With over 50,000 apps in the Apple App Store, how do apps get discovered?

Download Report

Recently, after passing over 1500 iPhone apps across over 1000 publishers, we decided to investigate what strategies successful developers were employing in order to get their apps noticed. What we discovered was that, although only a handful of apps were achieving critical success, many of their publishers (Storm8, Trippert Labs, Digital Chocolate, I-play, Webworks, etc.) were the same guys releasing success after success, and these publishers weren’t all large brands with huge marketing budgets.

So we dived into our ad data and determined that it was actually possible to simply “purchase” enough ad units to brute force an app into the top 100. The cost? Unfortunately, around $1875 a day in ad campaigns.

Cost to buy a successful ad campaign

With some app development experience ourselves, we set about looking at the alternative ways to promote applications. Our favorite platforms were those that grew the userbase organically and virally simply by using the app (gaming platforms Open Feint and ngmoco Plus+), but developers were still in a rut if they wanted to promote an app that they had just released. Certainly it made sense to utilize channels such as YouTube and review sites TouchArcade, AppVee, IGN, and PocketGamer, among others, but we knew we could achieve better results if we could specifically target the precise audience for our apps.

To us, this seemed like a chicken-and-egg problem: how could we advertise to an audience that we didn’t already have, unless we were outright buying the ads? At the same time, we realized it didn’t take THAT many downloads to break the top 100 in a popular category (only about 2500 daily), so there should be a relatively low-barrier way to amass these users. We encourage developers to be more and more creative about these problems, but for us, the solution was simply to release a few free apps, which quickly gain many “throwaway” users and offer an effective channel to advertise the apps that were important to us. As 95% of downloads come from free apps, even as they only comprise up 25% of the apps in the App Store, it’s not terribly difficult to gather several thousand users through a network of applications.

Read our report for the rest of our findings.

Finally, we’re excited to announce that we’ll soon be opening up the opportunity on our platform for developers to connect to one another and help each other cross-promote apps to the top 100 lists. We’ve been supported by a great developer community and we want to make sure that our open platform really leverages the advantages of all our users, and you’ll see more of these changes moving forward!

Thanks!

Sam

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19 Responses to “With over 50,000 apps in the Apple App Store, how do apps get discovered?”

  1. Want to Be in the App Store Top 100? It’s Gonna Cost You Says:

    […] money, but it you want to be in the top 100 apps in the Apple App Store, it’s gonna take you $1,875 per day to buy enough ads, according to a report out today from AdWhirl. The company, which operates an […]

  2. Want to Be in the App Store Top 100? It’s Gonna Cost You | Stoth Says:

    […] money, but it you want to be in the top 100 apps in the Apple App Store, it’s gonna take you $1,875 per day to buy enough ads, according to a report out today from AdWhirl. The company, which operates an […]

  3. It would cost $1,875 a day to be a Top iPhone App | iPhoneIndiaBlog.com Says:

    […] of developing the No.1 iPhone app. Did you know that it will cost $1,875 a day, according to Adwhirl, which aggregates ad networks to help publishers monetize their apps on the iPhone. Adwhirl has […]

  4. Mobile News - Mobile Industry Buzz!! » What’s It Cost To Be A Top iPhone App? $1,875 A Day Says:

    […] do so, it will cost $1,875 a day, according to Adwhirl, which aggregates a handful of ad networks to help publishers monetize their apps on the iPhone. […]

  5. Want to Be in the App Store Top 100? It’s Gonna Cost You | Mobile. Money. Obopay. Official Obopay blog Says:

    […] money, but it you want to be in the top 100 apps in the Apple App Store, it’s gonna take you $1,875 per day to buy enough ads, according to a report out today from AdWhirl. The company, which operates an […]

  6. What’s It Cost To Be A Top iPhone App? $1,875 A Day | The Iphone Blog Says:

    […] do so, it will cost $1,875 a day, according to Adwhirl, which aggregates a handful of ad networks to help publishers monetize their apps on the iPhone. […]

  7. What’s It Cost To Be A Top iPhone App? $1,875 A Day | modtheiphone.com Says:

    […] do so, it will cost $1,875 a day, according to Adwhirl, which aggregates a handful of ad networks to help publishers monetize their apps on the iPhone. […]

  8. Buy A Top 100 Ranking at Under The Bridge Says:

    […] must have a Top 100 app at all costs, just how much would "all costs" be exactly? Well, according to those AdWhirl folks, the answer is: $1,875 a […]

  9. Mobile game developer headaches continue | IMHO Says:

    […] gold with the iPhone.  Naturally, as the market evolved, the platform became less attractive, as you had to spend a lot on marketing to keep up the sales.  Now enter the inevitable, but obvious path: an upgrade to the iPhone OS, […]

  10. What’s It Cost To Be A Top iPhone App? $1,875 A Day | iPhone Theme Store Says:

    […] do so, it will cost $1,875 a day, according to Adwhirl, which aggregates a handful of ad networks to help publishers monetize their apps on the iPhone. […]

  11. watkinsmobile Says:

    you should probably mention… it takes 2500 downloads for free apps to break the top 100. Paid apps are much, much less. Also – where are you getting the 0.2% figure? Do you have stats on sales from application page on the AppStore to actual downloads?

  12. Mobile Web vs. Mobile Apps Says:

    […] strategy to break into the top list for your category in order to make it (AdWhirl estimates $1875 per day advertising budget can get you there , Pinch Media says the impact of being in the top 100 is a daily increase of 2.3x in the number of […]

  13. Julian Says:

    If you made a free or Paid App that was earning $1,875 per day or $56,250 pr month,
    You would be considered a successful App Developer, wouldn’t you??
    I don’t understand the budget for spending $1,875 per day on advertisements…..

  14. Aaron Says:

    Well, if your app was $3.99, and you sold 2,500 apps in a day, youve made $4,485. If you spend $1,875 to get there… it would be worth it, and the few days of residual sales after you stop advertising… maybe it IS worth it.

  15. Tech Freak 2012 Says:

    Tech Freak 2012…

    […]With over 50,000 apps in the Apple App Store, how do apps get discovered? « Adwhirl Blog[…]…

  16. What’s It Cost To Be A Top iPhone App? $1,875 A Day — paidContent Says:

    […] do so, it will cost $1,875 a day, according to Adwhirl, which aggregates a handful of ad networks to help publishers monetize their apps on the iPhone. […]

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