Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

More Targeted App Ads, Coming to an App Search Engine Near You

As the mobile app economy grows, the ability for consumers to sort through all the app clutter and actually find the apps they’re looking for is becoming increasingly relevant.

And marketers have been looking for ways to target ads through app search stores, the way they’re able to through Web search engines.

Appolicious, one of the earliest app discovery engines, thinks it has the answer to both.

It’s now taking a Google AdWords-like approach, allowing developers to bid on keywords associated with their apps — for example, a popular music app maker like Rhapsody or Pandora could theoretically bid on the word “music” — Appolicious’s top search results for apps will also include advertised apps associated with keywords.

For developers, this means bidding through Appolicious on how much they want to pay each time a user clicks on a targeted ad, with a 10-cent minimum per bid and a one-dollar fee per ad.

It also means that advertisers will be able to track users’ clicks throughout Appolicious’s ad network.

For consumers, targeted app ads mean that the apps being advertised among a list of search results are less likely to be random apps that wouldn’t appeal to them, says the company’s founder, former Yahoo News executive Alan Warms. If a user is searching for music, for instance, both the advertised apps and the ones that come up in search results will pertain to music.

Appolicious already has enough app data about its users to figure out what they’d likely be interested in, and uses that data to serve up recommendations. When someone signs up for Appolicious or downloads the Appolicious app, the service asks to scan the user’s iPhone app library (or in the case of Android users, scans it automatically — yes, really), so Appolocious knows what a user likes, whether it’s health and fitness apps, casual gaming or education.

And since Appolicious also acts as a white-label app — powering the app search engines for Best Buy, Samsung Apps on the new Samsung Note device, and other, unnamed mobile carriers — it has access to user data through those channels, too.

But with keyword search ads, the company says it’s offering something different from what other app search engines offer. Studies show that Web users are very good at ignoring ads, even targeted ones (though some studies show mobile ads are stickier). Whether the strategy of serving up an ad that looks like just the app you were looking for will work, remains to be seen.

Chicago-based Appolicious first launched in May 2009, a few months after Chomp — which was recently acquired by Apple — launched its app discovery service. Since then, others like Tapjoy, Kinetik, AppTap and App-o-Day have entered the app discovery space, all offering ways for consumers to search for apps both online and through mobile app stores.

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