Update: The deadline to sign up has been extended to March 10! Be sure to sign up now here!

Citi Mobile Challenge participants

Last year, I had the honor of being a judge at the second iteration of the Citi Mobile Challenge, a development contest put on by Citi where developers from all over the world compete in a hackathon-like competition to come up with the best banking-focused solutions to support the next generation of mobile-friendly consumers. Citi has already begun working with some of the 2014 winners to integrate their ideas into real world products and are supporting those teams with funding, resources, and consulting. The team here at Appency is donating consulting time to help some of the winners through mobile marketing tactics such as ASO and app launch best practices.

The Contest
While the American challenge winners were selected only a few months ago, Citi has already opened the challenge to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia (EMEA) with a brand new contest. Developers have until March 6, 2015 to register as participants. Once registered, developers must get their ideas on paper by March 13. After that, it’s go, go, go: Final concepts will be expected by March 27.

Once finalists are chosen they will be invited to present at one of four demo days at the end of April in London, Warsaw, Jerusalem, or Nairobi. Entries are being accepted from all over the world so developers don’t have to be located in an EMEA country to enter. Some of the best entries to the American challenge were international developers who traveled thousands of miles to pitch their ideas! It’s definitely worth the trip: There is $100,000 in cash prizes up for grabs, plus Citi and its partners like IBM, MasterCard, Uber, and even Appency will provide support and feedback to help hone the final product.

How to Win
As a past judge, here are a few tips on how to win that prize money. To start, you must understand that entries are being judged at every step by Citi employees. It’s only at the last step, the live demo, that the judges will be both Citi employees and outside consultants. To make it past those first hurdles you have to put yourself in the shoes of Citi and their consumers. How does your idea help Citi customers? How does it help Citi itself? If your idea cannot answer both sides of the question, then you need to head back to the drawing board.

Make sure you use the APIs that Citi provides. There are a number of data feeds to tap into that will allow your app to really become a part of the user’s banking life. Think about both consumer customers, and business customers — they expect less entries into the business customer area so the competition will be less fierce in that category.

Design is vital. If you do not have a quality designer on your team, get one. The presentation of an idea can by as vital to success as the idea itself. Both solid ideas and solid presentation are needed to convince the judges that your team and your app have what it takes.

Many entries come from experienced development shops, but I must caution them against shoe-horning banking or Citi-focused features into an existing project unless there is a clear, salient reason to do so. As a judge I saw — and, frankly, didn’t vote for — too many presentations that looked like a pre-existing app with Citi-specific features slapped on in hopes of sliding by and winning. Usefulness is rewarded in this competition.

Lastly, if you do make it to the finals, be sure to practice your presentation several times in front of real people who can give you good feedback. This will ensure your presentation flows well, anticipates questions or criticism, and fits in the limited amount of time allotted. Practicing your presentation in front of people outside your development team can also help prepare you for potential audience questions you may have to field after the presentation.

The chance to have a big brand get behind your work with this level of support does not come around very often so the competition will be brutal. Best of luck to all the entrants, and please feel free to reach out if you have any questions! I am more than happy to give tips to anyone who asks — just shoot us an email at contactus@appency.com.

 

Aaron Watkins is the founder and president of Appency and was a judge at the 2014 Citi Mobile Challenge. He’s a big fan of apps that work.

Learn what it takes to make it as an artist and win real world prizes in the process in this industry simulation game for iPhone and iPad.TourStar for iPhone

August 12, 2014, Sacramento, CA – Today, music fans everywhere can step into the shoes of their favorite artist and get an inside look at what it really takes to make it as a professional performer. TourStar, conceptualized by entertainment executive Brandon Pankey of Music Players Group and brought to life with the help of Eddie Meehan of GroundCtrl, is the first iOS sim game of its kind to bring tour life and the perks and challenges that come with it to the mobile screen.

Like any new artist just starting out, first-time players of TourStar are faced with a number of decisions like; What should their look be? Should they sign with a label or stay independent? Should they go on tour right away or record an album? Who should they trust for advice?; and much more.

As the game progresses players learn that just like in real life, every decision they make has an impact on their career in some way.

As players make their way through levels of the game, touring the country, recording albums and building their in-game fame, they become eligible to win real world prize packages including concert tickets and VIP meet-and-greets with their favorite artists!

