I’m thrilled with the response my Monday Mobile Marketing tips received last year, and with over six months of content, there’s quite a bit in there. But given I’ve covered a lot of the basics already, I’d like to branch out when it comes to blog and mobile industry topics. This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a long time, and is pretty much guaranteed to raise some strong alternative opinions.
I believe that, for a small, independent developer who wants to launch on a second platform after iOS, developing for Windows (8 or Phone) is a much easier process and better bet for the company in the short term than Android.
Let me break down this potentially heretical statement.
Windows, like iOS, lets you control what your customers see.
The fragmentation in the Android market has grown exponentially – from just under 4,000 different consumer Android devices in 2012 to almost 12,000 in 2013. That’s potentially 12,000 different screen sizes, types of screen hardware (did you know that your app’s colors render differently depending on how the screen is made), or types of skins manufacturers use to distinguish the device? Each variation could lead to a significantly altered appearance of your app. Some teams will test their Android apps on up to 4oo different devices to ensure that the experience is the same for all users.
Windows OS on the other hand, utilizes the structure in their slightly unique design paradigm (with the horizontal scrolling through menus and content types) to ensure the experience is consistent across devices. Added to that, the consistency in manufacturing will mean, for the most part, there will be no distortion of colors and layouts. A Windows 8 laptop and a Surface Pro user are both going to have identical experiences on their Windows 8 app.
So the question for small independent developers becomes: would you like to design once and ensure your users see what you intent, or design once and test on over 400 devices making constant tweaks to your APK for each device supported?
Windows hardware will operate consistently across devices.
Let me reiterate: your users can choose from almost 12,000 different Android devices. If you think visual appearance is your biggest problem, think again.
Each Android device can bring with it slight (or dramatic) variations in how the operating system and the hardware interact. The operating system of the Galaxy S-series, one of the most popular phones on the market, has their own, non-standard methods of interacting with the video recording hardware. This means that you need to modify your APK for Galaxy S-series users otherwise any functionality you have in your Android app that accesses video recording could fail.
Video not a big deal? What about the Nexus 7, the most popular Android tablet, which has custom operating methods to interact with the camera hardware as the tablet has no back-facing camera?
Unlike the cosmetic problems that can be more of an annoyance, these hardware and OS inconsistencies can cause loss of core functionality, or cause your app to fail all together.
Windows, like iOS, is for now an operating system only available through certain manufacturers who keep the OS and hardware interactions consistent. When you develop for Windows, you know that the functionality you provide users will work no matter which Windows Phone or 8 device they are using.
With a need for more developers, Windows can help promote your App.
It’s no secret that Windows has been working hard to get more developers to create content for the Windows App Store (even going so far as to bribe developers with cash). The Google Play store, on the other hand, rivals Apple in terms of sheer volume of Apps available.
This can work in your favor. The Windows team is eager to support its fledgling developer community in a number of ways. We’ve found the team to be highly engaged with our app – to a degree we could never expect from Apple or Google – which has led to numerous opportunities for promotion and growth.
Better to be a first mover and on good terms with the Windows App Store process and team than to miss out on the opportunity to build early support for your Windows app.
Windows OS on mobile devices is gaining traction in the market.
Depending on what you read, the Windows Phone is on it’s way up… or on it’s way out. Despite the mixed market signals, there are a number of signs mobile developers should take a chance on the Windows operating system.
2012 was Windows Phone’s strongest year yet, and while 2013 didn’t quite live up to expectations overall, their Q3 reports had tech journalists praising the affordable phone as the fastest growing phone operating system in the market (yes, beating iOS and Android). Also, by the end of 2013, analysts were becoming positively impressed by the Surface and Surface Pro tablets’ market growth.
Regardless of how fast you think the Windows mobile OS market is growing in the future, it’s suggested that there are over 125 million Windows 8 users globally (that’s bigger than Apple’s OS X entire user base by almost 2x by the way) – a market that any independent developer shouldn’t sneeze at, particularly if there is much less competition to access it.
Ok… there are some downsides.
