7 App Advertising Models

madmen

The smartphone app ad market is at a paced to hit $100 B in 2016. Consequently, numerous mobile ad companies have sprouted up. The mobile ad companies are wooing developers with various monetization models that can easily be integrated into an app with their SDK. This post lists 7 mobile ad monetization models.

1. Banner Ads

This is what most people think mobile ads are. They typically will occupy the real estate at the top or bottom of an app. If the user taps the ad, all sorts of possibilities open up from watching a video to the option of downloading an app.  I personally think this is pretty ineffective method of advertising and cheapens your app.  Users have become blind to banner ads.   The dominant players for banner ads are Google’s AdMob and Chartboost.

2. Interstitial Ads

These are inserted at transition points in an app like right before an app starts or in a case of a game after a level is complete. It’s like watching a commercial on television. It’s typically a video that can drop the user off to the advertiser’s desired URL or to download another app. Some of the mobile advertisers that use this model include TapJoyRevMob, and Flurry.

interstitual

3. Rewards Ads

They are my favorite because it’s a win – win for all involved. The reward is triggered by some event in the app like getting an achievement. The user will see a pop up where they will get a discount, gift card, coupon, etc. The owner of the app will also get compensated too. So everyone’s a winner. Players in this space are Kiip and Avocarrot.

 

rewards

4. Offer Walls

These are typically used in games where virtual goods are sold for real currency. The offer wall gives the player the option of earning virtual goods by performing some action on the wall. For example, a player can earn virtual gold by signing up for a trial Netflix account. Mobile Advertisers that support Offer Walls are TapJoyStartApp, and Fiksu.

offerwall

5. Notification Ads

I’m not a big fan of notification ads. Apps that support notification ads act like a Trojan horse (To be fair, users have to Opt-in). They will be able to push notification ads even when the app is dormant. Notification Ads are only supported on Android. My theory is that the reason that it’s not supported on iOS is that Apple rejects it because of the Trojan-like nature. AirPush and LeadBolt offer this mechanism.

 

notificationad

6. Native Advertising

This is used for apps that are content based and typically show up in the apps’ news feed. Facebook adopted native advertising and has done exceptionally well.  This ad model is probably the most effective way to generate revenue through mobile advertising.  Mobile advertisers that offer native advertising include AdRoll,Sharethrough, and PubNative.

nativeads

 

7.  Data Collection

When I originally wrote this article, I listed 6 mobile monetization models.  Recently, I met the team at Beacons in Space that developed a new revenue model that essentially collects data about users near beacons.  As such, I had to update this article with a new revenue model that  I’m calling Data Collection.  Essentially, the model passively collects data about the user.  Specifically in the case of Beacons in Space, the developer integrates their SDK into their app.  After the user downloads the app, it will track when users near a beacon and rewards the developer accordingly.  The biggest downside is that the app will ask the user to enable location based services for the app.  It’s not a big deal if the app already uses location services but if it doesn’t, it may set up a red flag for the user.  The upside is that this model doesn’t change the user experience.

datacollection

 

If you plan to develop an app that incorporates mobile advertising, my advice is to research the different mobile ad models, select one, then design the app to support that model.

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event. 

How much does it cost to make an app?

“How much does it cost to make an app?” As a developer, this is the most common question I am asked. This is like asking “How much does it cost to build a house?” Following the house analogy, are you looking for a mansion or a shack? Do you want a house made of straw, sticks, or brick? Do you want a custom home or a tract home? Just like a house, the variables in developing an app are endless.

Develop a Storyboard

The first place to start is defining what you want your app to do. I normally recommend our clients storyboard their app (the technical term is wireframe). The wireframe is like the blue print in the house analogy. The goal for developing a wireframe (or storyboard) is to capture functionality and flow. This is not the time to worry about the actual aesthetics yet. It’s important to start from the beginning though, when a user first launches your app. Think about what’s the first thing they will see? On the home screen, if they tap the first menu selection, what happens next? And so on.

To create our wireframes, our designers use a design tool called Sketch.  When I wireframe, I personally use PowerPoint.  My wireframes are ugly but effective.  I send our clients a PowerPoint template where they can either use PowerPoint’s drawing tools or they can even print it out and hand draw it.  My general recommendation is to use a graphics program that your’e comfortable with.

Other Factors

Beyond the storyboard, other factors that will impact the development and cost are:

  • Integration to an existing backend / Development of backend: Most of the apps we develop now either need to talk to an existing backend or we have to create a backend to support the app.
  • Integration to third party vendors: A lot of features that typically used to be expensive to develop can now affordably be added by leveraging third party vendors. Examples are push notifications and mobile commerce.

