Target your own “target market”

There are some great Ad controls around (AdDuplex springs to mind) that can maximise your coverage across all App types across the store.  But what if you have targeted a specific target market with a whole suite of your own Apps?  How can you maximise Ad coverage of these Apps to your target market?  One way is to create a simple Ad control like the one shown here.  NB I place mine immediately below the standard Ad Control so that it only appears when a Microsoft – sourced Ad is unavailable (note that there are more sophisticated ways of doing this but I have found that this simple method serves my purpose)

I created a simple user control with the following XAML layout:


Then I created some 600×300 images that represent the Ads I want to serve and added them to the images folder of my project:



(expect the above designs to change as I play!)


The Code Behind of the UserControl uses the Random function to select a different image every time it is loaded:


My thinking here was to create a quick (and some would say dirty) user control in order to test out the basic concept. 

(Should it prove to show promise I may well spend more time on the control, – perhaps making it cloud based and ad admin configurable.)


NB You can see the above control in action in “Vantage Point” downloadable here:

Cultivating Good Feedback


So after working on an App for several years (the content is the greater part) I got myself frazzled in an effort to reach the store before the XMAS rush.  I was later than I wanted to be but made it just in time for the holiday period.  A couple of early January revisions ensured that the App is ‘as good as it can be’ at this early stage of it’s evolution.

Feedback is always an important part of any apps initial gestation and I did the usual job of encouraging friends and family to commit their positive thoughts.  I then gave this process a little more thought before posting this review myself:

Authors Note

I want this app to be awesome! Please feedback any negative criticism to me directly at I will take your feedback on board and do my best to make future versions better! If you like the App please rate it with 5 stars – a high rating is a great motivator and will result in free upgrades to this App in the future! “”



I figure it might help reviewers realise that there is a real person behind the App, passionate about wanting to make the app as good as it can possibly be …

Better than Sex and Oprah Winfrey …

… but not as hot as Windows 8?


After just a week in the store ‘Learn Piano’ has managed to climb to the fourth position in the Windows Store Lifestyle category putting it above the Kama sutra and Oprah!

In terms of downloads this app has now had a little over 2,000.  What makes this surprising is it has done this with no marketing support (other than this blog) and has not been featured in the store at this point. Of course 2,000 apps is a relatively low number for an App in general terms, but when you consider that this is a ‘niche’ app  in what might be considered one of the minor categories it bodes well for independent developers.  (Independent developers frequently don’t have the resources or clout to launch any kind of worthwhile marketing effort around their apps)


The store also provides some basic demographics, here showing that the App has been mainly downloaded by ages 22-40 in the USA and UK (as might have been expected)



DOWNLOAD ‘Learn Piano’ for Windows 8


Now reached number 3 in ‘lifestyle’ and steadying out at just under 500 downloads per day.

Your Apps: How to succeed in the Windows Store

So early days but so far the signs are that I am not getting my Apps into the hands of the users as effectively as I would like.  How so?  Check out some of the metrics available from Microsoft for your apps:

First the good news: when I manage to get this App into the hands of users they are using it more than the average for other news apps:


Then the bad news, I’m getting less downloads than I would like.  So this got me thinking.  I have written about the value of promotion before and there is a lot you can do.  But here is what you should be aiming for as far as the Windows store is concerned:

1. Get your App featured in the Spotlight section!


2. Get you App featured in it’s own category section in the store:


3. Get your App up there in the ‘Top free Apps’ section:


So the big question.  How do you go about achieving the above?  First of all look at providing effective graphics for the store to use.  Take real time out doing this or you probably won’t get off first base!  Here are the graphics I have provided for my own App ‘Live Tile News’:

(I am particularly proud of the last image that brings all the semantically zoomed categories together to look like a British rocket!)

Here are some more that I provided for ‘Live Tile Browser’

I really like the effectiveness of the colours and the association with Windows Phone (which is what this App is all about)

But the real answer to the question is one that I cannot answer.  I figure a part of it must be letting ‘whoever makes these decisions’ that you are keen to do what it takes to get your own App featured!  (and correspondingly this is in part the motivation for this posting)

Good luck with your own apps, there is already a lot of competition out there!

Tip – Marketing Your Windows 8 Apps


When it comes to submitting your Windows 8 Apps there is quite a list of marketing graphics that you can submit:

Click the image to Enlarge

The only mandatory one is the 416×180. It occurred to me that this size would be great on a T-Shirt.  Happily Vistaprint in the UK are currently doing an offer to get a T printed for 99p Plus P&P (So if nothing else check out the virtual T-Shirt design for free! )


The next step involves being seen with your T Shirt.  I was lucky enough to be offered the chance to go on the ‘Gadget Show Tech tour of London’ yesterday and the crew were a really friendly bunch (Polly Woodward & Jason Bradbury)


(Look out for me wearing the shirt on the Gadget Show later this Summer*)


The Tile Browser App for windows 8 can be downloaded here (it is a free app)

* Or at the very least the back of my head …


“They did a Ryan Air on me”

So much for the 99p T-Shirt:


Using the Nokia banner generator

If you are a Windows Phone App developer then head on over to this web based tool and have a play:

If you are still reading here is the simple walkthrough:

Go to the WindowsPhoneMarketPlace and retrieve a link to the App you want to use


Paste this into the space provided:


(this will trigger the population of the other feeds).

Click on “Generate Banners” to create the full set of banners (see below)


Filtering your wp7 App Hub Data in Excel

With the new update to the App Hub comes the option to download your data for offline analysis.

