So what replaces CPI?  In my opinion—and granted I’m biased because I’ve founded three companies that serve online display advertising—mobile display ad solutions are the way of the future. Display offers a much greater growth potential than CPI because of near limitless inventory.  The IAB recently estimated that last year alone, advertisers spent more than $550 million on mobile advertising.  That pace is outstripping the growth of online display and CPI is no match.

Mobile advertising is a rapidly iterating field. In many ways this CPI ruckus is reminiscent of the early days of online display. Remember the days before IAB standards, when click fraud was rampant and there was a virtual cornucopia of monetization schemes offered by now defunct companies that were “gaming” the system?

The next chapter in mobile advertising, for the companies able to keep up with the pace of change, will be better ad solutions for app developers, advertisers and consumers.  Just consider this: Over 25% of current mobile landing pages go to the App Store.  Display can drive App Store rankings.  Think about what the seer of Internet advertising, Kleiner Perkins’ Mary Meeker noted in her Top Mobile Internet Trends report:

  1. Mobile display is hitting a critical mass faster than the desktop Internet did
  2. Powerful shift to ad and virtual good monetization from initial pay per download models
  3. About 60% of time spent on smartphones is new activity for mobile users – activities such as games, social networking, maps, utilities.

So let’s say farewell and good riddance to mobile CPI and find better advertising models that actually give consumers something they want.


April 30th 2011 apple, Mobile

Should You Even Be Blogging?!

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This guest post is by Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing.

Blogging is dead.

In fact, if you ask some people, it was never really alive.

Sure, there are a gazillion blogs out there, and sure, some of them have tons of followers and make lots of money.

But let’s face facts. Most of the blogosphere consists of ghost blogs with single-digit audiences, about topics that nobody really cares about. Most blogs make zero dollars, and even cost the owners money, as well as lots of time.

So really, it’s just a matter of time before the world wakes up to the reality that blogging is dead, or was never really alive, and returns to the comfort and security of print newspapers. Right?

Umm … no, not really.

I don’t think blogging is dead, and I’d like to think that I wouldn’t make such blanket statements about anything (I’m not a big fan of Twitter, but I recognize that as being my opinion, rather than the gospel truth). The above was a quick caricature of the crotchety, ain’t-never-getting-on-board-with-this-blogging-thing sort of naysayer.

And it’s nonsense. Not just because this is ProBlogger, and if you’re reading this, then you probably disagree with almost everything I wrote. But because you’re a smart person, who knows that absolutes like “blogging is finished” or “Facebook doesn’t work” may be right for some people in some contexts, but can’t be right for everyone in every context.

So let’s try another absolute on for size. Tell me how this one grabs you:

Blogging is awesome.

In fact, it’s so awesome that I find it hard to believe people still waste money on anything else!

There are loads of blogs out there with tons of followers making lots of money—these aren’t just hypotheticals, There are tons of easy examples that come to mind, like Problogger, Copyblogger, and Firepole Marketing (okay, so Firepole Marketing isn’t in the same league, but watch this space!).

Sure, there are some ghost blogs out there, but that’s just a testament to how incredibly accessible the world of blogging really is—there are practically no barriers to entry, which means that anyone can do it, and anyone can win big.

Blogging is the ultimate level playing field, and it’s just a matter of time before the whole world wakes up and realizes that blogging is where it’s at. Right?

Umm … no, not really.

Why blog?

There really are tons of great reasons to be blogging. Here are just a few, off the top of my head:

  • Blogging is rewarding. It feels really great to write a post that you know is solid, and then have people read it and agree in the comments.
  • Blogging is educational. To keep on putting out good content, you’ve got to be reading good content, and thinking about interesting things. This makes blogging a powerful learning experience.
  • Blogging builds community. For your blog to do well, you need to connect with others like you. They will have experiences that you share, and that is the start of community. This isn’t just a web 2.0 buzz word—community provides support and momentum, which are both critical resources.
  • Blogging builds credibility. Creating solid, relevant content on a regular basis is a great way to communicate to your audience that you know your stuff.