Of course, when it comes to developing for a new platform, whether you’re choosing Android, Windows or web, there are always downsides to each. While I believe that Windows is a much better bet for independent developers that Android, there are some downsides compared to the Google OS.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly to most developers, the design paradigm is radically different. While Android encourages a customized look and feel to sit in line with Android design best practices, in reality many developers simply create a carbon copy of their app’s design when moving from iOS to Android. That won’t cut it with Windows which has a series of very specific design requirements. While some of these can provide interesting new ways to showcase app content, others are simply annoying and require a rethink of many aspects of your app. The danger of ignoring these design paradigms is that you aren’t selected for any of the developer support efforts run by Windows and are shunted to a lesser section of the Windows App store.
Secondly, finding development resources for Windows OS is much harder than it is for Android. There are many fewer Windows 8 developers available for hire, although there are a number of freelance resources.
Thirdly, Windows 8 for Surface and laptops, and Windows Phone 8 do not actually have overlapping app stores, nor are apps developed for one immediately compatible for the other. If you are committed to the Windows 8 platform, you may find you need to develop both versions to be successful in either market.
Finally, there’s the elephant in the room – market share and growth. For all of Window’s pretty numbers and improvements in the last two years, Android is still globally the operating system with the most users. If your existing users are clambering for a way to connect with their friends on other systems it’s most likely a request for an Android app. Windows just doesn’t have the reach yet to compete with Android.
Overall, however, for equal time, money and effort, I feel that Windows is a better opportunity for small independent developers looking for their second platform after iOS.
Have you launched an app on iOS first? What are you choosing as a second platform? Why?
Header image credit: Animoca
This article was originally posted on LondonLovesBusiness as a summary of my UKTI tech mission to Brazil, researching the market for 23snaps and a local launch in the country. There I shared some of the opportunities, challenges and conclusions I drew from the trip and what international startups can expect when trying to bring their business to Brazil.
On the evening of 10 September, I found myself sitting with the founding members of 10 other UK tech start-ups at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 waiting for a flight to Sao Paulo, Brazil. Our companies ranged from social networks to content delivery networks to ecommerce solutions – but all had one thing in common. They had committed their limited time and resources to travel halfway around the globe to explore growth opportunities in one of the world’s fastest-growing markets. I represented 23snaps, a private social network for families, and hoped to learn more about the consumer appetite for our product and to find launch partners that would help us grow in the Latin American market.
There were shared pre-flight drinks and banter but also a sense of apprehension. Brazil is a tempting market for many businesses, with a consumer market growing exponentially in size, but the challenges that small companies face trying to enter the country act as a strong deterrent.
The 10-day trade mission, dubbed The Great Tech Expedition, was UKTI’s attempt to help one group of British tech start-ups overcome those challenges. The programme was also supported by the Mayor of London as part of the 2012 legacy efforts, as many of the companies participating on the trip hoped to pick up lucrative contracts related to Rio’s Olympic infrastructure and planning. The launch event included a meet-and-greet with Mayor Boris Johnson. It was an ambitious effort on the part of UKTI, but I returned to London with ambivalent feelings towards opportunities in the South American nation.
On the surface, the opportunities in Brazil are numerous. As the hosts of both the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 summer Olympic Games, the investment in infrastructure and need for goods and services can only increase.
Additionally, the Brazilian consumer market appears to be booming as well. Already the sixth largest economy in the world, over 75 million Brazilians are own smartphones. It’s ranked fifth in the world for number of internet users (over 90 million) and household spend has increased steadily over the last 10 years, including 2.5% growth from Q1 2013 to Q2 2013.
Brazilian companies can’t keep up with consumer demand, leaving room for international businesses to enter the market. Many of the participants on the UKTI trip were hoping to be first to market in their industry in this new, lucrative environment.
But for all of Brazil’s potential, there are significant challenges to foreign companies entering the market – as we discovered shortly after being ushered into the UK Consulate on our first morning in Sao Paulo. A series of seminars, organised by the UKTI and the Consulate’s Office, painted a more realistic picture that left some participants questioning the opportunity cost.
Brazil is still extremely protectionist of its own industry and companies. This manifests itself in significant tariffs on international goods and services. A Brazilian company paying for a service from an international company might expect to pay 40% on top in taxes. International companies looking to move profits out of Brazil into their home country can expect a similar (40%) tax rate on taking funds out of the country. Businesses also must hire a certain number of Brazilian employees for every foreign one and cannot have business operations in Brazil without a full time managing director located there who assumes full, personal responsibility for the company – one example of a complicated business legal system.
