Home » Business and Tech » Monday Mobile Marketing Tip: Replace Adverts with Recommendations [Guest Post by @GeorgeOsborn]

Every Monday, I write about something new you can try this week to drive more downloads for your mobile app and increase engagement with your existing app users, based on what has worked (and what hasn’t) for 23snaps. This week features a guest post from mobile marketing expert George Osborn from MagicSolver.


Adverts: we know that they help cover the costs of our favourite “free” services but that doesn’t mean we necessarily get along with them. Whether you turn on AdBlock, make a cup of tea when Downton Abbey goes into a five minute break or sneak into a film as late as humanly possible, for some people no effort is too extreme to avoid advertising.

On mobile, things are no different: consumers don’t like adverts. Ok, so a recent blog from Flurry posits that the rise of freemium shows that users are willing to put up with them. But tolerance is a long way off from acceptance, let alone enjoyment and when it comes to ads.  Users will close them before they load, ditch apps that have too many or even pay to turn them off (especially if you keep putting them in REALLY annoying places).

So it’s no wonder that click through rates on advertising banners, to put it bluntly, suck. A June 2012 report from MoPub into the effectiveness of banner ads versus interstitials proved just how sucky they were.

Traditional style banners ported from desktop to mobile bombed with a CTR of 0.1-0.76% while the supposed saviour of the format, 320X480 interstitials, only tempted 2-6% of users to interact with what was on show. When taken with a 1.11% CTR for in stream video ads, it seems clear that if you’re going to get people paying attention to your app with ads it is going to take a lot of virtual footfall to make your way onto a decent number of devices.

So you must be wondering: is there a better way to get people’s attention? Well, in my book at least, there’s a fairly simple way to get over those CTR woes. Ditch the advertising train and climb aboard the trusted recommendations train.

Why should you do that? Because consumers are more likely to engage with something they. Think about it in terms of films. You might see the trailer for a film on TV, Youtube or at the cinema and it’ll pique your interest. But hearing your mates rave about it on Facebook, seeing strings of 5 star reviews from the critics or reading an endorsement from one of your favourite writers is much more likely to seal the deal than an advert alone.

It’s something that’s definitely worked for us at MagicSolver. By having a rigid set of content guidelines ensuring that all three of the apps we feature in Free App Magic are high quality and appeal to our audience, we build trust with our audience that we’ll only ever share the best apps.

The result for us is a pretty impressive conversion rate for apps that feature with us. We see, on average, between 14-18% of our users click through to the App Store after checking out our recommendations.  By shunning the advert approach for curated apps and editorial, we’ve found that we’re able to bridge audience mistrust of businesses pitching aggressively to them by keeping to our promise of only recommending quality. Not bad really.

So what lessons can you take and apply to your marketing efforts? My main advice is to harness the power of recommendation in your creative to make your advertising more accommodating. Things like great comments on social media, excellent review scores and press quotes have been used effectively by brands in other media to turn the advert into a more neutral recommendation and all our evidence suggests it works just as well in mobile.

So make sure you use the power of recommendations to transform “turn me off” adverts into eye catching copy. While no one really likes being sold to, everyone loves a positive recommendation to help them to make an informed and sensible decision.

George Osborn is Head of Editorial Content at MagicSolver.com. You can contact him via george@magicsolver.com or catch him on Twitter @GeorgeOsborn