Mobile relationship management company Appboy has announced its in-app News Feed, aimed at increasing click-through rates and overall user engagement. Developers can use the News Feed to show custom messages and announcements to specific groups of users, and are encouraged to use the News Feed alongside Appboy’s other tools, like push notifications, in-app messages and mobile emails.
Predictive analytics company Playnomics has announced the release of its new Churn Predictor, which aims to help developers more accurately predict the lifetime value (LTV) of their users. In doing so, developers are given a chance to market campaigns specifically to users that are most likely to stop playing, all in an effort to get them to stick around.
Mobile messenger app, imo.im, has shared some interesting facts about its internship program, after news of Google’s lucrative program rose earlier this month. Rather than giving its interns remedial work, the company uses its program as a three month job interview, allowing them to build tools and software that is directly beneficial to the company.
App monetization platform Burstly today announced that it has restructured the company into an end-to-end mobile app development solution for developers. Now Burstly, which was founded in 2009, will be offering its app testing platform TestFlight, app analytics tool FlightPath and app monetization service SkyRocket (formally the Burstly monetization platform) to all developers, not just for some of the largest apps in the world.
“For the first time, we are our opening up our monetization platform to all mobile developers and publishers through the launch of SkyRocket,” said Evan Rifkin, CEO of Burstly, in a statement. “With Burstly, developers now have the option of using a full suite of integrated services which are incredibly powerful when mixed together, or the flexibility to use each service on its own.”
With the opening of its products to all developers, the Santa Monica, Calif.-headquartered company, which is used by some of the top mobile publishers including Electronic Arts, Rovio, Zynga, and more, will be allowing developers to now create custom segments of users in FlightPath and then using those segments to create different monetization experiences in SkyRocket. For example, developers can choose to not display ads to valuable users, or apologize to users which have experience an app crash by giving away virtual currency in a game. Burstly is now becoming a service that can possibly compete on a level with the likes of Tapjoy, PlayHaven, Millennial Media and more.
Before today’s announcement, Burstly was last making news when it opened its TestFlight for Android private beta to all users, and in just 45 days of closed beta, 5,000 developers uploaded 4,500 apps which have seen more than 50,000 downloads. Burstly also recently announced the private beta launch of FlightPath, its mobile analytics service for mobile app developers, featuring real-time data that can be customized and segmented to the developer’s liking.
Editor’s note: Arcade action game Nimble Quest is the latest offering from Tiny Towers and Pocket Planes developer NimbleBit. Kevin Oke, Lead Designer at both Adrian Crook & Associates, a social-mobile game design consultancy, and PlayRank, a second screen startup, analyzes the stickiness in Nimble Quest. He previously wrote a guest post for Inside Mobile Apps that analyzed engagement in Supercell’s Clash of Clans.
NimbleBit, creators of Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes, released their latest title the aptly named Nimble Quest at the end of March. While it’s a fun game, I’ve found four key issues described below that I believe limit its stickiness and in turn, its ability to monetize.
According to AppData, after a strong start peaking at No. 6 on the top free iPhone apps chart for the games genre, it has slid to No. 217 as of this writing. Its rank on the top grossing iPhone apps chart for the games genre is at No. 190. These positions may be at least partially attributable to the issues I found.
The Compulsion Loop
It’s a rule of thumb in game design that the shorter the loop, the more addictive the experience. By analyzing the loop (diagram above), one can see that unless the player is willing to spend hard currency, they have to restart from the beginning every time. The variable session length nature of the game means that as the player and their friends improve, it takes more and more time for them to challenge their ever-increasing high scores.
Essentially Nimble Quest is banking on players getting invested enough in leaderboard competition to start paying once the grind becomes too much to bear. This is a risky hook to rely on here, as it’s one that is much better suited to games with more of a sense of permanence and ownership, like city builders and strategy games such as Kingdoms of Camelot by Kabam. The reason being that without such permanence, it’s much easier for the player to decide to quit when the grinding gets tiresome.
