Developers wanting to keep an eye on their app’s download growth, chart position, revenues, user engagement patterns, and more have a number of tools at their disposal, like those from App Annie, Distimo, AppFigures, Flurry, and other analytics providers. But when it comes to keeping track of press mentions and blogger reviews, many still turn to plain ol’ Google Alerts. Today, a new service called “App Mention Alerts” is launching as an alternative, offering both alerts and a tracking dashboard designed specifically for mobile app developers.
Google Alerts, which is continually rumored to be on the chopping block these days as the product falls apart, does a decent-enough job in tracking new, relevant Google search results across Google’s verticals, like web, news, or blogs, for example. But App Mention Alerts’ results are better for developers, because the service weeds out most of the websites that simply reprint press releases or App Store descriptions, explains founder Tomasz Kolinko, whose other product, AppCodes, is focused on App Store Optimization (ASO).
Today, AppCodes has 700 paying customers, and that number has been stable for several months. For a bootstrapped team of two, he says they’re happy with its progress. With App Mention Alerts, the original idea was to incorporate the app tracking into AppCodes, but they decided to spin it off into their own product because it’s easier to market and monetize it this way. However, AppCodes will also now present these “mentions” to its users, but without the “alerting” function, or dedicated window for the previews of the links it finds. (See image below).
The way App Mention Alerts works is that, after sign-up, developers type their app’s name into the search box (a checkbox lets you designate the app as being for the iPad) and hit search. In the results section, matching apps – including competitors who may have similar words in their app’s title – will appear. You can then click the provided “Follow” button for the apps you want to track.
“It’s similar to Mention.com, or MuckRack.com, but focuses on the iPhone and iPad apps,” explains Kolinko. “The tracking is based on App Store links (compared to more generic tools which track phrases), so the results are much cleaner…Before our tool, it was quite hard to add all the app competitor names to Google Alerts et al., and weed out all the false positives. We bring this down to just a couple of clicks.”
Developers can test drive the site here before signing up, but the demo site doesn’t provide direct links to sites, or the email-alerting option, of course. But to get a sense of how it works, just type in an app’s name. (Preferably not something as large as Facebook, though, as App Mention Alerts is designed for somewhat smaller developers.) For example, you could type in “Wolfram Alpha” to see the various Wolfram products split up, but all on one page.
A very important caveat for those who decide to sign up for the full, paid service ($24.95/month): App Mention Alerts is not real-time. That means it’s not going to be the best option for quickly seeing how well today’s press hit is doing, for example, or whether a positive or negative review is having an immediate ripple effect. You may still need to keep an eye on Google and Twitter, or use social media analytics tools for that. Instead, App Mention Alerts is meant to be more of a research tool – something that could help you figure out who to reach out to for reviews, perhaps – though speed improvements could come over time, assuming it takes off.
Currently, the index is updated weekly, says Kolinko, so the reports may be sent out with a delay with regard to the time the link first appeared. But, he adds, “we hope that the quality of the links, and the interface integrated with the App Store Search, makes up for that.”
Developers can try App Mention Alerts on the demo site above, or sign up directly here.