Microsoft announced today a new SDK to help monetize your Windows Phone apps. This SDK, called Ad Mediator allows you to integrate multiple ad providers into your app. We all know that PubCenter has not been performing well, even Microsoft. So, the tools team built this SDK to help developers easily earn money through ads. This is not a new concept. Windows Phone has had the AdRotator control for some time.
Advantages of using Ad Medator
The Ad Mediator will cycle between any of the ad providers that you configure. You are not guaranteed to get 100% fill rate. You are not guaranteed to get high eCPM. But you are guaranteed that if one provider does not have an ad, another provider will be used.
Installing and using the SDK
I’m not going to go over this topic except to say to follow the documentation online.
I found that there are some things you need to be careful of.
- You must download and install the ad provider SDKs before configuring Ad Mediator. You do not need to download the SDKs for PubCenter, AdDuplex, Smaato, or Inneractive. These are available as NuGet packages and Ad Mediator will install them fine. For all other providers, download the SDK and manually reference the assembly.If you do not, you will see this dialog with configuring.
- You must add the required capabilities to the manifest file. Ad Mediator will not modify your manifest file. If you do not add the required capabilities your app will crash when Ad Mediator tells the provider to get an ad.
- Some ad providers take time to validate your account or app. You will not be able to see ads until this is complete.
- Some providers require a link to download your app. You will not be able to see ads until this is complete.
Ad Mediator works great for Windows Phone Silverlight apps. For Windows Phone Runtime (XAML) apps, only three providers are supported.
- Refresh rates must be between 60 – 120 seconds. This is just silly. If I want my ad to change at 30 or 45 seconds, I should be able to.
- You have to add the control to your page from the toolbox and drag it onto the designer.
- You can only configure the rate of ads shown per provider through Dev Center. You will not be able to test failover or % fill while testing
- You will only see test ads when running in the emulator.
- Dev Center seems to have hard coded values for percent distribution. Here’s the problem. I uploaded an app with five providers. One of those I only want to use as a back up and the others 25% each to try them out. 25% is not an option. I can choose 20 and I can choose 30, but nothing in between. These values may change based on the number of ad providers you configure. So if you configure three, maybe 33% is an option. However these numbers are set, it needs to change to allow for equal distribution in these cases.
- When you update your app after you have already added Ad Mediation, you have to set the distribution again! You’d think this would keep the values.
I recently found out about some great sites that are available to help you build a brand for you app. These sites allow you to build a color palette or get custom fonts that help brand the app you are building. This is only a small list and if you know about others, please add a comment.
Again, if you know of more resources, please add a comment below!
I have been responding to user reviews since the day it went live for all publishers
This was my first response to a user, and it worked!
Responding to user reviews has been positive for me. I wanted to share a few of the positive results with everyone.
Matt responded to my email saying the 1 star rating was an oversight and updated his review
There was a day when an app stopped getting information from services and some people reviewed the app poorly because it wasn’t working. These reviews were valid because the app stopped working. I was able to fix the issue and responded to users.
And like most developers I was effected by the In App Purchase bug the store had in September. Again users started posting poor reviews. Once again I was able to reply to these reviews.
There are many examples of users updating their response during this event and I am so glad I have the capability to respond to users when things like this happen!
Unfortunately I am not able to get a response from every user that I contact. Users will reply or update their review if they feel you have actually tried. And there are plenty of examples of users who did not update their app.
There are a lot more examples where users do not update apps and I’m ok with that. I still have the ability to contact users and maybe they will update their review. For me, this feedback mechanism has been very positive and I encourage everyone to use it.
Check out the email that is sent to the user when you respond to them.
Some time ago Microsoft announced that all app publishers to the Windows Phone Store had the ability the respond to users reviews of their apps. Many publishers have taken advantage of this functionality and many have not. Responding to reviews is simple. All you need to do is log into DevCenter, check out the reviews of your app(s) and respond to any that you wish.
You can respond to negative reviews or positive reviews. I like to respond to any user that has rated my app three stars or less. I want to know why a user thinks the app is only a 1-3 star app and ask how they think I can improve the app. If they provided a reason for the 1-3 star rating I’ll try to clarify any confusion there may be.I also like to respond to any user asking for a particular piece of functionality. I will tell the user that what they are asing for is either in progress, will be worked on next, or will be taken into account for future work.
One thing I kept on wondering was: “How is my feedback being delivered to the user?” Some users would reply to me and some users would not. Some users would reply within a couple of days and some would take weeks. To test this out I reviewed one of my apps with my normal Microsoft ID (my publisher Microsoft ID is different from my day to day ID).
When the review came into DevCenter I quickly replied.
I hit send and within a couple of minutes I had a new email from Microsoft!
I was amazed. The email was sent immediately. I was thinking that maybe it would go out the next day (I had replied to the review around 9pm) or maybe within a couple of days. I was surprised when the response came immediately. I was mostly surprised due to lack of responses from users. It took days to get a response from users (if they replied at all).
The email that users receive contains your support email address from DevCenter so there no need to put this into your response. This hasn’t stopped me from always including my support email anyways. I want users to know that I want them to contact me. The email also encourages users to change their response. This is pretty cool if you are responding to a user that rated your app poorly. They can also flag you, the developer, as abusing this form of feedback. We have seen cases were publishers were flagged by a user when they probably should not have been. This could have been confusion on the part of the user or the developer. Make sure that what you respond is not a canned response. Try to put some thought into it.
Check out the power of responding to user reviews.