I am running a small independent startup myself where I count every nickel and dime. I tried Google Ads (there was an offer to spend $400 to get an additional $400). Besides a few sign ups, it didn't pay off at all. I would never even consider spending $20,000 (!?). I talked with a few newsletters (starts at $1500 per quarter for a campaign) and social influencers (starts at $700 per post) and if money wasn't an issue I would buy marketing, but in the early stage the most important resource is myself. If I spend my savings that I live off, I risk running out of money and must go back to being a freelance developer (and the European market sucks at the moment).
Don't spend money on preorders if you're not collecting payment data now and authorization to charge it later. Anything else isn't a preorder, it's a waste of time.
cept for tesla, they charged $100 for a "pre-order" (of the cybertruck).
It's smart, because they managed to get an interest free loan off these customers, and also gauged interest at the same time!
So yes, the CTA must include a form of payment - otherwise, you're not getting a customer for your spend, you're just getting eyeballs.
It doesn't appear so.
When I started out in lead-generation using Google Ads for ACA coverage, Final Expense insurance, roofing and solar installs, I did it in this order:
1.) Reached out to insurance agencies & roofing companies I already knew, convinced them I could do their digital marketing campaigns for a percentage of their monthly ad spend;
2.) Got upfront capital through that ad spend percentage and had the clients manage the ad spend for their own campaigns, and used the ad spend percentage capital to build cost per-lead campaigns for other clients. These were far more lucrative in investment, but cost a lot of money upfront.
3.) Proved my merit for clients in both approaches, and used my second quarter audit to "upgrade" the clients in number 1 to a cost per-lead, and negotiated with clients in number 2 to a revenue share for converted leads.
It's a grind, it's hard, but it can be done.
Yes, it's called hiring an expert with a track record who will get you profitable a lot faster than you probably could yourself (assuming you are inexperienced).
When working with smaller numbers, you are going to be working with someone who is a little less experienced, more than likely. So, finding someone who can share a solid, provable track record may be a little harder. Figuring out a compensation scheme that takes their inexperience into account and shifts some of the risk to them as a result of this is key. You cannot enter a deal in which they just take a percentage of ad spend, because if they don't produce sales, then they get their money and you lose big.
I guess what I am trying to say is that you need to focus on the actual "deal" that you make with the person running your CPA campaigns to ensure that the risk is a bit more balanced and incentives are aligned...
UpWork is spotty.
"After you make an app or game available for pre-registration, users can visit your store listing to learn about and pre-register for your new app or game.
Then, when you publish your app or game later, all pre-registered users will receive a push notification from Google Play to install it.
Eligible devices will also have the app or game auto installed on the day it launches. (more details on this in documentation)
However I'm a bit skeptical that auto-downloads would even really be better for a free app. If the user isn't willing to accept a notification to install an app, they probably aren't going to use the app if it just auto-downloaded.
Also this just seems like a very weird app to have pre-registration ads for. If a user is looking for a "meal planner" app they obviously aren't going to just wait 2.5 months for your app (which doesn't seem particularly unique) to come out. They're going to download and try other apps that are actually available during that time.
It still seems like a rip-off though.
Perks of pre-registering
- Automatic install
Install automatically when it's available
It's up to the users.
Users install a whole bunch of apps on their phone when looking for a solution to a problem and a fair few of those are never actually launched.
(In my experience, no).
Check Mesothelioma ad click rates on Google...
LTV for a 30 yr mortgage is hundreds of thousands - that pushes for some expensive clicks at auction.
I would like to criticize your landing page for your app. It very very much bugs me, when landing pages for apps have only a QR code which I am supposed to scan with my phone.
Luckily, you also added a "Get the App" button. Problem is, that you try to be smart and automatically forward me to either the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Since I opened the link on a Macbook Pro, you assume I want to see the App Store. However, I am an Android user.
I just want to be able to see two buttons, one for each store and click it myself.
You are by far not the only one who does this. Would be great if App devs would change it all together.
- Give a long enough free trial to get addicted (e.g. 30-90 days). If you're delivering value, I will pay $4/month
- For me to have value, you'd need to plan things like ingredients. In a best-case scenario, you'd integrate with Instacart and other delivery services, and there would be zero waste. You'd also make use of ingredients I already have.
I have no idea what it is you actually do, though, so I won't install. I can already subscribe to a recipe listserv, and I have no idea the delta. Is this the same thing, only for $$$ and with aggressive data scraping from my mobile?
You don't need to answer here. Answer on your landing page. I was curious around to click around, and find crickets.
Thank you for posting and sharing, though.
Eating healthy is one of the toughest habits to commit to. The benefit of the 7 day free trial is it really pushes people to try it out during those 7 days and see if it's for them. Otherwise you download and think "I'll look at this later" and then never come back to it.
Not saying what we have is perfect and I'm still looking for better options. We're always down to give people a longer trial if they get in touch with us. I get that 7 days won't be enough for everyone.
RE: Instacart integration - we already integrate!
From the point of view of a potential user deciding whether to convert, no you don't!
Do a few cafe studies where you buy random people a coffee in return for exploring your landing page and figuring out (1) what you do (2) how it would integrate with their life (3) what they need.
