W3i Bets on Free App Promotion as Developers Look Beyond Incentivized Installs

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By Kim-Mai Cutler

After Apple cracked down on paying for downloads through offer walls in games, developers and monetization companies have been hunting for ways to make up for lost revenue.

W3i, a Minneapolis-based mobile app monetization company, is getting heavily into daily free app promotions. It launched its own free-app-a-day service earlier this year called AppAllStar, and now the company is trying to grow the project by federating free app promotions out into other games. They’re calling it the mobile app ad network (or MAAP for short).

Developers can show W3i’s daily offers for free apps in their games and earn a cut of revenue for every download they drive. W3i didn’t break out the revenue per install a publisher will make, except to say that it would be a “strong majority of the revenue share.” The company said they’re open to negotiating it, depending on the publisher. Developers can control whether they want to show banners, interstitials or other types of units.

“This is our response to the shutdown,” said Ryan Weber, the company’s co-founder. “Developers have had their monetization opportunities dry up as a result of Apple ban on incentivized installs and they’ve been calling us trying to figure out what to do instead. A lot of them are trying to do banner ads but that’s not performing at the level they were used to.”

On the advertising side, W3i also said prices are negotiable. In the beginning they did flat fees to get market traction, but now prices are a bit higher. The company said a ballpark range might run around $2,500, which is a bit less than Free App A Day, another similar service which we’ve heard costs about $5,000 to run a campaign with.

W3i also didn’t say exactly how many downloads an average campaign could drive, except to say that in the past they’ve been able to see up to 80,000 installs for a given application.

Since Apple’s crackdown in April, mobile monetization companies have been looking for alternatives to provide developers.

The most common replacement we’ve seen are video trailers, typically for games. Users get virtual currency in exchange for watching them. Both Tapjoy and Flurry are using these. Tapjoy and Adknowledge have also brought over classic CPA offers like getting players to sign up for services like Netflix in exchange for virtual currency. These companies are also migrating their solutions over to Android as well, with Tapjoy recently launching a $5 million fund to port apps over to Android (and in turn, grow its distribution network there).