Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas time

Today is Christmas and I decided to not invest money on a new AdMob campaign as I prefer to see what happens in this particular period of the year. The data I collect now could be useful for the next year.

I was tempted to not change anything in my application to see how the Christmas time affect the number of downloads, but in the last days I discovered something very interesting that made me change mind (and feel a bit stupid).

Normally when I look at the statistics of my app I only check the "Active device installs" that summarizes the situation of the installs; the higher the figure the happier I was. In the last two months the active device installs were not growing as I expected and I put the blame on the lack of visibility of the applications in the market.

Although the visibility is a real problem, there is another aspect that should be taken into consideration to explain a slow active installs increment: the tendency of the user to keep the application installed.

Looking at the daily installs and daily uninstalls I discovered that:
I have a daily average of 78 installs but approximately the same number of uninstall
so many daily installs means that the visibility is not the main issue and I have to work in the direction that makes the user to keep the app installed. Since almost all of the user reviews are enthusiastic I think that the app itself does not have any problem and that the big villain is the user interface, which I admit is rather poor.

I spent one week to introduce themes in the application and I created three themes. You can see the screenshoots here below:

If i'm right I should see a decrement of the daily uninstalls. I'll update you in a couple of weeks when the Christmas madness is over.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tell to a friend mechanism

The AdMob campaign for GPS, find me! has been terminated since two weeks and the 68 new users I gained are still there; this means that my application is considered enough valuable to deserve a few MB of space in the device. This makes me very happy, but the tell to a friend mechanism that I ingenuously was expecting did not happen as I did not see any significant increment in the downloads after the campaign.

I think that 68 new users do not reach the critical mass that can feed and sustain this mechanism and for this I'm planning to invest more money to investigate this aspect. The only doubt I have is about the timing.

As Christmas is near I do not know if it is better to wait and look what happens with the hundreds of thousands of the new devices activated in this period or to join the Christmas effect with a new campaign to give a great burst of downloads...

I'll keep you informed, stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Payed promotion (conclusion)

After a few days running the $0.02 AdMob campaign for GPS, find me! I terminate my budget. 

My first impression is good and I am very satisfied because for only $45.06 I got 259,194 impressions and 4,172 clicks, which is much more than what I could get by sending messages to forums or paying for a review.

I am not so naive as to think that all clicks were done on purpose as there is certainly a large percentage of unwanted clicks and clicks made ​​for the sole purpose of supporting the application that shows the add.

But the effect on the download is visible as you can see from the graph below:

A marks the day when I begun the $0.01 campaign and B the day when I started the $0.02 campaign. The little increase of downloads in the period AB could be a simply statistic fluctuation, but after B there is a real increment. In just five days I got 68 installs!

Now that the campaign is over I want to see if these 68 new installs would generate more downloads via the mechanism of the "tell to a friend".

Next week an update.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Payed promotion (update)

Yesterday I setup a new AdMob campaign for GPS, find me! with the bid set to $0.02 and the result confirmed my theory: if you set the bid to its default minimal value you will not get many impressions because you have to compete with too many developers.

Rising my bid just by one cent (someone would say that I doubled it) I got much more impressions and clicks than before.

Here are some figures to understand better the difference on a 24 hours statistic:


since my campaign was approved just 15 hours ago the values you see are extrapolated from the actual trend.

As you can see the difference is very big!

What about the conversion rate? Well, with the $0.01 bid it was hard to tell, but with this new campaign it is immediately recognizable a peak in the downloads. In less than 20 hours I triplicated the daily install average from USA passing from 10 to 30.

It is early to make a reliable statistics, I'll come in the next days with more data.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Payed promotion

Exactly one week ago I create a campaign on AdMob to promote my Application GPS, find me!. Also if it is too early to talk about it I would like to give a short feedback about this experience.

Initially I was a bit skeptical about AdMob because in this blog the author relates that he setup a $50 campaign and in just a few minutes he burn all his budget for only 152 clicks and no one turned into installation.

