iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

In a previous post, I talked about how to set up Apple’s new iAd Workbench, which can be the tool that indie developers and designers are looking for to get more exposure to their apps. In this post, I am going to talk about my own initial marketing efforts and show you my actual sales numbers. I will then show you all the numbers and charts from my iAd Workbench campaign performance results and provide my own analysis.

Launch Marketing Efforts

In addition to running an iAd Workbench campaign, I promoted Badminton TV using several other channels in which I can reach my target audience.

Badminton Central Forum

I have been a long time member on this forum and read a lot of posts, but I’ve never really contributed much to forum discussions. After I released Badminton TV, I just started a thread to announce its availability. The announcement includes the app icon, the App Store logo, the best two screenshots, and links to a dedicated page and announcement post on my blog. A few people immediately responded with good feedback and I wrote back.

BadmintonCentral 768x1024 iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

I also posted an API request graph to show its popularity on the third day to try to get more people interested.

API Requests 2013 06 11 to 2013 06 13 1024x380 iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

Badminton Thoughts Blog

Since I really wanted to test iAd Workbench as soon as possible, I had to push the release date at least a week earlier than I would have liked. So I hastily put together a dedicated page for Badminton TV with just a few paragraphs, app icon, the App Store badge, all the screenshots I had uploaded to the App Store. I also added the app icon in the sidebar so that it is visible on every page in the blog.

I figured I should also write an announcement post for regular readers to get the news. It is similar to the dedicated page, except I included fewer screenshots and altered the copywriting. I also included a link to the dedicated page for people who want more information before they decide to download the app.

Announcement Post 988x1024 iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

Facebook

I played in a few local badminton clubs and am a member in a couple Facebook groups. I have been posting new articles from my blog to these groups for several months. So, as usual, I posted the announcement post for Badminton TV to these two Facebook groups. Club members with an iPhone or iPad can therefore download the app.

Facebook Group iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

I also asked a local official Yonex dealer to post a link to Badminton TV in his company’s Facebook page. I bought stuff from him before and he is the Yonex guy to go to in this area.

Supreme Sports Supply iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

Twitter

I didn’t use Twitter much at all because very few badminton players are Twitter savvy, or even tech savvy. I just don’t see a lot of conversions for the amount of effort I need to put in there. My announcement post was already auto-tweeted when it was published in WordPress. I also tweeted an API request graph to show its popularity in an attempt to make it appealing to potential users, and again after I added videos for a recently completed tournament.

iTunes Connect Sales Data

I created a Sales user in iTunes Connect and used App Annie to pull sales data from iTunes Connect. I found App Annie provides a better UI to extract useful information than iTunes Connect itself.

Let’s first look at the actual sales numbers for Badminton TV in the first week. Total number of downloads is 314 from 6/11 to 6/18. As expected, most sales occurred during the first day when it was launched due to the initial marketing effort and the newness in the App Store. Sales then slowed down. There was a spike over the weekend because I added the videos for the semifinals and finals for the Indonesia Open and posted about it in the Badminton Central thread. People wanted to watch matches after they had just concluded.

Sales by Day iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

Badminton is not a popular sport in the US, so I expected there would be a lot of sales outside the US. It turns out to be the case. If you look at the sales chart and table below, you can see the US still has the most sales. I believe this is because the US market is simply the largest iOS market in the world by far. Sales are then dominated by the badminton crazy countries in Asia and Europe. This is not surprising.

Sales by Country Chart iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

Sales by Country Table 824x1024 iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

iAd Workbench Performance

If you want a quick glance at my iAd Workbench numbers, here is the summary for the overall performance.

Summary 1024x138 iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

My iAd Workbench campaign starts on 6/11, so I started to accumulate Spend on 6/11 for a total of $74.66 (lower than my initial maximum budget of $100.00). However, the Spend doesn’t approach the Daily Spend Goal of $12.50 until 6/14. I suspect this is due to timezone difference. From 6/14 to 6/18, my Spend hovers around my Daily Spend Goal of $12.50 pretty consistently.

Spend iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

The following shows the number of impressions I got every day.