I'd like a product which takes thinking out of eating cheap and healthy, and if you do that, your app will pay for itself. I have no idea if it does.
Since I have an app for both platforms, 2 buttons works very well, allows the user to make the choice, and you can even add a simple useragent check and redirect the user after X seconds if they haven't actioned.
There are some interesting "rules" (or recommendations) around how to place app store images, their sizes, etc, too.
The QR code only appears on desktop.
Not exactly obvious to say the least, but it works.
Apple's pre-order feature does precisely what I'd expect - automatically downloading the app when it's available, which helps jumpstart the flywheel explained above.
I would have expected Google's pre-registration feature to work similarly. Thanks to OP for spending the $$ to find out this isn't the case!
Launch day comes around, they’re nowhere to be seen - why? Well, they may have found another app, or decided they don’t need the app after all - say they lost interest in the diet / health kick.
I feel like app registrations would only work for “special” apps that don’t have close competitors or have a particular buzz - e.g. Threads, ChatGPT etc
EDIT: I’ve misunderstood - the app was supposed to auto-download on launch day. It didn’t. This story makes a lot more sense now! I assumed it just sent a push notification / email.
In the docs it makes it clear that there are a bunch of caveats to the auto installation. Reading through these caveats, they are all there for good UX reasons, essentially to ensure that what gets advertised is what gets installed (no bait-and-switch), and that users are going to be ok with the auto-installation (doesn't eat all their data or battery life). There is advice on how to improve eligibility, it's not clear if the author followed this or not.
The eligibility factors will vary from user to user, and may between user bases as well. For example if you have an app that is popular with users on devices with less storage space, there are likely to be more who can't install it because they don't have enough space.
One or more of these factors may not have been met for the author/publisher of this app, and it's also possible that their target market also doesn't meet the conditions for auto-install as much.
I think you're referring to these guidelines:
We did go through the guidelines to make sure our app would be eligible for auto install. For example our download size is sub 100mb. I can see in Google Play Console that all our installs are Android M+.
There are some factors I can't verify. For example, where can I check what Google Play Store version users are on?
If certain factors make a device ineligible for auto install, then maybe these devices should be excluded from the ad campaign to help ensure developers are getting good value for their ad dollars?
It created such a negative first experience for us on the Google Play store, which is a shame as we'd of been happy to invest in install ads and Google would of made a larger return from us over time. The low quality of support gave us no path to at least share our concerns with Google.
Since online advertising is essentially untrusted, with an entire industry dedicated to auditing its claims, I think the correct approach is to never try this form of unprovable advertising.
I'd think most people would want a meal planning app that they can use right away, so they'd just download a different app when they see yours isn't available yet.
I wonder how many of those "pre-registrations" thought they could install it right away, saw they couldn't and then just found something else.
Some apps rely on a critical mass of users on launch (multiplayer games, social networks, dating sites, etc.) so generating hype pre-launch is important for these.
But this looks like an app where it doesn't matter for a user how many other users there are. So slowly ramping up your ads after launch, while you work out bugs and other flaws looks like a much better approach to me. This also allows you to track ad effectiveness and adjust as you go, instead of taking a big gamble.
The question then becomes, what does the internet look like if advertisers only spent 10% of what they do now? How much of the internet is built on the lie that digital advertising works? What services would have to shut down? How valuable is user data really? If user data isn't valuable, because advertising isn't valuable, then what else on the internet becomes impossible financially?
Many, many websites function based on the assumption that user data and advertising will always be money makers. What if they aren't? What if we've all been lied to about the effectiveness of ads?
I cannot think of a single essential service I use on the Internet today which is ad funded. If it's essential I'm paying for it because the free, ad-funded version is shitty and unreliable.
We could ban Internet advertising tomorrow (give people time to migrate to paid services) and I genuinely don't think it would have much negative impact on society. Social media like Twitter and Meta would take a big hit and that would be very good for our society. Less teen girls would commit suicide, and less hate would be spread.
I'd start paying ten bucks a month or whatever for Google (already pay them a pretty penny for Workspace) and can't think of much else that I'd lose that would matter. Subscriptions to a couple sites of professional interest like Stack Overflow? Small price to pay for ending Internet ads.
If you're an independent reporter running a blog you can easily cover the hosting costs by just writing an occasional article for a major organization. If you have a fun hobby that hobby is probably worth the cost of hosting a server to attract other hobbiests.
Really, the only thing that would possibly die forever might be services like YouTube which have absolutely absurdly weak monetization potentials when compared to their infrastructure costs. Losing YouTube would suck, but if it meant I'd never need to see another internet ad I think the cost is worth it... and more curated services like Nebula have proven that purely subscriber funded video content can work - but it'd be hard to enter that market with no free hosting platform like YouTube.
I agree with most of what you wrote except for the above. Unless you're an independent reporter in things like gardening or motor sports, the major media organizations see you as an enemy and would prefer to shut you down.
Sorry, but which parallel universe is this?
Advertising was definitely less intrusive, but I would say that an even larger proportion of websites was ad-funded than today.
