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App Marketing: Legal and Ethical Points

App Marketing – Things Not to Do!

In October of 2009 the Federal Trade Commission released guidelines covering endorsements and testimonials. The new guidelines specifically covered blogs, online “anonymous” endorsements, and other technologies that did not exist when the guidelines were last updated in 1980.

Today (August 27, 2010), the FTC settled one of its first major cases dealing with the new guidelines. In this case, Reverb Communications was charged with engaging in deceptive advertising by having its employees write and post positive reviews of client’s iPhone™ applications on the Apple® iTunes® Store, without disclosing in the reviews that they were being paid by the client to post the positive reviews.

Under the terms of the settlement, Reverb Communications now has to remove all of the illegitimate reviews, and is barred from engaging in similar actions in the future.

This case is not the first, and certainly not the last, in which a company was caught trying to cheat its customers by providing false reviews of its services.

In fact, Apple has also been somewhat proactive in policing rating scams. Last December, they even banned one developer who had over a thousand apps in the app store (At the time, it was over 1% of the entire app store). The developer, Molinker, was banned and all apps removed because they were caught trying to scam the ratings system by posting their own fake reviews across multiple accounts.

Apple has since banned other developers for engaging in similar tactics. Also, as past history has shown, Apple has no qualms about removing apps and developers for any reason.

In other words, not only can such blatantly unethical behavior get your product permanently banned from the App Store, but it can also put the FTC on your back, which can result in even more severe penalties. And yet, some marketers still insist on trying to get away with it. It is surprising that an intelligent marketer would walk this close to danger when there are so many better and effective methods that work.

Some Ideas that Work

At Amadeus Consulting, we offer App Promotion Services and App Marketing that can help effectively market apps in a way that ACTUALLY builds a fan base, rather than just the impression of one. Of course, we also offer comprehensive mobile application development as well, so we have a great understanding of all aspects of creating and marketing successful apps.

So we’d like to offer some quick ideas that actually work, and will not get you banned or in trouble. We have not included all the details on how to do these things, but keep in mind that none of these things necessarily cost any money, just a bit of time and know-how.

Engage your audiences where they are:

  • Find online and offline publications where your potential customers already congregate. Appeal to these outlets to run a story or review of your application
  • Find online groups that deal in a subject area related to your application. Transparently promote your product, or work with these groups to promote your app
  • Appeal to legitimate review sites and appeal to them to review your product
  • Create a video demo of your product. Let people see what they are getting before they buy it. Video demos are more credible because each person can form their own opinion
  • Understand your audience and price your app accordingly

Make your App Visible:

  • Optimize your description so that people can easily find it when searching for that type or product or benefit
  • Create listings and promotions across a variety of sites so that your audience knows the app exists and the benefit it provides. (For example, on Android™, most people have downloaded Google’s™ SkyMap, and they did so because they saw it online or heard about it somewhere else, not because they went specifically searching for a map of constellations)
  • If needing to boost sales, create promotions such as free download code giveaways, or a temporary price discount, or other temporary promotions

Provide a place for feedback

  • The App Store or Android Market does not need to be the only place that people can provide feedback for you. Create a new channel to report bugs or errors to keep these out of your store ratings.
  • Don’t just accept feedback, open lines of discussion with your audience. Work with your biggest fans and biggest critics to make the app better and appeal to more people. This will help turn even your sharpest critics into your biggest fans.

We are excited about the ingenuity and invention that the app community has displayed over the last few years. There are thousands of really cool and really innovative applications that would never have been possible otherwise.

However, marketers need to remember that standard rules still apply, and punishments can be severe. The FTC may only fine you and your marketing company, but Apple or Google can delete you out of existence.

For more information on our app promotion and marketing services, please contact our mobile app marketing team directly.

Additional Resources:

For more information on the FTC Guidelines please see http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm.

For information on the FTC court case, you can read the full complaint here: http://www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/0923199/100826reverbcmpt.pdf

About the Author

Amadeus Consulting creates custom technology solutions that produce real results. As thought leaders in the technology space, Amadeus Consulting is excited to bring the latest news and tips about mobile development, search marketing, creative design and software technology to the forefront. This thought leadership allows Amadeus Consulting to stay on top of technological trends and changes in order to benefit our clients. To find out more about Amadeus Consulting’s end-to-end technology solutions, please visit our website at www.amadeusconsulting.com.

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Todd McMurtrey and Todd McMurtrey, Amadeus Consulting. Amadeus Consulting said: Amadeus Consulting Discusses the Legal and Ethical Implications of App Marketing http://bit.ly/9km77B #AppMarketing #iphone #android #apps [...]

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