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Incentivized Apps Fail to Make a Lasting Impression

The use of incentives that promise gaming points, virtual currency, or other rewards at no cost is a rather clever way to achieve app downloads in the short term, but as a long term method to leave a lasting impression, the use of such incentivized apps is not too effective, at least if you believe some recently published survey results.

By: wubayou
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December 19, 2011

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Approximately 2,800 adults over the age of 18 were surveyed by Harris Interactive on behalf of mobile ad provider Pontiflex during November.  958 of the participants identified themselves as smartphone owners, while another 257 were tablet owners.  According to the online survey, only 3 percent of the participants said they frequently used an app that they had installed to receive an incentive.  While it’s not surprising that few participants used their incentivized apps on a frequent basis, the percentage is so low that it really calls into question the quality and worth of such apps, particularly for developers looking to make a splash on the market.

Of the survey’s remaining participants, 37 percent said they downloaded the app to receive the incentive, and then uninstalled it altogether.  Approximately 25 percent said they used the app just once in exchange for the incentive.  The remaining 35 percent was split evenly between those who said they either occasionally used the app, or hardly ever used it. 

So, what do all of these numbers essentially mean?  Most users are downloading incentivized apps for their rewards and quickly ignoring or discarding them, using them as a stepping stone of sorts.  Sure, they are great when a quick injection is needed to boost download numbers, and developers and publishers who make use of incentives in their ad campaigns can earn a profit, but these are mostly short term solutions.  Incentivized apps tend to get abandoned quickly, which damages the probability of any in-app purchases or mobile ad impressions that could occur.  Developers looking to gain for the long haul must find other ways to do so, rather than simply offering quick and cheap rewards.

Apple is one platform that expressed its disdain for incentivized apps earlier this year, as it banned the offering of incentives for both new and updated App Store apps.  One big reason behind the ban was the notion that the incentives offered often caused surges in the popularity of certain apps, which affected App Store rankings.  Another likely reason is that while the promoters and developers of the apps themselves received financial cuts for their work, Apple did not, and the company is used to getting its 30 percent share of in-app purchases.  Still, despite Apple’s clamping down on the practice, incentivized apps live on in Android and other platforms.

The survey also showed that most app downloaders are not too fond of mobile video ads that dominate a screen and force them to watch a commercial, even if such interruptions allow the app to remain free.  Only 7 percent of smartphone users and 15 percent of tablet users who have downloaded free apps expressed a preference for video ads.  Not only are the ads seen as major interruptions, but many users fear they will cause a spike in data costs.  The survey found that 35 percent of smartphone owners and 34 percent of tablet owners expressed concerns regarding video ads and excessive data usage.  These concerns are likely to impact ads that offer rich media and relatively high impression rates, as users may stray away from them.

Moving further, the Harris survey displayed the popularity of free apps.  Only 12 percent of smartphone owners and 24 percent of tablet owners said they preferred paid apps that lack irritating advertisements.  The majority of users – 57 percent of smartphone owners and 50 percent of tablet owners – expressed a preference for free apps that allow them to remain in the app during an advertisement.  A quick look at iTunes’ current top 25 grossing apps shows that a majority of free apps populate its rankings as well.  So, while the free status of an app is very important, the way in which it handles in-app advertising and considers a user’s desires is also critical.

Some might question the survey’s results, and with good reason, as its sponsor, Pontiflex, is in the business of app distribution through its own AppLeads service.  Pontiflex offers clients the use of signup ads that give users the power to choose the companies they want to be contacted by without the need for leaving the app.  In return, advertisers only need to pay for actual signups instead of clicks or impressions, so their investment has more protection.

Zephrin Lasker, co-founder and CEO of Pontiflex, commented on the survey’s findings:  “These findings highlight the importance of providing mobile app advertising solutions that are native to mobile environments.  First, they clearly show how incentivized app solutions might not be conducive to brands and developers looking to build long term relationships with consumers. Secondly, the results demonstrate that consumers value free apps and express a preference to non-intrusive mobile app advertising solutions.”

For more on this topic, visit http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/survey-finds-app-usage-is-poor-among-people-who-download-incentivized-apps-1597946.htm and http://gigaom.com/2011/12/12/survey-users-abandon-apps-downloaded-via-incentives/

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