Reading more carefully I saw that he did two big mistakes:
  • his bid was too high ($0.28)
  • he advertised a payed app

The bid is what you are willing to pay for each click.

Since my bid will be much lower and my app is free and revolutionary I decided to give a try investing $50.

I set as bid $0.01 which is the minimum allowed and I setup the campaign only for USA. After one week I had 39,000 impressions, about 500 clicks and I payed just $3.68.

Since the beginning of this campaign I got 17 new users from USA, but it is too early to say if this is a consequence of the campaign or a simple statistical fluctuation.

I do not know how AdMob works, but I suppose that the ads are shown with a round robin with priority schema where the priority is set by the bid; the higher the bid the more likely your add will be shown.

I suppose that the minimum bid is chosen by almost all the small developers like me. If I'm right, this class of priority will be the most populated and this explains why I do not get much impressions per day.

Now I setup another campaign identical to the previous but with the bid set to $0.02, let's see if something changes.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Result of the promotion in the USA

One week ago I sent to 9 Android forums and review sites a short description of my latest application (GPS, find me!) hoping that more exposure on the web could lead to an increased number of downloads.

Well, I was wrong, or at least I submitted to the wrong sites because in one week I did not see any relevant increment in the number of downloads from USA or any other English speaking country.

The reason is probably because every developer submits his applications there and after just a couple of days your post is overwhelmed by dozens of other posts promoting other applications. After one week my posts are beyond the 5th page, almost invisible...

Free promotion via forum submissions in the USA seems to me a waste of time; in Italy it worked, but not in the USA for my experience.

I believe in my application, and considered that in Italy the success was explosive, I decided to invest some money into advertising; next step will be  to test some pay for install service.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Promote my app in the USA

It is official: the Italian market for my application is almost saturated. From Oct 15 the downloads dropped from 600 per day to about 100.

When I had constantly more than 500 downloads per day I was ranked at the 45th place in the list of "New free applications". Now I disappear completely from that list.

I had to promote my application in other countries when I had this good ranking because if I could replicate the success I had in Italy my ranking would become better and the more near you are from the top of that list the more likely you get more installs. If you reach the position 10 you likely are in the first page and this would give you a large amount of new downloads just because the application is popular. No matter how good it is...

I call this the Paris Hilton effect: she is famous because... she is famous!

Now I'm trying to promote my application via the following forums and review sites:


I already posted my messages and now I'm waiting to see the results. Stay tuned...

Make money with Android is much more difficult and time consuming than what I imagine.

Friday, October 19, 2012

GPS, find me!

Here we are. It's time to introduce the killer application :)

A common GPS navigation tool is designed to find fixed locations with certain recognizable landmarks (streets and squares), but it fails miserably when it comes to locate a person who is in a large open space such as a beach.

GPS, find me!, as the name suggests, helps people to find each other in these situations by providing an arrow and a distance indicator which always point to the place you need to reach, even if it is moving.

Here you can find more details:

Google Play



After this short introduction let's talk about my strategies.

As first step I look if there was something similar on Google Play because if you want to have success you should not have big competitors. In my case there was nothing doing what I wanted to provide with my application.

As second step I tried to develop an idiot proof user interface, but we will see in another post that I failed as the idiots are very intelligent when it comes to avoid the protections you setup to protect them from themselves.

Third: I wrote a complete user manual to give the user the possibility to learn how the application work even before its installation.

For the promotion I created a video for Youtube, several screenshoots and some original graphics (icon and function image).

I submitted then the application to 17 Italian forums and android sites and I used also auto promotion on my previous applications.

Well, after a couple of weeks the active installs started to grow at a rate of 200 per day. I reached 5000 active installs in a few weeks, and this only with Italians which are 89% of the total.