“TourStar is life in the music industry,” states Brandon Pankey. “The game is a fun way to peek into the life of a performer as they try to make it to superstardom. And the fact that gamers get to actually win real prizes like tickets and passes to their favorite artists’ shows is pretty cool too.”

Additional Features of TourStar include:
– Design a personalized 3D avatar to match players’ music style and fashion preferences.
– Virtually tour the country, gaining experience and building a fanbase.
– Record albums and release them to boost fame.
– Improve musicianship with mini-games that keep players’ instruments in tune and shows in high-gear.
– Build a virtual band, and get advice from managers, agents and record labels.

TourStar is available now for free on the iTunes App Store. Connect with TourStar on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates on prize packages, gaming advice, news, and more.

About TourStar:
Conceptualized by entertainment executive Brandon Pankey of Music Players Group and brought to life with the help of Eddie Meehan of GroundCtrl, a Sacramento, California-based artist engagement company and AtomicChimp, a leading mobile development shop in Redmond, Wash. Additional music for the game was produced by Roc Nation producer Jahlil Beats and Dilemma. For more information, visit www.tourstarapp.com.

Breakout mobile app discovery tool TAPPD teams up with Macworld/iWorld for a chance to win a trip to Australia and an exhibitor space at Macworld/iWorld 2015.

TAPPD

San Francisco, California, March 27, 2014 – Australian mobile start-up TAPPD is excited to announce the 2014 ‘TAPP & WIN’ Challenge. A competition for both exhibiting app developers as well as conference attendees, the ‘TAPP & WIN’ Challenge at Macworld/iWorld was created to help attendees discover the best apps at the conference while providing developers with a unique way to ‘TAPP’ in to their target audience.

TAPPD, a new app launching at this year’s Macworld/iWorld, provides a unique take on app discovery. While traditional mobile app stores show rankings based on what is being downloaded, TAPPD brings in a social component allowing users to discover the apps their friends and personal influencers are talking about the most.

App developers exhibiting within Appalooza showcase on the show floor are invited to participate in the ‘TAPP & WIN’ Challenge by encouraging fans to recommend their app on TAPPD using the hashtag #Macworld2014. The app that receives the most TAPPS will be named ‘The most talked about app at Macworld 2014’. The winning developer also receives a complimentary kiosk at the 2015 Macworld/iWorld conference courtesy of TAPPD, and an app analysis with app store optimization report from the Appency Mobile App Marketing Firm.

By ‘TAPPING’ their favorite app at Macworld/iWorld, attendees will automatically be entered to win a trip for two to Australia (flights and accommodation valued at $5,000)! Attendees can TAPP as many apps as they like to increase their chances of winning. The winner will be selected randomly from all TAPPS made before 3pm PT on the Saturday, March 29th using the #Macworld2014 hashtag.

“What better way to create a buzz around ‘the apps worth talking about’ at Macworld/iWorld than to give away a trip for two to Australia,” says TAPPD Co-Founder David Duncan. “TAPPD makes the social engagement between users and developers fast and exciting. Get ready to discover the best new apps trending at Macworld/iWorld!”

For more information, visit http://tappd.in/macworldcomp/download TAPPD from the iTunes App Store, view theTAPPD video trailer, and follow TAPPD on Facebook and Twitter.

About TAPPD:
TAPPD is a mobile app discovery tool for iOS. At TAPPD we believe a better way to find apps is by seeing what apps your friends and personal influencers are recommending and which apps are being talked about the most. Learn more at tappd.in.

 

We’re very happy to announce that several of our friends have been nominated in different categories for the Best App Ever Awards. For four years, Best App Ever has been in search of the most innovative, most useful, and most entertaining apps out there, regardless of the operating system or device. The awards are supported by a list of excellent resources for app enthusiasts, including 148 Apps, Pocket Gamer, Android Rundown, Portable Gamer, Giggle Apps, App Hall of Fame, and more.

Voting is open through January 31, 2013. Winners for all categories, including the Best App Ever, will be announced on February 26, 2013.

iCookbook™ is nominated for Best Cooking App. iCookbook has over 2,000 recipes from bloggers and big brand names. Shopping lists, personalized recipes, voice control and more make this the essential app for any chef, regardless of their skill level.

iCookbook™ Diabetic is nominated for Best Health App. This app from the iCookbook™ team was created with diabetics and health-minded chefs alike. With all the great features of iCookbook™, this app also provides nutritional information and access to curated articles on healthy living and diabetes care.

