Appsfire’s First Ad Unit ‘Ura Maki’ Is iAd Done Right

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Last week, app discovery startup Appsfire surprised everyone by removing its apps from the App Store to focus entirely on native advertising on mobile. The first iOS ad unit is here — Ura Maki is an ad format with an emphasis on app discovery and user experience.

Unlike Apple’s iAd or AdMob, Ura Maki doesn’t rely on a tiny banner at the bottom of your screen. It’s a fullscreen experience that tries to avoid being invasive. First, you get a popup like those annoying “Rate this app” boxes. It gives you the option to dismiss the upcoming fullscreen ad.

A couple of seconds later, a native animation imitates the multitask screen. On the left, your application is still running, on the right, you get a screenshot of a promoted app. Again, you can dismiss the ad by simply swiping the right screenshot like you would to close an app in the multitasking view.

If you tap on the screenshot, you get the complete App Store description and screenshots. The UI is a perfect replica of an App Store page. Yet, unlike iAd, everything is native — it’s not simply a UIWebView with a ton of JavaScript. Finally, you can download the promoted app without ever leaving your app.

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App developers can choose when those apps should appear (when you launch the app, at the end of a game level…). For advertisers, it’s very easy to sign up as all the assets are pulled from Appsfire’s App Genome, the company’s database of App Store data. And if you already have the promoted app on your phone, you won’t see the ad.

Creating a brand new ad unit is always a risk, especially when you are a newcomer. But Appsfire is trying to make it very easy for both advertisers and developers. You don’t have to dedicate screen real estate if you are a developer, and you don’t have to create advertising assets if you are an advertiser. Now the next big challenge will be to sign up app developers and advertisers on the new platform.

You can find more details on the company’s blog.

Disclosure: Appsfire co-founder and CEO Ouriel Ohayon used to run TechCrunch France. I didn’t work for TechCrunch at the time, so we never worked together.