In addition to the wireframe, if you’re app requires extensive integrations to third party vendors, you may need to put together an architectural diagram.

Getting a Quote

For the most part, a developer should be able to provide you a quote to develop your app based on your wireframe (and architectural diagram). You can find reputable U.S. based developers at thumbtack.com and theymakeapps.com.

You can also find freelancers and offshore teams at upwork.com and guru.com.  Just beware. I’ve talked to clients that have used developers from these sites and it’s a mixed bag. I’ve talked to a few people that have had good experiences and I’ve heard of some horror stories.

If you feel like your app concept is the next Uber, it’s okay to ask the developer for an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) or to ask them to sign your NDA. When you go through this process, you’ll find a vast range for the quotes. My recommendation is to look at other when selecting a developer.

(Shameless plug – we also would, of course, be happy to provide a quote for your project. Just visit us at Apptology.com)

Alternatives

App development, like most technology has become commoditized to some extent. If you have little budget for app development, you may consider DIY (Do It Yourself) App services like ibuildapp.com or seattlecloud.com. There is also a middle ground where a developer can create a robust but cost effective solution based on templates. Apptology offers a cost effective app development solution using templates (called ReadyBuilt). Mobile Roadie is another developer that uses template. Apps based on templates are primarily used to promote a business or to provide content and are typically a fraction of the cost of developing apps from scratch.

Final Thoughts

My answer to the question, “How much does it cost to develop an app?” is “It depends.” If you are thinking about developing an app, I highly recommend taking a little time to create a storyboard or wireframe. This step will help you flush out your concept and greatly assist a developer in providing a solid quote for your app.

Adobe Kickbox: Innovation in a Box

adobekick

Origin

Typically when an organization gets larger, it actually gets harder to innovate.  However, Mark Randall, VP of Creativity at Adobe, had a terrific track record.  In his interview with Startup Grind Sacramento, Randall stated that his boss at Adobe was amazed how quickly he was able to accomplish tasks and meet milestones. Randall was then tasked to develop a method that could show others how to do the same thing. The idea of automating complex processes was an attractive yet equally challenging endeavor that even Randall doubted would be possible to produce. After pondering on it for a few months, he wasn’t sure how something of that magnitude could be done until he looked at the project from a different perspective. “When I started to think about internal innovators at Adobe that were my customers and I wanted to make a product that could help them be an innovator, that sort of shifted everything mentally…to where I said I can do that, I can build that product.”

What’s in the Box?

Adobe Kickbox consists of a 6 step process that shows entrepreneurs the most effective ways to bring their product to the market. And it’s not just limited to the startup world. Government entities and nonprofit organizations all have downloaded this open-source system since offering it for free in February of this year. Randall explained it by saying, “It’s basically this system with essentially 6 levels and starts with level 1 about motivation and there’s a set of actions that you complete at the end of each level and their self-gaining so you check the boxes [required] and move on to the next…” Once all 6 stages are complete, users move on to the post “blue box” which helps you take your product to the next level. The entire system is void of a hierarchy and there’s no central source mediating or regulating how the system operates.

Streamlining Innovation

In a nutshell, Kickbox aims to eliminate the number of hoops innovators must jump through to get their idea approved. Adobe Research Scientist, Hailin Jin, said that, “Before, you had to get buy-in from your own boss, the product team, and other departments. Now, people work on projects without anyone’s approval.” Jin stated that before Kickbox, “risk taking was allowed. Now, it’s rewarded. That has really changed the way people think.” Randall illustrated how Kickbox simplifies tasks that more often than not, established organizations spend way too much time on. He recalls how General Electric asked him how many innovative coaches (out of the 300 available) should work with the Kickbox because they needed to deliver in a 6 month timeframe. He replied by saying that Kickbox doesn’t require many people to operate and it should only take about 3 weeks to complete. He concluded that like many companies out there, General Electric was overthinking an instrument designed to make business easier…much easier.

Randall feels that leading innovators at big companies are often denied the resources to innovate freely. Believing that innovating and creating is a natural human desire; organizations may stand in the way of employees carrying out the activities written in their job description. Why? Because company directors and presidents are afraid of taking risks which is not only irrational but can be counterproductive in the long run. Randall said in Fortune Magazine, “Ideally, you want to highlight that element of risk. Make sure everyone knows about it. Let employees know that you’re betting on them to come up with great ideas.” The most creative people out there can’t stand feeling limited and the bureaucratic structure of the workplace is usually the biggest obstacle when doing so.