A shitton of content is (and was) on platforms which are entirely ad-funded. Think geocities, the various blogging platforms, and twitter et al. today. You remove ads, you force the authors of this content to pay for their publication (a ridiculously cheap amount sure, but the large majority of them won't pay a dime).
I have paid for hosting my personal/hobby websites since approx 1993, but I know very well I'm a 1 to 10000 exception, based on the ratio of people who participate on my website.
Everyone went from thinking every page view was equivalent to a magazine/tv/radio ad view, paying 5-10$ CPM and then everyone wised up and the industry was decimated for a while.
1. Determine sales rate
2. Deploy ads
3. Determine delta sales
Am I missing something?
If it suddenly stops being the case that everything is judged against an ad-supported but free to use baseline, I think paid services become more viable than they currently are. There would probably need to be some work on payment models, but I think not many things would be forced to shut down (ignoring whatever shutters while the dust settles).
Spend on ads is extremely easy to verify. For every ad channel you use a different discount code. Then you see how many customers used a specific discount code when making a purchase. Discount codes work everywhere: Social media, search ads, radio, TV, banners, etc etc
If you don't use discount codes when advertising it means you don't care for how you spend your marketing money - which is the truth for a large majority of businesses. They simply don't care if their advertising works or not.
Thanks to the EU and the privacy social justice warrior that era is gone: welcome to the era of cookie banners and walled gardens.
Search will be even worse than today, your Google search won't be very useful (and it's definitely not as useful as it was 15 years ago): you'll have to search on Reddit, Facebook and who knows how many other walled gardens which can't live off advertising anymore and will need to find a different revenue model (which probably will cost the user).
Walled Gardens are caused by cookie banners?
I have heard some things in my time....
Oh please do elaborate
One super important thing to know is conversions could also be landing page views depending on how the ad account is setup. By default, Google will use any type of conversion configured in the ad account for displaying stats in the campaign. It's a bit tricky with Google Ads to configure a specific campaign to only report conversions as app installs, signups (leads), or sales.
Best practice is to mostly ignore the data reported in Google Ads dashboard (unless you really know what you're doing) and instead rely on your own metrics. Run multiple campaigns to different audiences and different landing pages to be able to more easily verify what's actually working. Fortunately, it's fairly easy -- although not straight forward -- to pipe Google Ads data into a Google Sheet and merge it with actual data from your website. I'm not sure how this works with pre-registration ads since I've never run that specific type of campaign.
And yes, there are almost always ongoing class action lawsuits agains major ad platforms for failing to properly filter out bots and click fraud. There's very little incentive for Google and Meta to do more than the bare minimum in fighting bots.
Here is my tip. Always hire specialists to do these sort of ad campaigns for you. It is not something you can figure out easily and lessons here are expensive. OP learned some of the very basic principles of this industry for a price tag for $20K. I have seen people do even worse.
1. Whatever Ads are one of the options you have. Other options are paying users cash to install your app, billboards, tv ads, radio ads, asking teens to distribute app install stickers and what not. I would recommend trying the cheaper method first that do not change much with scale.
2. Ignore the network reported stats. What matters is your business. What is the true cost of acquiring a user that meets all you requirements ?(e.g. paying user) In OPs case this number could be in $00s now. Totally not worth it.
3. Learn that number with smaller spend. (Smaller spend = around $2K for Google)
4. Optimize on that number using different strategies.
Chances are that for most apps your cost to acquire a user would always be more than the revenue generated by that user. Making these ads always a losing proposition.
Then why do folks do it ?
* If you spend $0000000 at scale (like Uber, FB in early days) even though you are making a loss per user, the large number of users with network effects snowballs bringing organic growth. This is compounded if the app itself deals with real money (Uber ) or has deep network effects (Signal, Instagram, Snapchat) which bring in organic growht.
* A meal prep app is never going to be profitable in this manner.
If I was OP I would have probably tried to find all the instagram influencers who talk about meals and then emailed them about a partnership. Would have paid $500 or so to tier 2 influencers to make coiple of posts about the app.
1,371 either installed it when they got the push notification or selected auto install when they pre-registered (it's oped in)
Cost was $22k USD ish.
This is extremely normal... it's almost exactly as I would expect, maybe even good! I'm curious why they would expect differently?
For legal reasons, the user needs to know what it is signing up to at the moment that agrees to install (auto-install = deferred install). I think that makes sense but obviously apps become less attractive when those tags are displayed.
I also think the pre-registration program makes sense for games rather than apps.
In google ads a conversion is clearly defined as the users clicks the link and then completed a second action (pre-register in this instance). When you create a campaign, you define the goal like this: when a user clicks the link and pushes the pre-registration button the user goal of conversion is complete.
Just because you don't like what happened thereafter isn't the concern of the ad platform.
Every part is a step in the funnel, and every step down the funnel is harder and slower to analyse. Ad marketplaces only have the data of the very first step most of the time.
Doing this analysis is The Job. That's all of what marketing (particularly digital marketing/PPC) is, and being good at this and building the loop is the difference between buying clicks from people who aren't actually that interested, and buying clicks from people who will pay for a product.