Friday, July 25, 2014

Send messages with AppBrain Cloud Alerts

Being able to quickly and easily send a message to your users helps to create a dynamic app experience.


To optimize the app experience for your users, we've just launched a new feature in the AppBrain AppLift SDK: AppBrain Cloud Alerts.

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A cloud alert is a message that you configure on the AppBrain Developer dashboard and that will then be sent through the cloud to your app's users. They will receive it the next time they open your app.

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With cloud alerts, you can easily send a message to all users of your app in 4 different formats: a dialog popup, a full screen interstitial, a subtle slide-in bar or a taskbar notification. Because the message only gets shown upon opening your app, there’s no annoying push notifications and no impact on battery use.


We’ve successfully used these notifications to
  • Notify users of our “Word Hunt” app that we’ve launched a new, similar game called “Word Snake” with a high conversion rate.
  • Ask users in a subtle way (using the slide in bar) to give us a rating and leave a comment on Google Play.
  • Give an explanation of a new feature that was added in the latest app update.
Of course there are many other possibilities.

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You can choose to add an action to your cloud alert. If there's no action, the alert will have just one button for the user to dismiss it. With a configured action, there will be a cancel button to dismiss and an ok button to perform the action. The action can be opening a link in the browser or forwarding the user to an app in the play store. 

The developer dashboard shows you a preview of your alert while you’re configuring it.


Try it now
If you’re a user of AppBrain AppLift already, you can directly configure your alerts on the AppBrain developer dashboard.
If you’re not using our SDK yet, you can get started on our info page.

To use cloud alerts, you need to initialize the AppBrain AppLift SDK in the onCreate() of your activity with “AppBrain.init(this);”.
Cloud alerts are available if your app has AppBrain SDK version 10.1 or later.

How would you use AppBrain cloud alerts?


Mathijs for the AppBrain team.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

AppBrain reports the monthly top downloaded Android apps


Which Android apps got the most downloads last month? Which apps got the best ratings?

We are happy to announce a new section to the AppBrain stats pages: The AppBrain monthly top apps.

This new page gives you a monthly overview of interesting things happening in the Android ecosystem. New apps and existing apps are ranked by download numbers during the given month. Additionally, we reveal the apps that gathered the best and worst Google Play ratings in the given period. You can change the selection of the data by changing filters at the top of the page. You can filter on application category (all apps vs. games vs. non-games) or on language (all apps vs. apps with English description only).


These monthly summary pages help you find the interesting movements and events around the world of Android. They are available starting from April 2014 until now, and a new list will be added on the first day of every month.


Let’s look at some insights from top apps in the last months (April, May, and June 2014):


  • Google’s dominance: Google dominates the ‘most downloaded overall’, as well as the ‘most downloaded developers’ lists. Moreover, two apps recently launched by Google made it into the corresponding ‘most downloaded new apps’ lists: Google camera (April 2014) and Email (June 2014). These observations underline the market power of Google at the time of writing.


  • App removal: Music downloading apps are extremely popular - there are such apps in all three most-downloaded-new lists. However these apps are frequently no longer available on Google Play, presumably due to copyright issues. Also, many apps from the April’s least loved new apps list are no longer available on Google Play now, because either the developer or Google removed it from the market.


  • App quality: The least-loved category is not reserved to novice developers. Once in a while we encounter an app by a well-respected organization there, such as QuizToWin by Microsoft (May 2014), Going Abroad by the European Commission (June 2014), or Air Canada (Beta) by Air Canada (April 2014, non-games, English).


  • External events: The April list nicely showcases how an external event such as the heartbleed bug can affect what apps are getting popular on Google Play. Also, the two soccer related apps in the June 2014 most downloaded list might indicate a relation to the FIFA World Cup 2014 (carried out in June and July 2014). Moreover, note how the Google I/O 2014 app made it into the most loved apps list in June 2014.


  • Rating outliers: Selecting the top rated apps over a month sometimes leads to somewhat puzzling results. For instance the best rated app for June, a Chinese Casino app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.new777.android has 50,000 - 100,000 downloads, but also more than 50,000 ratings, which are all 5 stars! It’s hard to imagine how this is possible apart from methods that are not allowed by Google Play (like incentivizing your users to rate, or using bots). Apparently Google doesn’t detect or take action against gaming of ratings in all cases.


We’d be glad to read how you interpret this data, and hope you can gain valuable insights from this new feature on our stats pages!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

AppBrain SDK for advertisers

Today AppBrain launches a new SDK for Android apps: the AppBrain Advertiser SDK.
This is an SDK that provides analytics and conversion tracking for Android apps.


Over 30,000 apps currently use the AppBrain AppLift SDK for monetization to great success. Apart from powerful monetization, the AppBrain AppLift SDK also provides compelling analytics. These include new and returning users, app versions in use, countries and languages of visitors and more.
Today we're making these powerful analytics available for advertisers too. The AppBrain Advertiser SDK includes all the analytics of the AppBrain AppLift SDK, but leaves out the monetization functionality so your app stays as small as possible. A new addition to both SDKs is the conversion tracking service.


