Advertising tech company Appsfire is rolling out a new ad unit, Sashimi. Like its previous units, the company is experimenting with native ads on mobile. Sashimi is very reminiscent of Facebook or Twitter ads in your timelines, except that the company is working with multiple third-party developers.
Sashimi ads promote third-party apps. These ads are automatically generated from the app name, icon and description. Appsfire doesn’t have to write or translate content. Similarly, advertisers don’t have to design a banner to run a campaign.
“Everything can be customized, including the format, the font, the background and the frame,” Appsfire co-founder and CEO Ouriel Ohayon told me. “But developers can’t do whatever they want. We have a simple document with guidelines.”
For example, in the sample screenshots, you can see that it is clearly stated that an item is an ad with a small “Ad” icon. This way, the user can differentiate content from ads. Once the implementation is done, the developer doesn’t have to do anything. Campaigns will switch automatically.
If you tap on an ad, it works exactly like Appsfire’s other ad unit Ura Maki. The complete App Store description pops up with screenshots. The UI is a perfect replica of an App Store page, and you can download the app from this page. All of this happens without ever leaving the app. It’s natively coded and you can dismiss the ad in one tap.
Behind the scene, Appsfire is trying to show relevant ads. For example, if you already have an app on your phone, the company won’t show you an ad for this app. The company also tries to scan your feed around the ad to show you relevant ads based on what you like. Finally, Appsfire caps the number of ads in your feed. Sashimi is available on iOS right now and will support Android in the coming weeks.
When I asked how Appsfire was doing after refocusing on advertising, Ohayon shared a few details on its precedent ad unit. With Ura Maki, less than 4 percent of people skip the interstitial ad, and the company boasts a 25 percent conversion rate. More than 10 million users see these ads across around 20 apps.
Now, Appsfire is going head to head against Facebook. It will be hard to convince advertisers to buy Sashimi ads instead of Facebook ads. But if the company is able to get major app developers on board, Appsfire could become an interesting alternative advertising platform.
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.