This can all be challenging for small companies with limited resources particularly because English is not widely spoken, even in technology or professional industries; a point felt strongly by our Tech Expedition as we attempted to explain advanced digital services in broken Portuguese, sign language and Powerpoint slides to attendees at the Rio Info conference. The conference was the region’s largest technology event and ostensibly the focal point around which UKTI had organised the trip.
Another intriguing point for the tech companies was Brazil’s lack of data protection laws. While the UK companies would of course be bound by EU data protection laws, their Brazilian competitors faced no such restrictions. Personal, medical, educational and online data can be bought, sold, resold and used for marketing purposes without any penalties – and consumers are uneducated about this so are not asking for change.
Finally, infrastructure in Brazil is still extremely dated, particularly outside the state of Sao Paulo which occupies only 3% of the country’s land mass, despite driving 60% of its economy. Across the country poor roads, transport and civil services mean that it can be expensive and difficult to transport goods, services or personnel.
As we learned about the tricky landscape we would need to navigate to begin business operations in Brazil, professional consultants’ cautions were balanced with the vibrant Brazilian world around us. In Sao Paulo, a never ending city of skyscrapers, even cabbies checked directions on their smartphones. In Rio, despite the sea of tents and corrugated metal boxes that made up the shanty town Favelas, the beaches and tourist attractions were packed with tens of thousands of local and international tourists, stimulating the economy.
The tech and start-up scene was booming, at least if the numerous government-backed start-up accelerators were to be believed. Cesar, a self-proclaimed “Brazilian IDEO” had supported 70 projects, funded nine business plans and helped three companies start generating revenue in the last year while Invest Sao Paulo had the backing of the local and federal governments to bring both Brazilian and international businesses into their accelerator program with up to $100,000 of investment – as long as they based themselves in Sao Paulo.
Brazil is a perfect market for 23snaps. It’s family-oriented, social, and there is a huge consumer appetite for new online services and networks. On top of that, there are almost 300 million people living in Brazil and consumer smart phone and internet access is exploding. But we can’t forget that Brazil is still a developing country and there are a couple of challenges we need to overcome, particularly related to financial operations, data protection and infrastructure in the country
Brazil was, for myself and many of The Great Tech Expedition participants, a conundrum – even more so for having visited. Local enthusiasm for the London companies, obvious consumer demands and a European-like attitude towards consumer products was, for many, enough to counter the numerous challenges and increasingly bleak outlook on Brazil from global economists. The final day in Rio, with the iconic Christ statue smiling benevolently down on the British entrepreneurs, was filled with optimistic discussion of a return trip, final signatures on contracts and the opportunities ahead. Yet by the time our plane landed, both the London drizzle and reality of operating in Brazil had cooled the group’s passions. Despite our, and UKTI’s best efforts and desires, there is still a long way to go before small British businesses are up and running effectively in the tempting, challenging and intriguing Brazilian market.
(This article was originally posted on LondonLovesBusiness on 09/10/13)
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.
Facebook in-app mobile advertising is fast becoming the industry channel of choice. While of course it’s important to diversify your marketing channels, Facebook offers the powerful combination of highly targeted ads, scalable pay as you go pricing and massive reach.
But if you’re setting up your Facebook ads through the web interface, you’re missing a trick – particularly when it comes to targeting the right users. This week, get cozy with Facebook’s Power Editor, a Chrome browser plugin that sits firmly between the limited Facebook web ad creation platform, and their ads API which is available for approved developers.
There are tons of ways to use the Power Editor to enhance your existing Facebook ad campaigns, or get set up in the first place, which I’ll cover in future posts. But to start with, here is a walkthrough of how to get started with your first campaign in the Facebook Power Editor.
Getting Set Up
You’ll also need to have integrated Facebook with your native Android or iOS app. This involves installing a Facebook SDK and creating a profile for your app in the Facebook App Center. If you haven’t done this already, you can download the SKD and start the process of adding your app to Facebook here: https://developers.facebook.com/. As an added bonus this means that you app has a chance to appear in the Facebook App Center visible to all Facebook users.
