AppLift Blog

The mobile games marketing Blog.

AppLift Blog

A couple of weeks ago, Google updated their Play Store Developer Program Policies with a few substantial changes, notably in terms of app content, app store promotion and advertising. While this is somewhat old news, there are a few points we’d like to focus on more specifically for what they mean for the industry as a whole, and for native advertising in particular.

First of all, it seems that Google continues to tighten its grip on its developer and publisher ecosystem by further cracking down on shady advertising techniques. In the previous major update, light was cast upon advertising carried through changes made to the device outside of the original app, such as icon drops, shortcut creation or system-level push notifications.

With the latest update, Google targets the following additional points:

  • Promotion via deceptive ads on websites, apps or other properties, including simulated system, service, or app notifications or alerts (close to what was already enforced)
  • Promotion or install tactics which cause redirection to Google Play or the download of the app without informed user action. (so-called “redirects”)
  • Unsolicited promotion via SMS services.

Then, another change comes right in line with our recent article on Free-to-Play regulation and the guidelines published recently by the British Office of Fair Trading:

  • If your product description on Google Play refers to in-app features to which a specific or additional charge applies, your description must clearly notify users that payment is required to access those features.

From a consumer perspective, this guideline is very sensible. However, the next logical step for Google would be to display a list of in-app purchase items with their respective costs on the Play Store page, as is already the case for the Apple App Store.

Finally, Google specified the context in which advertising can be placed within apps:

  • Ads must not simulate or impersonate the user interface of any app, or notification and warning elements of an operating system. It must be clear to the user which app each ad is associated with or implemented in.

As many commentators rightfully noted, this point strengthens the prohibition to use system-level mechanisms for advertising (already mentioned above).

There is however an additional element within the paragraph: “Ads must not simulate or impersonate the user interface of any app”. Mobyaffiliates singled out the possibility for this amendment to have an impact on native mobile ads. The general purpose of native advertising is indeed to appear as seamless as possible within an app’s user interface.

While this observation is relevant in light of Google’s latest policy update, we do not believe that this specific guideline is likely to cause a fundamental problem for native ads.

First, and although it is no proof as such, Google pioneered online native advertising with search ads and is therefore in a good position to understand the value it brings for both publishers and users.
Then, we believe native ads will stay clear of any criticisms that they might cause confusion for users at the condition that they “say their name” in order to be differentiated from the actual content of the app.

In this regard, the Internet Advertising Bureau published a “Native Advertising Playbook”, in which they recommend specific terms of disclosure for various types of native ad units.

Here is for example the recommended disclosure language for in-feed ads:

“Commonly used disclosure language for in-feed ads includes: “Advertisement” or “AD“ (Google, YouTube), “Promoted” or “Promoted by [brand]” (Twitter, Sharethrough), “Sponsored” or “Sponsored by [brand]” or “Sponsored Content” (LinkedIn, Yahoo), “Presented by [brand]” + “Featured Partner” tag (BuzzFeed, Huffington Post), and “Suggested Post” + a “Sponsored” tag (Facebook).”

Google and Facebook disclose search and in-feed ads with, respectively, the terms “Ad” and “Sponsored”:

          

With the mobile advertising industry maturing, there is a strong need to foster trust and transparency among all parties and separate the wheat from the chaff. Spammy and confusing techniques, such as system-level push notifications or app store redirects generate a terrible user experience and need to stop. In this sense, Google’s policy update goes in the right direction. Native ads however, if properly disclosed, currently represent the most user-friendly form of mobile advertising and should be embraced as such.

Week 15

Get the 5 most interesting stories from the week that was in the mobile industry. (more…)

Week 14

What happened this week in the mobile industry? (more…)

A few weeks ago the EU Commission made the headlines by investigating apps and games advertised as “free” but containing associated costs in the form of in-app purchase items (IAP). The Commission met with national enforcement authorities as well as large tech companies to discuss consumer concerns over the app economy and published a document summing up their common position on the topic.

While the Free-to-Play (F2P) model has now become a mainstream concept for anyone remotely related to the mobile games industry, it is only recently that the European Commission as well as several national authorities started looking for ways to bring more regulation into it.

As a mobile games marketing platform working with and in the interest of mobile game publishers on a daily basis, we thought to use this opportunity to take a deeper look into the current state of various F2P regulation policies in the US, in the UK as well as at the European Union Level. (more…)

Week 13

Get the 5 most interesting links from the week that was in the mobile industry. (more…)

Week 12

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) caught most of the media attention this week, but look no further to get the 5 most interesting links from the week that was. (more…)

Week 11

Once again, we have gathered 5 links you absolutely shouldn’t miss this week. Learn about the most promising game developers from all over the world and get an overview of the most popular social messaging apps! (more…)

Week 10

This week we have news from the Asian mobile markets as well as both good and bad news for Apple. (more…)

Of all the components of the user lifecycle, retention is probably the most important metric for freemium apps and free-to-play games. Retention is indeed a direct factor in the computation of the lifetime customer value (LTV) of the users acquired. For instance, early retention metrics such as Day 3 retention can serve as proxies to assess traffic quality for ROI-positive user acquisition campaigns. Needless to say, retention is also a strong indication of the general quality of the app and its user experience.

