Is paying for an app install worth getting rejected?
Don’t you wish Apple just talked to you more?
We recently read about Apple rejecting apps with pay-per-install campaigns, like those run by Tapjoy. It appears that Apple is unhappy with the pay-per-install practice and has gone so far as to start banning apps that utilize the system.
What’s really unfortunate about this is that it doesn’t sound like Apple has reached out to communicate about the changes, so we’re left with press speculation and guesses. We’re biased, but it seems to us that a lot of Apple’s perception problems with developers could be mediated by having a more direct line of feedback available.
When you put a lot of time and effort into building your app and company, the most frustrating thing that can happen is to never be able to communicate with the folks you depend upon. Like it or not, Apple really is a dependency for a lot of developers and we think they should recognize that and offer better communication options, especially when they’re making surprising editorial changes like this one.
Should you be using pay-per-install?
Regardless of how Apple deals with this, the question this brings up for App developers is important: if you run the risk of being banned for using pay-per-install campaigns what do you do? We’ve got 3 specific pieces of advice:
- Stop using pay-per-install campaigns until you know what the verdict is here. It’s just not worth the risk
- Focus on channels that will help you get the word out that are more acceptable and under your control. If you have folks already listening to you via email, Twitter or Facebook, tap into them and ask them what they like about your apps, if they’d like to share it and what they’d like to see next.
- Develop communication channels that you control. If external sources are going to be at risk of being shut down by Apple, focus on what you can do in your app that’s fully acceptable and under your control.
Focus on the long run and build a robust business
If you’re really serious about developing apps for a living, you need to be thinking about a long-term strategy. As fans of the lean startup movement, we’re big proponents of customer development. Determining who your customers are and what they love about your apps is crucial to really knowing how to grow your business. Advertising, like pay-per-install programs, can help you acquire customers, but it isn’t a replacement for developing your customers and understanding who they are.
Our suggestion to app developers is that while ad spending can be a component of your growth strategy, it’s never been a replacement for understanding your customer base and opportunity. If Apple ends up putting an end to pay-per-install programs, the companies that were solely relying upon it for growth will be hurt, but the companies that have a strong sense of who they are will be in a better position to succeed. Their businesses gain durability over time, because they’ve thought about attracting customers who love them. Use your time and energy on how to build applications that learn from customers, enable feedback and help you get better on a continuous basis. We think that we’ve build some solid tools to help with this, so be sure to try out Apptentive and tell us what you think!