Advertising the user-friendly way, Final thoughts

In my last few posts, I have talked about advertising in mobile applications and how they can be a nuisance to anyone trying to navigate their favorite application. As I was conducting research several weeks ago, I came across a site that talked about how major companies, such as Kohl’s, Dick’s Sporting Good’s, Walmart, The Home Depot, and Lowe’s are creating apps that allow you to shop and search for products on your mobile app. The image in the top left corner of this post shows the Kohl’s mobile shopping app. This app lets you view the weekly circular, find a store close to you, shop and much more. I like to call these apps ‘user-friendly’ due to the fact that the user chooses to view advertisements on his or her mobile device, not be irritated by pop-up ad’s.

While doing my research for advertisements in mobile applications, I came across, specifically the article titled 16 Best Mobile Shopping Apps For Your Phone. Even though this was not the type of advertising I was looking for, I read over this article and found it to be very interesting. Besides Amazon, this article lists 15 shopping apps that are not affiliated with any store, but make it easier to find what you are looking for from a wide range of retailers. These types of apps are a great asset to holiday shopping because they let you look up a product and find which store has it in stock and which store has it the cheapest.

As my 2nd quarter as a student at the University of Cincinnati comes to a close, so does this research project. I have learned a lot over the past 10 weeks about researching a topic and analyzing the data that I collect. Throughout this quarter I have conducted an interview and field research (which can be found in the prior posts) that have helped me better understand my topic as a whole. While researching online, I have also learned that not all websites and articles out there are credible, even if they look like they are. On a closing note, I have enjoyed posting to this blog every week and definitely think it was a good experience and would highly suggest it to anyone hesitant about starting one.

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With over 300,000 apps to choose from, which are preferred?

With millions of people owning an Apple device that can access apps, over 300,o00 apps to choose from, and over 1 billion apps downloaded so far(and counting!), which ones are popular among college age users? Apple Developers have developed apps ranging from games, utilities, news, sports, GPS directions, weather, and everything in between. With all of that in mind, I wanted to know what college students preferred when it came to the types of apps that Apple has to offer from its App Store.

Along with the advertising questions that I asked in my survey of a few dozen college students (discussed in the last post), I also asked a handful of questions regarding apps in general. The results I got were no surprise to what I thought they were going to be. The first question that I asked was simply whether or not they owned (and used) a mobile device that has access to mobile applications. Out of the 34 students that took this section of the survey, 26 students (76.5%) answered that they did have a device. If I were to have asked this question in a survey several years ago (or to a younger population), I assume that this number would be lower. The next question that I asked was, if they answered that they had a mobile device, was how many applications they have on it (that they have downloaded). The answers varied for this question, from 1 to well over 30. 8 students answered that they had between 1-10, and 11 (42%) had over 30 applications.

The last question that I asked was what type of applications do you have the most of (or what type of applications do you think you would be most interested in, if they answered that they did not have a mobile device). The student taking the survey had many choices when answering this question: Sports, News, Weather/Traffic, Games, GPS/Directions, Social Networking (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.), or Other. Out of the 34 total students, 15 (44%) selected Social Networking, while 13 (38%) students selected Games. For the other choices, 1 student selected each of the following: Sports, News, Weather/Traffic, and GPS/Directions. The last 2 students selected ‘other’, and wrote in Utilities (such as a table level, unit converter, dictionary, etc). I was not surprised with the outcome of this of this question because many college age students spend a lot of time on Social Networking sites (or Social Networking applications) and games.

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Are YOU willing to pay for an ad-free app?

In this screenshot of Apple’s MLB 2010 At Bat application, you can see that there is a pop-up in the center of the screen for a Prudential Insurance Advertisement. Apparently, this $14.99 application that was released for last year’s season needed more revenue than the $14.99 that it sold for. Some people would be totally fine with simply touching ‘No Thanks’, but others would get annoyed after the first, or third time. That’s right, three times for a single advertisement on a single application!! released this article that discussed advertising in this particular application: Ads Now Appearing In The $14.99 At Bat 2010 For iPad App. After reading this article, some people may consider what this user went through to follow his favorite team frustrating, but would you be willing to pay for an ad-free app?

To help me better understand what people think about advertising in applications, I conducted a survey of around two dozen college students from universities around the Ohio valley. After analyzing the results, I found some pretty surprising data. Out of the 25 students surveyed, 9 answered that they would be willing to pay for an ad-free app when they were asked the question: How much would you pay for a free app to contain no advertising? The other 16 students answered ‘I wouldn’t pay anything’. I was expecting all but maybe one or two students to answer ‘I wouldn’t pay anything’ because for many things, college students look for ‘FREE’ and won’t pay for anything. Out of the 9 that answered that they would pay, 6 answered that they would pay $0.99 for an ad-free app, and 3 answered that they would pay between $1.99 and $3.99 for an ad-free app. After analyzing the data that I collected, I have come to the conclusion that several people would pay for a less irritating app, with no pop-up advertisements or advertisements that you have to click ‘No Thanks’ to return to what you were doing.

After thinking about this for a few days, I am still wondering why people would pay for an ad-free mobile application. In a way, I compared this to driving on a toll road compared to a toll-free highway. On a toll road, there are less exits, usually less congestion, and it is more convenient with many services available right along the highway. So besides convenience and the route that the road travels, I imagine that people would pay the small toll to get from point A to point B, just like navigating an application a little bit easier.

