We join the ranks of many a great startup having run out of money with the future pipeline of app publishers, advertisers, and other partners not strong enough to continue.
What we did
We enhanced mobile apps by playing spoken audio. We experimented with different business models before settling on advertising. The majority of apps are free to download with the developers making their money via in-app purchases and advertising. With our audio we ran A/B tests to help discover what was most effective, including factors like the voice (eg deep male voice versus neutral female voice), emotion (laid back versus hyper), background music, repetitions and timing etc. We always used human voice actors for authenticity, never computer generated speech.
An example of other business models we tried was augmenting in-game tutorials to smooth the first-time user experience.
What we learned
Audio works. We usually got double digit percentage improvements (10-50%), just by adding voice, in active measurements like click through rates. A/B testing showed that effectiveness of factors (eg gender and emotion of voice) varied by the kind of application – there is no one size fits all, although it did tend to fit apps of the same category.
The financial side is hard. App developers prefer getting checks than writing them.
The technical side is challenging, but we were praised by our partners for SDK size (very small compared to others) and ease of integration. It was sufficiently flexible to help gather needed data, and tweak the user experience.
Analysis is fun, requiring careful use of statistics to ensure noise isn’t confused with signal. Various hypotheses and correlations can be tested, even if they seem strange.
Advertising campaigns have been ended according to contractual terms, with app publishers getting their outstanding balances. There will be no user impact, except ads provided by Appington will be unavailable. Even after a complete decommissioning, the SDK will patiently periodically check for updates and fail-safe if none are found. However we do recommend removing the Appington SDK at the next app update. The init() method call can also just be commented out for a super quick ‘turn off’.
Perhaps the best part of Appington was working with our colleagues. We are open to new opportunities, please contact if you think we can change the world together:
Risto founded Appington and was the CEO. This involved hands on techie work at the beginning, together with the usual startup duties of building the team, getting investment, staffing a board and advisors, helping with sales, business development etc.
Roger helped out technically in the very early days, before coming on full time. He wrote the majority of the code behind Appington including SDKs for Android and iOS, server side pieces for AppEngine, and numerous bits of internal data processing and plumbing.
Alison joined Appington to help manage our customers and partners. That ranged all the way from handling support requests and integration training through to juggling the numerous aspects of audio and ad production, voice talents, music sourcing, editing and mixing to name a few. She also helped out with coding, with an emphasis on reporting and data analysis.