I had the pleasure of interviewing Eric Dyck, Co-founder of Tap For Tap which is a mobile promotional platform that helps you generate users for your app using a unique technique.
So unique, I don’t think it has been done before in the iOS app space. I’m sure you will find it useful and hopefully get some tips on how to get some more discovery for your apps.
How can TapForTap Help Me?
Tope: Hi Eric, I took a look at your website. It’s kind of like a novel concept, that may not be that easy to understand. Can you quickly tell us what Tap for Tap is and how do we stand to gain from using the network?
Eric: Sure. Tap for Tap is a free cross-promotion exchange for mobile application developers. We are the Tap Exchange™. So essentially, we took the idea that there are a lot of developers out there who don’t have a strong marketing background and I believe with the way that the app world is right now, that you kind of need to really pay attention to marketing if you want to have your app discovered.
There are a million mobile applications out there for Android and iOS or more. There’s 1.3 million or some really high number and more and more being made everyday. No longer can you say that if you build it, they will come, like the Field of Dreams quote. You really need to be able to get your app out there, get it in front of people in order to have a hope to have it discovered.
Tap for Tap begun as an app discovery service for mobile application developers. So the general idea is you install our SDK and you can start promoting other applications inside of your app. Every time that you get a tap on one of our ad units in your app, you earn the value of that tap. Then you can use that tap value to advertise your own app, getting a tap on it in exchange.
Tope: How did you come about the idea?
Eric: So my partner and I, we worked together in another business for many, many years. We worked in a marketing business and my partner was the founder of that. It was called Neverblue and it’s one of the biggest and best affiliate marketing companies in the world and so we worked together building up that company for many years and he sold it.
Then he sort of started an incubator company called Beta Street and I stayed at Neverblue and worked there for a couple more years then I decided that I wanted to move on and him and I decided to work together.
So we wanted to work in the mobile application space. We were working on a number of different ideas and one morning, he just came in and said why don’t we just build – what he said is, “Why don’t we build a company like Link Exchange for mobile applications?” So Link Exchange was a company, a really popular company in the early 2000s that operated on a very similar idea of a website sort of promoting each other and earning credits.
So that’s sort of where the idea came from. We figured that the app world seemed ready for a similar concept. So that’s where we started from.
Inside Look – How it Works?
Tope: So the idea is like I show an ad in my app and then for every tap I receive, I actually get one credit to get a tap in someone else’s app, right? Is that how it works?
Eric: That’s how it works right now. When we get into some more questions, I will tell you about some of the developments we’re working on down the line but we wanted to start with impressions because it’s the easiest entry point.
Tope: Right now the service is free. What do you stand to gain from the free service you’re providing right now?
Eric: The goal is to create a massive network of app developers and lots of traffic. We take 20% of the impressions generated on the exchange. We use these to run other apps that pay us for the inventory. We’re also working on adding a monetization layer to Tap for Tap. Within a few weeks developers who use our service will be able to scale installs on our Tap Exchange or make revenue on our Monetization layer.
A Success Story
We’re generating about thousands of installs everyday for our developers.
We have one developer in particular who has been generating credits on a large app and then spending on his smaller apps. He has generated over 30,000 installs in about four months.
Basically when you show our full ad unit that consists of two ads, you earn one credit and then with your one credit, it buys you one 160×50 ad unit.The other half of the ad unit is our margin. We have mostly given that back to the community in terms of credits when people join the network, incentives to install the SDK. If you install the SDK on our current system, you earn 5000 credits.
“When you start the network, everyone gets 1000 credits to start. So we’re giving out sort of hundreds of thousands of credits everyday to try to stimulate the economy essentially.”
With Neverblue for instance, they’re an affiliate marketing company and they have some offers from some of the large app developers like GREE or King.com or some of these big guys and they’re able to pay by install. So we put their ads in our margin inventory and we make money from the CPIs.
Pro Tactics – How to get the Best Results
Tope: That sounds interesting. You mentioned that you give like a number of credits when people sign up. I was going to ask, if you have a new app and then you don’t have like a lot of users initially, right? The service is not really going to help you a lot. The credits you give away, is that to help to jumpstart your impressions?
Eric: Well, you’re right. If you have zero installs, it’s sort of a zero-sum game. You are able on our service to buy credits. That’s something that we do offer. You can buy credits to kind of jumpstart your app.
But we kind of recommend just sort of the other traditional methods of marketing your app, so really being out there on Twitter and on Facebook. You’ve got to sort of have a small base to start before our service becomes really viable unless you just want to buy some credits on our service.