Connecting Power Editor
The most common issue that new Power Editor users run into is forgetting to Download or Upload their campaigns. Before you do anything, you’ll need to click the “download” button in the top right hand corner of the Power Editor application – and it’s good practice to do this first every time you open the Power Editor. This will sync your existing Facebook ad campaigns and account with the Power Editor.
You may also want to check that you are modifying the right account – by default you will be editing ads in your own, personal account, but if your company or Page runs ads that you are authorized to edit and manage, you will need to select the correct account from the drop down on the left.
Creating Your First Campaign
Although the Power Editor looks confusing, it’s actually fairly straight forward. Here’s how to get going:
1) Click the ‘Campaigns’ tab in the top center.
2) Click the ‘Create Campaign’ button – a new campaign should appear and you should have the option to edit the campaign settings.
3) If you are just getting started, you may prefer to leave the default settings of ‘Auction’ rather than ‘Fixed’ campaign. With auction settings your price per install or click may fluctuate more dramatically but you will be able to benefit from Facebook’s algorithm that automatically optimizes your bidding. Likewise, you may prefer to set a ‘Daily’ budget rather than a ‘Lifetime’ one for more consistency in how quickly your deplete your account funds.
There’s no save button – once you’re happy with your campaign settings, move on to:
Creating Your Ads
If you’ve created ads in Facebook before, some of this may look familiar, but there are some great additional targeting opportunities.
1) Click the ‘Ads’ tab in the top center.
2) Click the ‘Create Ad’ button. A new ad should appear and you should have the option to edit the settings.
3) There are tons of different options for ad types, depending on what you want to promote, but assuming you want to advertise your mobile app in the Facebook mobile ad network and drive installs, you should select ‘Mobile Only Ad’ from the Type dropdown list and select the radio button for ‘Get new mobile app installs.’
4) If you have installed the Facebook SDK and set up your app in the App Center correctly, you should see your app appear in the dropdown under ‘Destination,’ and your app platform (iOS or Android) options appear under ‘Native App’. You can only select one OS for your ad, but you can always create a second campaign if your app is multi-platform.
5) Create and add your ad copy and graphics, including your App Icon and a 360x600px creative.
6) Set your mobile device preferences, such as whether you want your ads to appear on iPad or not, or whether your want your ads limited to users connected to wifi.
Targeting Your Ads
Once you’ve created your basic ad layout and platform targeting, you can deep dive into your audience targeting.
1) Click the ‘Audience’ tab on the lefthand side of the page.
2) Set you location, gender and age targeting – these are all options available on the Facebook ads web interface.
3) Now create your precise interest and broad category targeting. This allows you to create extremely focused audience groups. Precise interests will target anyone with any of the interests you include but won’t always work in combination (for example, if your precise interests were chocolate and ice cream, you would reach people interested in chocolate, ice cream but not necessarily people interested in chocolate ice cream). Broad categories help filter your precise interests. So, for example, if you entered the interest racing, and chose the broad category Interests > Autos, you’d be more likely to get people interested in car racing than running.
4) Decide if you want to use any connection targeting, such as only showing ads to people connected to your existing fans. If you have a lot of targeting already, this may make your audience too small.
5) Check your estimated reach. On the right hand side of the Power Editor is a real-time estimated reach, showing you how many people have the potential to see your ad based on your targeting (this doesn’t take into account your ad bids). If your audience is smaller than 10,000, you may consider removing some of your targeting options to increase your reach.
Setting Your Pricing
Like Google AdWords, Facebook decides which ads are shown to users based on a combination of relevance, bidding and historical data about your account. You may find that you want to start with a simple CPC bidding method and bid higher than the suggested range to ensure your ads appear for users, you can generate clicks and installs to boost your account’s success metrics, and learn how to optimize your campaign in the future.
Upload Your Campaign
You’ve created a campaign, and an ad to drive mobile installs. Now before you close the Power Editor, you must click the ‘Upload’ button in the top right otherwise your campaign will not start running. Don’t worry if you accidently close the Power Editor before uploading – the changes are saved on your local computer until you click the ‘Download’ button the next time you’re ready to start making new changes.
My Monday Mobile Marketing Tip for this week: Create your first Facebook Power Editor campaign. While it might be a bit clunky to get used to, you’ll be impressed by the additional levels of targeting and control you have over your Facebook mobile campaigns. Not using Facebook at all yet? This is a great way to test out a Facebook ad campaign.
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.