One of the most effective ways to do this is also one of the quickest.  Utilise two of Excels’ built in analysis features – “autosum” and “autofilter” by following the following two videos which show this can be achieved within a matter of seconds. (With apologies if I am teaching Granny to suck eggs).

This will then allow you to ask questions of your data such as:

  • How many paid version of a particular app have been downloaded?
  • Which Country is the primary user of my apps?
  • Which apps are the most popular?
  • What is the ratio of free to trial to paid apps ?

(and many more …)

Creating an autosum field

AutoSum Exported Data
AutoFilter Exported Data

NB To filter by date simply bring down only the data required and go through the two steps above again.


No doubt we will see a multitude of Excel templates that make detailed analysis of this data  a breeze, but for a quick and dirty analysis you can’t beat the basics of this method!

New App Hub Submission Walk Through


Anyone logging in to the new hub will be greeted with a prompt to agree to a new set of terms and conditions


and on acceptance will be welcomed to what at first appears to be the standard hub (the basic homepage remains the same).  But then the fun begins with the new Phone option (accessed from the ‘My Dashboard’ menu):


As can be seen above the reports have been enhanced and a number of summary and detail reports follow by way of example:


NB There is an option to export the data to Excel which opens the door to a wealth of other reporting options:


(Sad perhaps that this was my most successful app!)

From the App Highlight pane the following can be obtained:

1. Detailed download reports on each app (as above), with further details available such as the current status of an app within the ingestion process:


2. Daily crash report (with stack traces available as Excel Spreadsheet downloads – see below)

Stack Trace Data in Excel – Click to enlarge


Submitting an App

Clicking on ‘submit an app’ reveals the following screen:


(Note the option for the Private Beta – see my other post for a walk through of a Mango App)

The page that follows represents a ‘cleaned up’ version of a previous app hub submission at this stage:


Note the option to describe what has changed for this update.

Another useful addition is an option to ‘see how these images are used’ :

Pricing and Region availability also gets a facelift:


and finally a new option to submit but make hidden:



A nice touch is a direct link to the lifecycle page shown previously.

Goblin Harvest!

I have teamed up with Ian Williams (of Textise.Net and the Textise App fame) to work on a Windows Phone 7.1 strategy game to be called ‘Goblin Harvest’.  It’s my first real collaborative experience working on Windows Phone and I am pretty excited about it.


After several lengthy sessions (yes, down the pub) to hammer out ideas, the base graphics are done (OK still more work needed there!) and the gameplay is (almost fully) documented!

Coding has begun in earnest using the beta Mango SDK with a view to making this one of the first Mango based games to come out of the UK.image

Its a bit too early to discuss gameplay (developed by Ian Williams) safe to say that it  is tried and tested and already proving to be popular with local testers.

With a requirement to be able to view the whole board, but also to focus in on a specific areas of gameplay ‘pinch to zoom’ plays an important part in the design,  as does the rules engine that manages the randomised board layout – making every game unique.

Stand by for a Goblin Winter!

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Marketing Your Apps – Gorilla Tactics

In this on-going post I am highlighting marketing tactics of a ‘questionable’ nature.

No 1.  “The XBOX Live Tile”

Long before the Marketplace and Windows Phones became publicly available I had a meeting with a Microsoft evangelist and enquired about the use of “XBOX live” in one of my apps (“Shove Ha’penny”).  I wanted to utilise ‘turn by turn’ but was told this functionality was reserved for apps that were considered  ‘la crème de la crème’.  You can tell I was a bit peeved by this (if not plain insulted) and I felt comfortable (if a little naughty) when it came to designing the ‘lite’ (free) version of one of my most successful apps ‘Ultimate Fart!- utilising the style of the XBOX Live apps in the design of the icon:

The proliferation and high availability of fart machines has brought about the need for a new defining application, one that sets a new standard in fart machines, the so called ‘Ultimate Fart Machine’.

All well and good, and I am of the opinion that the XBOX Live Style, along with the natty tag line(above) both contributed to the apps on-going success.

But all good things must come to an end and today I received a friendly note from Microsoft:

Hi there,

It has come to our attention that the icon for your application, Ultimate Fart (Lite), uses brand elements from the Xbox Live Windows Phone application template and thus may cause confusion for end users. We ask that you submit an update by Wednesday, May 18 at 5pm PST with an original icon. By doing so, you will be able to retain ratings and reviews which will be lost if the app needs to be removed.

Thank you in advance, we look forward to seeing your updated app icon soon.

Windows Phone Marketplace Policy team.

ApplicationIconSo alas this at best, ‘dubious’ icon style is now officially frowned upon (I will be updating the icon as soon as I get my dev machine back – those that follow my tweets will know that I spilt half a can of coca-cola on it yesterday!)

So this is No 1 in a series of items in this ‘Gorilla Marketing section’, which I will add to this post ( stay tuned for more …)


No 2: “Kit out your comments”

If you have something relevant to add to a popular blog post or news article then your comment can also be a ‘marketing opportunity’.


I would warn that this method is not only dubious, it may result in you being banned from certain sites.  Be careful out there!

NB The link in my comment takes you here

NB Ultimate Fart (Lite) is available here

“If you must have a fart app you might as well make it the best”

NB I am also soliciting Microsoft to look at creating some sort of ‘rough guide to marketing Apps’ – not sure what format this will take yet but if you like the idea please vote for it from the link below:


Vote for this as a topic for future attention from Microsoft.