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Pay Per Install – A Legit Way To Send Your iOS App Up The Charts?

Recently, there have been some startups (at least two that I know of) that provide developers with the ability to pay users to install their apps.  Users typically receive a small amount above the app price (typically a couple dimes) install an app, and some software is used to verify that the app has been installed and the user receives payment for their install.  What I’m talking about here goes beyond the pay per install you see on some mobile ad networks — this is actually overpaying per install.

Some of the comments that I’ve read are from developers passionately against this method of app promotion — the reason being that it is a way to game app store rankings, but isn’t any promotion such as buying iAds or Admob impressions really a way of buying app store rankings?

Looks Like A Much Better Deal Than Mobile Advertising

I can understand why Apple would be against this, after all, if you could reduce the cost per aquisition of a customer down to a bit above your losses, why would you need to pay $14.90  per download like in this iAds for developers experiment?

You can find two of the companies here: Apperang, App Lifter, Ads Reloaded

My personal feeling is that this is just another way of advertising, I wouldn’t use it unless Apple miraculously gave this an OK, but I know there are developers profiting from this so it is a tough call.   I agree that if you’re buying fake positive reviews then you should be punished, but is just buying downloads different? I’m sure that everyone who buys apps on a regular basis has bought apps they didn’t really care for because of a deceptive review or description.

Don’t forget if you do go for this — Users can return apps or a refund in which case you’re screwed.

What are your thoughts on this, do you feel it is legit, or should it be stopped?

Update: If you are looking for some other companies and information on this service Under The Bridge has further information on this topic.

5 replies on “Pay Per Install – A Legit Way To Send Your iOS App Up The Charts?”

I can’t stand this way of cheating the system. When a customer see an app in the top 100, for him it means “this app is good enough for being purchased by a huge number of people”. That’s the tacit contract behind ranking.

You argue that marketing is a way of cheating the system too. I partly disagree. The app is central in the marketing process, it’s a matter of how well you present it. Marketing is not lying.

But when you offer money in addition to the app, the app itself disappears. It doesn’t matter how well it’s made or even if it suits your needs. You break the ranking contract and actually deceive customers because they, of course, don’t know that your are using this “pay for ranking” trick.

Sells then became almost mechanical during the inertia time of the ranking system. And why does the dev receive money for ? For app quality ? No of course. He receives money because he had enough money to “start the process”.

So money generates money because of deceiving. I don’t like that.

I agree with you on some points, but haven’t you purchased a product or service based on the marketing and then found that it was not all that it was cracked up to be? Some marketing is lying.. there are apps with highly deceptive descriptions, and there are also many in-app banner ads that are also highly deceptive.

Hi Matt and maniacdev,

Marketing can be lying, right. But pay for ranking is always lying. In addition customers are used to marketing tricks, but they don’t even know about the pay for ranking trick.

The point about making “marketing” more affordable for indies is only due to the inertia of the big companies. If the pay for ranking system settles, they will go for it too and put their huge amount of money in it because it’s more cost-effective. Burying indie apps again.

The fact that your users don’t download each available apps doesn’t mean that they only download the quality ones. It rather means that they only download the apps that could be useful to them, regardless of the quality because its free and they even get paid for that.

And last but not least, today Apple publishes an “App Store Review Guidelines” and here is the 3.10 point of it :

“Developers who attempt to manipulate or cheat the user reviews or chart ranking in the App Store with fake or paid reviews, or any other inappropriate methods will be removed from the iOS Developer Program […]”

I think it’s quite clear, and I will not hesitate to use this rule if needed.

Thanks for having taken the time to counterargument. Even if my point is clear-cut, it’s always healthy.


You do make some great points though, it really depends on the users.. I don’t see the dimes that are currently being offered to install the app as being something that most consumers will be swayed by.

It will be interesting to see what Apple does about this.

My name is Matt, and I’m the CEO/Founder of

I think you offer some great points but would like to rebutt a few of them, as well as offer some key information.

I respectfully disagree with your assumption that marketing is not lying. What’s the purpose of buying ads on a traditional cpc basis? If you distill it down I believe it is to drive downloads to your app. The problem with this is that only app companies that have very deep pocketbooks are able to sustain these types of campaigns while indie developers are left floundering in deluge of app store apps. I think providing a more cost-effective way of driving downloads to your app will help level the playing field between the little guys and the big guys.

Also after having run AdsReloaded for two months now I have noticed an odd thing. I have very few users who have downloaded every app I have available. It seems that the promise of a free paid app isn’t quite enough for people to go straight out and buy it. While this certainly isn’t conclusive evidence, I think it is a good indication that this type of marketing doesn’t make the quality of the app completely disappear.

I do however agree that your last point of app quality going down is a legitimate one. If huge numbers of “crap” apps starting making it to the top via this method then perhaps the owners like myself will have to step in. So far though I have found that the developers I have worked with are very passionate about their work and have had quality apps (two of the apps that have been on AdsReloaded were featured as New and Noteworthy by Apple).

Anyways I’m always open to feedback/criticism!

-Matt Sencenbaugh

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