Appia, which bills itself as the “world’s largest open app marketplace,” is launching a new way for developers to make money. It’s a performance-based advertising network that gives developers the chance to pursue a “pay per download” model – but only for downloads that an end user really wants to use. Appia made the announcement today from the 2011 AppNation conference in San Francisco.
It works similarly to how searches are done on the desktop through Google – type in your search term, and at the top, you’ll usually see an ad that was paid for, above the other results. In Appia’s model, developers bid and pay for their spot, which is clearly marked as paid.
It’s important that it’s evident that a spot is paid for, says Appia founder and CEO Jud Bowman. For one thing, it’s genuine and clear, and for another, developers want to know they’re getting a real user.
Last week, TapJoy made headlines after Apple clamped down on its developer guidelines. TapJoy created a successful network where developers embed “offer walls” that tell users they can get X number of points or incentives to keep playing a game, for example, if they download certain apps. After the end-user gets what they want, they usually delete the apps.
While it’s unfortunate for TapJoy that it was forced to make some changes, its success is encouraging in that it’s a clear indication that developers are willing to pay for downloads. Appia is not doing “offer walls,” but provides a way for developers to pay for getting on a list where apps are downloaded not because it’s a means to another end but because the end user wants the app.
Bowman says Appia is quite different from GetJar, which also bills itself as the world’s largest open app store, in that Appia’s apps are a combination of free and paid, and Appia isn’t building a brand of its own; its partners are the carriers, handset makers and browser companies.
Appia powers more than 40 app stores around the world, for carriers, OEMs and browser companies, on a white-label basis. Bowman says carriers don’t want to hand everything over to Google/Android or Apple/iOS, yet they need a way to attract developers, and Appia works with more than 30,000 of them. “We’ve tried to make it ridiculously easy,” he says, in addition to providing another way to help carriers get in on the app action.
Appia’s distribution network now reaches more than 200 million mobile subscribers in more than 200 countries. As part of the new ad system, developers who are trying to get the biggest bang for their buck can just target certain geographic areas where they think their app is going to be particularly appealing.
Appia didn’t initially support iOS, but it does now, providing the chance to discover those apps, but downloading and billing is still done through iTunes. Besides iOS, Appia’s new ad network supports Android, Java, Symbian, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and Palm.
The performance-based advertising service has been in private beta since February with trial partners such as Flirtomatic and Blue Lion. More information can be found at www.appia.com/ppd.
Formerly named PocketGear, Appia, based in Durham, N.C., was founded with a lot of the same management team that was behind Motricity, which moved from North Carolina to Bellevue, Wash., a few years ago. Bowman is a co-founder of Motricity.
Appia now has 52 employees, and it’s in active hiring mode. Last month, Appia announced a $10 million investment from Venrock. Previous investment rounds included Trident Capital, BlackBerry Partners Fund and Tomorrow Ventures, the investment arm of Google’s Eric Schmidt.
Appia recently announced partnerships with Opera Software to power the Opera Mobile Store, as well as with Telcel in Mexico for its Ideas Appstore.