Impact So Far

Still who would’ve imagined that a small red cardboard device, that looks similar to a restaurant “to go box,” could accomplish so much in a short amount of time? Inside the Kickbox, Adobe innovators find writing utensils, notebooks, snacks and a $1,000 prepaid debit card that they can spend however they choose. By placing innovators back in the driver’s seat, this allows them to do what they do best: create! However, only 23 of the 1,000 kickbox users have reached the mysterious blue box stage and so far, no Adobe products have been birthed from the concept. Nonetheless, the business model motivated organizations such as Cisco to adopt similar concepts such as “Adventure Kits” while launching a companywide “Innovate Everywhere Challenge.” In Q1 of 2016 alone, Adobe reported a 25% increase in revenue along with a 48% increase in profits. Although these improvements can’t be completely accredited to the Kickbox, it’s clear that Randall’s, “whole culture of experimenting” is catching on and empowering innovators nationwide.

It’s Free

One of the best things about Kickbox is that it’s free.  You can download all the materials here (minus the prepaid gift car).  It’s a great tool to help you develop that innovative idea that’s been spinning in your head and hopefully helps it become reality.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

50 Years of Star Trek: Highlights of Some Predictions and Inspirations

The crew of the Starship Enterprise began their voyage 50 years ago, airing for the first time on September 8, 1966. As I kid, Star Trek was my favorite show. When my cousins and I would play Star Trek, I would always play Scotty, the miracle working engineer. In many ways, Star Trek was influential to me personally. My decision to go into engineering and join the U.S. Navy were both inspired in part by Star Trek. In honor of Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary, I would like to highlight a few of the predictions and inspirations that have arisen from Star Trek.

Diversity in the Work Force

If you watch the original series now, you probably wouldn’t think twice about the crew’s cultural diversity.  However, the crew’s diversity was unheard of the 60’s and included Lieutenant Uhuru (a black woman), Lieutenant Sulu (an Asian), and Ensign Chekov (a Russian). If you look at the times, the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing, the United States was also in the middle of both the Vietnam War and the Cold War. In comparison, Star Trek’s closest contemporary, Lost in Space, had an all-white cast. Star Trek had an optimistic view that in the future we would all learn to resolve our differences and work together.

startrekcrew

The Cell Phone

I was watching Star Trek with my niece and when Captain Kirk pulled out his communicator, my niece commented, “How cute, a flip phone.” Interestingly enough, Dr. Martin Cooper inventor of the first hand held phone admits his inspiration came from Star Trek. In addition, Motorola’s first flip phone, the StarTAC, looked remarkably like a Star Trek communicator.

The iPad

When the iPad first came out, it reminded me of Star Trek’s PADD (Personal Access Data Display). Interestingly enough, when Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, first demo-d the iPad, he showed the rebooted Star Trek Movie as an example of a video that could be watched. In a recent History Channel documentary, 50 Years of Star Trek, it was revealed that Apple approached Star Trek to license the “PADD” name.

The Tricorder

The Tricorder was a medical device used by Dr. McCoy to diagnose his patients. The Tricorder has yet to be invented. However, XPRIZE has a $10 M Tricorder Challenge which is an open competition to develop a “Tricorder device that will accurately diagnose 13 health conditions (12 diseases and the absence of conditions) and capture five real-time health vital signs, independent of a health care worker or facility, and in a way that provides a compelling consumer experience.” Results for the competition will be announced in 2017.

The Space Shuttle

The Starship Enterprise would use Shuttlecrafts to ferry crew members to a planet when they couldn’t use a transporter.  In 1972, when NASA began to develop a re-usable spacecraft, they called it the Space Shuttle Program. The prototype for the shuttle program was originally to be named the “Constitution.” After receiving hundreds of thousands of letters from devoted Trekkies, President Ford requested the prototype to be renamed “Enterprise.”

Star Trek creator, Gene Rodenberry, had an optimistic view that humanity will overcome the challenges that threaten to destroy us and travel to the stars. After 50 years, Star Trek is still going strong in books, video games, movies and television.   For you inspiring entrepreneurs looking for an idea for your next startup, try watching a couple episodes of Star Trek.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014. Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

The 7 Mobile App Monetization Models

app monetization

Something I typically ask my startup clients is “how do you plan on making money?”Sometimes, I get a stunned silence in response. They’re so caught up in their idea that they never think about the monetization model. This is especially true for startups that include an app as part of the business model. So, if you are at the napkin stage of your next app venture, here are seven app monetization models to give you food for thought.

1. The Price of the App

The most obvious way to make money is by selling it on the app store. On the Apple App Store, the price can range from $.99 to $999.99. Both Apple and Google take 30% but have pretty good systems that will deposit the funds directly into your bank account.

