App Discovery Apps – should you make your App Free for a Day?

As smartphone and tablet penetration continues to grow at pace, there seems no end to the tidal wave of native apps being released onto Android, iOS and other platforms app stores. Indeed, this deluge is worn as a badge of pride by Google and Apple, and is a key component in deeming whether you have a successful mobile ecosystem (just ask BlackBerry and Microsoft). But while app developers undoubtedly benefit from the burgeoning market, they’re simultaneously suffering at the mercy of platform owners, as native app stores effectively monopolise distribution and – in the eyes of many devs – do a poor job of making apps discoverable.

From  mobile ad networks, incentivised networks, ASO, non-native app stores and App Reviews, a silver bullet for app discovery has yet to be found.   However, a number of companies have been tackling the discovery matter head-on, by creating apps that aim to supplement the app stores themselves.  The rise of App Discovery Apps and Services is a key theme in the mobile advertising and app promotion industry right now and it seems like this is becoming a major new distribution channel.  Whilst App Gratis in particular has generated a lot of publicity with its huge success and a $14m funding round App Discovery Apps are becoming a category in their own right with a range of other major players in this space.

In this guide we’re going to take a detailed look at app discovery apps, explaining what they are and, as usual, talking to developers and the platforms themselves. We’ve also got a pretty compehensive list of all the app discovery platforms we could find at the bottom of the article.  You can help spread the word about this major new mobile marketing channel or join the conversation by tweeting below:

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What are app discovery apps?

For the purpose of this guide, we’re taking a relatively broad view of discovery platforms, but essentially we’re sticking to mobile apps that help you find other apps. So this approach will encompass incentivised app download platforms (where users are rewarded for downloading apps), pure discovery/deal finder platforms (which aim to offer enhanced search and recommendation features), daily deal apps (which focus on offering negotiated discounted apps per day), specialised app disovery platforms and social discovery platforms.

So what are app discovery apps? A few different approaches have emerged:

AppRewards’ discovery app

Daily deals apps

Daily deals apps (or ‘free app a day’ apps) are arguably the most popular form of discovery platform. These platforms usually negotiate discounts with developers and offer users a single deal per day. Their success is easy to understand. Users get a cheap or free app and developers get a massive boost in downloads, pushing them up the charts. It’s an incredibly simple but effective format. The biggest success story in this area has been AppGratis, which is riding high following a $13 million investment. Some of these platforms charge devs a one-off cost to get featured, while others charge on a CPI basis.

Deal finders

The other popular discovery format, and certainly the most ubiquitous (just take a look at our directory below), is app deal finders. While platforms like AppGratis offer a focused delivery of discounted apps to users, deal finders help users search across app stores for discounted apps. This sub-category, typified by the likes of AppsFire, usually bolts on a variety of enhanced discovery tools to its core offering, such as personalised recommendations, editorial content, social-sharing features and enhanced search tools. But their main focus, and benefit over native app stores, is the ability to notify users whenever an app relevant to their tastes is discounted.

Specialised app discovery platforms

A specialised platform offers enhanced search and discovery functions within a single app vertical. Examples include Game Finder, which is dedicated to mobile games, and MagicSolver’s range of discovery platforms that have seasonal themes. A specialised platform can really adopt a variety of formats to suit users. For instance, Game Finder focuses on discount discovery, whereas MagicSolver takes a ‘daily deal’ approach. The fragmentation of app discovery does appear to be gaining traction, as it gets harder for generic platforms to compete with the market leaders. This will probably lead to smaller generic deal finding apps fading away and being replaced with specialised ones. Specialisation also allows a greater scope for editorial input and a curated approach as brands can develop a following from more savvy users.

Incentivised platforms

A few incentivised app download networks have now evolved into apps themselves. These combine typical discovery features, like daily deals and enhanced search, with incentive based downloads. The two biggest are Fiksu’s FreeMyApps and Tapjoy’s own web app. Whereas Tapjoy offers a variety of rewards such as in-game currency and credits for movie apps, Fiksu has taken a more streamlined route, offering users iTunes and Amazon gift cards for downloading apps. Of course, all the same controversies over incentivised downloads have followed these platforms into the discovery space, but with FreeMyApps boasting over 9 million users, it’s well worth a look for developers.