Surprisingly, but not too much, I got a lot of downloads from countries in which there are large desertic areas. Tunisia, Iraq, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, all together, have 2.61% of the total, and this without even promote the application in their countries.

It is a couple of days that I see a slow decrease, probably because I reached the saturation point for the Italian market. It is time now to move to other markets.

Now is time to move on and spend my energies to promote the application in the USA and South Korea, where, according to Google Play, the most GPS applications are downloaded.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The beginning

The Android Market is saturated by thousands of applications and to become visible in that huge space is the most difficult task for a developer.

I believe that the key for success depends more on promotion than on the effective quality of the application. This is confirmed by the infinite number of fart applications that often have a number of downloads above 1M.

This means basically two things:
  1. the average intelligence is very low
  2. we should spend more effort on promotion than programming
Because for the first point we couldn't do anything I spent my time on the second.

I dedicated half year to learn Android programming, how to put ads in the applications and how to use Paypal to receive donations. In this time I developed a few applications that I submitted to Google Play just to see how the market reacts to new applications and how is the best way to monetize.

These are the apps

Forget me not: it is a clone of Simon; I have chosen this as first app because it is simple to program for a beginner. I deliberately choose to not promote it in any form and the result is that in six months I got only 275 total user installs and 60 active device installs. Nothing compared with the number of downloads reached by the dozens of clones in the market.

I used AdMob to monetize it by showing a little banner on the top of the screen and till now I earned $2.93.

Corriere della sera leggero: it was an application to read a famous Italian newspaper. The app reads the web page from their site, remove all the adds and presents on a webview the clean version. I promoted it only on a single forum and in a short time I reached almost 1.000 active installs. Unfortunately I was contacted by the lawyers of the newspaper and I had to remove the app from the market.

I used AdMob to monetize it by showing a little banner on the top of the screen and till now I earned $40.27.

Repubblica leggero: same as above but with another newspaper. Till now nobody contacted me asking to remove it from the market, also because I think it is legal as I do not transmit or change anything in what they provide from their website. I just present it on screen in a different way.

I promoted this application via the same forum as before and I also advertised it on my previous application. This gave me an audience of 1000 extra people. As expected the downloads grow much faster than before and now I have 4.667 total users installs and 1.916 active installs.

I used AdMob to monetize this app and till now I earned $77.43.

Digital eBook Library: this is an ebook reader with126 books available for free download.

I promoted this app through a half dozens of forums and also via auto promotion on my apps. I got a fast initial grow of downloads but after a couple of months the number of active users went down. Recently it started to slowly grow again. Total user installs is 11.759, active installs is 2.857.

To monetize this app I changed schema; I wanted to see if spontaneous donations could be a valid method. The answer, so far, is no.

I put two buttons: one for a Paypal donation and another for Tapjoy. In four months I did not receive any Paypal donation and just $0.07 from Tapjoy.

Recently I discovered that I made an error that caused the servers of Tapjoy to ignore my application, so probably the revenue could be higher. I correct the bug and next month I'll check if Tapjoy was a good choice.

Hypnotoad: this was just a test app to learn how to use the multimedia playback on Android. As it was not an important project I did not promote it and, of course, the number of downloads is very low: total user installs is 283, active installs is 50.

In five months I earned $0.94.

And finally we arrive to the present days with my latest application: GPS, find me!.

Soon a new post describing the application and how I got in the range 10.000-50.000 downloads.


Well, here we are with yet another Android blog.

First I want to make this clear: I have no idea how to become rich with Android. If I knew I would not be here writing this blog, but in some tropical beach to enjoy life.

My name is Stefano Benamati, I'm into Android programming since February 2012 and I'm very far from becoming rich with my apps.

When I registered as developer I had in mind The Application, the killer one, the application that in a few months would make me rich beyond any expectation. Well, after eight months of experiments I finally published this application.

I'll let you know all the details about this application, but before let's start from the beginning.

In the next post I'll tell you how I begun and why I waited so long before I developed this famous application.