CashForApps – not trying to take over the market, but taking a slice out with a focused strategy

At its core, CashForApps is a simple, unexciting venture. It is a mobile incentivized CPI (cost per impression) advertising application which rewards users for downloading apps. Or more simply, a user uses CashForApps to download apps, collects points per app downloaded, and then can redeem these points for gift cards. Yet, in this crowded marketspace, CashForApps is thriving because of a strong technical team, a focus on customer support and defined strategy.

The market that CashForApps is pursuing is a narrow one – specifically, younger (13-25 year old) mobile gaming enthusiasts located in the US, with some customers in Canada and Europe. Specifically, they target audiences of heavy-hitter mobile games such as ClashofClans. For gaming apps who want to reach more customers or gain traction quickly, they can pay companies such as CashForApps to incentivize users to download their games (assign a higher point value). A larger customer base leads to increased advertising revenue and in-app purchases for these mobile games, and paying CashForApps is an integral part of mobile games marketing budgets. As a result, there are a number of other companies within this space – this is definitely not a new market. These sort of incentivized advertising applications or websites have been in existence for years – in fact, Bing even offered a similar incentivized program to utilize their search engine in hopes of gaining more traction years ago.

So how does a company like CashForApps survive? They are positioned as the app with the highest payout and a focus on customer support. Additionally, the development team behind CashForApps is talented, with their developers working full-time as software developers for companies such as Microsoft. This allows for an overall app experience which is higher quality and less technically buggy, helping to build a more reputable name. So to differentiate themselves from other incentivized advertising apps, they have an overall higher quality product, which is also free, for users to try and download.

CashforApps also attracts customers with a focused marketing strategy. They primarily utilize prominent vloggers in the mobile gaming scene as mouthpieces to advertise for their specific app. They will pay these vloggers to mention their app in their daily or weekly vlogs. Additionally, there is a built-in referral system which uses unique codes. Specifically, when a new user signs up, they can enter a code. They receive points for using the code, and the referrer receives points when the person completes their first offer or download. This prevents abuse of the system by having self-referrals without downloads. These vloggers have been the primary marketing focus, but CashForApps also has a twitter and Instagram to engage with customers on social media. They work with media partners to distribute newsletters and will retweet ClashofClans related posts as well as occasionally run promotions or giveaways.

Ultimately, CashForApps is not a sexy, innovative app. However, they are a focused, technically sound team and have been growing steadily since their launch only a few months ago. By using their resources wisely, building a technically sound interface, positioning themselves well in the crowded market, and focusing on social marketing with a broad reach and good engagement such as vlogging, CashForApps is poised to continue their steady growth and increasing revenues.

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Blog #4

For this exercise, I started by visiting Amazon and browsing a couple tech gadgets, like gaming keyboards, mice, and headphones. I noticed that Amazon was very good at remembering my browsing history and had many suggestions of related products. However, when I went to Facebook, CNN, reddit, twitter and the NY Times, I didn’t have any ads whatsoever. Then, I realized I had Adblock installed, which blocked these ads. I disabled Adblock for the purpose of this assignment and wondered if my browsing data was still saved or if unrelated ads would pop up for me with Adblock removed.

Upon visiting Facebook, my ads were very targeted – but not to my browsing history for specific products. Instead, they targeted clothing shopping, which I receive e-mails for and browse some websites for. However, I never buy clothes on Amazon or other larger aggregate shopping websites, but rather either specific brand websites or smaller online clothing stores. As a result, the ads seem to be targeted but the information seems to be pulled from other sources, such as my e-mail or possibly my Facebook status history (posting/sharing about buying clothes). CNN, twitter, and NY times only seemed to have generic ads – pizza hut, home insurance and banking, which I never searched for online. Reddit has ads as well but for reddit-specific things, and does not seem targeted either. After a couple more hours, Facebook ads then began to update to my tech-gadget focused browsing from before, but no ads seem to be specifically targeted towards me.

Ross – super intelligent attorney

I’ve chosen “Ross” as my product – the tagline is a “super intelligent attorney”. According to the comments, Ross is actually a “digital legal expert” built on top of IBM’s Watson super computer (the one that was able to beat Jeopardy champions at Jeopardy). The the layman, law has always been needlessly complex, and thus the extremely lucrative (at times) but extremely expensive legal profession was born. A digital attorney could help change the legal and even civil landscape dramatically – allowing a cheaper, more convenient access to an attorney which could dramatically help disadvantaged populations who are unable to afford a high quality lawyer. Of course there are a number of liability issues with a digital attorney but the product is surely compelling.

As a result, the bloggers I would contact are:

@jeffrichardson
New Orleans attorney and publisher of iPhone J.D. My tweets are mostly iPhone news and tips. You can also follow @iphonejd.