However paramount it is for app publishers, retention has a problem. (more…)

Week 9

In a week where the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona took the attention of mobile enthusiasts, Flappy Bird clones continue to dominate the App Store rankings. (more…)

Week 8

Facebook, WhatsApp and a staggering $19 billion took the headlines this week. Meanwhile, Android developers were fond to see the Google Play store overtaking the App Store in two key European markets. (more…)

On Wednesday, February 19 we held the first episode of AppLift Webinars on the outlook of the mobile games market for 2014. We were lucky to have some great panelists onboard for this first session (more…)

Week 7! We’ve resisted talking about Flappy Bird until this week, but it’s now time to yield to the hype (more…)

On the menu for Week 6

Apple’s latest crack down, some bad news for Google, an insider’s take on China’s app ecosystem, Facebook’s Graph Search goes mobile, and insights on the new global game publisher alliances.

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As reported by TechCrunch (and originally by TapStream), Apple has started cracking down and rejecting apps retrieving their users’ IDFA for other purposes than displaying advertising. (more…)

Week Nr. 5!

This week, there are actually 6 links to share… We published an article on Developer Economics’s blog on the history of mobile marketing. In this article, we summarize the evolutions of the mobile industry over the past 4 years, in an effort to better understand where it’s headed and why.
Click here to read it! As always, please let us know your thoughts.

What was worth reading during Week 5:
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Another exciting week in mobile! Following our wrap-up of the PG Connects East Meets West conference, we put a lot of focus on Asia this week.

What was worth reading during Week 4:
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This week we attended and sponsored PG Connects, the first conference organized by PocketGamer. Of the topics covered during the two days of the event and due to our operational Asian office (Seoul) and our own interest and exposure in the area, we chose to focus on the content of the “East Meets West” track. The latter was indeed aimed at understanding the specific challenges of publishing and distributing a mobile game in emerging markets in general, and in Asian countries in particular.

We’ve compiled a quick and non-exhaustive wrap-up of the most important takeaways from the session. (more…)

As part of our new year resolutions, we will be posting 5 links to summarize the most important pieces of mobile and mobile gaming news on a weekly basis.

What happened during Week 3: (more…)

Winter has come, and the Game of Phones rages on.

Winter is finally upon us, and game publishers on every platform are preparing for one of the most important periods of the year. On mobile, during Christmas more than ever, the power struggle between Apple and Google rages on.

No better time to pay a visit to the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future: we’ll take a retrospective look at the story so far, provide a few Christmassy facts to keep in mind and, of course, try to make some predictions of what lies ahead. (more…)

In the midst of the holiday season and with the end of the year closing in, many game publishers are again planning to rely on tactics involving the much talked-about App Store Freeze. Understandably, remaining stuck in the top positions of the iOS free charts for a few days without having to incur any additional spend is any publisher’s dream. However, in 2013 these plans may well come across a small glitch:

The Freeze will probably not happen at all.

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On Thursday we attended the Berlin edition of the App Promotion Summit, organized jointly by mobyaffiliates and all amber. This event took place roughly 5 months after the inaugural edition in London and aimed to address, discuss and provide insights on the main current challenges of the mobile marketing industry in the fields of discovery and distribution. (more…)

Looking back on two interesting (yet slightly confusing) years of iOS app discovery

With now over 1 million apps available for download on the Apple App Store, app discovery remains a tremendous challenge for developers and publishers, especially for those on a budget.

Over the past two years, much speculation has been surrounding Apple’s true stance on app discovery, especially in regard to third party players getting involved in one way or another. Opinions differ greatly, but it does appear that three main ideas stand out: (more…)

With much anticipation and extensive coverage, Google released Android 4.4 nicknamed “KitKat” last week, along with its new phone, the Nexus 5. Google not being per se a hardware company, it produced its latest phone jointly with LG Electronics (Google has indeed always teamed up with various device manufacturers - including Samsung – for the production of its Nexus phones). (more…)

Mobile Game Publishers face tough decisions regarding the distribution of their games on a daily basis: localization, app store roll-out, user acquisition spend…
They need solid data to understand their markets and their users in order to back these important choices. (more…)

We are pleased to announce that we received an additional investment of $7 million (€5 million) from Prime Ventures, shortly after our original series A funding round of $13 million. We’re also announcing the hire of former Rocket Internet MDs Hendrik Harren and Stephen Chung as MD and COO and MD Asia, respectively.

