AppTap raises $1.5M to prove that mobile app discovery isn't broken

By Michael Carney , written on January 6, 2014

From The News Desk

AppTap, an app discovery and advertising network, has raised $1.5 million in new funding, according to a new SEC filing. The round, which began in June of this year, consists of a combination of equity, debt, and warrants and could grow as large as $1.75 million, bringing the company’s total capitalization to $11.42 million at its present size.

The five-year-old company, based in Reston, VA and was previously known as MPOWERPLAYER, is an alumni of the LaunchBox Digital accelerator. The company previously raised from Syncom Venture Partners, New Atlantic Ventures (NAV), and CIT GAP Funds. Syncom’s Roy Kosuge, NAV’s John Backus, and Federated Media COO Walter Knapp are on the company’s board of directors. It’s unclear if the latest funding was completed by insiders or if a new outside investor was added, although the small size of the round relative to the company’s most recent $4M Series A round may suggest the former.

AppTap delivers contextual and behavioral targeted app advertisements within other apps, and on partner mobile and desktop websites. The company’s media partners include Sprint, Smosh, Cult of Mac, iPadForums, iPhoneForums, AndroidTapp, AndroidGuys, PocketGamer, TiPb, DroidForums, AndroidRundown, and Fortune PLC-owned sites like TechRadar, CVG, and PC Gamer. Each of these partners hosts integrated advertising units promoting contextually relevant AppTap apps alongside native content.

The platform also integrates with AppsFlyer, providing its developer and publisher partners with data like install conversion tracking and loyal user identification used to measure the effectiveness of app marketing campaigns.

In a 2012 article on the Huffington Post, NAV’s Backus describes his belief that serendipity, or contextual discovery of apps alongside related media content like articles and “best of” lists, will drive the app discovery process:

Not a month goes by when an entrepreneur I meet, developing a smartphone app, can't quite answer a simple question: How will you market your app to your customers? All too often the answer lies somewhere between ‘Apple is going to feature my app,’ and ‘I'm going to advertise it in other apps.’ Neither is a compelling answer, nor likely to help developers build a big business...

So if you are a developer, quit trying to trick customers into downloading your app via incented downloads. Don't run random app ads, it is too reminiscent of early run-of-site banner ads. And don't think that hoping to be featured in someone else's app store is a good strategy.

Instead, put your app where your customers are likely to discover it, and you will be well on your way to growing your audience with users actually interested in your app.

AppTap is in a crowded category that includes AppGratis, Appsfire, Appolicious, Hubbl, ICS Mobile’s AppXchange, and FusePowered’s AppHero, among seemingly dozens of others. AppTap is now one of the most well funded and longest running services.

But it’s not just pure-play app discovery platforms that are after the same developer advertisers. AppTap and its stablemates must also compete with mobile display advertising giants like Millennial Media, AdMob, and iAd, many of which are orders of magnitude larger in terms of revenue, funding, and reach.

The argument in favor of using a dedicated app-discovery platform is one that concerns focus. One of the most pressing challenges facing all of these companies is balancing the competing interests of publishers, developers, and consumers. It stands to reason that mobile ad platforms are less likely to consider the end-user/consumer to be one of their constituents. For companies like AppTap, which make their living delivering compelling app discovery to users, this is anything but the case.

With the world shifting to mobile as the dominant consumption platform and the dominant mobile app stores oversaturated, discovery is very real problem for both developers and consumers. AppTap, therefore, would appear to be in the right category at the right time. At this stage in the game, $1.5 million is unlikely to be a game changer, but it should give the company some additional firepower.

We’ve reached out to AppTap for comment, but did not receive a reply in time for publishing. We will update this article should additional information become available.

[Image via Adobe]