The Developer’s Guide to App Review Sites
We’ve covered app promotion numerous times on mobyaffiliates, but one aspect we’ve not yet focused on is how to leverage app review websites to generate publicity. While internal app store reviews get the most attention these days from developers, external sites can lend an authoritative stamp of approval on your app and should not be discounted as part of the promotional mix. Furthermore, app review sites can go beyond simple reviews and encompass features, interviews, previews and other promotional activities that help advertise your application and boost its credibility. But app review sites have diverged wildly from their videogame, movie and music-based cousins. Many are still positioned as simply providers of unbiased opinion, while others have become multi-layered promotional platforms, which have no qualms about charging money for reviews.
In this guide we take a closer look at the app review site ecosystem. We will explain the difference between paid reviews and free reviews, give you top tips on how to get noticed by editors, interview a number of app review site owners, and provide an directory of app review sites for you to check out.
For more on mobile app promotion check out our mobile app marketing directory
What are app review sites?
So what are we talking about when we say ‘app review site’? Well the definition has become somewhat fuzzy over the last couple of years. Initially app review sites followed the tried and tested method of other media review publications, such as videogame review sites and movie review sites, providing an authoritative opinion on the latest apps and mobile games. Such sites not only provide reviews, but also news on the latest apps, previews and features. Readers get to find out which apps are worth downloading and which should be avoided.
But there’s been problems applying the template set by videogame/movie/music review sites to app review sites. One of the biggest problems is the amount of apps being released. With traditional videogames (i.e. console based), editors can easily tell readers which games released in a given week are worth buying and which are not. But the pace of mobile app development dwarfs that of other media, with an estimated 15,000+ apps released each week. Mobile app review sites simply don’t have the resources to even scratch the surface of this deluge of apps and readers certainly don’t have the inclination to read them all. Therefore picking which app to review becomes an incredibly biased process. In fact, some review sites have taken to publishing statements such as the one below, which comes from BestAppsForKids:
“We currently only feature 4 to 5 star apps… because we would rather spend our time reviewing apps we like than reviewing the many apps that are just not good enough.”
Could you imagine a movie website only reviewing movies that it will give 4 or 5 stars to? But then if you’ve got hundreds of apps in your inbox every week, you need to apply some criteria in order to determine what gets reviewed.
The other unique problem app review sites face – separate from movie and game review sites – is that the majority of released apps are either free to download or only cost a few dollars. This means users can try apps they’re interested in with little risk, which may limit the importance of an app review compared to a game, movie or music review.
However, while app review sites are slightly different from other media review sites, this doesn’t mean they’re not useful for developers. The tidal wave of app releases created a huge opportunity for such sites to become promotional platforms for developers, who are desperate to stand out from the crowd. This has reached its logical conclusion with sites that charge developers for reviews.
Video review from ‘pay per review’ site CrazyMikesApps
Paid app reviews
Over the last few years a number of sites have been charging developers for reviews and have attracted some negative attention in the process. Most of these sites say they review apps for free, like a regular review site, but also offer a guaranteed and ‘expediated’ review for money, which means your app doesn’t end up on a long waiting list.
Prices can vary greatly. We found costs for a single review, with no promotion, ranging from $15 to $50 (check our directory below for more information). Obviously the more traffic and higher readership a site has then the more valuable the link. It’s definitely worth shopping around.
Many of these sites also offer complete promotional packages, including bundled social media promotion and video production. For instance, you can pay extra for video reviews and demos, or to have your review promoted on the front page of the site. You can also buy re-tweets for your review and Facebook posts, which take advantage of the site’s fanbase (although how legitimate these fanbases are is anyone’s guess).
Worth noting – we did not find a single paid review site promising positive reviews. All sites claimed to offer an unbiased service. Although some did say they would give developers the option to take down reviews if they scored below three stars.
Some sites, DailyAppShow in particular, are careful not to actually offer opinions in reviews. Instead they simply showcase your app and provide developers with promotional materials, such as videos, and promote the showcases to their readers/viewers. You can check out our interview with DailyAppShow below for more info.
App ‘demo video’ from DailyAppShow.com
App review submission platforms
A few platforms now exist offering app promotional services aimed at the press and app review sites, further bluring the lines between paid review sites and app promotion companies.
These platforms are kind of like PR newswires and build directories of fresh apps, along with press assets, for journos to browse. But some of them also bolt on other services, such as social media promotion, video demo production and in-house reviews. In fact, many are very similar to the above sites that offer paid reviews, with the biggest difference being their potential audience (journalists, rather than consumers).
If you’re looking for app promotion agencies and platforms, check out our comprehensive directory right here. Let’s take a closer look at some of the app submission platforms:
App Launch is a review site submission service in its purest form and simply takes the work out of submitting your app to 100s of sites. It handles all the promo code distribution, news agency distribution and creates a press kit for you. Prices start from $50 up to $125. Check our interview with AppLaunch’s founder further below for more info.