Impressions iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

The following shows the number of taps I got every day. I can see there is a correlation between Spend and Taps. It seems that the more I spend on a day, the more taps I get. I didn’t spend up to $12.50 the first 2 days of my campaign, so I got fewer taps.

Taps iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

My campaign generated 0 downloads, so it is 0 every day.

Downloads iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

I used CPA for my campaign. Since there is 0 download, the CPA also remains $0.00.

Avg CPA iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

This is interesting. I didn’t use CPC, but CPC remains relatively flat at around $0.40. It isn’t $0.00.

Avg CPC iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

TTR stands for Tap Through Rate. It is calculated from dividing Taps by Impressions. Taps remain relatively flat after the first 2 days, but impressions were lower on 6/14 and 6/17. Hence the TTR is higher on those 2 days.

TTR iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

Except the first 2 days, there isn’t much correlation between Spend and Impressions.

Spend and Impressions iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

However, it seems the more money I spend, the more taps I got.

Spend and Taps iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

There isn’t much correlation between Spend and TTR just like Spend and Impressions.

Spend and TTR iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

The following chart shows that number of Impressions does not translate to number of Taps. It seems my campaign is more cost effective on 6/14 and 6/17.

Impressions and Taps iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

Again, the TTR is higher on 6/14 and 6/17, compared to number of Impressions.

Impressions and TTR iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

I am not sure if it makes any sense to compare Taps against TTR, but here it is.

Taps and TTR iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

The following table shows my daily numbers.

All the Numbers iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

I got an iAd Customer Billing Notification email from Apple on 6/17 telling me I will be charged $62.23.

Credit Card Charge iAd Workbench Campaign Performance Analysis

Analysis and Hypothesis

Let’s first compare the actual iAd Workbench campaign performance with the performance estimated by Apple when I set the budget:

Actual Estimated Does actual match expected?
Impressions 765,378 790,000
Taps 1,885 2,400
Downloads  0 118
TTR 0.25% 0.30%

The TTR is calculated by dividing the number of taps by the number of impressions.

  • Actual TTR: 1,885 / 765,378 = 0.25%
  • Estimated TTR: 2,400 / 790,000 = 0.30%

The actual number of Impressions and Taps seem to match or exceed the expected numbers. However, the TTR falls short but it isn’t too bad compared to number of Downloads. iAd Workbench simply does not generate downloads. This is hugely disappointing as I just spent $74.66 to acquire 0 users.

It can be argued that iAd Workbench is rather new and Apple can and may tweak things to improve the performance, but I don’t know how much they can increase from 0 downloads. Maybe people have become ads-averse even on iOS devices that they develop an instinct to skip ads. But if the number of taps are accurate, people do tap on my iAd banner but they just don’t download them. Maybe people were made aware of my app but decided to download it at a later time due to various reasons. There isn’t enough information to tell the whole story. In short, Apple’s audience targeting estimator works well for Impressions and Taps, falls a little short for TTR, and simply does not generate sales or Downloads.

Several things from this data also jump out at me as questionable:

  • Apple seems to push my Spend up to my Daily Spend Goal of $12.50 regardless of how many Impressions, Taps, and Downloads my app gets. It feels like I was telling Apple how much and often I want them to charge my credit card, and they do a good job of that but does not deliver the most important result which is user acquisitions.
  • I spent only $0.10 on 6/11, the first day of my campaign. But I set it up on 6/11. So it didn’t get to run for the full day.
  • 2,557 Impressions for $0.10 isn’t too bad of a deal, although I only got 2 taps from it.
  • It takes some time (3 days) for the campaign to ramp up.
  • Average CPA stays at $0.00 throughout the campaign simply because iAd acquires 0 users for my app. Does it mean I should not get charged at all?
  • I chose CPA but got 0 downloads, so I do not understand why I got charged my Daily Spend Goal of around $12.50 when my cost of acquisitions is infinity (divided by 0!). I am going to contact Apple to ask about this. I will follow up here in my blog when I get a response.
  • Average CPC is $0.04. I thought it would be $0.00 because I chose the CPA option. Why is my CPC non-zero when I choose to use CPA for my campaign?