Blurred bounderies

Of course, the above categories are by no means fixed. There are plenty platforms that mix daily deals with a general deal searching functions and a minority of others that focus purely on social recommendations. There are also more unique platforms, such as Hubbl and AppFlow, whose appeal mainly lies in novel user interfaces. App discovery is a continually evolving space, so expect more innovations to come.

AppsFire promo video

Should you make your app free for a day?

Key stats

  • WorldCrack reached 701,556 downloads after being promoted as a daily deal on AppGratis, while mobile game Edge Extended received in excess of 1,500,000 installs
  • AppGratis claims to be able to drive between 500,000 and 700,000 installs per day on average
  • AppsFire tells us it can generate more than 300,000 installs for a developer in a single day
  • FreeMyApps says it has an active userbase of 1.5 million
  • AppsFire has been download more than 9 million times
  • From what developers tell us, AppGratis CPI averages between $1 and $5
  • Hitfox tells us CPIs for its Game Finder platform also average between $1 and $5
  • Developers can start promoting apps on AppsFire with a budget of $2500 per day
  • FreeMyApps requires $50,000 minimum for a campaign, according to developers we’ve spoken to, although Fiksu say it can be as low as $5k or $10k

As you can see from the above stats app discovery platforms are big business right now and are really helping developers effectively promote their apps. It’s no wonder that a company like AppGratis recently managed to secure a $14 million investment. But while these platforms have generated some serious results, some devs – especially those on a budget – say they’re struggling to see the benefits, as promotion costs are too high and affordable platforms simply don’t have the required scale.

All about the burst

Atlee Cheema, an account manager at mobile marketing agency Fetch, tells us he’s experienced a great deal of success running campaigns with app discovery platforms (AppGratis specifically), but he says the market is dominated by too few players.

“My frustrations is first and foremost the lack of app discovery apps,” says Cheema. “At least the ones with actual reach. Generally it comes down to just a lack of scale. Because it is such an infrequent event – when you make one of these buys you want it to count. You want to see some kind of push in the ranking and a lot of these apps just don’t to have the scale to achieve this.”

As Cheema points out, platforms like AppGratis and AppRewards are all about burst promotions, allowing developers to get enough push to potentially create a snowball effect, taking them into their vertical’s chart-rankings. Achieving this can turn around an app’s fortunes in an instant (so much so that the emphasis on chart rankings has been criticised by many in the discovery industry).

Cheema says AppGratis has successfully pushed clients’ apps through the rankings more than once, but it’s a risk for smaller devs to take, as the burst has to work first time around. You can’t keep discounting your app with various platforms and you ideally want the promotion early on in the app’s lifecycle. For all this to work you need scale and that comes at a cost.

Paying your way

We talked to Simon Billing from MeYuMe, a small iOS developer with around six games under its belt, including NeoDefender 3 and Cannibal Cookout. After a recommendation from a fellow dev, Billing tried out the discovery platform AppRewardsClub, which follows a similar format to AppGratis – negotiating discounts with developers and delivering daily deals to its users.

According to Billing, his total investment to promote Cannibal Cookout was pretty low at just $200 for the promotion, with no additional payments or revenue share after the campaign. He also had to raise the app’s price from $0 to $4.99 in order to discount it (which is another oversight of such discount platforms, especially given the abundance of free apps). Billing says the results were negligible. Week-on-week the game’s daily installs increased from 248 to 329. Furthermore the day before the deal launched, downloads had already climbed to 329.

“Personally I think App Rewards made no difference at all,” Billing says. “The extra downloads were due to the price drop – something I could have achieved on my own. I probably wasted $200. However, in their defence (I like to be fair) I did choose the day that all the big hitters in the app store chose to reduce the price of their apps for the Christmas break.”

AppsFlow shows off its unique UI

Atilla Beke, another developer we spoke to, also expressed concern over discovery platforms when it comes to smaller studios. Beke, who runs 3dmagicbox, developers of iOS app PushWizards, said his campaign with incentivised network TapJoy generated 500 downloads with a $0.50 CPI and but with some wastage from users uninstalling his app (a frequent problem when it comes to incentivised downloads). Beke also told us that the FreeMyApps incentivised platform wanted $50,000 upfront, which puts it out of reach for smaller devs.