Appromoter is similar to AppLaunch and offers a directory of new apps for journalists to browse. Creating a directory entry yourself is free. AppPromoter charges for additional services, like creating press releases, distributing press releases and promoting your app on the front page of the website. It also offers other app promotion services like SEO, ASO and promo video production.
AppReviewPros is a little different from the above. The site offers app promotion services, like ASO, video production and press release distribution. But its main offering is five “unbiased app reviews” from its team of reviewers. It seems to pitching this as professional constructive feedback on your app – as well as reviews that you can use for promotional purposes (assuming they’re positive).
AppShout focuses entirely on iOS app promotion and is really a newswire service for apps. The platform gives you your own media contact and distributes press materials to up to 60,000 journalists globally. AppShout also handles video production. It’s a bit pricier than others, with promotion packages starting from $455 up to $1395.
The value of app reviews
So how valuable are app reviews? Like with videogame or music reviews, it’s very hard to assess and data is thin on the ground. But we did ask a few app promotion experts and developers their opinion.
Matt Palmer from the app promotion agency Marketing Your App, gave us one example where app reviews did have a direct impact on downloads. Palmer says that after weather app RainAware was reviewed on AOL-owned The Unofficial Apple Weblog it jumped no1 in the Weather category, ahead of big brands like The Weather Channel and Weather Bug (you can see the data here – check the April 10 spike following the review).
Palmer says app reviews have a big role to play in promotion, as they not only raise awareness amongst readers but they also give developers “trusted and unbiased quotes” that can be put to use in marketing. Mention a 5 star review, or stick a glowing quote, in your app description page and it could be an important push toward convincing people to download.
Gary Yentin, CEO of App Promo, echoes Palmer, saying that app review sites have been effective for his clients. One recent client PiciIT24 was featured on Mashable.com and that article strongly correlated with the app moving into the top 100 rankings in the App Store photo category. But Yentin says reviews, on the whole, are just “a small but effective piece to get users to talk about your application”. He says “ no one marketing tactic works alone, and it is important to note that marketing is an ongoing process.”
Not everyone we talked to was so positive on the impact of app review sites. Developer Travis Houlette, who runs GhostBird Software and developed KitCam for iPhone, says app reviews have helped him, but only when it comes to specialist sites.
“Generally i have found that app review sites on an individual basis do very little to help promote an app,” Houlette told us. “From my experience a single review on a non major mac or tech network wont break you into the big time no matter how good of a review it is. That said, sites that cater to specific niches of which your app is apart can go a long way to increase your apps exposure. For example, iPhone photography blogs such as LifeInLoFi.com or iPhoneography.com can be very helpful when promoting photography apps. Likewise a good review on Touch Arcade can do wonders when promoting a new game (my experience with Touch Arcade is from over 2 years ago so it may be a little out of date). Getting the people that are typically into the types of apps that you are promoting is a great start.”
Houlette adds that general app sites “should not be ignored” and it’s always worth trying to get as much exposure as you can. He was very negative on paid reviews, saying developers should spend the money elsewhere, such as on a “professionally designed app icon.
Remember, review sites are not just about reviews. Ask anyone in the videogame, music, or movie PR industry and many will tell you that a strong round of previews and pre-release features can often be more important publicity-wise than the reviews themselves. Many review sites openly invite developers to contact them for preview opportunities and developer interviews.
Here’s you’re chance to think creatively. Try and get into the head of a blogger and think about what you can offer their readers? Maybe you have some controversial opinions on the state of mobile gaming or – even better – on another developer! Or maybe you can give a behind the scenes look at how you’ve created your app.
Think about competitions too. Obviously there’s the bog-standard promo code giveaway (many websites thrive off this and actively encourage developers to send in promos), but maybe you can run a competition inviting readers to submit ideas for characters in your mobile game – the best one gets into the finished app. Or ask readers to name your app, or certain features within the app.
Here’s something else to think about – many sites industry-focused sites love getting interesting app stats from developers. If you have worthwhile data on, for instance, how your downloads rocketed after a price drop, or how many extra downloads you got after reaching certain chart position, try getting in contact with journos and seeing if they’re interested. When it’s a slow news day, all kinds of stuff will be picked up by industry blogs (like Inside Mobile Apps), which can give your app a little promotional boost.
Video app review from AppQuest
How to approach app review sites: Top tips
Press release, or not?
When contacting review sites you don’t necessarily need a press release. A personal email or message can often be more effective than a professional PR-written piece. App reviewers get a lot of press releases delivered to their inboxes, and as any journalists will tell you, press release tend to blend together after a while. A regular personalised email can stand out better. However, the majority of review sites provide app submission forms, so you won’t need to worry too much about this.