These are good reasons, but they aren’t the only ones—I’m sure that with a bit of time, you could come up with five or ten more to add to the list!

But rather than expanding that list for several pages, I want to discuss one terrible reason to blog: all the cool kids are doing it.

Too many people start “me too” blogs, because it seems to be the thing to do. Everyone and their sister has a blog, so you should, too. It’s the magical path to freedom and riches, right?

Wrong!

Just because others are growing an audience and making lots of money doesn’t mean that you will. At the same time, just because others aren’t growing an audience and aren’t making a penny doesn’t mean that you won’t.
Each person, blog, and situation is different, and you can’t just copy-paste someone else’s successes or failures onto your life.

So … should you be blogging? Let’s explore that in a slightly roundabout way.

Back to business school

I think it’s safe to assume that if you’re reading ProBlogger, then you’re after an audience, money, or both.
Let’s go back to business school for a moment, and talk about your business model. Fundamentally, your business model answers two questions:

  1. What are people going to pay you for?
  2. What will you do to make them want to pay?

Now, whether they’re paying you in eyeballs or dollars depends on what is important to you. Either way, getting them to do it depends on giving them something that they want.

And how do you know what they want? Well, first you have to know who they are—who are you writing for?
I read somewhere that when Stephen King writes a novel, he has a specific reader in mind—someone that he knows. When the novel is done, he gives it to that person to read, and if they like it, he knows he hit the mark.

Now, if this were a post about writing, then I’d talk about how you should be thinking about a specific reader for each and every post—how to make sure you’re writing what they want to read, using language that will resonate with them, and so forth. But this post isn’t about writing (but leave a comment if you want me to write that post!).

Where does your tribe hang out?

This post is about whether you should be blogging. So here’s what I want you to do. First, choose the person that you’re writing for. See them clearly in your mind, and don’t continue until you’ve got it.

Second, ask yourself this question: “Do they read blogs?”

If the answer is yes, then great. But for too many blogs (read: the ones who never hit the traffic numbers that they want), the answer is no. Like an organization for anarchists, they’re targeting an audience in a way that the audience will never respond to—even if the audience would love all their stuff if only they read it.

It takes courage to admit it, but if that’s you, you have two options: write for a different tribe, or write somewhere else (wherever it is that they do hang out).

Let’s say that the answer is “yes”—they read blogs. The next question is: “What blogs do they read?”

That’s the answer to where you should be commenting, engaging the community, and guest posting.

Who is that one person?

It all comes back to that one person that you’re writing for. Take the time to think about who that person is, and what they want to read. No complicated tricks or frameworks—if you know them, then you know what they like, right?

So who are you writing for? Who is that one person? What are they like? Do you know who that one person is for you? Share it with me in a comment…

Danny Iny is an author, strategist, serial entrepreneur, and proud co-founder of Firepole Marketing, the definitive marketing training program for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and non-marketers. Visit his site today for a free cheat sheet about Why Guru Strategies for Blog Growth DON’T WORK… and What Does!

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Should You Even Be Blogging?!

April 30th 2011 Uncategorized

Top 50 Branded Facebook Fan Pages, April 2011

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“Stability” was largely the word of the month for the very largest branded Facebook fan pages, at least compared to last month’s rankings. The only change in the Top 10 was Converse growing 11% to leapfrog Skittles, which grew at a more typical (for this month) rate of 4%.

Top Movers

The following pages moved up the fastest this month:

  • Burberry, up 4 to #36
  • Adidas Originals, up 3 to #20
  • DC Shoes, new to the list for the first time.

