installCore Academy: Chapter 1
An installation platform is an ecosystem that provides software delivery, distribution, and monetization. It is a technology that helps software vendors connect with users.
Surprisingly few software producers and marketers are taking advantage of the huge distribution and delivery potential available to them through installation platforms. This lack of awareness is especially surprising considering that entering your software on an installation platform is almost always a supplementary solution, meaning you are opening up a new channel of revenue and exposure, without requiring that you sacrifice your other efforts. One of the overarching goals of installCore Academy is to illustrate the extent of financial opportunity at the fingertips of these traditional software companies.
The world of installation encompasses a great deal of topics and terminology. In this first chapter of the Academy we will clarify some key terms and concepts that will help both installation veterans and first-timers orient themselves in a rapidly evolving field.
In broad strokes, there are three main categories of people on the business side of the installation industry–Developers, Publishers, and Advertisers. Let’s start with some working definitions for each.
Developers: The people that build the product, sometimes referred to as independent software vendors (ISVs). In the context of installation, these are often independent producers who are looking for a way to create a pay per installation (PPI) or pay per engagement (PPE) revenue stream for their product without flooding their user experience with banners and pop-up advertisements.
Publishers: The group in charge of making software available for users. Just like book or magazine publishers, these are the people responsible for the market success of the software. Software publishers often come in the form of download portals such as Download.com or Softpedia. Publishers monetize their traffic using PPI and PPE.
Advertisers: Companies with finished software looking for more users. In the world of installation, advertisers place their promotions throughout the download. It is typical that they only pay for the placement if a user downloads their product.
Installation Applied: Making a Movie
Let’s use a movie analogy to tie these roles together.
The director, actors, etc…the people who create the movie are most like developers. They have finished their Oscar-bound classic, but now they need help getting their movie from a recording to a form where an audience can actually watch it.
Here is where the movie studio, the big producers, come in. They are in charge of packaging the recording into a dvd and getting it onto Netflix or iTunes. Sometimes they even own the stores where the dvd is sold. These producers are just like software publishers, the glue between creator and consumer.
But hard-copy sales and digital revenue might not cover the whole bill of making the movie. Or maybe the producers just want to make some extra cash off their investment. So they allow other movies to advertise in the theatre or before an online viewing. Software advertisers play the same part as advertising professionals in the movie business. In our example, installation advertisements are similar to movie previews.
One key point to note here is that these three groups are not mutually exclusive. That’s right, a developer may also be an advertiser one day, and then a publisher the next…or even at the same time! If you identified more with one definition than the other two, don’t write off the others as irrelevant–you may find yourself leapfrogging between categories throughout the lifecycle of your product. This fluidity is very important to keep in the front of your mind throughout the Academy.
The Current State of Installation
Did you know, about 35% of software installations fail for one reason or another?
Yes, you read that correctly. When you factor in the tens of millions of downloads that are attempted every day, you get a sense the missed opportunity in terms of dollars and user acquisition on a global scale.
Where COTS Installers Fail
Most, but not all, of the problems that result in download failures are technical in nature–broken connections, bandwidth bottlenecks–and most of these problems are also avoidable with an installation platform.
One common issue that is responsible for failed downloads is compatibility. Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) installers from operating systems like Windows or OSX have trouble adapting to individual configuration changes from end-users.
A high quality installation platform, on the other hand, can fix problems mid-download. It should have the capacity to update drivers on the fly and optimize download speeds with CDNs, just to name two enhancements.
So, first and foremost, you should care about software installation because you are losing a significant percentage of users and revenue just for technical problems. The primary function of an installation platform is to clean up these errors and improve download success rates.
A second improvement over COTS installation solutions is the analytics for advertisers and publishers. Before the rise of the installation industry (just a few years ago), developers and publishers had no way of knowing if their software was reaching their users. Now with the current level of business intelligence available throughout the installation funnel, all parties can gain valuable insights to guide their campaigns.
Software Distribution in Action
Let’s take a look at the ascent of a well-known music streaming software company to demonstrate the power of an installation platform.
With the goal of taking on the large incumbents in the music streaming industry, they decided to advertise on an installation platform. In late 2012, their Alexa Rank (a global ranking of website popularity) was a little under 10,000
After distributing their software on an installation platform for 8 months, their Alexa Rank climbed all the way to about 300. Their ranking in their home country surpassed 100, and they achieved over one million daily users.
How did they get so many new users so quickly? To greatly simplify, their success can mostly be owed to the power of installation targeting and learning from their analytics; two features that cannot be found on COTS installers. We’ll cover both of these topics in more depth in future chapters.
Installation platforms serve to distribute, deliver, and monetize software quickly and safely. This technology gives software publishers and advertisers more security and opportunity than COTS solutions. The deep extent of analytics available on every installation has contributed to a blossoming PPI and PPE industry, along with highly targeted advertising campaigns.