The primary focus of advertising is generating installs for your Android app. Yet, generating installs is usually not the actual goal, it's usually something that the user does within your app. With conversion event tracking, you can know exactly when a user completes an important action in your app. This can for instance be an in-app payment, signing up for a user account on your service, or sharing a piece of content within your app.
The AppBrain developer dashboard reports the level of engagement of your users, measured by your conversion events. Soon we will attach the campaign source (referrer tracking) to this data as well, so you can see which sources of traffic deliver the highest quality users.
For those of you who are already using the AppBrain promoted app system to promote your app, using conversion events has even more benefits. Our targeting systems will use the conversion data from your app to optimize the type of users your app is promoted to. In this way the quality of your promoted installs will increase.


More information on the AppBrain Advertiser SDK and how to integrate the conversion tracking is available on our SDK info page.



Happy conversion tracking,

Mathijs for the AppBrain team.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

More ad mediation options with the AppBrain AppLift SDK



Low fill rates are often a problem in banner advertising in mobile apps. To make sure that your ad space is filled with ads, you can use a mediation solution. This is a piece of code in your app that automatically connects with a number of ad networks. In this way, when one ad network doesn't have an ad available for a particular user, an ad from a different network can still be shown instead. Most mediation solutions also allow you to dynamically adjust the order in which networks are used, and in that way you can make sure the most profitable network gets the most of your ad inventory.


Admob mediation is a widely used mediation solution, and since last July we provide an adapter that makes it easy to put AppLift banners into an ad slot mediated by Admob. Today we're adding support for mediating interstitials as well. In addition, we're from now on providing adapters that allow you to integrate both AppLift banners and interstitials into MoPub’s popular mediation platform.


To implement this in your app, download the latest AppLift SDK from our github page, together with either the Admob or MoPub mediation jar. Detailed instructions how to set up the mediation are available on our website: for Admob and for MoPub.


We hope this addition will make it easier for developers to monetize their app using the highly successful AppBrain AppLift banner and interstitial.


Mathijs for the AppBrain team.

Monday, November 26, 2012

AppLift plugin for Unity


Unity 3D is one of the most popular development tools for cross platform mobile games. Some well known games that are made using Unity are Temple Run, Bad Piggies and Coin Dozer.

To help monetize Unity-based games on the Android platform, we have developed a plugin for Unity which makes it very easy to use the AppLift SDK from within Unity apps. Please follow this tutorial to integrate AppLift with Unity.

We have tested the Unity integration of the AppBrain interstitial with a number of partners in the field. One of them noted "Your plugin has got to be one of the easiest to use plugins I've ever used with Unity." You can see the plugin in action in the awesome GnarBike game:


Using the AppLift banner ad format from within your Unity app is also easy if you’re already using Admob banners. If your Android app has the AppLift SDK integrated as explained in the page above, you can add AppLift to your Admob mediation settings as detailed on http://www.appbrain.com/info/sdk-admob-mediation-applift.

We hope this plugin will bring AppLift’s user-friendly monetization to more apps on the Android platform, such that developers are provided with greater financial means to continue developing great apps and games.

The AppBrain team.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Apptimizer: AppBrain’s new tool to understand and improve your app


With over half a million apps in the Google Play Store, yours can easily be overlooked. While there is certainly some luck involved in getting popular on Google Play, there are also a lot of factors that you can directly influence as a developer, like making sure your app is technically excellent, is available to a large portion of all Android users, and is presented in an attractive way.

Today, AppBrain launches Apptimizer, an automated tool to help apps achieve their maximum reach. Apptimizer supports developers with useful tips on how to optimize an app so that it drives more downloads. Best of all, this service is completely free.

The AppBrain Apptimizer analyzes the following aspects of your app:
Technical
The raw technical details of your app can make a significant difference in how many downloads it generates. For example, we have noticed that larger apps get downloaded much less than smaller apps. This phenomenon might be related to data plans (people might not download 20MB APKs when their data plan imposes a 100MB monthly limit), download times (people might cancel a download that takes too long), and device storage limitations. Other examples of technical details that influence download numbers are whether your app supports all screen sizes and whether it can install to the SD card, just to name a few.

Monetization
There are a variety of ways to monetize your app. Simply selling it for a given price is the most obvious, but not necessarily the best choice. To give an example, a free app typically reaches a lot more people than a paid app. Once these people have had a positive experience with your app they might be more likely to decide to spend money on it, e.g. by means of in-app purchases. In the long term, such a monetization strategy can thus outperform the revenue generated by selling your app.

User Feedback
The feedback you receive in the Google Play Store is important for generating many downloads. A low rating and bad comments often point to problems in the app that limit the user experience. Fixing these problems and making sure that your app has at least a 4 star rating will increase your long term download numbers.

Presentation
The description of the app in the Play Store is important not only because people look at it, but also because it’s the main source of keywords that Google uses to answer search queries. Just like SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can be used to optimize your ranking on search engines, the new field of ASO (Appstore optimization) does the same for your placement in the Google Play Store. Apptimizer provides a quick overview of interesting search keywords and how these stack up against keywords in descriptions of similar apps. It also looks whether your app is updated too often or too seldomly, and whether you have uploaded a feature graphic in the Google Play store.

