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Mobile Marketing

App Developer Conversations: How app developers can take advantage of the new iOS smart banners

Robi Ganguly  //  October 12, 2012  //  5 min read

In this week’s App Developer Conversations we discussed Apple’s new smart banners for iOS, which work in Safari.

We had a couple key observations:

  • The fact that they only work in Safari is puzzling and somewhat frustrating
  • The ability to pass information along to the app from the smart banner has a lot of potential for end consumer customization.

App Developer Conversations is a weekly video series with Ian Sefferman of MobileDevHQ and Ryan Morel of PlacePlay covering current topics of interest for app developers. If you have suggestions for future conversations, please let us know!

The Transcript:
Robi: Hello. Welcome to the next installment of App Developer
Conversations. I am here with Ian Sefferman, of MobileDevHQ, and Ryan
Morel, of PlacePlay. Today we are going to talk a little bit about
smart app banners. As most people are aware, with the release of iOS
6, you can now put tags in your content on the web that will launch a
smart app banner on Mobile Safari.For most viewers of your website on
an iOS device, you have the opportunity to show them something smarter,
it shows them that app, and it makes it easier to download. Along with
that, comes the announcement that you can put a tag called App Argument
into that smart app banner. That is pretty interesting, from the tracking
perspective, because you can pass data through.

Ian, why don’t you kick it off. Talk to us about the ways in which
passing the data along can be really interesting to app developers.

Ian: I think, in my world, the most interesting way to use that App
Argument is as a refer; if you were to go from the web perspective.
Attribution is obviously broken in the app ecosystem. There are people
like HasOffers Mobile Tracking who have done some really interesting
stuff there, but fundamentally it’s still broken. Having this gives
you at least some amount of the ability to track where a user comes
from. You could use this to say, ‘app attribute refer = Google keyword
XYZ,’ and then actually see where they come through straight from
Google, or you can see website, Facebook, or whatever, and start
tracking it down that way. Obviously, it is only going to give you
those who came through your website, but it is better than nothing.
Attribution is probably the biggest thing I think of.

Robi: Digging in a little bit, does it mean that if you did this well as an
app developer, you could essentially establish a landing page on your
site for campaigns you ran, like a Google Adwords campaign or Facebook
ads that are all going to the same landing page, and then you can pass
along refers?

Ian: Yes, that is the way that I understand it. You are going to have to,
if I was a developer, I would basically do that on a sampling of my
campaigns, where it is . . . You are going to have a drop off because
there is increased friction now.

Your ad campaigns and anything like that, are going to be less
effective overall. I think that if you were to do that to, say, 5% or
10% of your ad campaigns, that would be a very interesting way for you
to get metrics on which campaigns are performing the best. Then, once
you know the answers to those questions, you can then drop out that
intermediate section and focus only on the ones that worked well, and
go back to it in a month and try again or something like that.

Robi: What about you? What do you see from your business, from the
advertising business? Could this be helpful? Would you want to
implement this for advertisers and for any of the publishers that you
are dealing with?

Ryan: I have been thinking about it, and I think the answer is I am not
sure. We know already what apps serve what ad, whether or not they
click, and whether or not they install it. I am not quite sure I
understand what the value would necessarily be. I think we can always
pull some additional data to codify the existing data that we already
get. Maybe we pull a past device [inaudible 03:42], or time into those
downloads. We already get all that stuff, so I am not entirely sure.
Ultimately, I think that the benefit is to developers here, because
then they can start to be smarter overtime about where they are
showing their own ads. It is great that I know this information. I
think developers just have sometimes natural mistrust about networks.

Robi: Right.

Ryan: ‘Are these guys really being honest with me?’ Eventually, they will
roll this out across apps, too; that makes perfect sense. Then
developers can start to do their own testing and tracking, and I think
that is a really good thing.

Robi: I think that sometimes Apple just starts a tree of possibility, and
this might be the start of them coming out with some attribution. I
can definitely see them starting to do more now that they have got
Chomp inside. That team is probably more focused on how to make the
App Store better. I can see them starting to roll into more of a
metrics and here is the tail and how it hits your various assets and
how they convert, which would be great for everybody.

Ian: One thing that is interesting about this, I think, is that they
implement it as meta tags, which basically, it restricts it to only
people who have the latest Safari that supports it, rather than a
JavaScript snippet that could have gone on any browser. I use Chrome
on my iOS browser. My guess is, maybe it knows how to do it because it
is using the same renderer, but I am not sure.

Ryan: I think, potentially the interesting thing here for the long term is,
I believe that Apple wants to really provide a single solution for
developers, because it is clear that their ecosystem is what is going
to drive hardware sales down the line. By providing developers not
only the hardware platform and the users, but also all the tools they
need to promote and close the loop on their marketing budget. It is a
pretty locked-in platform right there that both developers and users
will keep coming back to. Maybe it is a starting point, I do not know,
it seems like it.

Robi: One last piece on this topic. There is another interesting piece that
could happen. If you are passing along this argument and you, as the
developer, know in your code that different arguments mean people are
coming from different places or searching for different things. You
can tailor that first experience in the app, and say, ‘Welcome. Thank
you for . . . It looked like you were looking for recipes for this
cocktail, so here it is, on our app.’ You can actually get pretty
sophisticated. I do not know how many people would do that near-term,
but it would be great, I think, if developers started to make sure
that flow of discovery and desire is then satisfied in the first
experience with an app. As we all know, most apps are not used more
than two or three times, so that first experience being really
relevantm can be huge.

Ryan: Can you do that?

Robi: Yes.

Ryan: Really?

Robi: Yes.

Ryan: That is awesome. I did not know that.

Ian: I actually think that that would fundamentally, probably help your
business, as well, in terms of it sounds like it would make engagement
a lot stronger, which is something that you are deep in.

Robi: Yes, absolutely. Anything that makes this easier, better, and gives
you more context about your app seems, to me, like a great thing.

Ian: Yes.

Robi: Make sure to join us for the next installment in App Developer
Conversations with Ian.

The Mobile Marketer's Guide to App Store Ratings and Reviews

About Robi Ganguly

Robi Ganguly is the Co-founder and CEO at Apptentive. He is passionate about giving customers a voice via mobile. Follow Robi on Twitter @rganguly.
View all posts by Robi Ganguly >

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