In 2015, Amazon introduced a new monetization model called Amazon Underground in its continuing effort to make mobile developers successful. Instead of charging for each download or encouraging in-app purchases, developers can earn revenue through Amazon Underground for every minute that their app is actually in use by every customer.
By removing the usage friction associated with pay walls and in-app selling, Amazon Underground leads to a more engaging user experience, helping you attract more users to your app with the promise of 100% free content. We recently sat down with Shaniel Deo, founder of Halfbrick, to talk about the results his company has seen with Amazon Underground.
Creator of blockbuster games like Jetpack Joyride and Fruit Ninja (which Deo says have worldwide downloads of more than 500 million and 1 billion, respectively, across all platforms), Halfbrick has released many popular mobile games over the years using traditional monetization models like premium, freemium, and ad-supported. According to Deo, “We had varying degrees of success. [Amazon Underground] really piqued my interest when I heard about it. This is something that I think is innovative, and allows us to reach a different audience, while at the same time generate revenue from that audience.”
Colossatron was the first game Halfbrick published to Amazon Underground, and Deo has been pleased with the customer response.[Read More]
Harpan, the developer of popular games Solitaire, FreeCell, Sudoku and Pyramid Solitaire, distributes more than 12 gaming apps on iTunes, Google Play and the Amazon Appstore. Harpan was interested in a cross platform mobile ads solution, which can provide the needed earning lift without compromising their user experience. In order to focus more on app development, Harpan needed a solution that was easy to integrate and could help track app performance.
Harpan decided to use the Amazon Mobile Ads API for monetizing their apps across platforms. Tim Oswald, co-founder and CEO of Harpan shared that Amazon was their solution of choice. The Amazon Mobile Ad Network delivered higher eCPM, provided a great experience for their users with high-quality tailored ads, and enabled app optimizations through actionable performance tracking and reporting.
Harpan’s earnings increased with the Amazon Mobile Ad Network. The biggest factor driving this was the payment structure. Amazon pays on ad impressions served instead of clicks on ads. “With the Amazon Mobile Ads API, we are consistently getting 20% higher eCPM on our Android, iOS and Kindle Fire apps compared to other ad networks. We were extremely pleased to see the Amazon Mobile Ads API performing better than other ad networks on iOS, said Tim Oswald.
The quality of ads was very important for Harpan to provide a great experience for their users. Tim explained, “While we want to increase our earnings, we don’t want to compromise our users experience. Amazon provides an engaging experience for our users by delivering relevant ads from Amazon and brand advertisers. We are seeing 25% higher CTR on ads delivered by the Amazon Mobile Ad Network compared to other ad networks.”
Harpan was able to integrate the Amazon Mobile Ads API in minimal time and focus their efforts on app development. Tim shared, “Enabling the Amazon Mobile Ads API in all their apps was very easy and took just few minutes to integrate the API. We really liked the integrated tracking, which helped us in monitoring and optimizing the performance of our apps in real-time.”
*Your results may vary.
One of the questions we hear frequently from developers is which platform they should target first when building their app. Adrian Barritt, head of development at Barnstrom Games, along with his team asked the same question when planning their app The Chase. The Chase first launched in August of 2013 and was the first app that the team decided to launch in the Amazon Appstore. The app allows a team of four challengers to play against a machine to test their knowledge. When asked why they chose the Amazon Appstore, Adrian said that “the opportunity was huge, and [we] saw similar apps performing really well on the Amazon Appstore”. The team also mentioned that “it doesn’t hurt when you hear good things from others [Square Enix] and how impressed they were with the coverage they received” says Adrian.
Recently, we had the chance to sit down with Adrian to discuss how they got their app to rise to the top of the charts in the UK, and how they view their experience with Amazon Appstore. Here are some of Adrian’s observations:
“Our sales went pretty ballistic when Amazon launched Amazon Coins.” says Adrian. Amazon Coins are generally used by customers to explore and try out new apps. Customers can get Amazon Coins in a variety of ways such as purchasing or earning Coins for free. Developers can really benefit from this since there are a lot of customers waiting to use up their Coins on different apps. Barnstorm Games specifically saw their app benefit from this.
“Our sales went up 10-fold (1000%) for about a week during the Amazon Coins promotion when Amazon gave away a vast amount of Coins to their customers. Even after the promotion we saw a 500% increase in sales from what we used to get.”- Adrian Barritt
Part of Adrian’s strategy is understanding when consumers usually purchase apps. The team made sure that their app would be ready for launch before the holidays. As a result the team saw a “2000% increase on Christmas Day compared to our average sales we usually get per day”. Since then, the team continues to see a consistent increase of 200-300% in sales after the Coins promotion ended and is now consistently ranked among the top 3 apps in the UK.