Catalogue by TheFind is nominated for Best Shopping App. This beautiful app for iPad combines dozens of catalogs from brands like Williams-Sonoma, Nordstrom, Saks, Brookstone, Sears, Best Buy and more into one easy-to-use, easy-to-organize shopping center.

I Spy With Lola Panda has been nominated for Best Kid Distraction App. From the makers of the beloved Lola Panda suite of apps, this hide-and-go-seek addition engages kids with fun from around the world, sneaking in a bit of learning alongside the entertainment.

Arc Squadron is nominated for Best Action Game. Splendidly rendered on the Unreal Engine, this rail-shooter pays loving homage to “Star Fox,” while giving it an exciting face lift.

Quizboard is nominated for Best Trivia Game. Strategy and random knowledge collide in this fun game, challenging players to not only probe their memory, but test their cleverness against their opponent.

IMGAMarseille, France – The 9th International Mobile Gaming Awards (IMGA) opens for entries today! Developers and studios across the world are invited to submit their games for these prestigious awards. Since 2004, the IMGA has become the most prestigious international competition for mobile games. For the past 8 years, the competition awarded the most talented game developers for the most innovative mobile games, whether they are made for iPhone, Android, Windows, Blackberry, Bada, HTML5 or feature phones; whether they are made by a top 10 developer or a start-up studio; whether the developers came from Spain or Singapore, Malaysia or Mexico, Brazil or Belgium.

This year marks a big step for the 9th IMGA as a few significant changes are made to enhance the quality of the entries:
* No categories will be defined for the entries; participants will instead specify their own category
* The Judges’ Honorable Mention will replace the Operator’s Choice Award
* 6 additional prizes will be determined by the jury
* The denomination of these prizes will be announced at the same time as the nominations on January 24, 2013
* Platinum-level sponsor Pro Sieben Sat 1 will award one million Euro in media exposure to the winners

Since 2004, the IMGA Awards Ceremony has been held at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. However, the exact location of the 9th IMGA has not been confirmed yet.

The IMGA Summit
Traditionally, the Awards are held in conjunction with the one day IMGA Summit consisting of a keynote, panels of leading experts in mobile games and pitching sessions. The Summit and Awards are traditionally attended by leaders in the mobile gaming industry as well as top international developers and studios.

The 9th IMGA Timeline
* October 4, 2012 – Call for entries
* January 14, 2013 – Entries closed
* January 25, 2013 – Nominees announced
* February 28, 2013 – Awards Ceremony, winners announced (TBC)

As of today, developers can submit their game online at www.imgawards.com and compete in an international arena with top studios and individual developers from all over the world. Games must have been published after January 1, 2012, or currently be in development.

International Mobile Gaming Awards

Since 2004, the IMGA has become the most prestigious international competition for mobile games. Copyright (C) 2012 International Mobile Gaming Awards. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPod and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.

 

WARNING: This is not a posting about iPhone Apps… its about digital media, contests, websites and… my son.

While I may be biased, I think my son has serious child model potential (don’t all parents?). When something like GAP’s Casting Call contest comes around (In conjunction with Disney Family), that allows parents to submit their kids to be the next GAP Kids model, I’m all over it. I figure… with a dad that’s a professional marketer… he just might have an edge.

Submitting Ethan was pretty straight forward. I expect when submitting a photo of a child online that will be posted to the world that there will be a number of forms to fill out, sign in blood, etc etc. No surprises here.

The GAP Casting Call contest however has a component that is the “Fan Favorite” competition – that is a voting contest where anyone coming to the site can vote for their favorites to help them advance. The prizes are pretty impressive (Fan Favorite gets a trip to Jamaica) and the competition is steep. Being that my son is seven years old, and a boy – I’ve resolved myself to the fact that it is very unlikely that he will win the overall fan favorite contest. That spot is traditionally held for baby girls with blond curls and dimples.

So why get votes? My thought is this: If Ethan gets the most (or even top 10) votes in his category, the judges will pay more attention to him when it comes to the judged component of the contest where he DOES have a chance to win. So – like any good marketer father, I start to post the link to all of my friends, relatives, business associates, neighbors, former high school girlfriends, second aunt of former high school girlfriends cousin…. well you get the picture.
It was only then I realized how convoluted the site is for people who are only trying to vote, and not trying to submit their own children.