But it’s a good point and you need to have a multifaceted marketing approach, I think, to have a successful business and so Tap for Tap is one of those facets.
Tope: Yeah, sure. I mean I’m actually going to ask you to give us some tips on these multi-facets and on how to be able to promote the app later. So initially, the best thing I would say or to get the best value from Tap for Tap, if you have one app that has on like a large user base and you can promote a new app from your more established or previously published app. Is that possible?
Eric: That’s a tactic that many of our developers use. They earn credits on a more established app and then use the credits to launch their new apps.
What are the Hidden Dangers Of Using Tap For Tap?
Tope: Right now, the service is free. We don’t know how long it’s going to remain free. A lot of people are probably keen to join and they can jump on the opportunity but history has shown that sometimes developers get thrown under the bus. Like for example Twitter now is shutting down a lot of its APIs to people that actually built up the service initially.
So how are we sure that you guys at Tap for Tap have our best interest at heart? I’m not going to get thrown under the bus down the line.
Eric: Well that’s a good question for sure. For us, we just know that we’re a service for developers. And the way our model works and the way it’s going to work with some of the changes we’re making isn’t really changing.
Developers have something of value. They have their ad inventory or they have their users and we recognize that if we want to make money, we’ve got to make them money or make them installs that eventually make them money. It’s part of our developments that we’re working on. So it just doesn’t make any sense for us to throw developers under the bus down the line. We wouldn’t survive if we did that.
We do need to find ways to work with larger developers but we hope to maintain our service so that we can work with developers of all kinds. We really value working with the smaller developers who are just starting out. Our service is very simple to the point that we think there won’t be a problem being able to service developers of all sizes basically.
Tope: I mean actually I don’t mind paying for a service if it’s going to give me the value that I paid for. So sometimes I actually prefer to choose a paid service than actually choose a free service because I know that I’m already paying to get that value. I’m definitely not against you guys charging down the line. I just want to put out there so I just want people to know.
A Success Story – 30,000 Installs in 4 Months
So the other question I wanted to ask you is, “Can you give us like an idea of a success story?” To show us what’s possible, to give us an idea of someone for example that has been successful, to be able to narrate a jumpstart for his app using Tap for Tap.
Eric: Sure. So right now, I can’t tell you specific app developers. That’s sort of proprietary at the moment but we’re generating about thousands of installs everyday for our developers. We have one developer in particular who has sort of used the strategy you articulated by generating credits on a large app and then spending on his smaller apps. He actually has many apps and that he has generated over 30,000 installs in about four months.
It has been pretty successful for him and he has tried many different monetization and app scaling methods and he has an ad mediation layer. So he’s mediating among a number of different services and he just continues to come back to us because I think we’re definitely generating him the most installs on many of the services he’s currently using.
Tope: So he’s using the tactic of promoting his new apps from his more established apps, right?
How To Get More Clicks on Your Banner Ad
Tope: All right. Sounds interesting. Talking about displaying ads, are there other best practices to increase clickthrough rates? How would I design an ad to make sure that it gets clicked on?
Eric: Well, there are number of ways. So right now, we’re offering banner ads and the banner ads in my experience as a marketer have tended to work best. There are a couple of different approaches.
One is that you want a banner ad that blends in with the content of the app. The ads that often work best, the ads that on Facebook work best are the ads that walk the line between – sometimes maybe you think that they’re part of Facebook. There are some issues with that but generally if you can make an app that’s sort of making the ad that looks kind of like the content of the app itself, that’s one way that ads can get good click-through rates. It’s definitely one approach.
I just think it depends on your users and a lot of users are very reactionary against ads that stick out. You know, flashy ads or things like that. At Neverblue, I was a display marketer and so I worked with a lot of big brands to designing their display marketing campaigns. And I worked with a couple of them and one of the things that worked well is to have some subtle animation in an ad. Not bright, flashy and in-your-face, annoying sort of animation but just very subtle animation.
That just sort of would draw your eye to an ad. It’s sort of a non-aggressive way. That’s something that works, so just sort of like a stock animation of something maybe fading in or fading out and it’s just something subtle that doesn’t upset the user. That’s another style of a banner ad that I find that works well.
So part of what we’re doing at Tap for Tap, one of our big developments that we’re working on, is right now we offer banner ads, 320 by 50 basic banner ads. In order to show these ads, you got to have real estate on your site. But in October, we’re going to be releasing two new kinds of ads. One of them will be an interstitial. So an interstitial will come up between activities on your apps so maybe between levels in a game or sort of like every time that you play, you look at one of these ads.