From a percentage basis, congrats go to:

  • Burberry, up 19%
  • Walmart, up 18%
  • Disney, up 15%

Biggest Fallers

Nobody really plunged this month. In fact, nobody fell more than 2 positions in the rankings:

  • Victoria’s Secret, down 2 to #14
  • Zara, down 2 to #23
  • Hollister, down 2 to #44
  • 5 Gum, down 2 to #14
  • Abercrombie & Fitch, off the list, from #50
Current Rank (04/27/2011) Rank by Fan Count (03/28/11) Change in Rank Fans as of 03/28/11 Fans as of 04/27/2011 % increase
1 Facebook 1 0 36,779,877 38,771,604 5%
2 YouTube 2 0 29,831,678 31,989,409 7%
3 Coca-Cola 3 0 23,857,103 25,819,078 8%
4 Starbucks 4 0 20,329,276 21,333,509 5%
5 Disney 5 0 18,596,581 21,318,653 15%
6 MTV 6 0 18,103,645 20,191,860 12%
7 Oreo 7 0 17,468,509 18,684,841 7%
8 Red Bull 8 0 16,565,291 17,888,823 8%
9 Converse All Stars 10 1 14,895,016 16,506,013 11%
10 Skittles 9 -1 15,672,589 16,221,888 4%
11 Converse 11 0 13,421,324 15,169,794 13%
12 iTunes 13 1 12,046,910 13,427,055 11%
13 Playstation 14 1 11,528,364 13,032,605 13%
14 Victoria’s Secret 12 -2 12,085,918 12,640,869 5%
15 Pringles 16 1 10,994,657 12,276,483 12%
16 Live Messenger 15 -1 11,165,454 12,145,654 9%
17 Ferrero Rocher 18 1 8,955,078 9,880,067 10%
18 Monster Energy 17 -1 9,409,253 9,871,040 5%
19 Nutella 19 0 8,446,587 9,375,620 11%
20 adidas Originals 23 3 8,188,557 9,064,565 11%
21 Victoria’s Secret Pink 20 -1 8,422,584 8,733,585 4%
22 Dr. Pepper 22 0 8,356,394 8,705,502 4%
23 Zara 21 -2 8,410,248 8,704,005 3%
24 Disneyland 24 0 8,164,371 8,676,871 6%
25 Xbox 25 0 8,018,073 8,609,684 7%
26 Starburst 26 0 7,956,695 8,325,601 5%
27 Disney Pixar 27 0 7,870,369 8,184,917 4%
28 McDonalds 28 0 7,633,807 7,987,297 5%
29 Nike Football 31 2 6,176,073 6,949,920 13%
30 Reese’s 29 -1 6,699,194 6,913,089 3%
31 H&M 30 -1 6,544,627 6,838,200 4%
32 Taco Bell 32 0 6,044,898 6,308,792 4%
33 Blackberry 33 0 5,870,822 6,279,940 7%
34 Walt Disney World 34 0 5,869,104 6,150,589 5%
35 Starbucks Frappuccino 35 0 5,852,337 6,131,756 5%
36 Burberry 40 4 4,967,680 5,905,114 19%
37 Google Chrome 36 -1 5,663,796 5,816,846 3%
38 National Geographic 37 -1 5,175,341 5,625,800 9%
39 Lacoste 38 -1 5,168,385 5,470,081 6%
40 Subway 39 -1 5,149,631 5,399,111 5%
41 BMW 41 0 4,945,461 5,313,616 7%
42 Walmart 44 2 4,458,193 5,279,499 18%
43 Mountain Dew 43 0 4,590,239 4,881,775 6%
44 Hollister 42 -2 4,608,881 4,867,179 6%
45 DC Shoes new 4,836,484
46 Buffalo Wild Wings 45 -1 4,405,710 4,593,296 4%
47 Puma 47 0 4,243,732 4,590,201 8%
48 5 Gum 46 -2 4,350,396 4,546,998 5%
49 Sony Ericsson 48 -1 4,233,227 4,525,208 7%
50 Forever 21 49 -1 4,187,375 4,351,954 4%

Methodology

For the full methodology as to which types of pages are included and which are not included, please see the bottom of our main page for the Top 50 Facebook fan pages.

Disclosure: Both Nike and Windows Live Messenger are clients of Ignite Social Media.

Originally published on Ignite Social Media

April 30th 2011 Facebook, Social Media

Aussie expat Samira Ansari departs JWT for creative director gig at TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York

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SAMIRA-ANSARI.jpegAussie expat Samira Ansari has resigned from JWT to join TBWAChiatDay, New York as creative director.