Be informative, be concise
When sending out an email or filling out a submission form, make sure you get the basic information about you and your app across. Journalists have a lot of apps to review. So make their job as easy as possible and they’ll be more inclined to cover your app. Include exactly what the app does, who it’s aimed at, pricing information, release date, who you are and what other apps you’ve developed. Provide the key information bullet-pointed at the top of your message. Then toward the bottom you can flesh out any details, going further into your app’s features and perhaps background on why you developed it. Also include app screenshots, or links to app screenshots, and an image of your icon.
Journalists won’t pay to download your app. So you’ll need promo code or other ways of sending it to them free of cost. Most app review sites that have submission forms only permit promo code submissions.
Check the site your submitting your app to for any recommended guidelines. Not all sites have guidelines, but some do and especially the bigger ones. Make sure you adhere to these guidelines or you’ll just irritate the journalists. Also make sure you understand the type of site you’re contacting. No point sending your camera app to a site that only reviews games.
If you can make a video of your app, then all the better. This will give reviewers an instant understanding of what your app does and makes you look more serious and professional. Video demos are especially useful for videogames.
In most cases it’s probably better to stick to the facts and be concise. Don’t try and plead to get your app reviewed, or ramble too much. That said, this writer has seen some creative submissions from developers that worked pretty well. One was press release written from the perspective of the videogame’s main character and it was very effective at capturing attention. If you have an off-the-wall idea at generating press, make sure you run it past a fresh pair of eyes before diving in.
If you’re getting no response then don’t pester the journalists. They’re probably just busy and if you irritate them they may be less inclined to check out your app. A follow-up email, after a week or so has passed, is fine. Anything more and you’re probably over-doing it.
App review site interviews
AppLaunch, CEO, Chris Maddern
Can you explain briefly what AppLaunch is and how it helps developers?
AppLaunch is a tool to help developers to get their App in the press. Specifically, we allow them to quickly and easily submit their App to every review site and to a number of contributors and journalists. This has the benefit both of saving a *lot* of time (if they were going to do it at all otherwise) and because of relationships we have in place and the consistent format of our submissions, we see dramatically more success in getting noticed.
How valuable do you think app reviews are for developers?
It depends what type of App you make. As with any PR, if your product is niche, your coverage needs to be where that niche of users are. For general Apps, games etc… coverage in the mainstream App press can be extremely effective at driving downloads – some sites typically send 500+ to paying apps and thousands to free. Even a passing mention on some of the bigger sites can drive downloads.
Users have to hear about your App somehow and we all know that the App Store does an awful job of exposing Apps fairly and reliably. Press is one of the ways in which they can discover you and it tends to be a lot less expensive than advertising if your App is good and/or interesting.
Do you have any data showing the impact app reviews can have on increasing downloads?
We don’t have anything authoritative to add here, but there are a lot of good examples on the web. We’re looking at integrating with AppFigures at the moment to be able to directly correlate press to downloads – increasing transparency on exactly this for users.
To repeat from the last question, the data that does exist shows that favorable mentions in the press will often drive massive numbers of downloads and smaller press take their cues at least partially from bigger press and so it will often lead to many more mentions if you are covered in one of the larger App review sites.
What about other things like pre-release previews, developer interviews and app giveaways – are these also worth looking into?
Anything’s worth doing if you have a site that’s willing to work with you. There isn’t a lot of real ‘journalism’ going on in the App space right now (something we have plans to work on soon) and so previews and interviews aren’t terribly common except for AAA titles.
I don’t have any meaningful data or perspective on promo code giveaways but would love to hear thoughts in the comments.
What is your opinion on app review sites that charge for reviews? Is it worth paying money for this service?
No. This is a great example of the problem with journalism in the Apps space. From the site’s perspective you can see how they need to make money to be able to pay their writers (something that many blogs have historically not done a lot of) and guaranteed, honest reviews, it’s sometimes easy to not see as too harmful but any time there is a financial relationship between reviewer and reviewee you reduce the amount of faith your readership can have in your content.
This is something that we very much want to change in time – sites do it because display advertising rates are at all-time lows and you need to keep the lights on! We’ve been successful in giving secondary revenue streams to review sites by offering ‘submit with AppLaunch’ as the way to submit to the site (that flow of-course supports a free way to submit to only that site). We believe that if we offer a way to replace the revenue of ‘paid-for reviews’ with revenue that simply encourages developers to submit to the site through a platform then they would prefer to take this option and remain impartial.
Short answer, don’t pay for reviews. If you want to pay for space on a site look in to advertising with them or check out BuySellAds.com to advertise across a range of App sites.
Do you think we’ll see more app review site that charge money popping up? Is this system working?
Yes we will, and is it working – it depends what you mean by working and for whom.
People are paying. Sites are making money. In occasional cases, Apps actually get downloads. Most of these sites are very small though and have less loyal readerships (with some notable exceptions).