Ethan K: Contestant ID: 49659097

Ethan K: Contestant ID: 49659097

If you click on the link (http://family.go.com/gapcastingcall/entries/ucshandiego/49659097/) it will take you to the lovely photo of my son taken by family friend Reza Molavi that has a button on the bottom that says “vote”.

Naturally – your first inclination when you see this handsome man is to hit vote, right?

WRONG

If you hit vote. Your vote will not be counted.

You have to register first – and while the site takes you to a new page that has a login / register – it doesn’t tell you that the “vote” you just submitted didn’t actually happen. For those of you who have had enough coffee to realize this, you are now taken to the same registration page that contestants have to go through. Trust me… its lengthy.

“Disney made me certify that I read all 17 sections of the Terms of Use contained in the box above and agree with all of their terms. I am very concerned that I report to Miley Cyrus now.” – Jeff Foster, CEO, Foster Redmond

Once you register, you then have to find the child you were going to vote for. Since most of the people voting will know the child.. it makes sense that people would search for the childs name.

WRONG AGAIN

You have to search for the child’s number (Ethan’s is 49659097) or the parents nickname (Ethan’s mom submitted him, using he nickname UCShanDiego). No one of course is going to know this but you my faithful reader.

Once you have found him, (look familiar, its the same page you saw the first time you followed the link..) you can then click the same vote button you tried to click the first time. This time.. the vote should work. You’ll know because it thanks you and lets you know you can vote again tomorrow.

And please do….

Ethan REALLY REALLY want’s to go to NYC. It’s one of his dreams. Last month he actually packed a suitcase and almost made it out the door before we stopped him. Don’t think he quite realized how far away it was. So please, if you have enjoyed this blog, or any of my other posts, do me a favor and vote for my little man!

Okay.. back to iPhone marketing.

As part of the promotional mix, many iPhone apps have started using various sales promotions that include a number of different types of sweepstakes, contests and giveaways in order to drive downloads. While a sweepstakes or contest can be great for promoting your app, there are a few things to keep in mind.

GunSmoke uses a Re-Tweet promotion to virally promote their app

GunSmoke uses a Re-Tweet promotion to virally promote their app

One of the most common questions I get from app developers when it comes to these is “What is the difference between a sweepstakes, a contest and a lottery?” Why do they ask? Because a “lottery” has very strict rules and generally can only be legally operated by a state government. There are some legal loopholes when it come to Vegas and Indian Casinos, but as we are talking about iPhone apps here, that have national distribution (If not global – we will get to that in a minute) -you have to be legal across the country. Running an illegal lottery will quickly land you in front of a judge and you could be subject to some pretty heafty fines.

There are three components that we need to take a look at:

1. Prize

Does your promotion include some sort of prize? It can be monetary(Many apps give away iTunes gift cards), physical (some sort of actual gift), digital (software) or even experiential (some sort of experience that would be hard to get someplace else).

2. Chance

Is there some element of chance involved? This is opposed to a game of skill such as having to be the first person to beat a specific level of a game, answer a set of questions correctly or collect specific items from within your application.

3. Consideration

Consideration is a legal term which translates into: “I had to pay for it” (The lawyers will say “an undertaking in response to a promise”). Mind you that consideration is not always financial – it can mean an investment in time or effort as well. A great example is a car dealership that requires you to  “come in and test drive” to participate. Because you had to get to the dealership and probably spend gas money (or bus fare for you first time car buyers!), many courts would define that as consideration. There are ways around consideration however – which is where the infamous “No Purchase Necessary” comes into play. Just because there is a “paid ” method of playing, doesn’t mean there can’t be a free method as well. Often this comes in the form of a sent in 3×5 card or an online form. It doesn’t have to be easy (sure, hide the free online form deep in your site, I don’t care), but it has to be available and explained in the official rules.

So what happens when you have two of the three?

Prize + Chance: This is your typical sweepstakes. You enter, you have a chance to win. Pretty straight forward. What you do need to keep an eye out for is the monetary value of your prize. A few states require that prizes over a specific monetary value (often $500) require your prize to be bonded.

Prize + Consideration: Well… not to be blunt… but this just means you are selling something! You paid (consideration) for an item (Prize)

Chance + Consideration: Not really sure WHAT to call this other then, well, a donation.

Finally… what happens with you have all three?

A lawsuit.

Having all three makes you a lottery, of which is not allowed by anyone but the state.

Looking for help putting together a winning promotion? Give us a shout – we would be glad to help you out, following all applicable state laws of course!