Privacy
The permissions screen can be a real hurdle to getting massive download numbers. If your app is not connected to a trusted brand name, people are unlikely to grant access to certain private information, such as their contacts or their text messages. The inclusion of aggressive ad networks (push ads, ringtone ads, desktop icon ads) may also harm your popularity, as people will uninstall your app very quickly after noticing what they just downloaded. In its last section, Apptimizer thus scores your app on the presence of invasive permissions or aggressive ad networks.


Writing a successful app is mainly about having a good idea. While Apptimizer will not provide you with such an idea, it can help you to get the most out of your app by looking into the many details required to reach the masses.


If you just want to get started exploring some apps in the Apptimizer, here are some examples:
Some example apps that can be diagnosed are for instance
Facebook: http://www.appbrain.com/apptimizer/facebook/com.facebook.katana
(Apptimizer score 68)
Youtube: http://www.appbrain.com/apptimizer/youtube/com.google.android.youtube
(Apptimizer score 81)
Draw something:
http://www.appbrain.com/apptimizer/draw-something-free/com.omgpop.dstfree
(Apptimizer score 86)


Happy apptimizing!

Michael for the AppBrain team.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The new Google Play policy: why you should stop using push ads now

At the beginning of this month Google revised its content guidelines for apps published on Google Play. At AppBrain we’ve always been great proponents of a good user experience, and in 2010 we had already launched a spam filter for the Android market. We therefore welcome the changes that Google has made to the Google Play policy, especially with regards to decreasing the annoyance factor of ad networks.
We wanted to know if Google has already started enforcing the new policy. The policy applies to all apps effective August 30th, but took effect immediately for new apps or apps that have updated since August 1st. We used data from our AppBrain app discovery platform, which is continuously synced with the Google Play market, to look at apps that were unpublished from Google Play over the last 2½ months. We found 59,737 apps that had been unpublished in this timeframe, on average 728 per day.

Note that the removals we count are not necessarily all by Google, as app developers themselves can also unpublish an app. In addition, AppBrain only keeps track of apps that are published in the US, so if a developer decides to restrict his app to not be available in the US we will count this as an unpublished app too.

The graph of unpublished apps over time is shown above, and it looks like Google hasn’t started strictly enforcing the new policy, or at least it didn’t lead to a noticeable increase in number of apps unpublished.

To get insight into which factors contribute to apps being unpublished, we coupled the set of unpublished apps with the presence of ad networks in those apps from our AppBrain library stats data. We also added basic market data such as the app category, number of ratings, average rating, and the date the app was first published. We compared the unpublished apps with all currently active apps to find factors that correlated with the unpublishing of apps. These factors were determined using a multivariable logistic regression model.

Naturally, such an analysis can only prove correlation and not causation. We corrected for the bias in the data that developers of inferior apps (copyright infringement, adult content, etc.) have a preference for particular ad networks. By including the ratings, number of ratings and the presence of adult words in the description, ad networks that mostly have badly rated apps don’t get assigned an unfair value in this model.

The results are summarized in the image below. Even though Google hasn’t changed their activity since August 1st, it’s interesting to see that the factors that were predictive of apps being unpublished were already mostly related to practices that are discouraged in the new guidelines: ad networks that do push notification ads, put ad icons on the desktop and use your contact data to send ads to your friends. Inclusion of some of these ad networks had an equally strong effect as the presence of porn words in the title and description, which more than doubled the likelihood of being unpublished.



The factors that were related to being active on the market were mostly indicators of serious apps, such as being published in the Education, Travel & Local or Lifestyle categories. (Gaming categories and Entertainment and Personalization were the categories with the highest unpublishing rates). Having high market ratings and many market ratings was also associated with being active on the market. On average the odds of an app being unpublished increased by 7% per added ad network. The few exceptions to this negative influence were mostly trusted names like Google’s own Admob, Millennial Media, InMobi, and also our own AppBrain AppLift network. The influences of the most commonly present ad networks are shown in the graph on the side.


At the moment push ads are present in 14% of all newly launched Android apps on Google Play and ad icons in 10%. We hope that Google will enforce the new policy more strictly starting August 30th to make Android a better platform for users and non-intrusive ad networks alike.

What does this mean for developers of Android apps? In our view, now is a better time than ever to stop using ad networks that rely on push ads, icon ads or other forms of intrusive advertising. We now know that these forms of advertising have been associated with a higher chance of being removed from the market over the last 2½ months, and it’s likely that a big wave of market removals will follow after August 30th. In other words, push ads and other intrusive forms of advertising don’t provide a sustainable business model, as they chase away users and jeopardize the listing of your app on Google Play.
There are a number of great alternatives which can even be combined easily with mediation as described in our last post. The AppBrain AppLift SDK is built from the ground up to be user friendly, and provides a highly monetizing interstitial or a standard banner format that can be plugged into Admob and AdWhirl mediation if needed.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on the unpublishing rates and will report back here if anything changes after August 30th.

Happy app developing,

Mathijs for the AppBrain team.