“There are not many things you can do as a small dev to be discovered,” says Beke. “Never ever pay money to somebody, who wants you to make your paid app free! Almost everything that people try to sell you as marketing, can you do on your own if you take your time and you really want it.”

Billing agrees with Beke saying his studio simply “doesn’t have the money” to boost his apps into the charts and therefore has decided to focus on more organic methods. “I think now the app promotion market is becoming fragmented and a lot of companies are making rash promises which I don’t think they are actually delivering on,” he says. “I think even the larger ‘free app a day’ sites are finding that less and less users are responding to their campaigns. It’s almost as if the users are overwhelmed on a daily basis with free app offers. Besides, how many free apps can one user actually download day in/day out.

Learning the ropes

AppsFire CEO Ouriel Ohayon tells us it’s certainly true that using an app discovery platform is expensive and brands that any platforms who promise “miraculous results with low costs” as “either liars or cheaters”. But he says his first piece of advice to any developer is to avoid app discovery services until you understand how app promotion works.

“First learn about the space of app marketing and all the leverages free and paid you can use – for example building a nice trailer, PR, etc,” he says. “Learn about ad networks and how they operate, learn about competition…. build a real marketing plan over a quarter. Not just a weekend. Learn about analytics, retention and life time value. Then and only then come to app discovery platforms.”

For Ohayon there’s “nothing worse” than getting ranked for just a day or two and then seeing your installs drop off completely. He says developers need to understand how to consistently grow, retain users and keep them happy, before they shell out thousands pushing their app into the charts.

But the picture isn’t all gloomy for developers on a budget. AppGratis has made an effort to court smaller devs, bringing in a revenue-sharing model. So instead of charging on a CPI basis developers split the money from digital downloads and advertising. The platform has been tight-lipped on the details of this model, but it certainly worked for indie-dev Etermax, which saw its game WordCrack generate 701,556 downloads after featuring on the platform.

Ohayon also says AppsFire’s CPA ads, which take the form of ‘App of the Day’ recommendations with the discovery platform, are relatively affordable, starting on $2500 per day in certain countries. “We can generate up to 300 000 new users a day – we did it recently for a bunch apps,” he says. “Now to avoid any bullshit, which is common in our industry, we do not drive those 300 000 downloads directly: this is the end result of many factors including getting in high ranks. we do not charge for downloads we don’t generate directly even if you managed to get to a high rank.”

Discovery in the future?

So where will app discovery apps go from here? One development that could change the landscape is Apple’s recently introduced clause in its app approval guidelines. The clause says Apple reserves the right to reject “apps that display apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store.”

All the platforms we spoke said did not believe the above clause threatened their business, in fact many believe it’s a positive move by Apple. Introducing more stringent guidelines may deter new app discovery platforms from being developed – and contribute to the lack of options on the market for devs – but it could also force platforms to figure out more innovative ways to promote apps.

Indeed, now that a few big players have emerged, much of the coming growth in app discovery could arrive in the form of specialised platforms. It’s surely only a matter of time before well-known brands in certain verticals leverage their expertise and relationship with users in the app discovery space. For example, the wealth of gaming publications and websites, that command large followings, could easily develop curated platforms, as could any trusted music, art or film publication. Whatever happens, given the continuing deluge of apps, discovery will remain at the forefront of developer concerns for sometime yet.

State of mobile app discovery panel

App discovery: Platform interviews

Below you’ll find interviews with a selection of the biggest and best app discovery platforms currently on the market. First up is Game Finder’s managing directory Hanno Fichtner, followed by AppsFire founder Ouriel Ohayon, AppGratis’ founder Simon Dawlatt, and FreeMyApps vice president Glen Kiladis.

Hanno Fichtner, managing director, Game Finder

Where does Game Finder fit into the app discovery ecosystem? How does it help developers?

Hitfox’s Game Finder platform

HitFox Game Finder focuses on mobile games discovery and acts as a quality filter for the Apple App Store and Google Play store. Our selection of the best mobile games attracts an audience of high-quality users with a passion for games and opens a new channel for game developers to market their apps directly to their target audience.

How do you approach promotion within the app and is it affordable?

The games in our apps are selected based on their quality. Within the app we have several options to promote games and then discuss CPI’s between $1-5 USD based on platform and country with interested publishers. So a publisher’s game can be listed for free and promoted risk-free with CPI’s that fit their budget and capabilities.

