The practice of incentivising app downloads, a tactic used by developers to boost their download chart rankings, may result in downloads but won’t deliver engaged users according to data on app usage in the US from mobile ad startup Pontiflex.

The research found that 21% of smartphone owning participants downloaded an app due to an incentive, which is usually offered via social games in exchange for virtual currency or other items.

Of these, 79% hardly used or deleted the app, while only 3% said they used the app often.

The practice is rife on Google’s Android operating system in the US, but has been cracked down on by Apple who argued that developers were using the promotions to distort App Store rankings.

According to Oliver Palmer, head of innovation at Tigerspike, the practice hasn’t been hugely popular in Australia but may become a problem on the Android platform as developers exploit methods for stimulating download of their apps.

“Because Android is less secure it is easier for these things to get through, however, the community tends to police the Android store quite well,” Palmer says.

Source: http://blog.pontiflex.com/2011/12/13/harrisinteractivesurveyresults/

 

Results posted on Pontiflex’s blog also found only 12% of US smartphone owners and 24% of tablet owners prefer to pay for apps and not see any advertisements.

However, the user experience of in-app advertising was also noted as critical to its success. Fifty-seven percent of smartphone owners and 50% of tablet owners prefer free apps with ads that keep them within the app, rather than a disruptive experience that pulls them to a mobile browser.

And most are not receptive to mobile video advertising as a way to keep apps free, with only 7% of smartphone users who have downloaded free apps and 15% of tablet users who have downloaded free apps preferring commercial/video ads that force them to watch a video. One third of smartphone and tablet owners who download free apps are concerned that mobile video ads will increase the cost of their service plan.

According to the Guardian, incentive download services, run by startups such as Tapjoy and Flurry, work by charging the developer a per install fee, which they share with the developers of apps hosting the offers.

According to Palmer, “The trends for in-app mobile advertising will be to take a more creative approach to make the ad part of experience rather than an interruption.”

 

The Pontiflex/ Harris Interactive survey was conducted in November 2011, with more than 2,800 U.S. adults asked questions about their attitudes towards mobile advertising.