It’s very easy to set up 20 WordPress sites, scrape, generate or mechanical Turk content and then start charging developers $50 a pop to get on the site. There will always be developers who will fall for it and ‘give it a shot’.
Back to ‘is it working’ – to me this just proves that the model of display advertising supporting content doesn’t work on a smaller scale and so it’s proof that the whole thing isn’t working and we’d love to work to replace that revenue through partnership with any review sites.
What advice do you have for developers who want to get their app reviewed
Okay, lets talk DIY approach (and there are a few reviewers out there who even prefer that), here’s the broad advice I would give.
– Do not send reviewers press releases – they are long, boring and unnecessarily formal. If you are distributing a syndicated release then that of course must be in standard press release format.
– Do your research. Most sites have pretty explicit instructions as to when, how and where to pitch them. Follow these instructions. If they (as Jordan from TechCrunch does) prefer a 160 character pitch by SMS, then do it!
– Be realistic. These are people, if you were in a room with them, could you get them excited about it? If not, why get a rep for sending them stuff they don’t care about.
– Just generally be honest, polite and respectful. These people are looking for good Apps to cover, admittedly they’re busy so feel free to try again, but if they decide its a ‘no thank you’ this time then thank them politely and pitch them again next time. Even the context of them having said no is enough context to get them to open them email and read the first few lines.
- Give contact information
- Have all info and screenshots right there for them (they should never have to look)
- Give promo codes where appropriate
- Videos are awesome and from our experience increase engagement with your pitch
- Tell a story – make it news, other than XYZ co releases ABC app. ‘XYZ co tackles problem DEF with ABC App’ is much more likely to garner interest.
DailyAppShow founder Jerad Hill
Why did you decide to start up DailyAppShow and how does it differ from other review sites out there?
I started Dailyappshow when the iPhone first came out and the App Store opened. I knew that it would be hard to find good apps if the app store was going to be just like the iTunes Music Store. Since the beginning, Dailyappshow has been a video based site. Over the years our video quality has improved. There are no other app review sites out there producing quality video content that allow the viewer to decide if the app is worth the download or price. We show the features and how it works, the viewer decides if it’s worth using based on their needs.
How valuable do you think reviews are to app developers? Can they really have a big impact on installs?
There are too many app review sites out there and people producing app reviews. This is why we have always demoed apps rather than casting judgment on an app. My opinion is only my own. I don’t believe that our videos are having huge impacts on sales but they are informing people of the apps that are out there and helping them make decisions. Some developers report jumps in sales while others are impressed with the exposure we were able to give their app.
Do you think certain types of apps benefit from reviews more so than others?
Yes, some app categories are more popular than others which means there are more apps and it will be harder for you to stick out in a certain category. Because of this, a developer really needs to market his/her app well. We help developers in this area by putting videos of their apps in front of viewers of many different websites. The more exposure, the better. Even if your app is niche and there is not a lot of competition, extra exposure shows people that you believe in what you are selling.
Do you have any examples where your reviews have boosted an app’s installs?
Yes, while we don’t often have developers telling us how many downloads they received we do get reports of a boost in installs. We get emails with responses like, “we’ve had our best sales week ever.” We have never promised an increase in downloads because that is hard to promise. If I had that kind of control over viewers I would be in a different business. What we can promise is a drastic increase in exposure, and if the app is good, people will download it.
There seems to be a split between app sites that don’t charge for reviews and those that do. Can you explain the reasoning behind why you charge developers? What are the benefits of your system?
We charge because we have built a solid system that works. I have never wanted to be ad supported. I think it results in lower viewership because you have to sell or place ads everywhere. There are no ads on Dailyappshow except for one of our other projects, and it’s only a small banner ad. Our focus is on the apps, not the ads.
Why doesn’t DailyAppShow gives scores/opinions on the apps? Doesn’t this make the reviews less valuable somehow?
We call our videos app reviews because that is what people are searching for. I guess you could call our videos on apps a review of the app and it’s features, not a review and a judgment. I do not understand how some of these sites have one reviewer for all app categories casting judgment on apps they have no life experience to back up. How could you review a parenting app if you are a single guy? People know what they need. Our apps videos show them the features and they can decide on their own. Our viewers are competent intelligent people. I consider our videos more valuable than standard review videos and our customers agree.
What do you think the future will look like when it comes to app review sites? Do you think developers would like to see more sites that focus on promotion?
I am glad that you noticed that our focus is more on promotion. Most of the app sites out there do not see things the same way as I do. I am a business owner and used to sell products well before Dailyappshow.com was even an idea. I have also been buying products online for a long time and understand the importance of a good video demonstration. I think developers would love to see more sites like Dailyappshow.com. There are some sites out there that have mimicked our business model and I am sure there will be more in the future. Our goal is to continue to add value. Every new syndication partner is added value. Developers come back to us time and time again for new videos because they can trust us.