What kind of results can developers expect in terms return on investment? Can you share any examples?

We really trust our userbase of high-quality mobile game players and therefore only work on a performance basis. Our CPI’s are always pre-negotiated and very competitive for the gaming market. Our users monetize well and usually far above market average. Developers can also choose between constant traffic through a listing in Game Finder or go for a boost, which we offer in cooperation with AppLift.

How are games reviewed and rated? Do you work with developers on this, or do you make your decisions independently?

We employ our own independent editorial-team. They are dedicated mobile game specialists who test, review and finally rate games in the three categories –  Good, Top and Must-Have – based on strict guidelines that apply to every game. They also decide on a daily basis which games will be recommended as the “Must-Have” for gamers. It’s actually a great job to play games all day, the rest of us tend to become quite jealous from time to time!

Is it getting difficult to make your platform stand out given how many discovery platforms have emerged?

Our mission in app discovery is very clear: we only focus on quality games. By now we have selected the top 1% of mobile games and sorted around 1000 titles into specific gaming categories such as MMO or Hack & Slash. In contrast to most other relevant services, we have a specialised editorial-team for games in-house which writes reviews and news in German, French and English. We are passionate gamers ourselves and constantly develop new gaming specific features to make the user experience even better. For example we offer a daily deals list, price alarms, search-filters for multiplayer, internet connection or language, social features to see what your friends have downloaded or bookmarking to allow you to save games and download them later, which is very useful if you are browsing on 3G and want to save on your data plan. We also introduced fun features and animations to enhance the user experience.

What’s your opinion on Apple’s recent rules restricting app discovery platforms?

Introducing the new 2.25 guideline was the right move to increase the quality for the iOS App Store rankings. The guideline was formulated to request exactly this additional and unique value to augment the App Store. We see the rule not so much about restricting apps like Game Finder, but really to ensure a high quality of 3rd party discovery channels. It only seems to support Apple’s ranking system and generate new value for users and developers.

The Google Playstore also has an interesting way of ensuring quality through their ranking algorithm which is partly based on app usage and uninstall rates as well as ex-post monitoring. It would be interesting to see Apple going in this direction at some point as well. So overall we don’t expect a cut on app discovery revenues, but the players in this market will have to adapt.

How do you see app discovery evolving? What can we expect from platforms in the next five years or so and what are HitFox’s plans?

The pace of new apps being released everyday for iOS, Android and Windows devices is simply astonishing. Just for games there are more than 200 new titles daily, so the need for proper discovery mechanisms increases constantly. App discovery platforms also add a lot of value for the stores, as a lot of additional installs are generated that would not have occurred otherwise. You can see app discovery channels as affiliates from Apple, Google and Microsoft that drive additional users to their stores.

The more apps are being published, the higher the fragmentation of specialized discovery services will become. However, discovery platforms need to satisfy the needs from stores, end users and publishers alike. As a game developer for example, you will not get many high-quality and paying users when they have only downloaded your app because it was free for one day! We believe that a high-quality and specialized userbase is key in this market. You need a channel to place your app in front of the right audience!

Finally, do you have any advice/tips for developers looking to use app discovery platforms?

Serious app discovery channels cannot afford to promote low-quality apps when they want to keep their high-quality users. Also, boosting a low-quality app to the charts will only help the app booster’s revenue, but definitely not the app developer for long-term gains and surely not to develop a sustainable business. My advice for developers would be to focus internally on developing a top notch product and then work with experts in the acquisition market who can generate new, quality users on a performance basis. In this context, developers with apps in several countries should also not underestimate the benefits of a proper app localization, especially regarding the individual App Store Optimization. App Store search is a very important channel!

Ouriel Ohayon, founder and CEO, AppsFire

Why do you think App Discovery has become such a problem for developers? Who’s to blame here?

App discovery has always been a problem. Way before mobile. Back when apps were just websites and people were accessing the web only via their computer. Directories like Yahoo made some order until both the technologies were ready for search but also people’s mindset was ready for more than directories. Then Google came in.