Ansari has spent the last two and a half years at JWT NY working with Aussie expat ECD Sarah Barclay on brands such as Kotex, Wilkinson Sword/Schick, Cadbury Halls, Cadbury Trident, The International Andy Award, Macy’s and Kleenex. The Kotex campaign is doing the rounds at award shows right now and performing quite well.
Previously, Ansari was at Saatchi & Saatchi, Paris for five years
relaunching the giant brand Ariel/Dash throughout Europe. She also
worked on Toyota and Amnesty International during that time.

Samira began her career over ten years ago at Cummins and Partners, Melbourne working on planes, trains and automobiles.

Over the years, her work has been recognized by Cannes, the D&AD, Clio and the ADC.

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April 30th 2011 Uncategorized

Al Gore Reinvents the Book

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Push Pop Press, the brainchild of two former Apple engineers, just got a boost from an innovative former U.S. vice president. After having ‘invented the Internet,’ Al Gore is back to reinvent the book.

Push Pop Press is a digital tool taking books to the next level, making them even more virtually integrated than their current iterations available on e-readers. The app version of Gore’s book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, illustrates what the creators of Push Pop Press, Mike Matas and Kimon Tsinteris, are trying to accomplish. To read Gore’s book on an iPad is a mutli-sensory experience, compelling the reader to flip through photos, watch videos, and interact with infographics that augment the text.

Reinventing content for iPads and Android-driven devices makes monetary sense for newspapers and magazines that can charge advertisers larger sums than online publication. But the clear path to increased revenues for publishers remains to be seen. Though apps, like ones produced through Push Pop Press, allow programmers to capitalize on the iPad’s sensor, touchscreen, microphone, diagram, and geotag technology, tapping into these resources requires traditional publishers to shell out more money than may be returned in book sales.

 


April 30th 2011 ipad, Technology

Lose the Resumé, Start Tweeting

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The clever folks at Guardian Careers, the newspaper’s one stop shop for career advice, want to know if we can expect to enter the post-CV era anytime soon. The site posed a challenge to its readers: Use the hashtag #TwitterJobChallenge and try microblogging to get off the dole.

More than 500 tweeters have joined the challenge thus far, taking a wide range of approaches to catch the eye of future employers. Job seekers have tried the simple: "Fancy hiring me then @guardiannews?" the aggressive, "@LabourParty Had many rejections from you because of my lack of experience. Hire me and I'll prove you don't need it!" and the cheeky "GSOH advertising student seeks attractive Advertising Agency for work placement, possibly more."

Employers are getting in on the fun as well, saying contact through Twitter allows them to get a better idea of a candidate's personality beyond the formalities of a cover letter or interview. Though the Guardian has yet to hear of any outright successes, the Careers team confirms that some hopefuls have made contacts and received advice from eager employers. One contestant boasts, "3 replies: 1 contact made, 1 spec application suggestion and 1 email alert suggested, good progress!"


April 30th 2011 Technology, Twitter

Dreams, princesses and the Disney-industrial complex

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“Like a dream come true”

Choose your dreams carefully.

Everyone is entitled to a dream. It gives us hope, focuses our energy, makes us human.

Sometimes, though, we get sold a dream instead of creating our own.

Is it really every girl’s dream to become a princess, to be chosen by someone of royal birth and to have a $34 million wedding? Or is that the Disney-industrial complex betraying you, selling you short?

I just read that the folks who brought us the Mall of America are going to redo the troubled Xanadu shopping complex in New Jersey and rename it The American Dream. Is this the best we can do? Shop?

Dreams are too important to sell cheap, to give over to some organization trying to make a buck.

Catherine Casey chose a different dream–to move to Accra on her own to build an outpost of the Acumen Fund. It’s a dream that scales, that pays dividends, and most of all, that she can make come true.

It’s so easy to be sold on the combination of compliance, consumption and approval by the powers that be. Of course, you’re entitled to any dream you like, but I hope you will choose a bigger one.

