Apple's move against app incentivisation will force developers to up their game, claims OfferMobi CEO Howie Schwartz

Apple a force for good

Apple's move against app incentivisation will force developers to up their game, claims OfferMobi CEO Howie Schwartz
The combination of Apple's tweaks to its App Store ranking algorithm and the firm's recent clamp down on app incentivisation models left many working on iOS with a nasty taste in their mouths.

However, according to Howie Schwartz - co-founder and CEO of mobile web affiliate network OfferMobi - it was the unannounced nature of the changes that put people's backs up, rather than the adjustments themselves.

We caught up with Schwartz to ask why he thinks, in the long run, Apple's App Store shake up will turn out to be a force for good.

Pocket Gamer: What do you think Apple's new App Store ranking algorithm consists of?

Howie Schwartz: We believe Apple's new App Store ranking algorithm is being designed to be more of a 'black box' moving forward. That is, similar to both Google search rankings and also Google's direction of Android Market).

When it is clear how rankings work, it can and will be 'gamed' or manipulated. Apple, in our opinion, will continue to tweak the App Store rankings to include factors such as number and frequency of opens and other usage or engagement metrics.

We also believe the Apple will tweak these factors on a very regular basis, just as Google does with their search rankings, to make it more difficult to point at one item - such as number of installs - as the only driver.

What's your take on Apple's clamp down on app incentivisation schemes?

We believe it is positive for the overall market. 90 percent of a market focusing on any one thing leads to a 'bubble'. App developers have been way to focused on incentivised installs versus other marketing options.

We also believe this obsession with incentivisation distracts developers who may have otherwise focused on building more quality into their apps so they could stand on their own in the marketplace.

We also don't feel this is the end of incentivisation - this will lead to more balanced marketing campaigns, as the incentivised networks will have to tweak and limit the volume of installs.  Developers moving forward will not be able to rely on only incentivised installs as their only marketing channel.

In both cases, how is the development community reacting to these changes?

It's mixed. I think the biggest issue is the lack of clear direction and communication from Apple.

At this moment in time, it's difficult for developers to make decisions on particular business models and marketing budgets without more clarity from the top down. The market needs to know the rules, or at least understand fully how the game has changed, or innovation at the developer level will stall.

We also believe this is going to change the valuation metrics of developers significantly when dealing with angel and venture investors. Developers cannot, and never should have, focus blindly on installs as the key metric. That metric is wrong and will change - a change accelerated by the current Apple tweaks.

The proper method to value a developer is DAU (daily active users). Only with active users can you monetise your installed base with in-app purchases and mobile advertising.

When developers are properly valued by active users, as well as how well they are monetising their installs, they will be forced to change their marketing campaign mix and not focus so heavily on incentivised installs, which equal low or no value users.

How is OfferMobi approaching these changes?

We believe that a focus on non-incentivised Installs is the next step in app discovery. This allows developers to understand a fixed price per install and provides higher value users that actually wanted to install and use their App versus. an incentivised 'bribe'.

These real installs are more likely to make in-app purchases and interact with mobile advertising and become active loyal users. The OfferMobi App Discovery Network is focused 100 percent on non-incentivised installs for the iOS and Android platforms.
Thanks to Howie for his time.

You can find out more about OfferMobi on the firm's website.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.