The Android Marketplace can be a powerful avenue to advertise your products. In the last quarter of 2013 alone, Android handsets constituted nearly 74% of the entire worldwide smartphone sales base.
As an advertiser, your product’s success or failure will largely come down to the amount of exposure that it has, and so the idea of having a potential customer base of hundreds of millions of Android users is a mouth watering prospect. But, before you get carried away and jump straight into the Android Marketplace, you have to remember that any avenue for advertising has its benefits and its drawbacks. Considering the amount of time and money that investing in a marketing strategy can take, it’s critical that you are aware of any pitfalls along the way, so that you can assess whether an advertising avenue is right for you and your product.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top five challenges for you to navigate when promoting your Android apps.
1. Android Fragmentation
When looking at the Android user base, the numbers seem pretty impressive. What has to be kept in mind, however, is fragmentation. Many Android devices, such as the Kindle Fire, have their own proprietary version of Android running. These devices all have their own custom ecosystems which, not only display adverts differently from one another affecting ad visibility, but also may prioritize advertising of their own services and products over third party developers and advertisers. For example, the Kindle App Store chooses what Kindle apps they want to highlight, but they are different than the highlighted apps in the Google Play store.
Image source: Phandroid.com
2. Free versus Paid
The current model for app distribution and revenue on Android is a system where app developers can provide free apps with advertising to fund the app development, or a one time payment for ad-free software. A growing complaint within the Android user base is that many free apps are overloaded with ads to the point that they cannot enjoy the app itself and, in the worst case scenario, their device’s performance is actually compromised.
This has encouraged a trend of people buying the ad-free versions of apps they desire. This has impacted the reach advertisers have in the Android Marketplace. You will want to have first hand experience with any app you are considering advertising through, to ensure that its marketers are not overloading it with ads, putting users off.
3. Market Saturation
Due to the open philosophy of the Android Marketplace, there are so many apps available that it is not uncommon for only Google’s Top Free or Top Paid categories to get serious attention. Apps are being added continually every day, a total of 950,000 Android apps available, and it is therefore a challenge for advertisers to decide which apps to advertise with in order to reach their chosen customer demographic. If an advertising contract is signed, an advertiser can end up paying a large sum of money for essentially little product visibility.
4. App versus Third Party
Depending on your marketing strategy, you may consider advertising through your own apps – app to app advertising. As an advertiser you might think that this channel is only for those able to develop an app related to their product, but it is not. There is always the potential for hiring an app developer to make an app which will get high visibility from the demographic you are interested in engaging, even though the app itself seems unrelated to the product or service you sell. Then you can set up your own ads through it. For example, American Family Insurance has an Ask Russell app which isn’t directly related to the product they sell but it engages the audience they want to be in front of.
The problem is that this can be a costly approach, and is also notoriously unpredictable. If anyone could just create the next big app, we all would!
5. Fluid Marketplace
Even once you have chosen the type of app you wish to advertise through, there is one looming problem up ahead – few apps remain at the top of the charts for long. For this reason, as an advertiser, you will have to invest a serious amount of time in evaluating the Android Marketplace for new apps which would be worth partnering with. You should always try to stay ahead of the game and run campaigns; especially in the initial stages of establishing your brand. One tactic is to run a “burst campaign” to drive a high volume of installs in a short period of time, which can help raise organic discoverability and overall lift of your mobile app marketing results. This is effective if you have just launched your app or are seeing a lull in installs.
The above five points are stated, not to put you off from using the Android Marketplace as a viable advertising revenue, but rather to inform you that there are serious considerations which need to be taken into account when doing so. Of course not every app needs to be advertised to hit the top of the charts. Supercell rose from nothing to $3 Billion in three years with very little advertising. They focused on partnering with Apple to drive exposure and monetized in-app events to drive revenue. If you choose to boost your marketing with advertising, with a bit of research, and keeping these points in mind, there is no reason why you and your product cannot find a large customer base through the Android Marketplace.