An experiment in iAd

In an effort to raise awareness for our app Colorbay, we wanted to experiment with mobile ads. We decided to try iAd. We were skeptical especially because iAd has a bad reputation.

Setting up iAd

iAd is fairly simple to setup and it provides some really nice targeting options. The options provide fine grained control to target users according to gender, age, iTunes Store preferences (the type of apps your target audience downloads) and location of the user. You can also set in which category of apps you want your ad to run on and on what specific time and days you want it to run. Since our app is about photos, we chose to target users who download Photo & Video and Social Networking apps. We chose to run the ads on apps from the following categories: Photo & Video, Social Networking, Entertainment, Games, Food & Drink and Utilities. We also scheduled our ad to run on some days of the week after looking at what days our app was most used on.

Next you have to allocate the total budget, Daily Spend goal, CPC bid and CPA goal for the campaign. CPC bid is the maximum you are willing to pay for each time a user taps on your ad. CPA is the average amount you’d like to pay for each conversion your campaign achieves, i.e a user downloads the app after tapping your ad. iAd will try to match the CPA you entered, but it is not gaurenteed. You can learn more here. iAd Workbench provides an estimate of Impressions and Taps for your budget. We had decided to spend a maximum of $50 and a daily spend goal of $10 meaning that the ad will run for approximately 5 days. After tweaking around we found that a CPC and CPA of $0.40 gave us the maximum number of impressions and taps; 1,111,000 impressions and 4,400 taps.

Results

Reading around on the web, we didnt expect much from the campaign, but we were surprised. You can see the results below.

Campaign results

In summary, we got a total of 966,648 impressions, 1,702 taps and 25 downloads giving a CPA of $0.98 and a TTR (tap through rate) of 0.18. What’s interesting is that, after the first couple of days, iAd couldn’t reach the daily spend goal which means that our targeting was too specific and it couldn’t show the ads. Our results are much better than what others have got. We actually got some downloads and we think it has to be due to the targeting. Also, Apple doesn’t charge the full amount, they only charge how much was actually spent on the campaign.

When iAd launched, it required a minimum spend of 1 million USD which made the platform uninteresting for indie developers like us. But in WWDC 2013 when Apple reduced it to 50 USD, it caught our attention. iAd is now something feasible. We think that they are heading in the right direction and may also be a good platform to integrate with.

We are not sure what the industry standards are and how iAd compares to AdMob and others, but we are glad we did the experiment.

PS: It might be pure coincidence, but during the time the ads were running, Colorbay got featured on TechCrunch! So that’s something ;)

Discussion on Hacker News

Pixter 1.4 iOS7 Update Available on the App Store

Pixter 1.4 is available on the App Store. This is a completely redesigned version of Pixter for iOS 7. Not a single pixel was left untouched! We can’t wait for you to get it and let us know what you think of it.

It was great fun redesigning for iOS 7 and it made Pixter a better app. Photos are now shown from edge to edge and the UI has become even more lighter, putting greater focus on your photos. We have also tweaked the fonts, colors and sizes of various buttons and text to make them more uniform. This makes the whole app look and feel more consistent and harmonious.

We know that this update is coming a bit late, and we apologize for that. It was delayed because of Colorbay, a new app we made for iOS 7 on the iPad. It’s the absolute best way to view your Pixter, Instagram, Flickr and 500px photos on the iPad and we would appreciate it if you can check it out. Find out more about Colorbay at http://colorbay.me.

Pixter doesn’t have support for the new background updating in iOS 7, but it will be coming in the next update. Thank you for supporting Pixter. If you have any feedback, we would love to hear it.

Some screenshots of the new update:

New icon:

Pixter icon

Timeline

Timeline

Profile

Profile

Camera

Camera

Pixter 1.3 Available on the App Store

Pixter 1.3 is available on the App Store. This version brings a lot of new features:

New Features:

  • New Filters: More than 10 amazing new filters have been added.
  • Comments: You can finally comment on photos. Also, if you @mention users then, they get:
  • Push Notifications: You can now get Push Notifications for @mentions, follows, likes and comments.
  • My Likes: Go to your profile to see all the photos that you have liked.
  • New option in settings to save the filtered photo.

Referrals:

We have now added a referral program. It works similar to Dropbox’s referral program. Free users can get more photos by inviting their friends to Pixter. If the friend signs up, then the user and the friend gets five free photos. Users can increase their free photo limit to a maximum of 100 through the referral program.

This has been the biggest update to Pixter yet and we hope you will like it! Update now on the App Store!

Announcement: Special Introductory Price for Pixter

We are happy with the response and downloads we have gotten for Pixter, and today we are announcing a special introductory price. For a limited time only, Pixter is available for just $3.99 for a yearly plan and $0.99 for the two month plan. The free plan remains unchanged. We thank all our early supporters who have paid the full price, and we look forward for your continued support. We understand that some exsising users might be upset, so please contact us if you want a refund.

PS: Exsisting paid users will be automatically shifted to the new prices during renewal. There is no need to cancel and re-subscribe.

You get what you pay for.

When we started building Pixter, we did it with a vision of providing our  users with a quality photo sharing service by putting in the best of our abilities and efforts. But in order to do that, we needed money (duh). There were two ways to go about making money to sustain this service and further develop it in the future : 

  1.  To incorporate ads and make revenue off that
  2.  To use a subscription based model

 As you all know, we went with option two. We did this because our customers are  the users and not advertising companies. It also gives us a reason to push ourselves and strive to make the service better and continuously improve upon it because we have paying customers. 

Option one on the other hand would worked out really well for us, and would also be the easy way to go about things, but at the cost of compromising user experience. An example of how the users’ experience is compromised is last week’s Twitter fiasco. Twitter sent out a few tweets promoting a certain brand’s image through a couple of users. The funny part is, that these couple of users had no idea that their accounts were used to send out these tweets, effectively enraging them because they were misquoted. 

Instagram is another example which is on it’s way to going the advertising route. Today, Mark Zuckerberg was quoted saying, “We expect that over time we will generate a lot of profit from it (Instagram), and that will probably be through advertising”. 

At the end of the day, it all comes down to this: 

If the service is free, you’re probably the product. 

You’re in the right place!

Pixter is an iOS-only application (at least for the foreseeable future). But here’s a very interesting graph (taken from Flickr.com), which shows the most popular cameras used to upload photos onto it’s network. This includes all kinds of cameras - SLRs, mobile phones, point and shoots, etc.

The graph was staggering. Check it out!  

 

New features, filters and more!

Hi! 

Exciting things are coming up in this next update. 

We’re excited to introduce two new filters (Matrix, Blume) to our family of filters on Pixter. 

Finding friends who are already on Pixter is now a breeze. What’s cool in our implementation of finding your friends is that you don’t have to separately check different services for separate lists of friends to follow. We have one clean list pulling all existing Pixter users from all the services you’ve logged into. 

Now, you can also see who’s been liking your photos.

We’ve also added some nifty gestures to help you navigate around the app. Swiping right will go back, and swiping down will go right back to your home feed. 

We’ve submitted the update and should be out anytime this week!