Nanodegree, Search Ads and other stuff

iOS developer Nanodegree

First off I've completed my Nanodegree and received my certificate! I'm very happy and I'm looking forward to continue learning.

I'm very happy with my learning experience with Udacity. Everything is designed around what the industry requires. The Nanodegree was built after extensive reasearch into what the top tech companies look for in a developer. The way to learn is to build real world apps that go through a professional code-review process with detailed feedback on the code which greatly helps learn best practices and become a great developer.

I've also developed my own personal projects on the side to further increase my skills with real-world examples. I'll soon put Noodles in the App Store, and that will be followed by a third app, Clanning, shortly after that.

I'm now confident that I have the technical skills to be a great iOS developer!

Raman App & Search Ads

The app I have currently in the App Store has really a niche market of people doing research in the narrow field of Raman Spectroscopy. Objectively, there aren't that many people in the world doing that kind of research. My app is a useful tool for those researchers though, and it seems to be doing relatively well.

I've launched the app in June 2015 and since then the app has been downloaded 632 times. Here are the downloads per calendar year, keeping in mind that 2015 represents only 6 months since it was launched in June of that year, and that 2017 includes data up to March 5th only.

raman downloads

Not bad for a niche app!

And here is a breakdown by country.

units by country

Lots of downloads from China, then the USA. The app was downloaded in 15 different countries!

App Store Search Engine

What I've noticed a while back, though, is that the App Store search engine is not very good, so discovery is the main problem. For example, searching for Raman in the App Store resulted in a page full of ramen apps before anything related to Raman appeared! So when Apple introduced its search Ads tool I decided to give it a try. It's been about 5 months now so I thought I'd share some of the data on how effective it has been in my case.

It must be noted that these ads only affect sales in the USA, as these search ads are not yet available in other countries.

Over the period of mid October 2016 to the 5th of March 2017 my Raman app showed up in an ad (what they call impressions) 1805 times. Of those, 110 times the user tapped the ad, and 23 of those ended up downloading the app. That's 6.09% Tap Through rate (which is how many of those seeing the ad, tapped it) and 20.91% Conversion rate (which is how many of those who tapped the ad, ended up downloading it). For those impressions I paid $7.65 total, for an average of $0.07 per tap and an average of $0.33 per conversion.

Now, Raman is a free app, but if it was, say $1, a cost of $0.33, after Apple's App Store's cut of $0.30, would mean $0.37 for myself and $0.63 for Apple.

Considering that, in my case, Search Ads are useful mostly to overcome the App Store search engine failures to return properly spelled search entries, I think it's overpriced. During the same period of time, I had 95 downloads from USA, 23 of which were from search ads, representing only 24% of downloads.

It is interesting also to note that I set various key words and a maximum bid for those key words. The way the ads work is that you chose keywords, and a maximum bid you're willing to pay, and if someone else also selected the same keyword, only the one willing to pay more will win, and pay just enough to overcome the other's bid. But there is a minimum of $0.07 per impression, even when no one else chose that keyword. In all cases where my ads were shown, no one else had placed a bid on those keywords (average bid of $0.07) and the top keyword was Raman (1166 impressions) followed by Spectroscopy (135 impressions).

Of course my case is not representative of most apps, because it's a very niche market, but it's still interesting to see how this played out. As it stands now, I think I'd probably use Search Ads for an app I wanted to monetize as part of my marketing strategy, but I think it would be wise to evaluate the return on investment of those campaigns.

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