Although from what I’ve observed, putting a price on your app is often a barrier for people to download your app. We had a client that had a fairly successful app with thousands of downloads a week (as a free app). As soon as they charged 99 cents for their app, it went from thousands of downloads to forty. If your goal is to make a profit, my suggestion is to figure out how to monetize a free app. However, if your app solves a business problem and there’s a definite ROI (Return on Investment), then you should charge accordingly.

2. In-App Purchases

Typically, in-app purchases for a free app allow users to:

  • Unlock features

  • Purchase a subscription

  • Buy virtual goods

  • Purchase additional content

Just as in the price of an app, Apple and Google Play take 30%. If you look at the top grossing apps in the Apple App Store, the top 30 apps are all free but offer in-app purchases.

3. Mobile Advertising

Mobile advertising nears $100 billion in 2016. There are 6 mobile advertising models and I discuss them in this article.

4. License

Essentially, if you build an app that solves a problem, you can license it. A good example is event apps. There are a number of companies with an app template that will create custom apps for organizations in need of an event app. They typically charge a setup fee and a monthly subscription. This follows a SaaS (Software as a Service) model.

5. Improving the Business Process

Although this isn’t exactly a monetization model, effectively implementing a mobile app can substantially improve business revenue. A good example is Fandango. Their revenue increased by 57% after they launched their mobile app in 2012. If you have an existing business or startup, implementing a native app that improves your business process may be a way to increase revenue.

6. Deliver a Service  

Uber is a great example of service delivery via a mobile app. In 2015, their revenue was estimated at $1.5 billion and they currently have a valuation of $62.5 billion.  Other examples of delivering a service via a mobile app are TaskRabbit and Doctors on Demand. For developers, one of the most requested types of apps is an Uber-style app. Essentially, the model involves connecting a resource to a demand, handling the transaction, and then taking a percentage of the transaction.

7. User Acquisition

If you look at WhatsApp and Instagram, they practically had no revenue model before getting acquired. What they had were a lot of users. At the time of their acquisition, WhatsApp had 600 million users and Instagram had 30 million users. Their apparent strategy was to acquire a lot of users then get acquired. WhatsApp was acquired for $19 billion and Instagram for $1 billion. Not bad for businesses with no revenue model.

If developing an app is part of your business strategy, then hopefully this article has helped you consider the right monetization model for your business plan and pitch.

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

Google Cardboard: The Best Mobile Apps of 2016

Google Cardboard

What’s Google Cardboard?

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Google Cardboard, it’s worth taking a look. For those who don’t know, Google Cardboard is a virtual reality platform that utilizes a cardboard head mount where you can  attach your smartphone.  It was designed to be a low cost virtual reality system with headsets that cost as little as $1.99.  In comparison, an Oculus Rift head set will cost around $1,000.  Moreover, developers can create their own applications using the Cardboard SDK.

Virtual Reality: You Have to See it to Understand

In his TEDx Talk, Chris Milk stated “Talking about virtual reality is like dancing about architecture.”  You have to see it to understand it.  To give it a try, you’ll need to purchase a cardboard headset.  Official Google Cardboard viewers can be purchased here.  They range from $15 to $120. On Amazon, you can find it as low a $1.99. If you’re lucky,  I’ve seen them given away as SWAG at startup conferences.

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Image Source: Digital Trends 

When you peep through its lenses, you experience a world generated via mobile app with the ability of displaying landscapes, film, video games and other multimedia formats. The Google Play Store offers a plethora of apps to choose from and is compatible with iPhone and Android devices.

After you’ve get your Google Cardboard headset, here are the best mobile apps that you can try:

iPhone Mobile Apps

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Image Source: VR Island Screenshot

Android Mobile Apps

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Image Source: Deep Space Battle Screenshot

With developers having access to the Google Cardboard SDK,  It will be interesting to see what innovative uses of Google Cardboard arises. If you still have your doubts about mobile apps, check out why the public sector needs a mobile strategy and how this could relate to the next generation of VR applications!