Appromoter, founder, Ed Vause
Can you explain briefly what appromoter does?
appromoter provides a single place where developers can create a press microsite for their apps for free to use as their virtual press office. We then promote the apps to several hundred app review journalists who visit the site or read the newsletter. We handle the secure allocation of apk files and promo codes to trusted media which is a big help for developers. We also offer app developers a range of premium services to get their app noticed from press release writing and video creation through to translation services and even confidential app evaluations from real reviewers.
How valuable do you think app reviews (outside of app stores) are for developers?
I think there are different kinds of value in getting positive press coverage. Firstly, any profile an app can get in the media gives that app more chance of winning downloads. App discovery is such a crucial issue – and will become more so – that we always tell developers that they need to think of ways to tell people about their apps before they even reach the store.
Secondly, adding positive reviews to app descriptions on the stores helps consumers to get a feel of the quality of an app. You now see review quotes and scores added to most if not all of the most popular apps on the stores; in a way, this is probably the most useful reason to seek out reviews.
In terms of app reviews directly driving downloads? That’s a very hard question to answer. In many cases journalists will review apps that are already proving popular in the top 25 or 50 on the stores, so you could argue that the downloads are influencing the reviews, rather than the other way around. We’ve certainly not seen any cases where a single review has turned an app into an overnight success and driven lots of downloads. That said ignoring the media and not even trying to secure reviews is not really an option if you’re serious about making your app a commercial success.
Do you have any data you can share showing the impact app reviews/previews can have on increasing downloads?
Directly linking downloads to the influence of positive reviews is something that we’ve found almost impossible to do so far. We worked with an app developer recently where their app was mentioned in a UK national newspaper, but the increase in downloads following the coverage was less than 100 extra installs, suggesting that the review had little influence. What you cannot know in situations like this is what makes the person who reads the review choose to download the app or not to. For example, someone may have read the coverage of the app, gone to the app store, but decided that they didn’t want to pay for the app, or maybe they didn’t like the app description or the graphics. There are so many points at which consumers can change their minds about the purchasing decision that it’s too simplistic to try to link press coverage directly to downloads. If an app isn’t good quality and well presented, then reviews aren’t going to change that.
There’s some controversy over app review sites that charge for reviews. What’s your opinion on this? Is it worth paying money for reviews?
appromoter does not endorse paid reviews for two main reasons. Firstly, any paid-for opportunity can’t be truly independent, and therefore can’t really be trusted by the consumer. Secondly, the sites that tend to have these policies are generally not the most popular or influential, so it’s a false economy to spend money on sites that don’t get a big readership.
That said we do appreciate review sites receive a lot of requests from developers and they need to pay their bills which they do by expediting reviews (I don’t believe they give better scores, they just push them to the front of the line). However, there are plenty of sites that have managed perfectly well to filter the apps that are worth reviewing from the ones that are not, without compromising their integrity. If you app is good enough then the credible media will notice and take a look.
Again, you need to consider what you expect a review to achieve. Consumers are pretty smart; they can spot something that seems contrived, so we always tell the developers we work with to think about their app marketing in a more strategic and authentic way.
I noticed you offer a paid advertorial feature service on the PocketGamer website. Have many devs taken advantage of this? And how beneficial has it been?
We have an arrangement with Steel Media where we get a small commission on referrals. We’ve sold a small number of these but it’s not really what we’re about. The clients that have taken sponsored features have been happy as far as I am aware but as it’s not central to our offering I haven’t really followed up with the clients to ascertain the success or otherwise of the campaigns. Perhaps I should!
Do you think we’ll see more app review sites that charge money popping up? Is this system working?
No, I think the opposite – that as more app-focused sites are launched, there will be fewer reasons to opt for a paid review. At the end of the day it’s all about quality of content and editorial, and the best sites out there are all strongly independent and would never charge for reviews; that’s the model that new sites need to aspire to. Also, the reality is that app marketing budgets are increasing as the competition on the app stores increases, so developers are better off investing in their acquisition strategy rather than spending $100 on a review not many people will see.
What advice do you have for developers looking to get their app reviewed? What are the best sites to target? How should they approach them? etc
- Our advice is always to make the best app you possibly can, then make it clear what it is that makes your app different, unique or interesting. You need to be able to excite a journalist about your app in just a few lines; they don’t have time to read through lots of text and work things out for themselves! Always keep things simple and to the point.
- Including video is really important; a 60 second video is an effective way to showcase your app and highlight all the best features and benefits. And make sure you get the details right; well written copy, nice screenshots and a well designed app icon all combine to give someone a good impression of your app. Remember, your app marketing is only as strong as its weakest link!