Things missing from iAd Workbench that I wish it has:

  • There is no data as to which apps my iAd was shown. Also, I don’t know the age group of my impressions. For instance, I wouldn’t want to show my iAd to kids who use their parents’ iPads to play puzzle games. If Apple can provide more insights into this data, it would be tremendously helpful to find tune campaigns to achieve better results.
  • Badminton is not a popular sports in the US. iAd Workbench initially reaches only the 50 states in the US. If iAd Workbench was able to target potential users outside the US, I imagine it would help me to get more taps and maybe downloads. From 6/11 to 6/18, there were 45 downloads in the US but 269 downloads outside the US.
  • When you tap an iAd, it shows your app in a special page within the hosting app. The users can tap the Download button but they are asked for the App Store password. They then need to find their passwords from 1Password or whatever. That is too much of an obstacle. They may also think they can’t see the iAd anymore, so they just search for it in the App Store and download it there. If Apple can simplify this process, it will be easier for users to download apps from seeing an iAd.
  • Finally, I am sure everyone would love it if Apple tells us how users find our apps. Is it from search in the App Store? What are our top referral links? What is the demographics of searches? What keywords do they search for?

What’s next?

I contacted the Apple iAd team with the following questions and hope to hear from them soon. I will post an update when I do.

  • I chose CPA and set it to $0.83. Why is my Avg. CPC $0.40?
  • The campaign generated 0 download, so my Avg. CPA is $0.00. However, my Spend is $74.66. How can this be?
  • Why does it take 3 days for the Daily Spend to match my Daily Spend Goal of $12.50?
  • I am very disappointed at the performance of my iAd Workbench campaign. Am I doing something wrong? Is there anything Apple or I can do to improve the performance?
  • Can you provide more insights into the data such as which apps show my iAd, the demographics who saw and tapped my iAd?

Update: 2013-06-25

I received a reply from someone in the iAd Sales team at Apple today, but the email was very brief:


Hi Raymond,

The CPA that you entered is a CPA goal. We will optimize towards this goal, but you will pay based on CPC, determined by the auction. You might consider increasing your campaign’s CPC or CPA bid to be more competitive in the marketplace. For useful resources on optimizing your iAd campaign, please refer to iAd Workbench Help > Tips for Creating Successful Campaigns: http://help.apple.com/iadworkbench/

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

So the CPA Goal is simply a ‘goal’ – a goal that you pay after a download is acquired. For those of you that have non-zero downloads, would you mind share your numbers? We are still charged for CPC (in my case the CPC of $0.04 is calculated for me. CPC ($0.04) x Taps (1,885) = $75.40 ~ $74.66) regardless of whether we choose CPC or CPA. It feels like whatever we set as our Daily Spend Goal, Apple will charge that amount, even if we get 0 downloads. I’ve read the help multiple times, but I read it again and it says:

For example, if your goal is to achieve the highest number of downloads for the lowest budget, you can set cost-per-acquisition (CPA) goals to make sure your ad dollars are generating new customers. On the other hand, if your goal is simply to increase awareness of your app in the App Store, you can use cost-per-click (CPC) bidding to ensure the money you spend reaches an extensive audience and brings a high volume of users to view your app.

It is kind of misleading because it gives the impression that you will be charged your CPA Goal for each download, but that isn’t the case. The rest of that page basically says test, test, test your campaign to maximize its effectiveness. However, it is hard for us indies to test, test, test, when the initial effectiveness is 0.

The reply I got did not answer my other questions in my original email. I hope Apple will give us indies more help and data to get more exposure and downloads for our apps. If not, I think iAd Workbench is just a different medium for big companies to spend their ad dollars.

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23 Comments

  1. Dan June 21, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    WOW!!! I am very disappointed with the “Download” results.. I am still waiting for my app to be reviewed as I went with a custom banner.

    I chose $100 just like you did and set up my targets… @ .50 CPA I was showing an estimated downloads of 222 I believe it was… Today, As it is still pending review… the campaign shows I will receive 2 downloads with the estimations… Maybe they figured out their download threshold guesses were way wrong…

    I am looking for downloads.. and to spend $100 dollars for people to see my ad or click on it, but no acquisition is very disappointing!