Then the third kind of ad that we’re going to be working on is an app wall and this is something that we see a lot of developers having some success with is being able to integrate – instead of having an ad, being able to integrate a button directly into the app somewhere that says more apps or app discovery or something like that. Then when the user taps that, it’s because they’re looking for more apps and then an app wall kind of pops up and they will be populated with other apps in other networks.
So that’s the development that we’re working on and we hope to definitely integrate some higher CTRs for developers.
Tope: All right. Sounds good, sounds good. Is it possible to choose what apps your ads show up in? Is it possible to like choose like a category, games or something like that right now at the moment?
Eric: Right now, you can. You can select the category that you want your apps to show up in.
Tope: That’s good, because I was thinking, “How do I make sure my ad blends in with the content of your app?” So if I wasn’t able to choose a category, it would be hard to basically make your ad blend in. That’s why I was asking. When are you planning to come out of beta? How has traction been?
Eric: Traction has been really good. We’ve been live since March and we’re currently serving several million impressions everyday. And we’re working with about 5000 developers now that have signed up. So it has been a really great experience and there has been a really strong pickup on the network but we technically came out of beta a long time ago.
We technically came out of beta in May but realistically, a lot of what we’ve been doing has sort of been in beta. And basically in October – we don’t know exactly yet but in October, we’re going to be making some really big changes to the Tap for Tap. The first and biggest change is that we’re actually going to be changing to a tap exchange rather than an impression exchange.
Tope: Does that mean you will only get credits when people actually tap on the ad?
Eric: Exactly. We will earn credits when people tap on the ad and then when you spend your credits, you will be spending them on actual taps.
Tope: OK. Do you think that’s going to reduce the number of impressions people get or – because if you only get an impression when someone taps on an ad, it might – I would show an ad like maybe 1000 times and I get like a one percent click through rate. I would only be able to show another ad in another app just 10 times. I mean do you think like that is a better value for the service?
Eric: It’s definitely better value. I don’t think it’s going to reduce actual volume because the volume will still be there. The impressions will still be happening. And maybe a perception that people are getting less because they don’t see as many credits flooding into their service.
Impressions, like I said, they’ve been a great way to start the network but impressions are tricky because impressions can be worth zero. When it’s taps, if filtered out properly, should always mean value. It should always mean some engagement. They mean intent, right? They mean that someone has intended to see your ads. So we’re thinking that it’s a better way to regulate quality on the exchange.
It’s a way to ensure that as the developer, you’re getting a very similar value. You’re extracting a similar value from the service that you’re putting into it.
Other Ways To Promote Apps in the App Store
Tope: There’s one more thing I wanted to ask because initially we’re talking about the multi-facets of app marketing. In your experience, can you just give us like some other tips and tactics that we can use to get our apps noticed and get more distribution for the apps?
Whether it’s cross-promotion through a service like us or even with direct deals with other app publishers that you’re able to work out. So that’s one way. A lot of developers use obviously social means so they’re out there on Twitter, trying to generate buzz as much as possible.
They’re using Facebook. These are all methods that I’ve seen as well. Blog sites, like 148apps.biz. One of the ways that I’ve seen work well for developers too is to start the app as a paid app. And make that free and then get a bunch of the blogs that sort of categorize when paid apps become free.
The general sentiment is traditional media buying, so going out on AdMob or some of these other players to actually buy media to advertise your app. I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews about that, about that generally not being very cost-effective.
“So that’s one area that I’ve seen a lot of developers kind of pour some money into, put $5,000 in there and only generate a few installs”
and that could be really disheartening I think for the developers. So that’s where we come in and you’re going to see better results I think from cross-promotion than you would through sort of traditional media buying efforts.
Tope: Yeah. I’ve seen a lot of good reviews for Tap for Tap on developer forums out there. It’s actually why I decided to contact you to get you on. So I believe there’s a lot of potential on what you guys are doing. Thank you very much for coming up with the idea and actually implementing it. So I’m sure a lot of people are going to gain a lot from this interview.
I think we’re going to end the interview now. Is there anywhere where people can get in touch with you if they wanted to ask more questions?
Eric: Sure. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m available for questions. You can also add me on Skype at tapfortaperic on Skype. I’m free to chat there.
Check us out at TapforTap.com and follow us @tapfortap and we’re really excited about the changes and we think that is going to help us take it to a larger scale.
Tope: Thank you very much for coming on and then giving us some great value on the interview.
Eric: No problem, Tope. Thank you.