Having hundreds and even thousands of various applications in the iPhone Application Store, and nearly 500 another ones in Google Play, the name of mobile app game and the name of its publishers is obviously becoming noticed by the users. With the Google and Apple application stores which are usually the main way for mobile customers to get the certain app, it means creating a good rating in their own stores. However, we should add that in 2011, Apple changed the approach to the application download networks, dismissing any applications which offer their users any prizes or money for downloads, and having severe measures on app advertising services which guarantee top 10 placement of the app in App Store ratings.

Although stimulus downloads are still allowed in Google Play, the app advertising industry was quite shocked by such a decision of the Apple. Now everything has a bit settled, so what variants are there for the app developers to advertise their apps both across the Google Play and App Store, and how did the wrist-slapped advertising networks change its game?

App advertising networks: a quick recapitulation

First it’s worth mentioning that if you are new to the great world of application advertising you may be quite interested in what stimulus of the downloads is all about and why on earth Apple has decided to ban it. Stimulus downloads are usually suggested by the app advertising networks that help app developers generating the new customers by cross-advertising apps between various publishers.

A typical stimulus application offer may be the prize of virtual money inside of the mobile game for downloading a particular advertised app (sometimes a customer also should achieve the certain goal within the advertised app to get this very reward). Or sometimes it can be a voucher-style prize that lets a customer to download the paid application almost for free or get access to some other type of the offer. Usually, mobile games are positioned in the best way to host these stimulus downloads, while they have much more opportunities to offer and increased in-application features.

App advertising networks

So why has Apple actually banned the process of stimulus mobile application downloads? Well, the main its argument is that download stimulus, such as those which are offered by the likes of Flurry and TapJoy, let the developers to substantially game the system, prizing whoever spends the most amount of money by pushing their applications up the ratings to get some visibility by the users. One of the other particular problems was that lots of customers did not mean to actually use the advertised applications. They just downloaded them and used them once or twice to get the offered prize, before pressing the deleting button.

The other app promotion issue that raised Apple’s ire, was slightly more dishonest (well a lot more). Back in February it was revealed that some app promotion agencies were increasing client downloads by creating thousands of fake iTunes accounts. Many developers and journalists suspected this practice was taking place for some time, but it was never proved. Apple has warned developers to stay away from agencies guaranteeing chart placements, though that’s not to say all agencies that do promise to boost placements are doing so fraudulently.

What services do app advertising agencies usually offer its customers?

Social media: Surely, you will agree that social media is quite a powerful instrument of marketing for almost every sector but according to the amount of transition between the people who are using social media and those ones who are using different smart phone mobile applications, it is especially important for the application developers. Advertising your app by means of social media could include anything from having advertising campaigns on the Facebook page, to simply posting a Twitter feed and creating a list of the followers. However, we should admit that the most successful way of usage of the social media for your app advertising is where it is embedded inside of the particular application or game itself.  For instance, Draw Something by OMGPOP app used help of the social media in order to achieve great effect by getting it easier for people to find their friends to play together on Facebook. Other different apps including Run Keeper  and Foursquare have also been efficient in using Twitter and Facebook to broadcast their in-application activity.  A great app advertising agency will give you a piece of advice on how to develop this kind of viral effect.

ASO and SEO: In case your application is pointed at the particular audience segment, then you might want to apply on the search engine optimized web site, which will be targeting pertinent keywords to seizure search traffic. However, another important aspect of SEO, which is probably even more significant, is SEO for application stores (that is sometimes named ASO). It is the area which is still very much in its childhood, but most app advertising agencies will be able to optimize your application store page by keyword in order to make sure that the right customers can easily find your product. That time when you could just easily use such tactics as keyword stuffing is gone in the app stores, but it will be fair to say that search in mobile app store is still very unsophisticated so advertising agencies which know a little about ASO could be quite useful. For instance, MobileDevHQ can offer you an ASO instrument which you may download and try to use for free.  Appcod.es has recently also launched an instrument which can help with app store SEO. You should just remember that unlike information about Google keyword, ASO search volumes are valued from third parties and are not be reliable completely.

Media coverage: Application advertising agencies will carry out usual PR activities, such as making press releases, coming up with pertinent media lists of bloggers whom you can contact, and trying to originate coverage with the help of news. Lots of app advertising agencies will give you such guarantees as making you sure that this application gets reviewed by the press a great number of times, although to take certain services with a pinch of salt while anyone may actually create their own blog and give reviews to the applications – the only publications and reviews which are worth selecting are those ones which are actually confided by the readership.  There is a great variety of application review blogs these days but a great agency could have established a long list of blogs or relationship to contact which can help for getting coverage.

App advertising methods

Guarantees for application placement: Some of the promotion agencies are going to guarantee you a good placement in the Top Applications categories in the most of the application stores. These agencies are likely to use a combination of the advertising strategies, as well as application advertising networks to achieve this goal. However, as we have mentioned at the beginning of this article, the practice of guaranteeing by the agencies chart placements came only last year, after it was found out that companies used fake accounts in iTunes to originate downloads. So be careful with it!

Mobile promotion networks

Blind and premium mobile advertising networks are still one of the most wide-spread ways to advertise the apps. It is usually thought that while originating users by means of mobile advertisements is more expensive than stimulus networks, the value of every user by means of mobile advertisements is much higher. There is a multiplicity of promotion networks out there which provide just everything from simple banner advertisements to rich interactive ads and video ads that are displayed in mobile apps and sites.  Some of the mobile advertising networks are quite well set up for advertising applications, and will let the developers to cross-advertise applications or games inside of the network in exchange for the running advertisements.  Check out here for more information.

Mobile advertising and media agencies

There is also a great number of marketing mobile agencies that are focusing mainly on the mobile app advertising to some extent.  For instance, Fetch Media in the Great Britain and in the US carries out application advertising for some of the leading games developers and brands. Other specialist mobile advertising agencies include Mobiclicks situated in South Africa, and also Mobile Shakers from the US. The agency will get the advantages from economies of scope in buying mobile promotion, and will also get quite close relationships with the advertising networks. A great and respectable agency can also manage the difficult process of optimizing and running mobile advertising campaigns more efficiently.

It may be especially useful to follow Apple’s amortization of the UDID which was actually used to watch mobile application downloads, an agency can help you track mobile application downloads by means of using some other methods. Usually a mobile agency requires a particular level of minimum spending, which is typically at least $10k a month, and even more generally, it is closer to $30k a month.  However, for the mobile app developers with a developed application or quite successful game it is well within the reach.

Discussion boards and forums

There exists the whole bunch of the various developer discussion boards and forums out there, that let you swap different advertising techniques with some other devs. Mobile Marketers Club is a confidential forum that is just started out and where people discuss everything which has something to do with app monetization and advertising. Also you may check out the promotion sections of iPhoneDevSDK (even in case you are an Android dev, you may get a couple of good and useful tips out there), and XDA Forums, that do not have a specific sub-folder on advertising but these topics get often discussed in the general folder.

Summing up

There still exists a huge problem when it comes to clarity on the Google Play and App Store. Nevertheless, despite the decision of the Apple’s to ban stimulus downloads, the application advertising industry is back on its feet and it has become much more multilateral, with various networks that are approaching the problem with various existing solutions. It can also be argued that this industry is even more healthy due to the fact that stimulus downloads usually produce low value customers. It is not ideal, but with the certain combination of traditional advertising techniques and more specialized decisions, any budding mobile application developer should be able to make their app noticed. What will happen after that depends only on how good your application really is.