Sherwin-Williams iPhone App Soars After Mobile Ad Push

If an iPhone app falls in the App Store and no one is around to hear it, did it ever exist?

That’s more or less the existential question raised by mobile ad network AdMob — and why it approached paint company Sherwin-Williams about its ColorSnap app.

After convincing the paint company to proceed with a two-day, $15,000 ad buy last week, AdMob helped boost Sherwin-Williams’ app from the 70th to the 18th ranked position in the App Store’s Utilities section. This in turn greatly enhanced its visibility and further increased the likelihood that ColorSnap would be installed.

The ColorSnap app allows users to take a photo of a color in the real world and then match it to a shade in the Sherwin-Williams collection. It is the first app from Sherwin-Williams and launched in May.

Pam Gillikin, director of interactive sales and marketing for the paint company, says Sherwin-Williams is targeting both homeowners and do-it-yourselfers as well as trade companies and wholesalers with the app.

AdMob ran ads for the ColorSnap app throughout its iPhone network in the U.S. — which includes 2,500 apps and reaches nine million unique users. When a user saw an ad for ColorSnap and was interested, he or she clicked on it and was directed to the download page in the App Store.

AdMob approached Sherwin-Williams because it wanted a case study for the digiday:APPS event in August and it wanted to use a brand that had an app it could boost in popularity. ColorSnap was ideal because it was already well-reviewed and well-rated — it just wasn’t very visible.

“We talked about [Sherwin-Williams’] goals and they said they would love to be ranked more highly and get more downloads,” said Johanna Werther, product marketing manager for AdMob.

And that’s precisely happened. The second day of the burst campaign drove daily downloads up 500 percent. What’s more, the very act of boosting the app’s rank from 70 to 18 in the Utilities category meant it was more visible and therefore susceptible to organic growth, too, Werther says. The effect has continued this week, with 300 percent more downloads than the app saw during the same period prior to the campaign’s launch.

“IPhone users discover apps by browsing top-rated apps. So, if you get your app highly ranked, you get the benefit of organic downloads,” Werther says.

She also says “discoverability is critical” with the tens of thousands of apps in the App Store.

“For brands that invest significantly in building and developing an app, it’s critical to add a media campaign to make sure that users are going to discover it and download it,” Werther said. “Just building an app and launching it is not enough. You have to have a media campaign.”

And Sherwin-Williams seems to have learned this exact lesson.

“It certainly made us more aware of the greater opportunities that mobile advertising in general can do — not only with promoting the app but other products and services,” Gillikin said.

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