With more than 20,000 apps available for the iPhone, standing out from the crowd is becoming harder and harder for app developers. There are only so many slots in the the top apps lists in the iTunes Store. Discovering new apps is becoming a real problem. But what if apps started cross-promoting other apps, just like they do on Facebook?
AdMob, which claims to be the largest mobile ad network on the iPhone covering more than 1,000 apps, will be launching an iPhone App Exchange by the end of this month for any developer who is already part of its ad network. AdMob currently shows ads across 7.2 million iPhones. Developers will be able to volunteer a portion of the ad inventory on their apps to go towards promoting other apps. In return, their apps will be promoted on other apps in the network. Depending on whether monetization or distribution is more important to them, they will be able to adjust the settings on their AdMob account accordingly.
Since AdMob knows which other apps in the network have been downloaded by each individual, consumers will never be shown ads for apps they already own. AdMob also keeps track of usage after each download, and has come up with a measure it calls “instaliness”—which is a combination of conversions and usage. The installiness of an app will factor into how often it is shown across the iPhone App Exchange. “Your app will be shown less if your app is bad,” says CEO Omar Hamoui.
He hopes to use the iPhone App Exchange to cement AdMob’s position as a leading mobile ad network by offering not just a way to make advertising revenues, but also as a distribution platform in its own right. In the end, though, if the ads don’t pay, getting wider distribution won’t help.
On a side note, while the iPhone makes up 20 percent of AdMob’s ad impressions, it is not the only platform Hamoui is excited about. In February, the first full month after AdMob launched ads on Android, it processed 48 million ad requests. In comparison, the first full month after it launched ads on the iPhone last August, it saw 50 million ad requests.
A year from now, will iPhone apps be cross-promoting Android apps?