As in any freemium game leveraging the player’s time for money, if the player tires of the grind too quickly and churns out, they can’t be monetized. However Nimble Quest is especially at risk here because of their compulsion loop. Fixed session lengths with level progression and difficulty determined by a party XP level would have provided more stickiness. (more…)
Twitter announces new functionalities for Twitter Cards, helps mobile app developers drive downloads, discovery
Twitter yesterday announced a couple of new functionalities for its Twitter Cards platform that are of particular interest to mobile app developers. The two new functionalities allows mobile app developers to add links at the bottom of their Tweets featuring Twitter Cards that either prompt users to download their app from a mobile app store or deep-link into their own app (for users who already have a particular developer’s app installed).
Both of these new Twitter Card functionalities — app installs and deep-linking — work across iPhone, iPad and Android. Developers can implement Twitter Cards with these functionalities by adding a new set of markup tags, which Twitter details here.
Twitter Cards, which more than 10,000 developers already use, allow developers to embed rich media — videos, images, story summaries and more — in Tweets that are generated from the link within a Tweet’s text.
First, mobile app developers can add these new footer tags to their markup, so they can specify to users who haven’t downloaded their app to do so. The Twitter Card will have a link that reads “Get the app.” For developer’s that have an iPhone app that’s not iPad optimized, they should include the iPhone app ID, name, and URL, for both iPhone and iPad related tags. When no value is provided for iPad, the Cards will render a “View on web” link directing to the value in twitter:url.
Second, If a user has a particular developer’s app installed, a developer can specify a deep-link into the relevant resource within their own app. The text prompt in the embedded Twitter Card in a Tweet reads “Open in app.” If a user taps the link, Twitter will send the user out of Twitter and into a developer’s app. For example, instead of viewing a photo from Flickr within the Twitter app, a user can click the “Open in Flickr app” link to hop out of the Twitter app an into the Flickr app to view the photo.
“With mobile app deep-linking, users will be able to tap a link to either view content directly in your app, or download your app, depending on whether or not they have your app installed,” explains Twitter’s Jason Costa in a blog post.
These new functionalities tear down the barrier between app-to-app communication. Instead of pulling up an in-app browser like Twitter used to do, which the Facebook app still does, a user can hop out of Twitter and to another app. These new Twitter Card functionalities also provide a huge potential for app developers to drive downloads and app discovery. Since many developers promote their apps on social networks or implement social sharing features within their apps, they can now use these new Twitter functionalities to encourage users to download their app or re-open their app to increase retention and decrease churn.
Union Square Ventures managing partner Fred Wilson said in a blog post that the deep-linking functionality is helpful for ecommerce apps. Instead of directing a user to a mobile web page where they may not be logged into a particular ecommerce company’s website, they can now be sent to an ecommerce company’s mobile app where a user is generally logged in with their payment credentials. Essentially, ecommerce businesses can use this new Twitter Card functionality to help with driving transactions rather than just page views.
For developers interested in learning more about how to enable app install prompts and deep-linking, head here.
After installing an update, any of the Angry Birds apps will be able to get access to a new channel button in each game’s home screen, which is where users can watch episodes of the show.
The cartoon series is scheduled to begin airing this upcoming weekend (March 16 for broadcast TV and March 17 for on-demand services) on a dedicated channel within Rovio’s game portfolio, and on Comcast’s U.S. video platforms like Xfinity on Demand, Xfinity.com.tv and in the Xfinity TV Player app on Samsung Smart TVs. Rovio plans to add support for Roku and other platforms in the future. In other parts of the world, the Angry Birds Toons will air on FOX8 in Australia, JEI TV in South Korea, ANTV in Indonesia, Cartoon Networking in India, MTV3 Juniori and MTV3 in Finland, the Children’s Channel in Israel, 1+1 networks in Ukraine, Gulli and Canal J in France, SUPER RTL in Germany, TV2 in Norway, Canal 13 in Chile and Gloob in Brazil. Rovio has also partnered with Activision, Paramount Pictures, BlackBerry and Sony Pictures for the launch of the Angry Birds Toons channel.
So far, Rovio has planned 52 episodes for the cartoon series, with a new episode scheduled to air every Sunday. Rovio hopes the cartoon show will help with increasing installs as well as its engagement and retention rates for its Angry Birds games.