    • Raymond Law June 24, 2013 at 12:49 am #

      From 222 to 2 is pretty drastic. If the download numbers don’t start to continue, I am really worried about the fate of iAd. If the numbers are accurate, we are getting many impressions and a reasonable amount of taps. We are also using Apple’s banner designs. Unless all our apps suck (which can’t be the case, right?), Apple needs to step up to get developers more downloads. Maybe the app info shown after tapping needs a redesign? Maybe those taps are 99% accidental?

  2. indie June 23, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    I just had a similar zero download experience with iAd Workbench. I have a $0.99 puzzle game. I ran a banner ad that included text stating the price, so that people clicking through wouldn’t be expecting a free app. Before pausing the campaign, my numbers were $20 spend, 160k impressions, 630 taps, zero downloads. Pretty disappointing.

    • Raymond Law June 24, 2013 at 12:53 am #

      Including the price in the iAd text is an interesting idea. But it does not seem to affect your impressions and taps much, if at all. You would think 1 person out of 630 would think your game is worth paying for, right? I got 0 downloads out of 1,885 taps, for a free app. The thing that really bugs me now is we are still being charged our daily spend goal even when we acquire 0 users…

      • Vinu July 11, 2013 at 4:55 am #

        Raymond, could possibly share the banner details here? Very well written post. I just tried it for the first day and it was a disappointment.

  3. Jeff johnson June 24, 2013 at 9:26 am #

    Apple has failed miserably with this initial release of iAd workbench. My advice is to stay far away and use other marketing channels until they clean this mess up.

    I had exactly the same experiences.

    • Vinu July 11, 2013 at 4:54 am #

      What are the other marketing channels?

  4. Dan June 25, 2013 at 6:55 am #

    STILL PENDING REVIEW!!!! I asked Apple a few questions via the Contact Page as to why I am still pending, and why the number estimation changes..

    I will keep everyone posted!

  5. Darren Jones June 26, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

    Boy am I glad it wouldn’t take my payment details.
    Payments from US addresses only.
    Seems to have been a lucky escape.

  6. Victor November 2, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    Perhaps the plunge from 222 down to 2 has to do with Apple initially expecting indies to have marketing expertise they have, when in reality we don’t. Oops. I wonder what happens when a professional marketeer designs a campaign. I will also mention that my 2 year old granddaughter has learned how to accurately dismiss in-app purchases and ignore banner ads. When’s the last time YOU tapped on a banner ad?

    • Raymond November 26, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

      Hi Victor,

      I don’t think a professional marketer can do anything to get results much differently. If she has a large budget, she may be able to garner more impressions and clicks that translate to downloads. My 4 year old girl also learned how to avoid ads on her iPad. However, ads pop up very creatively nowadays, so even I accidentally click on them sometimes. But IMHO, these accidental clicks do not really translate to downloads. They only contribute to frustrations especially when they open Safari. I think these advertisers are paying for nothing.

  7. Júlia November 14, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    Hi Raymond. Thank you very much for your very useful tips. The problem is, given that iAd Workbench seems not to be of great benefit for us developers; where else would you advertise your App for iOs? I do tap on banners, maybe because I am peer sensitive and I understand how important it is for us to be seen , at least, considered and valued. But if their system does not work, and our Marketing knowledge is the average, and our budgets are not Coca-cola’s … where can we go?

    Thank you all and you Raymond, specially.

    • Raymond November 26, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

      Hi Julia,

      That is a question all indie iOS developers want to know too :) You definitely want to find out if there is a market for your idea before you even write the first code of line. For Badminton TV, it is a very niche idea targeted specifically to badminton fanatics who care to watch professional matches and improve their own skills. I also know many players and friends who watch matches frequently. I knew there is a market (even if the app started out to be free) before I dove in. Once I built a large enough audience, I can then experiment with charging an up-front price, varying the price, mixing in-app purchases, and other in-app upgrades. It is a lot of work and experiments and takes time.

  8. Tomasz December 4, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    I am now trying iAd network, previously I used facebook but it was total disaster, iAd is interesting because you can measure real downloads, or at least you can try to do it:D

  9. meme December 19, 2013 at 7:03 am #

    Numbers rounded to protect the guilty:

    I spent $7.50 for 550,000 impressions, 50 taps and 5 downloads.
    Average CPA $1.48. CPC bid and CPA goal $0.37.