April 30th 2011 Uncategorized

Turn A Filing Cabinet Into A Rolling Container Garden

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You can make a planter out of pretty much anything. An old metal filing cabinet is just about the perfect size for a raised planter you can roll in and out of the sunlight as needed. (more…)

April 30th 2011 Uncategorized

Google’s New Link for Bypassing Country Redirects

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Google has always displayed a link on the homepage that bypassed country redirects: “Google.com in English” or “Go to Google.com”, depending on the language. The link sent users to google.com/ncr (ncr=no country redirect), the pure flavor of Google that has all the new features and it’s not biased towards the pages from a certain country.

Now the link to Google.com is also displayed below the search box so you can check the search results for the same query at Google.com. It’s an useful feature, but Google also changes a cookie value and users are no longer redirected to the country-specific domain. Maybe a toggle link similar to the link to iGoogle and the classic homepage would be more useful.



{ Thanks, Arpit. }


April 30th 2011 Uncategorized

An Update To My Ethics Policy

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I’ve been in Las Vegas for most of the month and so have been out of the loop on some of the major stories rocking the world of technology and media. Stories like the startling news that, having made a sack-load of money from the sale of TechCrunch to AOL, Mike is going to begin investing in start-ups again.

Like most jealous little fucks with a WordPress login uncompromising guardians of media impartiality, I was shocked – shocked – at the news, but unlike most of those guardians, I was reassured the honesty of his disclosure. I also laughed at HuffPost’s official statement that – well – Mike is special and that everyone should stop whining.

“Michael Arrington operates from a unique position. He was an investor in technology companies and start-ups before he started TechCrunch, and his extensive knowledge of, and involvement with Silicon Valley is one of the very things that has made TechCrunch a must-read site. TechCrunch is committed to transparency.”

Indeed we are. And so, prompted by Mike’s ethical pivot, I’ve decided it’s time to update my own code of conduct, the previous version of which can be found here. After all, in the two years since I last updated the document, I’ve quit drinking, received another book advance and – yeah – made some cash from my own TechCrunch shares. The drinking thing alone has left me with more spare cash that I know what to do with.

Here then, for the record, are the relevant changes to my core ethics now that I am sickeningly rich…

“Principle One: I am a whore.”

In the previous version of my ethics statement, I explained that the quality of my work is directly related to how much I’m paid….

“Look at the cover of my book. See the word Whore? It’s in red. That’s because I am a whore; a hussy; a slut-for-hire; a man of scarlet letters. I write newspaper columns because people pay me to do so. I write books for the same reason. The more I get paid, the better I write…”

…Now that I am dripping with wealth, that is no longer the case. Henceforth, the quality of my work will be related only to whether I can be bothered to get out of bed in the morning. (Today was a sleepy day)

“Principle Four: What are friends for?”

Previously, I made clear that I would generally write mean things about my enemies and nice things about my friends…

“If you’re my friend I will write nice things about you; if you’re not I probably won’t.”

…Now that I have more money than I know what to do with, however, I no longer feel any loyalty towards my friends; I can always buy new ones. As for my enemies – I don’t need to write about them to get revenge; I can simply pay to have them killed.

In terms of my day-to-day interactions with PR professionals, I previously adopted a non-discrimination policy….

“When trying to hook up with your PR girl at your party, how attractive she is will play almost no part in my decision making. That would smack of discrimination.”

…That policy is no longer in operation.

“Bribery: If you buy me a Happy Meal as a bribe, I will refuse to accept the free toy. See also, Kinder Surprise eggs.”

A couple of simple text changes to the above. For “Kinder Surprise eggs”, now read “Fabergé Eggs”. For “Happy Meal”, read “Happy Ending”.

And finally, an all important note on stocks. In the previous iteration of my ethics statement, I made clear that I try to avoid owning stocks as all of my investments very quickly turn to shit. This is still the case, except now I deliberately invest my vast wealth in things specifically in the hope that my involvement will lead to their downfall.

Recent investments include $5,000 for 60% of ZDNet’s Tom Foremski’s sense of proportion and a little over $3.50 for a controlling stake in the editorial integrity Forbes.com. Both investments are performing nicely.


April 30th 2011 Uncategorized