In the world of Apps, Discovery is critical in the same way. Users need to find something that interest them and developers need to find users who will stick to their app. Here is the problem with the App store: they are huge, built the same for everyone, lack transparency on quality and are painful to browse. So users suffer from the discovery experience. The developers are also part of the equation and most of them are spending not enough time trying to solve the discovery problem they face. They believe that buying some ads will be enough, or hope to get featured by the App store…When it is a continuous and very hard task to manage even before the app is live.

AppsFire’s deal finder platform

The discovery issue is critical because it is the very first marketing problem developers have to face. App stores don’t make it very easy to solve (not mentioning they don’t provide too much information about how an app is discovered in a store) and developers don’t invest enough time to optimize their visibility in a consistent way.

How does AppsFire approach this problem? 

For the past 3 years we ve been trying to build a user experience that is vastly superior to the one the app stores are providing. Quite modestly we believe we’ve been building by far the best experience to find apps. And that did not happen overnight.

It all starts with a great user experience: First appsfire is personal: every users receive recommendation based on his tastes. Then we bring a a catalog of apps that is highly curated, beautifully organized, very very very fast to browse and search (our search is insanely fast and accurate), which brings at once all the key elements to make a decision and enhances the discovery experience by giving light on things you can’t find in the App Store, like the daily deals, the history of an app, the videos from Youtube, the comments from Facebook or Twitter. Appsfire does not try to show you every app. We’re more a “boutique” than a “store”

And we don’t try to fool users: we really focus on bringing light on the very best apps, not just apps who would pay us. We help users in spotting clones, fake deals (apps artificially in discount). Being transparent is critical and when we’re getting paid we clearly mark the ad so the users know this is an ad and we avoid any confusion.

Behind the scenes there is a massive work on trying to make sense of the App Store, we call it ‘App genome’: it is a continuous improved and curated version of the App Store database. It took us years to build it and we have quite a unique asset in the space, one that even our competitors envy

The end result is a delightful discovery experience, one that make people stick, constantly talk about it in social networks and recommend it here and there. Appsfire has been downloaded well over 9 million times and grows without spending a dime of well over half a million new users every month.

What kind of results can smaller developers expect when promoting apps via your CPA network?

We are focused on delivering high quality users in volumes. We can generate up to 300 000 new users a day (we did it recently for a bunch apps). Now to avoid any bullshit, which is common in our industry, we do not drive those 300 000 downloads directly: this is the end result of many factors including getting in high ranks. we do not charge for downloads we don t generate directly even if you managed to get to a high rank

App discovery seems to be getting pretty crowded. How does AppsFire stand out?

Is it? It used to be but over time most who tried failed and are gone. It is a very hard problem to solve. Appsfire is worried about only one thing: being the best app discovery solution in the market for users and developers. Competition comes and go. Right now we’re seeing more effort from companies who are building mostly ad solutions and place the developers at the centre, versus a true discovery solutions organized around the users first where advertising is not the first motivation.

 What do you think apps stores and app discovery will look like in 5 years? How is this space evolving?

Impossible to say. it will mostly depend about two things: how the stores themselves will change/improve and how the apps themselves will be developed and whether native will still dominate or not. But one thing is certain discovery will always be a critical problem to solve

What’s your take on Apple’s decision to ban apps that offer a similar service to the App Store? Why have they done this and has it affected AppsFire?

Apple’s wording is vague and accurate at the same time. They don’t want apps, any apps to promote other apps in ways that can confuse users or in ways that are too similar to the app store. What Apple wants to avoid basically are services that bring low value.

Appsfire, as mentioned, is more a boutique than a store: and the experience is highly unique and differentiated. We also invest a lot in quality and this is something where we standout compared to the endless number of “app catalog” apps which have a very limited usage.. So for now we’re fine. But with Apple, you never know what can happen.

What we believe is that Apple and Google and others will always need quality app guides. They don’t mind having music guides and movie guides in iTunes. It should be the same with Apps. It is good for users and good for them too What Apple want to avoid are abuses and low quality approaches

Simon Dawlat, CEO, AppGratis

AppGratis has been one of the big success stories in app discovery. How is it helping developers?

AppGratis’ platform

Through a simple business model we help both big publishers and smaller developers and regularly drive between 500,000 to 1 million downloads for an app in one day. We only include high quality, relevant apps in our platform and are therefore helping the end users to pick out the best apps in App Store. We don’t do incentive-based downloads and we never force an application upon a user

How viable is your platform for smaller, independent, devs on a budget?

