Tapdaq: Indie devs are being “left behind” by app marketing companies

It’s no secret that user acquisition costs are continuing to rise, making it ever more difficult for the thousands of smaller, indie, developers out there to get their app noticed and downloaded. Enter London-based Tapdaq, which just recently closed a $1.4m funding round. Tapdaq is a marketing platform that’s hoping to alleviate the above problem by building a community of indie developers who use virtual currency to trade ad inventory between each other. Unlike similar cross-promo platforms such as Chartboost and Appflood, Tapdaq eventually plans to work on a freemium model by giving developers the option to buy virtual currency with real cash, as well as earning currency by generating installs for other devs (at the moment the option to buy currency has not rolled-out).
We caught-up with Tapdaq co-founder Ted Nash to find out more about his company’s objectives and the problems indie devs are facing when it comes to user acquisition. Read on for the full Q&A.

Q&A: Tapdaq founder Ted Nash

There are plenty of user acquisition platforms for app devs out there, so why did you decide to start Tapdaq?

Ted (3)

Tapdaq co-founder Ted Nash

It was a problem we as founders stumbled across ourselves. We as indie developers put out a number of consumers based applications but found it increasingly difficult to generate traction for our apps. It’s actually a total misconception that the user acquisition are readily used or affordably for the vast majority of developers. Speaking to our community of developers, the general consensus is that with any major ad network the advertising inventory is bought by very few developers – which reflects the state of the App Store where it’s known that the majority of revenue goes to less then 25 companies. Of course, in every line of business you have winners and losers, but not to this extent – it’s total market failure.
We wanted to change that.
Platforms such as Appflood and Chartboost already have free app cross-promotion. What’s the difference between this system and what Tapdaq offers? Or are they essentially the same?
We shouldn’t look at Tapdaq as just a cross promotional tool, because it is not. It’s a mobile advertising platform,but it’s been built by the community that use it.
The biggest difference between us and the status quo is that we run off our own currency, daq, which is trade for inventory. Developers earn daq by generating installs for other developers, and they spend the daq they earn on acquiring users.
Unlike other ad networks, we’re not a price driven network, because we don’t take any type of commission. Developers using our platform have a choice on who they want to publish whereas on Chartboost, Revmob, MoPub – your inventory will be filled by the highest paying advertiser.
Yes, they have cross promotion and so do we. However, from a commercial perspective, it’s totally counter intuitive for them because it cannibalises their main business model, which is taking a percentage of every install generated.
Whereas with Tapdaq, as a community driven marketplace, the power is in the developers hands, they advertise where they want, and they publish who they want.
We encourage developers to use Chartboost and Admob to monetise but when it comes to acquiring users, they can’t afford to use those networks. We’re seeing more and more independent developers join the network and exchange everything, from installs to insight.
We as a community hope that Tapdaq will become a place that allows the best apps to surface, not just the richest developers.
So do you think the current crop of app marketing/UA platforms are doing a bad job servicing indie developers? 
As I mentioned above, you are exactly right. If the top 5 existing networks gave us clear transparency on what percentage of inventory is filled by their top five advertisers, it would be an astounding figure.
As everything is price driven and apps are distributed via a chart system on Apple, it’s the applications with the highest LTVU who can buy up all the inventory and then feed off the organic traction. It’s totally anti-competitive and when you look at it like that, truly the most innovative applications and developers are left behind.
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Isn’t it inevitable that indie devs are going to get pushed out of the app market at some point? Aren’t there simply too many apps being made right now?
I think a lot of people will, of course – but the more worrying though is that the most original and innovative developers are not getting a platform to succeed. They won’t leave because it’s a passion, not necessarily a career for them – but that’s also a problem. If these developers were given the right opportunity to succeed, they deserve to build a career in something they are incredibly gifted at.
Without a doubt I see far more original games and applications being created by independent developers then I do from corporations.
What’s been the reaction of developers/publishers to Tapdaq so far? Can you share any examples of success?
It’s been amazing. What’s most incredible is that the developers using Tapdaq have contributed code. We’re moving more and more towards OpenSource and I think when you really look into the reason why people are so keen on Tapdaq as a platform to succeed, it’s because the current state of mobile is a colossal frustration.
It has to change.
In terms of success stories, there are a number of them which I am working on putting live on our blog. In general though, most interestingly though, people see an increase in LTVU – simply because they get access to a more relevant customer.
What’s next for Tapdaq? Any expansion plans? 
We’d love to, we’ve been going about a year now, and we’re in 1,200 applications with over 700 developers on board. We’re in 66 different countries and we are always looking to bring on exceptional and passionate developers. It’s an open community, so if you as a developer are reading this – please do stop by or drop me a line at ted@tapdaq.com.
For more information on Tapdaq and its marketing platform head over to the website.

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