The Search Toobar Business Model Comes to Android

StartApp Android App Monetization

StartApp Android App Monetization

This post marks the launch of a new section dedicated to helping app developers grow their audience and revenue, and ultimately the the life time value of their users.

Have you ever developed a downloadable app for the PC, listed it on sites like Download.com, Tucows and Softonic? Did sales reps and business development folks from companies like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Ask, Conduit, Spigot and other tool bar providers bombard you with emails and calls begging you to add their toolbar to your apps install flow?

If you accepted a deal you may know that the search companies may pay per install, pay per initiated install (which means the first time the user initiates a search using the toolbar) and or sometimes they will sometimes share search revenue the app developer. Revenue occurs when a user searches the web using the toolbar and the user clicks on an ad in the search results.

An app developer’s compensation will depend on the number of downloads and the geographic distribution of those downloads as well as the category of search queries conducted. Users in the United States tend to generate more revenue for a search company so the companies will offer higher compensation for your US users.

I can’t say the toolbar adds much value to the user’s experience but many PC app developers have made a lot of money with toolbar deals.

We came across StartApp, an Israeli based company at the APPNation conference, who offers a similar kind of search syndication deal to enable Android app developers to increase the revenue their apps generate. Here’s a link to a presentation displaying the user flow from when the mobile surfer discovers your Android app to when the StartApp Search Icon lands on the users Android device deck.
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It’s fairly straight forward and similar to the search toolbar user flow. Bing and Yahoo power their search. Their app developers FAQs are very thorough. StartApp offers the following compensation:

“Our payment is based on number of app downloads; you get paid for each download generated with our SDK inside. There are 2 integration levels available: Full and Partial. The amount of payment depends on the integration level you choose. For full integration, we pay $0.05 for each new U.S install , $0.01 for each new install from any other country. For partial integration, we pay $0.04 for new U.S installs and $0.008 for new installs from any other country. A new user would be a user who’s device does not have the StartApp SDK present. A returning user (with the StartApp SDK on his device) will grant you $0.01 each for both full and partial integration.”

Do end users have any clue what the StartAPP Search icon on their device is or the company behind it? Will the users search the web from their Android device using it? I don’t know. How long does the search icon stay on the users device? Does it matter to you? No but you should be concerned with two elements in their Terms & Conditions:

1. “StartApp reserves the right to change the PPD paid per developer/app/Geo, based on performance and actual results”

We interpret this language to mean StartApp can change what they pay the app developer at any time for any reason.

2. Their T&C’s also state StartApp will pay for up to 500,000 downloads. Here’s the exact language:

PPD (pay per download) – For each successful download of an Integrated Application by an End User to such End User’s mobile device, up to a maximum of 500,000 successful downloads, StartApp shall pay Developer according to one of the following – 1) Full integration – StartApp shall pay Developer $0.05 in the case of a new U.S. End User, and $0.01, in the case of a new non-U.S. End User. 2) Partial integration – StartApp shall pay Developer $0.04, in the case of a new U.S. End User, and $0.008, in the case of a new non-U.S. End User. 3) A returning user (on Full or Partial integration) -StartApp will pay $0.01 per user.

We interpret this language to mean StartApp won’t pay you for more than 500,000 downloads.

We sent the StartApp marketing team the following questions:

1. Your last email states:

” We pay developers for every download and not only for the first 500,000.
We have developers with millions of downloads and they get paid for all of them.”

But your terms and conditions state:

“For each successful download of an Integrated Application by an End User to such End User’s mobile device, up to a maximum of 500,000 successful downloads,”

StartAPP response:

“Our state in the T&C is only to protect ourselves from frauds. It’s been more than a year since we launched our product and so far we still haven’t prevented a payment to any account. The other way around, we encourage developers to add as many apps with as many downloads.”

2. Payment terms: Your T&Cs also state:

“StartApp reserves the right to change the PPD paid per developer/app/Geo, based on performance and actual results.”

Why would an App developer work with you if you can change the payment terms at any time for basically any reason?

StartAPP Response:

“We save the right to change the payouts for any reason as user value from certain countries can drop and this could create a lost for us. Also, we can raise the payout for developers. Just a few days ago for the first time we had a small change with our payout.

Which basically we increased the payout for the US users and decreased the payout for the returning users from non US. In which case the ones who have mostly traffic from the US will benefit from it. “

Existing StartAPP partners include the following apps: 1. Music Download Paradise, Photo Sketch, Photo Effects Spacie, Battery Saver, Internet Accelerator, Flash Player Loader, Live TV for Android, WiFi Hacker Ultimate, WiFi hacker, and Fake IPhone 5 Launcher.

If you want to do a deal with them you may want to contact them via their email address and create a real business contract that supersedes these terms and conditions. You should also consider working with an attorney possessing real experience creating contracts for these kinds of deals.

John Busher wrote this post.

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