@KurzweilAINews (Ray Kurzweil)
KurzweilAI (http://kurzweilai.net ) is a newsletter/blog covering nano-bio-info-cogno-cosmic breakthroughs in accelerating intelligence

Proskauer Rose LLP (Proskauer, does privacy law blogging)
@proskauer
Proskauer, founded in 1875, is a global law firm providing a broad range of legal services to clients worldwide

Exo: “the future of protein”

Exo is a maker of insect protein products, specifically focusing on using cricket protein/flour to make protein bars. Their major online channel appears to be their website; from their website, they have a webstore to purchase the protein bars, a mailing list popup, coupons and friend referral tools, and an updated blog as well as educational content to inform consumers of the origins of Exo as well as the benefits of insect protein. They also have a Facebook page, and a twitter profile, but these each only have a few thousand followers. One important note is that they also ran a successful Kickstarter page to raise over $50,000 to start their company to produce cricket-flour based protein bars.

Their position in the market seems to be targeted towards forward-thinking, health and eco conscious consumers who probably have a bit more disposable income. They sell boxes of protein bars for $36, and each box comes with 12 bars for a price of $3/bar with free shipping. While this price point is a little steeper than typical sugary candies and snacks, they offer free shipping and a plethora of coupons, especially if you are able to refer friends. The pricing is on par with higher end organic protein bars, such as cliff bars.

Since Exo is such a unique product, it must communicate a value proposition which can overcome the barrier of eating insects for sustenance. However, by using insect protein, they are able to create a protein product which is as healthy as most other meat-based proteins; more protein per serving, with more or comparable fat levels. To be honest, there doesn’t seem to be a demonstrable health benefit, however there is true value in the environmental impact of using cricket flour. They cite statistics such as 20x more efficient to use crickets as a protein source than cattle. So, with a product that can at least rival the nutritional benefits of traditional meats but is far more sustainable, Exo’s value proposition is a edible protein bar that does not contribute to ecological destruction associated with using other types of protein, such as meat or dairy.

Along these lines, I think Exo is somewhat successful communicating this to their target audience. They were able to surpass their Kickstarter funding goal of $20,000 and raised nearly $60,000 total from their campaign. Clearly, there are consumers who value the idea of sustainable insect protein enough to donate money to their Kickstarter campaign. They also have a very snappy packaging and labeling, as well as website design and layout which will probably appeal to their target demographic. However, they only have a few thousand likes on their Facebook page, a few thousand Twitter followers, and they do not have many journal updates on their website. They seem to be actively taking orders and presumably shipping their product, but there does not seem to be much more buzz from the company since their Kickstarter campaign and a couple articles.

Indi – Integrated Diagnostics, Inc

Indi (Integrated Diagnostics, Inc.) is a life sciences/medical diagnostics company which specializes in non-invasive diagnostics for healthcare professionals. Specifically, Indi specializes in assessing lung nodule health for the screening of lung cancer. As a bioengineer who works closely with healthcare professionals as well as runs diagnostic assays for life sciences research, Indi’s product (Xpress Lung) would be an assay that I would use in the lab or clinic. Indi is also #189 on the Geekwire 200. Indi is an interesting company because it is business-to-business. Thus, the market for Indi diverges a fair amount from any consumer-focused business and instead is very specific to healthcare professionals and research institutions.

As Indi is specializing in making more accurate assessments of lung cancer, the existing market is the current standard of care. This includes Positron Emission Tomography (PET), bronchoscopy, biopsy, and surgery. Each of these requires the services of a specialized professional and not always in the same location or business. For instance, PET may be performed at a dedicated lab or clinic as it requires specialized equipment, bronchoscopy can be performed by a physician at nearly any location, biopsies are often analyzed by independent labs outside of the clinic but can be in-house as well, and surgeries must be performed at a hospital and sometimes by a different specialist. As a result, Indi is complementary but also competitive with each of these business and markets. However, very few doctors would ever just use one test to determine lung cancer, so although Indi’s Xpress Lung could in theory supplant one or more of these tests, unless the diagnostic power is far superior (which is possible), likely Indi would be a complementary player in this market.

When a nodule is found, a specialist must confirm whether or not the nodule is cancerous or not. The target use is very specific – lung cancer diagnostics. Indi’s primary user would be a doctor or specialist. However, purchasing for doctors is often handled by the clinic or hospital and further must be FDA approved and accepted by insurance companies are reimbursable (which is in part determined by Medicare). So Indi’s customers and markets would actually be clinics and insurance companies – they must demonstrate value to insurance companies and market to clinics and hospitals. It is less clear who Indi is going after, however. There is not an easy way to order any test, but the benefits are structured to be appealing to doctors. Thus, Indi may seek to gain traction by winning the support of doctors and physicians and then targeting insurance companies once reimbursement strategy is determined.