We help small developers with a limited budget by offering them an affordable revenue-sharing arrangement.

How does the team decide what apps you promote? What kind of quality controls do you have?

We put great value in only recommending apps with a high quality, because the last thing we want is for our users to feel spammed. Every app is hand-picked and tested thoroughly by a staff of 40 full time employees based in Paris. These guys hand-pick and review the best free apps for our 10 million users out there. We also have local editors from 12 different nationalities covering different markets to make sure it fits global users in different countries

Like the app stores themselves, app discovery is getting pretty crowded now. Are you worried about the increasing competition in this area? How does AppGratis stand out?

Our company is currently growing at the speed of light and, being a leader in the app discovery industry, we are planning to double both our staff and our revenue as part of our international expansion this year. We don’t worry too much about the competition, we simply offer what we promise: Free apps with no additional advertisements, no subscriptions or anything else that the user didn’t ask for.

What’s your opinion on Apple’s recent rules restricting app discovery platforms? Do you think this poses a threat to AppGratis?

I don’t see this as a threat to AppGratis. Apple is always aiming for the highest quality possible and a change might protect high quality app discovery platforms like ourselves, by preventing the AppStore being invaded by low-quality copy cats. I believe AppGratis actively adding to the quality of Apple’s ecosystem.

How do you see app discovery evolving? What can we expect from platforms in the next five years or so and what’s AppGratis’ plans?

One of the next steps (for 2013) is to put even more effort into adapting our app recommendations based on the users preferences to make them even more accurate and relevant. It’s an industry that is evolving extremely quickly and we obviously need to stay on top of both the consumers and developers needs. We are also working towards becoming present on more platforms, like Android for example.

Finally, do you have any advice/tips for developers looking to use app discovery platforms? Anything they should look out for?

Avoid incentivized downloads, as that often involves un-motivated users that will not engage with your app. Also be wary about app discovery platforms that communicate false user figures. The user figures need to match the actual result that these platforms can deliver.

Glenn Kiladis, vice president and general manager, FreeMyApps

Why did Fiksu decide to launch FreeMyApps and how does it work?

Fiksu saw a huge demand by app publishers for high volumes of new users that will download and engage with a newly launched app. FreeMyApps exposes apps to more than 1.5 million monthly unique users on both iOS and Android. These users eagerly install new apps, and, as the apps are downloaded, they climb app store ranks. In turn, new organic users begin downloading the apps when they see it on the Top Rank Charts, which supports the rank achieved from their initial mobile marketing spend on FreeMyApps.

FreeMyApps users receive credits for downloading free apps and then redeem those credits for gift cards such as Google Play and iTune. FreeMyApps also offers social media campaigns, which boost visibility of a developer’s app through social channels. We also cultivate and engage with the community through contests and “shout outs” and gives the social community access to the newest apps. FreeMyApps is mainly used to promote Freemium titles. The platform also provides a solution for paid apps, which is a great alternative to putting an app on sale for free. For example, users could buy a $.99 app and earn enough credits to redeem a $1 Amazon.com gift card.

FreeMyApps’ gift card incentives.

How are you getting around the Apple ban on incentivised downloads?

First and foremost, Apple does not have a ban on incentivised marketing as a concept — that’s been around in many consumer-facing businesses for years. American Express Rewards is an example. Apple is against companies that “game” the App Store using bots (fake iPhone emulators running on servers and faking downloads). FreeMyApps has a passionate community of real iOS and Android users looking to discover great apps and games. This community is evident through FreeMyApps’ massive growth across its Facebook and Twitter communities.

Second, for iOS, FreeMyApps is a mobile Web HTML5 application, not an app in the App Store. And third, users are rewarded with credits that can be exchanged for iTunes and Google Play gift cards. This means that our solution pumps money back into the app ecosystem, as the gift cards are most often used to buy more apps or in-app purchases.

Why did you go down the incentivised route, rather than some of the other app discovery methods out there?

Rewards-based marketing is a foundation of building truly great B2C businesses. It’s a great way to get people to interact and try new things. Plus, it works. While the true long-term usage rates are lower than they are for organic users, the costs are also much lower, so the cost per loyal user is comparable or better, and when you consider the additional free organic downloads generated by a jump up the app store ranks, it truly delivers.