The funds will be used to hire further talent and focus on developing our Customer Lifetime Value optimization technology. (more…)

Along with the colorful release of iOS 7 and its unprecedented adoption rate, Apple watchers realized that the Cupertino company has doubled the limit on the size of apps and content that users can download when they’re not connected to a wifi network on their device; increasing it to 100 MB from the former cap of 50 MB. This does not come as much of a surprise as it has continuously been upgrading this limit; first from 10 to 20 MB, and then from 20 to 50 MB in March 2012.

Let’s take a quick look at the consequences of this update and place it back into its broader context. (more…)

Two households, both alike in dignity…

In the current raging game of phones, it has until now been rather easy for everyone to pick a side between Apple and Google, depending on design, philosophical affinities, love of customizability or simply need for monetization. (more…)

In-app purchases and display advertising are often perceived as two competing business models for freemium apps. However, if implemented the right way, they can be used in conjunction with each other. How should you manage the balance between them in order to optimize your in-app monetization strategy? Eric Seufert offers his insights. (more…)

A couple of days after the big WWDC announcement, iOS7 seems to have left very few people indifferent. Whether it’s the apparent lack of innovation or the fact that the new operating system seems to be a jolly mash up of the whole industry, a lot has been said and written about the new design and functionalities of Apple’s latest iOS vintage. Comments and reactions are often critical (however usually justified), a few are actually good, and some are also, by Internet tradition, funny. (more…)

On Sunday, we announced a series A funding round of $13 million (€10 million) by Dutch venture capital and growth equity fund Prime Ventures. (more…)

It’s no secret that in the past couple of years, Free-to-Play has asserted itself as the main and most successful revenue model for mobile games. (more…)

Yet another vintage of MWC comes to an end. After nearly a week of action packed, whirlwind days of mobile enthusiasm from: meetings, holding down the fort at the exhibitor booth, every excuse under the sun to attend a networking event or party, we are going to trim away the conference madness to extract the key points for attending MWC, for the mobile apps industry and more specifically, mobile gaming.

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Hello and welcome to the first part of our series on the user lifecycle!

User Acquisition is certainly the hottest and most debated issue in the mobile marketing space right now. With almost 800,000 apps on the Apple AppStore, and as many on Google Play, discoverability in particular remains a major issue for app publishers.

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On the side of the gaming conference and trade fair Casual Connect Europe in Hamburg (meet us there!), AppLift co-founder and managing director Tim Koschella was interviewed by mobilbranche.de, a German website dedicated to mobile industry news. We thought the interview offered a good summary of AppLift’s vision and positioning in the mobile gaming space. For those of you who are lucky enough to speak German , you can find the original article here. Otherwise, no worries, here’s a translation: (more…)

The fast growth of the freemium model over the past couple of years has made it obvious that mobile game developers and publishers need to draw a thick line between user acquisition and monetization. Getting people to download your app is merely the first step. What follows is the need to engage, retain and finally convert those people into paying users. In other words, from player to payer. This distinction requires you to think ahead and plan the various steps that will lead to the efficient monetization of your user base. We can think of this series of steps as AVREM:

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AppStore marketing is a challenging sport.

In our last article we highlighted the importance of having all your AppStore visual assets ready as early as possible. This requisite has just been made all the more stringent by Apple who announced that, as of January 10 2013, screenshots will be locked once the app has been approved. This change in policy seems justified by their efforts to thwart a common scamming tactic employed by fake apps, which resides in swapping out approved screenshots with new ones stolen from popular iOS titles, in order to lure users in.

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First things first: we’re wishing you a happy, successful and (let’s make it) fun year ahead!

A couple of days ago we announced that we were going to increase the online presence of AppLift in 2013. Beyond regular company and industry news, we’d like to use our position as the first CPA network dedicated to mobile games to bring you informative and insightful content to help you acquire and efficiently monetize your users. Let’s grow the mobile space together!

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Hi there!

It’s been some time since our last post, when we announced the launch of HitFox Game Ventures (now HitFox Group). A lot has happened in 6 months. Since the creation of AppLift in August 2012, we’ve been working hard to build the first and the best performance CPA network exclusively dedicated to mobile games.

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The successful Berlin-based start-up HitFox leaps into the next phase. Serial entrepreneurs Jan Beckers, Tim Koschella, Ruben Haas and Hanno Fichtner founded HitFox Game Ventures, the world’s first vertical incubator for game distribution business models. HitFox Game Ventures has its sights on start-ups and acquisitions in the field of sales and marketing of games. Specializing in one sector is a pioneering achievement. To date the market is still dominated by generalized incubators. (more…)

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