- As for the best sites – for games then it is the usual suspects: Slide2Play,PocketGamer, 148 Apps, Kotaku, TouchArcade etc. There are also opportunities in print media such as the Sunday Times in the UK – we’re seeing more traditional media coverage for apps all the time. Finally, developers need a targeting strategy for their apps. If it is a kids’ game, then don’t just go after the gamer sites, also target parents, ‘mommy bloggers’ etc. There’s loads of them. Most of the smaller studios don’t have this marketing know-how in house which is kind of where we come in.
- With the big publishers spending as much as $10,000 per day on advertising and incentivised downloads, the chances of developers having a breakout hit is becoming more and more remote. We are still seeing lots of apps launch that don’t have any marketing or promotion strategy in place. If I could make one comment that the whole development community would take on board it’s this – Get your marketing strategy nailed 2-3 months before you launch. And of course talk to appromoter – we can help!
What do you think the future holds when it comes to app promotion and the app reviewing press? Will we see app sites play a bigger role in getting apps noticed? Do you think more paid app review sites will spring up etc..
The problem we face right now is that so many new apps launch every week that it’s impossible to track and review them all; we speak to app reviewers that get 100 emails a day asking them to review apps, and they can maybe write 3 or 4 reviews a week. I’d like to see more ways to use reviews within the app stores themselves, to maybe reduce the influence of the top 10/25/50 charts that drive most of the downloads at present.
One of the things that makes it difficult to predict the future is the limitations on 3rd party discovery apps and services that particularly Apple have put in place. I think there’s an opportunity for new services to launch to help consumers find great new apps combined with reviews and information, but it’s difficult for people to invest in these areas when there’s a risk that Apple will decide that they fall foul of the App Store rules. So it would be nice to see some leadership from Apple and Google on the whole issue of app discovery and marketing.
Jim Desposito, owner, TheiPhoneAppReview.com
Why did you decide to start up TheiPhoneAppReview.com and how does it differ from other review sites out there?
I acquired TheiPhoneAppReview.com because I’ve been involved in technology in different ways my entire career and recognize the important shift that apps represent. This is an area of technology that is very exciting, very dynamic and has the potential of impacting almost everyone on the planet.
How valuable do you think reviews are to app developers? Can they really have a big impact on installs?
That’s really hard to say since, of course, it varies from app to app. Overall I believe that reviews are a critical part of a comprehensive app promotion strategy just as reviews are critical to most consumer products. It is also important to understand that a big part of the value of a quality review is the feedback it gives to the developers with regards to ways that their app can be improved. Even a bad rating, when viewed objectively, can have a very positive result.
Do you think certain types of apps benefit from reviews more so than others? If so which ones and why?
I have not seen a difference there. It may exist but I haven’t seen it.
Do you have any examples where your reviews have boosted an app’s installs?
While we don’t track such measures we do get some great anecdotal evidence about the efficacy of reviews on app installs from the developers and app publishing companies that we work with. A good number of them are repeat customers so I have to believe they are seeing a benefit.
Can you explain why you charge developers for reviews? What’s the benefits of this system compared to regular review sites?
It really all comes down to the business model of the site. No one works for free. Many sites are plastered with ads for any and all products as a way to generate revenue. We specialize in apps and have a very lean and focused site that benefits developers. It’s true that we change for expediting reviews as well as marketing and promotion efforts that go well beyond simple reviews, but we also do written reviews free of charge.
What happens if a paying developer gets a bad review? Do they get a refund? Have you had any problems giving developers bad reviews?
A low rating usually means there are issues with the app and it’s best for the developer to know that so they can address the shortcomings before the public tells them the same thing. In such cases the review may not be published and accommodations made. Our company policy is to work with developers to be a valuable service for them. Giving a bad app a high rating does not help anyone.
What do you think the future will look like when it comes to app review sites? Will we be seeing more sites charging for reviews?
With literally billions of app downloads app developers are struggling to stand out and get noticed. App reviews are an important part of promoting apps but there are other services that are equally or even more important. The overall business model of the site will determine which services are paid for and which ones are not.
App review site directory
Here you’ll find a directory of app review sites split into sites that do not charge for reviews and sites that offer a paid review service. This isn’t a list of every site that features app reviews, we’re just looking at sites that focus on app reviews. If you think we’ve missed something, please get in touch in the comments below.
App Review Wires
Applaunch – offers a submission service that hits all the major app review sites from a single form
Best Review App – get app reviews from genuine users for iOS and Android apps and games
Appromoter – app promotion platform, which lets developers submit their app into a database that acts as a resource for journalists and bloggers looking to review apps.
AppShout – focuses entirely on iOS app promotion and is really a newswire service for apps.
Free app review sites
appPicker – Features app reviews and best of lists across iOS apps for iPhone and iPad
AppStorm – Features separate sites for iPhone/Windows/Android app reviews, but all part of the Envato network. Invites devs to submit apps. Also welcomes free app promotional giveaways.