Mobile app developers can now add social engagement features, two-way messaging, a real-time news feed and more to their apps in minutes with Scringo. The new product provides mobile app developers with those features to help them increase user engagement, distribution and monetization.
The product was described by Scringo co-founder and CEO Ran Avrahamy as “one place for developers to simply choose what they want to do and add to their app.” Basically, a developer can add a slide-in and slide-out handle UI that can be implemented on the righthand or lefthand side of their app. In this sidebar hub, developers can add features like a news feed or messaging system to their app.
Developers can manage features in their app via Scringo’s dashboard called the Developer Zone, featuring drag-and-drop customization for all the features that appear in the sidebar, without having to update their app via an app store. The Developer Zone also provides insights gained from users using Scringo, including the ability to see user metrics like location, platform, device and more.
Scringo’s main feature is its real-time activity feed. Basically, a developer can add an in-app social network to their app, which in turn, may increase user engagement. Developers can call for an activity inside of their app to appear in the activity feed. E.g. a developer can add a line of code to an app like Shazam, so when a user listens to a song, that action will be added to the activity feed. Developers can also implement a favorite button into the feed — e.g. a like, high-five or heart. Avrahamy adds that Scringo is suitable for content-centric apps such as music, video or picture apps.
Scringo also adds a messaging layer to an app. Users can message other people using the same app or even the app developer. The ability for developers to directly contact their users could help developers with quickly responding to feedback, reporting bugs, fielding suggestions for new app features and more.
Scringo also developed its own contextual and content-based algorithms, which suggests to the user people to follow based on a user’s gender, age and location. Users can log in to Scringo with their Facebook or Twitter credentials, which will create a personal app profile for the user within Scringo. Users can also find and invite friends through Scringo to use the app they are using. In essence, users would be doing the work for the developer to spread their app virally.
Before officially launching today, Scringo was in closed beta testing for months. More than one thousand developers participated in the beta, with Scringo integrated into more than 250 apps. Data from the beta showed that its product increased the average user time spent in an app by 97 percent and the average number of recurring sessions by 89 percent.
“[The beta] gave us amazing information about those users and seeing what’s keeping them inside the app,” Avrahamy says.
Avrahamy says the eight-month old startup received an undisclosed amount of seed round funding from an unnamed venture capital firm from Israel.
Developers can download Scringo’s free iOS or Android SDK here, which can be implemented in minutes, Avrahamy says.
AppGlu platform aims to help mobile app developers and business people with speeding up development time and post-launch operations
AppGlu today released its new mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP) that aims to help mobile app developers and business people with speeding up development time and post-launch operations. AppGlu is a San Francisco-based company, which spun out from ArcTouch, a mobile app developer that makes apps for other companies like the Chatter app for Salesforce, the Star Trek PADD app for CBS and the native mobile app for Walmart.
To help steer an app to success post-launch, the company developed a dashboard for its AppGlu product dubbed Control Center, which has three components to it. First, is the Control Center’s content component, allowing anyone, such as business people who work on a mobile app, to update and publish new content for an app without going through mobile app developers. Content is updated dynamically, meaning the mobile app doesn’t have to be updated in the app store and re-downloaded by consumers in order to make changes. Second, is the engagement component, where business people can see their user engagement metrics via graphs, reports and more to understand how content is performing. For example, in ArcTouch’s Star Trek PADD app, business people can see which captain from each of the Star Trek series is most popular among users. Lastly, the insights component allows business people to segment their app’s user base, so they can target and then send personalized content or push notifications to customers to improve things such as engagement and retention.
“What we found in our experience at ArcTouch is that companies spend a lot of time thinking about the development and the launch phases of their app’s lifecycle, but they don’t spend much time thinking about what happens after they launch it,” says Adam Fingerman, co-founder and CEO of AppGlu. “The post-launch management and maintenance is where apps truly succeed or fail.”