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Advertising issues and an Interview

Like I stated in my last post, advertising is everywhere; on websites, billboards, magazines, television, and mobile applications. Everyone is used to advertising on websites, billboards, magazines, and TV, but advertising in mobile applications has increased drastically in the past couple of years. Most of the advertisements on these applications are OK, but some are causing major problems, and  Apple as well as other major electronic companies are worried that some of these advertisements contain website links that could have viruses and cause harm to the user’s device. Because of this, individual developers of these applications are under strict guidelines to ensure that all advertisements on these applications are safe to click on. Right now your probably thinking ‘just don’t click on the advertisement!’ but its not as easy as it sounds. With the small touch screen, many users click on an advertisement by accident that usually is safe, compared to a webpage where it is easy to avoid clicking on an advertisement.

For my research project, I also conducted an interview. Last week, I interviewed a representative from Apple Inc. research and innovations near San Francisco, California. Even though this interview did not go as well as I hoped it would, I got some very interesting facts and information about a lot of aspects of applications, including advertising. “Believe it or not, we (Apple) bring in just over half of our revenue (from applications for iPhone, iTouch, iPad, etc) from advertising in applications. The other half comes from the 30% that Apple gets from each app sold from the app store. The other 70% goes back to the developer”(Apple Representative). I was told this when I asked the representative to describe how advertising has an effect on their applications. If I were to guess how much of their revenue came from advertisements, I would have guessed between 20-30%, not around half.

Lastly, in my interview, I asked this representative to discuss their views on the shortage of application developers. “The general public does not realize that creating an application is very easy to do, many believe it is easier than a website. If you find yourself having trouble, we stand behind you 100% to make sure that you know what you are doing. If people knew how easy and profitable app developing is, I think more people would consider doing it”(Apple representative). So with that in mind, go visit Apple Inc’s website and learn how you can develop your very own app (and possibly make a profit off of it!).

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Three major changes in mobile applications

With the research continuing, I  have realized that if I simply research the world of mobile applications, my project will quickly turn into a ‘data dump’. So with that, I have narrowed my research down to the three major changes in mobile applications since the iPhone was released in 2007: Advertising, Development, and how mobile applications are such a big part of our lives.

Advertising is a major part of everything, including mobile applications. Many companies, from the roast beef chain Arby’s to the Pittsburgh Penguins (an NHL team) are integrating advertising and marketing into their mobile applications and text alerts. The New York Times released an article that describes how advertising and marketing has worked in these two companies, and many more: Bonding With Fans Who Can’t Get Enough.

In the last post, I covered the topic of app development and tagged the CNN article of the 14-year-old boy that created the most popular free app. From researching, it is clear that there is a shortage of Apple Inc. app developers. To try and gain more interest in app development, Apple has relaxed rules and regulations on developing apps. Today, It is easier than ever to create your very own app. If you develop your own application and sell it at $0.99 per app, you will pay off your $99 developer software fee (from Apple) by selling only 142 apps. With that in mind, Apple just announced that it by-passed the 1 billion downloads mark. App development is obviously a huge part of mobile applications, and will hopefully continue to grow in the next several years.

Whether you are checking your bank account balance, shopping for a Valentine’s Day gift, getting directions, or watching streaming breaking new’s video, it is clear that mobile applications are changing the way we live, and becoming a significant part of our lives. With thousands of apps available for download from the Apple Inc App Store, there is an app for almost anything. Even major airlines such as American and Continental were considering allowing pilots to use Apple Inc’s iPad’s to file their flight plan and help them with navigation. Like all technology, there is the main question: What if our internet satellite’s get knocked off course and nobody can access internet to use these mobile applications?

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Research Continues, Theres an App for that!

On the night before whats expected to be the worst snow storm in 20+ years for the midwestern United States, I sit here continuing my research, and relieved to have finished my literature review, kind of. At first when the literature review was assigned, I was not looking forward to it, and was convinced that it was going to be a waste of my time. Well, I was wrong. That five-page literature review was just the thing that I needed in this stage of my research project. As I found articles and wrote the review, my mind was going in all sorts of directions about whether or not to critique my topic. Due to the fact that there are so many aspects of mobile applications (and not enough time to hit them all), I have to decide which ones I feel will be the most beneficial to this project. One article that I came across was very interesting, and inspiring. This article(from talks about the 14-year-old boy who created the most popular free app in the Apple App store. That article can be found here: 14-year-old creates ‘Bubble Ball,’ iTunes’ most popular free app. After reading this article, you should feel motivated just like I was to develop your very own Application and possibly make some money off of it!

So yes I read through a lot of analysis in all of the articles I found, but one article had a lot of data shown graphically. This article was from Pew Internet and was a great asset to my research project. A graphic from the article was found here:

Photo Courtesy of Pew Internet. The rest of the article can be found by Clicking Here.






The rest of this article is very interesting so if you have a few more minutes, I would suggest taking a look at it.

Last but not least, Advertising. The concept of advertising in mobile applications and mobile notifications has been growing rapidly over the past several years, and is expected to continue doing so in the near future. Advertising in mobile applications is a very efficient way of showing off your product or an event because of the sheer volume of people who are attached to their mobile devices nearly all day.

So not only am I here to tell you about how my research project is going, but I’m going to try to help you now. If you have a mobile device (including iPod Touch and the iPhone), go into your App store and download The Weather Channel App. If you are in one of the affected areas for this upcoming snow storm (or for any other storm in the future), this app will send you tailor-made alerts depending on your location and preferences. Who knows, this app could save your life! Like I said in the title, there is an app for anything, including notifying you about severe weather!

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New Website!

Spent the last few nights/early morning’s working on designing this site. Even though it is under construction, it will be updated with information as the project rolls on! (Site may be unavailable at times due to server down time).

Site can be found below:

Mobile App World Website

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