Touch Arcade – Popular iOS gaming site that features news and reviews. Welcomes review submissions, promo codes and app pre-announcements/previews.
iMore – iOS focused news and reviews site. Part of the Mobile Nations network. Allows devs to send in review apps.
App Advice – iOS-only ‘app discovery’ site that features reviews and news. Invites devs to send in review apps and take part in sneak peak features/previews.
The Unofficial Apple Weblog – Apple site owned by AOL featuring app reviews for iPad and iPhone. Offers devs an app submission form to send in review code.
Gamezebo – Popular mobile gaming review site that covers pretty much all platforms. Accepts apps for reviews, previews and also invites devs to write op-eds and take part in interviews.
appscovery – Website that lets developers sign-up for free and write an article promoting their app. Appears to accept any content/review as long as it’s original material.
Pocket Gamer – Popular gaming site that covers mobile games and has a large portion dedicated to Android and iOS. Invites devs to submit apps but says it gets a lot of submission, so you need to stand out.
148Apps – Popular iPhone and iPad app review site. Accepts apps for review and also provides guidelines on the level of quality needed to be considered for review.
Blog do iPhone – iPhone and iPad news and review site in Spanish. Accepts app submissions and preview submissions.
Slide to Play – Review site dedicated to iOS gaming. Accepts submitted review apps, with assets and links to videos. Also interested in promo codes for prize giveaways.
iPhone Life – The website of iPhone review magazine, iPhone Life. Invites devs to send in apps, also offers opportunity to join a ‘vendor network’ and write guest blogs.
Pad Gadget – Review site that focuses purely on the iPad. Has a submission form for developers to send in their app.
iPhone Applications List – Not a review site, but rather a list of apps that links to external reviews and videos. There’s an email address devs can use to get their app listed.
App Safari – iPhone and iPad review site that has an app submission form for developers. Also invites developers to run giveaway promotions on site.
App Craver – iPhone and iPad review site that invites developers to submit review apps and requests for interviews/previews.
iFanzine – Review site that focuses on iPhone games. Invites developers to submit requests for reviews, previews and interviews/features.
AppGamer – App review site that focuses purely on videogames. Invites developers to submit assets and mobile games for review.
AppModo – App review site that covers iOS, Android, and Windows Phone platforms. Contact page link was broken when we checked, but looks like it accepts app submissions and giveaways.
Smart Keitai – App review and news site that covers all platforms but focuses on Android. Doesn’t have a specific developer submission form, but we assume it accepts app submissions.
FanAppic – iPhone and iPad review site – that makes a point of saying it doesn’t accept payments for reviews. Works with app promotion company App Launch.
TouchGen – Popular mobile game review site that covers iPad and iPhone. Welcomes developer submissions and provides a number of submission guidelines.
App Guide – German-language iPhone app review site that welcomes app submissions from developers.
BestAppsForKids – App review site that focuses on child-friendly iOS apps. Accepts app submissions but says it only reviews apps that it’s likely to give a 4 or 5 star review.
App Store Apps – iPhone app review site that welcomes app submissions from developers. Editor says his review list is over 1000 apps long, so you may have to wait a while!
The App Whisperer – App review site that focuses on photography apps. Not really clear if they charge for reviews or not, but they appear to offer some kind of promotional service.
Top App Reviews – Just focuses on iPad app reviews and app round ups. Has a submission form for devs to submit their app.
Touch Reviews – iPhone and iPad app review site that accepts developer app submission. Also accepts ad-hoc builds.
Touch My Apps – iPhone and iPad app review site. Doesn’t have a specific developer page, but we assume you can submit apps via the contact page.
The Appera – iPhone and iPad mobile game review site. Welcomes app submissions and advises you send pre-release code for faster turn around.
Best Kids Apps – As the name suggest, review site focused on kids apps. Covers iPhone, iPad and Android and accepts app submission from devs (as long as they’re kid-friendly).
The iPhone Mom – iPhone app review site aimed at parents and covering childrens apps mainly. Invites devs to send apps in for review and wants promotions/giveaways.
AppPicker – Focuses on reviewing iPhone and iPad apps. Features an app submission form for developers.
IKidsApps – Review site that covers children’s apps on Apple’s App Store. Welcomes dev submissions. Also welcomes promotional giveaways and app sales.
ApplenApps – Focuses on iPhone and iPad app reviews. Welcomes enquiries from app developers but doesn’t want unsolicited promo codes.
What’s On iPhone – iPhone and Android app review site (despite the name) that welcomes submissions and app giveaway opportunities from devs.
AppsToUse – Android and iOS app review site. Invites devs to send in app submissions, but requires reader giveaways if your app is not free to download.
AppSmile – iPhone and iPad news and review site that welcomes app submissions from developers.
AppAddict – iPhone and iPad review site. Adheres to OATS standards. Welcomes app review submissions from developers.
BestAppSite – iOS app review website that offers news, reviews and round ups. Features an app submission form for developers.