For developers in particular, AppGlu’s Content Sync Engine feature, which is patent-pending, allows developers to speed up development time by creating what AppGlu calls a “connected app.” Basically, developers can sync and integrate their app’s locally stored data — from either Core Data for iOS apps or SQLite for Android apps — to a managed backend database in the cloud run by AppGlu, creating a connected app in the same way a developer would create a non-connected local app.
“The real magic and the heavily lifting is done through the Sync Engine,” Fingerman says. “When you’re building an app, you have a local data model. We’ve mirrored the cloud data model to your local model using the Sync Engine.”
There are competitors to AppGlu that provide the same solutions for mobile app development on an individual basis. Competitors like Flurry, Google Analytics and Mixpanel provide business insights for mobile apps.
“The difference between us and traditional analytics is that we’re not capturing taps and page views,” says Eric Shapiro, co-founder and chief technology officer of AppGlu. “Instead, we are capturing how users are using the content. We call that content analytics. It’s automatic and it’s based on the actual content that’s being delivered through the dynamic content aspect.”
Shapiro says he doesn’t suggest that mobile app developers replace their existing analytics with AppGlu. He adds that AppGlu is a complimentary solution that gives people different and useful information. There’s also competitors to AppGlu in the user engagement space such as Xtify and Urban Airship, which handle push notifications for mobile apps. AppGlu’s differentiator with push notifications is its ability to analyze a particular push notification that’s driving a user to a specific piece of content, and how that all directly relates to the ROI of the push notification. Lastly, there are many cloud-based CMS companies for mobile apps, but none of those companies allow its customers to modify content without the help of a developer, Fingerman says.
Fingerman says AppGlu is meant specifically for content-centric apps — such as product catalog, sales brochure, marketing, HR, event apps and more — for the B2E, B2B or B2C space. Apps already using AppGlu include the previously mentioned Star Trek PADD app.
Developers interested in the service can go here to learn about the service’s cost and to download its lightweight, open-source (under the Apache license) SDKs for iOS, Android or HTML5 apps or pre-written sample apps with full source code.
Editor’s note: SessionM has a term for users who are constantly using their mobile device. The rewards-based ad network calls them power users, which are defined as users who generate the most in-app activity — including interacting with mobile content, social activities and in-app ads — across all app categories. The company’s co-founder and chief technology officer Scott Weller — formally of MDI, GameLogic and Gamesville.com — lays out five tips on how developers can turn average users into power users, resulting in a higher potential for the success of an app.
1. Be a guide
Don’t expect casual users to “figure out” the app features. Instead, guide users through the most important features on their first visit and show them exactly why they should use the app. Walkthroughs help reduce the chance a user will become frustrated navigating the app and increase the chance a user will take full advantage of all the app has to offer.
2. Offer personalization
Your features should be meaningful to users, that’s why they downloaded the app, right? One of the best ways to provide a valuable experience is through personalization. Make sure to provide settings that users can change to customize features and content to their liking. Not only will this provide a better experience for users, but will also give you more insight into the types of people using the app and how to boost conversions down the road.
3. Add reminders
Often the reason a user doesn’t return to an app is just a matter of the app not being top of mind, so adding push notifications is a great way to remind users to come back. A study by Urban Airship even showed that users who receive push notifications in an app have a 26 percent higher retention rate after one month. Supercharge the usefulness and response rates of push notifications by delivering valuable content and tying the content to personalization options previously initiated by the user. Be measured, though — random and repetitive notifications can lead to a quick delete of the app.
4. Reward for good behavior
Humans innately like to be rewarded, so providing something of value to a user when they complete an activity or milestone is a great way to encourage them to come back. Not only are rewards a way of saying “thanks” for a user’s time, but they can also go a long way in providing users a pathway for discovering other features they would have otherwise passed-by. Daily rewards are key to staying top of mind and becoming part of a user’s daily routine.
5. Get with the in-crowd
Your users are social creatures, and most love having the opportunity to share their in-app experience with others. When you build social features into your app, you reduce the risk of users leaving to socialize outside of the app. Of course, social features can help drive users’ friends into the app, too. To help promote this, provide suggested Twitter and Facebook messages that speak to the feature set of the app, not just the app itself.
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