Have you got the ‘App’titude?

By Mayoori Kango, Supervisor, Advertising Solutions

It seems that every other press release mentions the launch of a new mobile ‘App’. I am sure none of us have missed the Apple ad that claims there are Apps for everything. If you want to know where to have dinner, there is an App for that. If you want to know the species of plants, there is an app. If you want to manage your money with your phone there is an App for that. There truly does seem to be an App for everything, and yet there is a new App being launched every day.

The challenge lies in being able to find the Apps to use when you really need them. The cataloging of the Apps is a pure disaster. The system is rudimentary. If you don’t make the top 25 then you probably are never going to get your App downloaded. Users have to browse through a gazillion Apps and really just go by gut or the reviews which are highly unreliable. I recently downloaded a math game which users said was a real “mind teaser.” After paying $10.99 I realized that the game was not meant for adults at all as all the puzzles were simple addition, or multiplication a 6th grader perform. This made me wonder about the authenticity of these reviews. The moral of the story is if you want to test an App you are pretty much on your own.

As advertisers there is the challenge of getting your App in front of the right audience. There are a few vendors out there who can help you, but it is all CPM based and there is a tradeoff between targeting and scale. The idea is to reach the consumers on their mobiles who may or may not necessarily use other Apps but might find yours particular handy. One can’t help but wish for a platform similar to search that could be used to find Apps. Maybe Google is already on it. They did recently announce that you can advertise in the iPhone Apps through the Google network, so if they do launch an App search platform no one would be surprised now would they?

The thing I wonder is what is it that users want from an App? As per FierceMobileContent.com, “Growing evidence suggests that users desire a mobile experience that transcends passive entertainment, preferring instead practical, utility-based applications like mobile-optimized banking and travel planning”.

So we need an App that satisfies a need, which serves an immediate purpose. The questions advertisers need to ask themselves when creating an App are:

  1. Does this App make a users life easier?
  2. Is it unique?

It is not about being cool or hip or even a first mover in the space. It is important to align your brand with a usability factor. If your brand doesn’t lend itself to tangible everyday things, then it is probably not wise to spend thousands of dollars on creating an App that will have a few articles written about it and then languish in the black hole of Apps.

Another thing that I always wonder is why do we need Apps on our phone but not on our desktops/laptops? I keep circling back to the same conclusion that it is because our mobile browsers and internet connections are not robust enough and yes I dare to say despite the new Smart phones that our mobile gadgets are really not that nifty yet.

I am not negating progress. Some of the things we can do now on our mobile phones are really great. They are great in comparison to a ‘phone’ not in comparison to our laptops. So then are the Apps there to fill this void? Are they just a stop-gap on the way to better smarter browsers?

Yet one cannot deny the handiness of these Apps or the thrill of being able to share them with your buddies in the moment of need. The mobile Apps’ landscape is in its infancy and there is no certainty about its growth, but despite that what we need is some sort of organizational system that will help us as users to find the right Apps and as advertisers, help us reach the right consumers. We as marketers need to be partners to our brands, helping them make the right choices. It is up to us to show our ‘App’titude for this budding medium.


Copyright © 2008 Resolution Media, Inc. All rights reserved.