How viable is your platform for smaller, independent, devs on a budget?

The FreeMyApps platform is viable on independent developers’ smaller budgets, but to get the most out of it, app developers must be willing to spend upfront to climb the ranks, then continue campaigns at a smaller scale to maintain rank. FreeMyApps also supports developers who prefer to set a small daily budget for their campaigns.

Are you worried about the increasing competition in this area?

FreeMyApps is buoyed by a large, extremely engaged audience of 1.5+ million active monthly users, 120,000+ on Facebook, and 170,000+ on Twitter – the depth of that audience and organic growth is hard to replicate. That said, in just over a year of running FreeMyApps, we’ve seen several competitors disappear from the market. Companies that try and jump in underestimate the complexity and time it takes to build a truly rich discovery, engagement, and rewards platform that delivers results and gives developers virtually real-time reporting, as their marketing campaign is in process.

What can we expect from platforms in the next five years or so and what’s Fiksu’s plans?

We see app discovery evolving in the following ways:

  • Increased focus on social channels. Fiksu, the parent company of FreeMyApps, just announced a key initiative with Facebook as a mobile app marketing optimization partner.
  • Engagement. We are building out the platform to drive a deeper level of user engagement for our app publishers and developers.
  • Social sharing. Social sharing adds the ability to share a download or action with friends on social media channels, instead of just sharing a link to our site.

 Finally, do you have any advice/tips for developers looking to use app discovery platforms? Anything they should look out for?

Only use services with a reliable tracking solution and great reporting. We take data integrity very seriously here at FreeMyApps and Fiksu. Some platforms will claim installs delivered by other services, and some developers end up paying double for the same user – or worse, a user that did not even come through a paid mobile app marketing campaign.

App discovery app directory

AppPicker – iOS and iPad apppicker video app offering app reviews and app discovery

Game Finder – Mobile game discovery platform created by German company HitFox. Acts as a “quality filter” allowing users to search for only the best mobile games.

AppGratis – Focuses on giving users one free app per day. One of the more popular platforms out there, which recently received significant VC funding.

MagicSolver – Creator of Free App Magic. Also has a few seasonal themed-app discovery apps based around Valentines Day, Halloween, Christmas and other events.

AppDaria – The Leading App recommendation app in Latin America with localised apps for individual markets

FreeMyApps – App discovery platform from Fiksu. Allows users to earn iTunes gift cards as rewards for downloading free apps.

App Turbo – Another app discovery platform coming out of France with over 12m downloads of its app

AppFlow – App discovery app that first launched on Windows Phone and is now available on iPhone. Uses a unique visual UI to let users visually inspect.

Hubbl – App discovery platform that uses a space-themed interface to help users find apps. Takes its name from the Hubble Telescope.

Kinetik – Social platform that helps app consumers share apps and get recommendations via social networks. Also allows devs to connect with users and promote apps.

Discovr Apps – Discovr has a range of apps that help users disocver music, people, movies and other apps. Only available on iPhone at the moment.

Zwapp – iOS Platform that helps you find and share apps with your friends. Very social-orientated, lets you recommend apps to friends.

App Hero – Offers users personalised app recommendations based on interests and preferences. Also features a social aspect letting you see apps your friends have downloaded.

AppAware – Recommends a daily spread of Android apps for users. Also uses a friend system to recommend apps. Currently only on Google Play.

Playboard – Provides recommended apps and a personalised app store for users, letting you customise channels and see editorially handpicked apps daily. Android only.

Best Apps Market – Android-only apps market that focuses on the top free apps and games. Feature apps picked by reviewers and experts.

1Mobile Market – Android-based platform that focuses on free apps. Lets users find apps that interest them via a variety of categories. Doesn’t look like it offers much over Google Play.

AppDesTages – German app discovery platform that offers a new free app every day. Only on Google Play and only in German (but links to English apps).

App Freeway – iOS-only app discovery platform that showcases five leading apps weekly and delivers them to users for free. Developed by Kankado.

Free App Magic – Discovery app from UK developer Magic Solver. Available on App Store and Google Play.

App Free – Offers free paid apps and offers apps at discount prices. Also allows users to track apps to find out when they reduce in price or become free.