    I then spent $30 for 2,000,000 impressions, 2,000 taps and 9 downloads.
    Average CPA $3.50. CPC bid and CPA goal $0.25.

    Right now if I set up a new campaign it suggests if I have a CPC bid and CPA goal of $1 I will get 800,000 impressions, 2,700 taps and zero downloads. And if I set a CPC bid and CPA goal bid of $2 I will get 400,000 impressions, 1,300 taps and 1 downloads. And if I set a CPC bid and CPA goal of $4 I will get 200,000 impressions, 700 taps and 2 downloads. And if I set a CPC bid and CPA goal bid of $8 I will get 100,000 impressions, 300 taps and 4 downloads.

    So both my real-life experience and the workbench estimates suggest that higher CPC/CPA bids will result in more downloads. Of course, my results could just be an aberration.

  10. Franck December 31, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    Yes it seems that advertising with iAd Workbench is a lost of time and money. Until now, the best way to get downloads for me is using Facebook campaigns. But it is still expensive : 0.26$ a click minimum . Hope one day, there will be a REAL way to advertise with profitability

  11. Sameer January 23, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    Is there a way to schedule a time for the ads? I just started a campaign and all impressions were done at 12 am (UTC) within a few seconds. Is there a way to control that or specify what times we want the ads to go out?

    • Raymond January 23, 2014 at 11:46 pm #

      Hi Sameer,

      As far as I know, there is no way to control when and how long you want your ads to be shown. If there is, it would be interesting for Internet and app ads to have these ‘prime time’ periods for premium ads a.k.a Super Bowl ads. But who can afford!?

      • Jonathan Goldfinger, MD, MPH, FAAP April 23, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

        We just found specific time options when first creating the iAd. So yeah, you can do it based on times, but times won’t matter if users tapping ads is more error than intent–which I believe they are.

  12. Sam February 9, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    Thanks for such a great post.
    I learned few things from this post and basically decided not to advertise.
    I had some fears of spending money for no real return and by reading this post, i can say that my fears were true!

    I develop games and the quality of games have grown to be close enough to big shot companies.
    I started making games right after the first release of the iPhone, and dove really hard into learning the business.
    At first, it was really beneficial, maybe first two years. You get very good exposure and lots of downloads, which resulted in good revenue. In the third year, things started to shift a bit, so a release of a new game, does not necessarily translate in good revenue. Fourth year, tons of games are being made, spamming the App Store with name spams, shiny icon spams and so forth. The game basically gets around one to three days exposure, which results in around 2000 downloads and no revenue basically, then it dies and goes to the apps graveyard.

    It became a very hard field to earn money from, even with very hard work and top skills. It’s more of a big shot companies only field now.

    I suggest that you find a better career. Even though i love making games, am thinking seriously to change career.

  13. Chris April 17, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    Hi Raymond,

    I really appreciate the time you took to create this article. Its been extremely hard to find an article based on iAD performance from an advertisers point of view.

    Out of interest, where did you find the estimated figures, i cannot see this anywhere in the dashboard.

    Thanks.

    • Jonathan Goldfinger, MD, MPH, FAAP April 23, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

      Hi All,

      We just read this after starting our iAd account. We’ve had varied experience with facebook > google Adwords > nothing. So we figured we’d give iAd a chance. It seems that iAd doesn’t provide returns in terms of downloads, which is the whole point, and I think I know why.

      Facebook ads allow you to target users based on their “likes” and interests. iAd is using VERY broad categories of interest like “Health” and “Lifestyle”. I can’t get a breastfeeding mom who needs support to download my detailed app latchME, just out of that vague a user-base. Plus I think iTunes and Apple’s entertainment channels have always been big flops (I never use them), compared to facebook.

      We’ll watch this ad for a few days then cancel based on your experience. THANKS SO MUCH FOR SHARING!

      Jon

      PS: Badminton TV is a GREAT idea! Keep it up. :)
      PPS: If something sorely needed by mothers and less niche like latchME doesn’t get downloads on iAd (we have thousands off facebook), iAd is clearly not worth advertising on.

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