Removal of incentivized downloads means a scramble for some publishers

Posted April 19, 2011 by | Filed under: Best Practices, iOS News

I’ve long believed that incentivized downloads were unhealthy for the iOS ecosystem. Although they have generated a considerable amount of revenue for publishers (which we like, of course), it does so at a great cost – honesty and a level playing field for new and differentiated apps. The “dirty little secret” of these incentivized downloads is that they claim to be all about user acquisition, but if we are honest with ourselves, they are really about gaming the AppStore charts. Modifying an app’s download rate has historically been able to propel an app from the bottom of the charts into the Top 100.

The past couple of days has seen some changes to the way that Apple ranks apps. In my view, this is a long overdue step. Allowing apps to essentially “pay for placement” in the rankings is not good for users, and it’s not good for publishers who don’t have large war chests to pay to move up.

Already, ranking based on usage has caused some winners and losers in the AppStore, as popular and highly utilized applications have been restored to their proper place in the rankings. This helps users find high quality apps – which is the point of the rankings in the first place.

This action alone would likely have caused the incentivized download game to wither and die on the vine. However, Apple has gone a step further by rejecting apps containing incentivized download offer walls. This is a bold step. This means that publishers who have become accustomed to revenue from incentivized downloads are now in the tough position of coming up with a new monetization strategy – and fast.

Although we can’t help directly with that, we can help publishers become more nimble and take control in situations like this. And we can help to develop that new monetization strategy through experimentation and new approaches to monetizing. This is what I was referring to in my VentureBeat guest article on mobile ads 2.0 yesterday.

If you are in the situation where you are wondering what to do in your game or app for monetization now that incentivized downloads are gone, give us a shout. We’d love to help. We will be writing about some approaches that you might want to try over the next few days.

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