Apps Hits for iPad – Helps users find apps quickly by providing a more list-like user interface compared to the App Store. Lets you search by ranking and price.

Appbzr – Disovery platform that emphasises finding cheap apps and apps on sale. Searches for price drops every hour and provides personalised recommendations.

Appcast – Lets you search app store rankings across 62 countries and across iPhone/iPad/Top grossing/Top free categories.

App Deals – App discovery platform for Windows Phone users. Offers one free or reduced price (for a limited time) app per day.

Appiday – iOS discovery platform that aims to find discounted and free apps on a daily basis for users. Provides push notifications.

Appminer – App discovery platform from Bitrino. Constantly “mines” the App Store for price changes and deliver the cheapest deals to users. Also lets you set price targets.

App-o-day – iOS discovery platform that picks one app per day and negotiates a free deal for its users. Also offers early reviews on apps.

Appsfire – Platform for iOS and Android that lets developers promote their apps, boost engagement and increase their user base. Used by brands such as EA and Spotify.

AppsGoneFree – iOS discovery platform that filters the top rated apps and notifies users when they go on sale or become free. Also has an editorial team that reviews each app.

Appzapp – Another iOS app that aims to instantly inform users when another app goes on sale. Can notify via push or email.

Crosswa.lk – Discovery platform for iOS that lets users see what apps their friends are using, quickly rate apps and receive recommendations.

FreeAppFinder – App discovery platform from the German company RapdiRabbit Apps. Highlights whenever paid apps drop to free.

FreeAppTracker – Another platform that monitors when apps drop their price or go free. Lets you share deals via Facebook and Twitter.

FreeGamesDailyBestApp – Focuses on delivering a curated selection of free games on a daily basis and lets you track price drops. IOS only.

FreeAppADay – As the name suggest, platform that delivers one free app per day. Also features game reviews and trailers.

GameChannel – App discovery run by gaming platform OpenFeint. Highlights a variety of discounted and free games across the OpenFeint network.

BigFishGames – Discovery platform that highlights a variety of mobile game discounts. Available on both Android and iPhone.

HotAppFinder – Another discovery platform from RapidRabbit. This one gives users a detailed look at what apps are trending and generating the most downloads.

HotAppDeals – Monitors what apps have been recently made free and dropped in price. Also allows sharing deals via social platforms.

I Like Free Apps – Lets you check for the latest free apps on the App Store. Features daily updates to track price changes.

Kinetik – Focuses on delivering personalised recommendations based on your social network activity. Currently only on iOS.

MonsterFreeApps – Delivers daily free app deals to users. Says it saves its users over $60 per month in app fees.

Pandora Box – Lets you create favourite lists to track app prices and provides notifications whenever apps become free.

Tapjoy – Incentivised app download network that also has an app discovery web-app. Users get rewards for downloading apps and get daily deals and other offers.

OpenAppMkt – Android and iPhone-compatible market that distributes web-apps built in HTML5. Unlike the traditional 70/30 split, developers keep 80% of app sale revenue.

Biskero – Mobile content store that focuses on distributing Flash games and apps to mobile devices. Works primarily across Android and Nokia handsets.

Appolicious – Editorially-curated app directory that helps developers get their apps rated and discovered. In association with Yahoo.

AppCity – French app store that claims over 340 thousand users. Distributes apps across iPhone, Android and BlackBerry platforms.

Soci.i0 – Android-focused content store that provides apps, e-books (along with its own ebook reader), videos and music. Bills itself as an Android ‘mobile mall’.

1Mobile – Android app store that focuses mainly on games and claims over 60 thousand total apps.

AppBrain – App and website that helps users discover Android apps across the official Google Play store and other indie stores.

Tegra Store – App store run by graphics chip company Nvidia. Highlights videogames that are designed for use with Nvidia’s Tegra smartphone chip.

Amazon Appstore – Amazon’s app store has been remarkable popular since the company launched its Kindle Fire tablet device. Currently boasts over 30,000 apps, and claims a higher paid app download rate than Google Play.

MiKandi – Android-only app store that focuses on adult-themed applications.

AndroidPit – App store and website run by the Berlin-based Android website AndroidPit. Includes apps selected by editorial team.

That’s it for now – you can find more mobile app marketing services in our Mobile App Promotion Directory