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

 

Apptology CTO Gary Dalal Speaks at TEDx 2015

 

On December 6, 2015, Apptology CTO, Gary Dalal, spoke at TEDxWalledCity in New Delhi. His talk was about the importance and power of peoples’ contacts. He describes a person’s contacts as that person’s treasury.  Gary developed LinkLadder to help users tap into the power of people’s contacts and their contacts’ network. LinkLadder can help the user to both search for contacts and get discovered.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

Three Reasons Why Your App Should Include Push Notifications

Three Reasons Why Your App Should Include Push Notifications

For our clients, I will typically recommend that they include ability to send out push notifications.  Here are three reasons why:

  1. Push Notifications allow you to market directly to your clients: If you are able to get your customers to download your app and opt in for push notifications, they are essentially providing permission for you to market to them directly.  One of our first clients had an app allowing their customers to order pizza.  Mondays were their slow days when they might only get 2 pizza orders from their app.  We did an experiment where we sent out a push notification offering $3 off a large pizza.  That day, they received 14 orders from their app.
  2. Push Notifications have a high read rate: Email marketing has a dismal read rate of below 14%.   In comparison, push notifications have a 50% higherread rate with click-through rates that are twice as high.
  3. Push Notifications increase retention rate: push notifications are an effective way for the app to interact with a user.  In fact, according to a recentstudy, it’s shown that push notifications increase the 90 day retention rate by as much as 180%.

So, if you are currently developing an app you should consider adding the ability to send push notifications.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

Mobile apps: Time to jump on the bandwagon?

Vector mobile app - email marketing and promotionLet’s face it. Mobile apps are hot. More than60 percent of adults in the U.S. have smart phones, and their use of apps is on the rise. Some might argue that in the B2B market, apps are not as “sexy” as in the B2C market. While not necessarily used to make online purchases, their importance and impact can be just as powerful. Like B2C apps, they offer a 24/7 connection with the marketplace. Plus, they provide a platform to support key functions including (but not limited to):

  • Making presentations
  • Improving internal processes
  • Distributing product information
  • Enhancing customer support
  • Accessing sales CRM
  • Monitoring inventory
  • Managing projects.

What does this mean for B2B companies? It means, it’s time to evaluate the potential benefits of a mobile app for your business.  And, if appropriate, it’s time to develop a “use” strategy, along with a design, testing and implementation framework.

The Framework for Developing Mobile Apps

Strategy: Before investing a dime, consider the target audience, whether it is internal or external. How do they like to receive information? What is the real goal of a mobile app? How will it make a difference in your business operations? Is it a core issue? Do you have the resources to develop and implement it? If internal developers are not available, what external options exist?

Design: Do your research. Does a similar app already exist? Can it be customized, or do you need to start from scratch? Involve potential users in the design process. Create a storyboard where you can see frame by frame what the app will do and how it will look. Make sure the end product is consistent with your brand. Develop code documentation and have it peer reviewed during the process. Build in analytics for future data gathering. At the same time, keep the end product simple and easy to understand to ensure maximum use.

Testing: Even the most competent designers will find bugs in their newly created apps. What works in the lab doesn’t always work in the field. Test it with a variety of users and find out where the bugs are and how to eliminate them. Use this part of the process to create documentation for training and implementation purposes.

mobile app iconsImplementation: One of the biggest mistakes in app development is the lack of a defined implementation process. According to Rich Foreman, CEO of Apptology, “One costly error businesses make is developing an app that no one uses.” Companies can reduce the likelihood of this occurrence by doing their homework upfront and creating a well-defined and shared marketing and communications plan to introduce and support the app. Remember to measure user experience and feedback, and respond accordingly.

In the end, it’s not just whether or not you jump on the mobile apps bandwagon. It’s how well you do it that counts.

This post was written by Gerri Knilan and originally posted in her Trade Secrets Blog.

App Search Optimization (ASO) 101

App Search Optimization (ASO) 101

Source: http://blog.yudu.com/2014/01/28/app-store-optimization-a-summary-of-whats-what/

 

After you’ve spent a considerable amount of resources getting your app published in the Apple App Store, how do users find it in the Apple App Store?  After all, there are currently 1.2 million apps in the Apple App Store.  This post will go over the concept of App Store Optimization (ASO) and the factors that impact an apps’ search ranking.

When you do a search on the Apple App Store, these are the factors that dictate which apps show up at the top of the search list:

  • Key Words: Specifically, what’s shown in the key words in the apps meta data and the app’s title.  Apple allows 100 characters for the key words and 30 characters for the title.  Unfortunately, the app description has no bearing on the app’s searchability within the app store (however, it does help in being found outside of the app store using a Google search).
  • Number of Downloads: when searching the app store using the key words, apps with a higher number of downloads will appear at the top of the search.
  • App Reviews: all things being equal (key words and downloads), the tie breaker is the number of reviews.  Higher rated apps will have the advantage.

This just covers the basics of ASO.  Entire industries have sprung up to provide data and strategies to increase an app’s exposure and consequently downloads.    I always advise our clients to develop a marketing plan; ASO needs to be part of that plan.

By Rich Foreman, CEOApptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.