TouchArchive – iOS, Windows 8, Android and Mac app review site. Features app submission form. Doesn’t look like it charges, but mentions ad opportunities.
App Chatter – iPhone app review website. Welcomes app developer submissions. Also runs an app database that you can submit to.
Giggle Apps – App site that focuses on kid-friendly fare. Works with 148apps.com. Welcomes developer submissions.
OneDayOneApp – Website that focuses on promoting one iOS app per day on its homepage. Features a submission page for devs.
BuyMeAnIPhone – Video reviews and news on iPhone apps. Welcomes app submissions from developers.
Appy Smarts – iOS, Windows Phone and Android review site. Focuses on educational apps. Welcomes submissions from devs and app giveaways etc.
AppsOnTap – iOS and Mac app review site that’s currently accepting app submissions for review. Requires screenshots and promo codes.
TechTools4Mom – Android and iOS app review site that – as the name suggests – focuses on apps “that can help busy” moms. Accepts submissions.
ItunesGames – Reviews iPhone and iPad games only. Interested in pre-release games and any app submissions.
ShineApp – Android, iPhone and iPad app review site. Features a number of different writers with different interests. Invites devs to submit apps to relevant writers.
IgameRadio – Podcast and review site that covers iOS mobile games. Welcomes dev submissions, but says it focuses on original/unique games suited to their readers.
IpwnGames – Review site for iOS games. Doesn’t look that frequently updated, but invites devs to send in their games for review.
IOS RPG Site – As the name suggests, this one focuses purely on iOS RPGs reviews. Looks like it will review any and every iOS RPG, so worth getting in contact.
FreeAppsArcade – Focuses on highlighting one free iOS game per day. Says it does its best to respond to every dev submission.
AppsReviews4U – Review site that focuses on iOS apps. Frequently updated. Invites devs to send in promo codes via a submission form.
IphoneGamesReview – iOS game review website. Welcomes developer promo code submissions. Says it strives to be objective as possible.
AppZilla – UK-based mobile game review site. Not that frequently updated. Welcomes devs to get in touch if they have an app for review.
Applorer – Regularly updated Android mobile game review site. Welcomes developer app submissions.
APPS24H – iOS and Android mobile game review site. Welcomes dev submissions. Based Vietnam.
Wp7AppList – Windows Phone app directory and review site. Focuses more on the directory side of things, but invites devs to submit apps for review.
WPApp – Windows Phone-only app review site. Allows people to submit their own app reviews, so presumably you can review your own app.
Paid app review sites
BestReviewApp – gain good reviews and get ratings from genuine users from a global network
Crazy Mike’s Apps – iOS and Android review site that offers regular written reviews and also paid-for video demo/showcases and social media promotion for app developers.
iPhoneAppReview – iPhone and iPad-only app review website that works on a pay-per-review basis (although does review some apps no charge). Prices start from $59.
The Smartphone App Review – Android, iOS and Windows Phone review site. Focuses on paid for reviews. Prices start at $39 plus a free ad. More money will get you a speedier turn around and extra promotion.
The iPad Fan – iPad-only review site that offers both free and paid-for reviews. Prices for a paid review start at $75, along with Facebook and Twitter promotion.
iPhone Toolbox – Review site that focuses on iPhone apps. Only offers paid app reviews. Prices start at $25 per review, with $50 getting you a front page placement.
App Store Arcade – iOS app review site that charges developers per review. Says you can not purchase a positive review. Prices start from $35. Other promotional options available.
AppDictions – Reviews iPhone, iPad and Mac apps. Charges developers for reviews. Prices start from $30 and climb up to $150, adding video and other promotional bonus.
Apps400 – Covers iPhone, Android and web apps. Offers both free reviews and featured reviews, which are paid. Featured reviews are presumably promoted on the front page.
iPhoneFootPrint – iPhone and iPad app review site that offers expediated reviews for payments. An expediated and guaranteed review cost $29.
IPhoneAppsReviewOnline – iPhone app review site. Offers regular reviews as well as a “featured review service” for a “small fee”.
App Shrink – Covers all mobile platforms and some desktop platforms. Offers paid reviews and various promotional packages, starting from $20.
iPhoneGames.com – Directory/review site that focuses entirely on iPhone games. Only runs paid listings, which start from $49.
iPhone Glance – iPhone and iPad mobile game review site. Focuses on promotion and paid reviews. Prices start from $15 and go up to $80 for video reviews and other packages.
MyiPadApps – iPad only app review site. Offers free reviews and paid for reviews. The paid for reviews are 24hr guaranteed and benefit from extra promotion. Prices start at $39.
AppDigity – Windows Phone, iOS, Android and web app review site. Offers paid reviews from $10. Also offers a free review service, where the developer can write the review themselves.
For more ways to promote your mobile app check out our mobile app marketing directory>>