“We are more than happy with our performance in the Amazon Appstore and our expectations have been exceeded” – Adrian Barritt
One of the goals for Barnstorm was to expand their app onto more platforms. Since the team initially built their app on the Kindle Fire, they knew that Android would be a natural transition. So how was the process for transitioning the app over to Android? “The transition for creating an Android version was very easy since Kindle Fire was just designed that way.” says Adrian. You may recall that 75% of Android tablet apps that we tested just work on Kindle Fire with no additional development needed so it’s not surprising that Adrian said that “there was no additional work needed beyond supporting GameCircle and thinking what services to use. Other than that it was very simple.”
“Even though we are on Google Play as well now, the majority of the time the Amazon Appstore still performs better than Google Play in terms of revenue”.
One service that Barnstorm is using to increase customer engagement is the GameCircle API. “With GameCircles’s achievement feature, it’s definitely helped us retain and engage our users” says Adrian. The team uses achievements to mark how well players are performing against others in “The Chase”, which has really improved average session length. After seeing the success with GameCircle, Adrian is currently looking into more services such as Amazon’s Device Messaging API to engage the audience even more by pushing out notifications to them.
The team has a new app that they just released in the Amazon Appstore called Tipping Point. The app is already topping the charts in the UK as well and the team has high hopes for it. Barnstorm also just participated in Amazon’s Free App of the Day program as well, helping them get even more exposure to customers.
Learn more about the tools used by Barnstorm Games
Launched in 2010, Soundtracker by South Ventures USA, is described as an app that allows music to connect people by making it easy to discover and play music in real time with friends and anyone nearby. With Soundtracker you can create stations, chat with other users, listen and comment on their latest stations amongst other features. Available on the Amazon Appstore here as well as other platforms, Soundtracker has over 4 million downloads and 1 million active users worldwide across all platforms.
I had the chance to sit down with Daniele Calabrese, CEO and founder, to discuss their experience bringing Soundtracker into the Amazon Appstore and how they’ve managed to leverage different Amazon Mobile Apps APIs to their advantage.
Even though the app itself is available on various platforms, the reason why Daniele decided to bring the app to Amazon Appstore was simple. The “opportunity with Kindle was too good to pass on since we would be able to create an app for two platforms at once.” Daniele says that early on the team realized that the Android SDK was compatible with Kindle Fire, so they decided to build the apps in tandem. The team found out quickly that “the process in getting Soundtracker into the Amazon Appstore was very easy and the results from it has definitely paid off.”
Figure 1- Kindle Fire UI
Besides using Amazon’s In-App Purchasing and Mobile Ads API, Soundtracker also uses Amazon’s Maps API and Device Messaging API as well. For Soundtracker “being able to monetize and engage your users are the most important factor in choosing a platform” says Daniele. The team credits these specific API’s as “the reason why we were able to be so successful in the Amazon Appstore.” By integrating certain APIs you can also qualify for different programs. Daniele says the team is “excited to be admitted into the Appstore Developer Select program,” which provides the team with 500k mobile ad impressions, Amazon Coins rewards to customers, and more.
Figure 2- Nearby feature and push notification
Since Soundtracker detects where other users are, relative to their current location, notifying other users who are nearby is crucial for engagement. The team decided to use Amazon Device Messaging API and Amazon Maps API to help solve this issue. The device messaging and maps APIs allow users to really engage by integrating interactive maps directly into your app, as well as sending out push notifications from the cloud to the user. When your app relies heavily on social interaction, such as Soundtracker’s feature of commenting or discovering other users’ playlist selections, getting a user’s attention is one of the most important factors. By using these APIs, the team was able to see a consistent lift in engagement.
“Engagement in the Amazon Appstore increased by 400% in the last 6 months. Number of sessions, length of sessions, and number of tracks streamed per user increased on a weekly basis.”- Daniele Calabrese
So how long did it take for the team to integrate all these APIs? Daniele says “the process for development and testing altogether took only a week and the process was very straight forward”.
According to Daniele, “since performance has been successful with their current app on Kindle Fire” the team plans to expand even more into the Amazon ecosystem. The next step for the team is “integrating with Amazon’s music offering and getting their app on Amazon Fire TV.” Since the team has already qualified for Appstore Developer Select, the team can now qualify for the Appstore Developer Select Amazon Fire TV benefits as well by optimizing for the Amazon Fire TV. This includes enhanced on-device merchandising and a 500k Amazon Coins offer per qualifying app.
“I would recommend Amazon Appstore to other developers. Getting our app on Kindle Fire was very easy and it gives developers a great opportunity to distribute and monetize their apps.” – Daniele Calabrese