Fiksu launches FreeMyApps to stimulate paid app downloads

Fiksu, a Boston-based start-up that helps developers obtain loyal app users, aims to drive paid downloads with a new service called FreeMyApps. The product builds on work Fiksu has done to build traffic for free apps and creates a new enrichment layer that can now incentivize iOS (s aapl) users to try traditional paid apps that are ƒnow offered for free.

It’s a little complicated but here’s how it works: free app developers still turn to Fiksu to find the cheapest way to drive traffic to their apps. Fiksu optimizes user acquisition by selecting the most effective way at any given moment to reach users across a number of ad networks, real-time bidding systems, and incentivized download networks. But now, instead of using banner ads to divert those users directly to an app store, Fiksu will now offer them a chance to get free paid apps by going to

Users who go there will be presented with the option of downloading a free app and then earning credits, which they can apply toward the download of a paid app. It can take a two or more free downloads to earn a paid app. Users must download the app from the App Store and interact with it for 30 seconds or more to earn their credit. They are prompted to create a provisional profile, which then allows Fiksu to confirm whether they have downloaded and used an app. When they build up enough credit, they can “buy” apps like Angry Birds or Cut the Rope for free.

The free app developer still pays Fiksu to drive traffic and that money now gets split between Fiksu, which covers its costs, and the paid app developer, who then pays the 30 percent cut to Apple and keeps the rest. When it all goes well, the free app developer gets new users, who are now enticed to download their app because there’s the promise of getting something for free. And paid app developers now have a new way to market their apps, as long as they’re willing to subsidize them through Fiksu. The service works only on iOS for now.

Micah Adler, Fiksu’s CEO and founder, said there are number of ways for free app developers to drive traffic including services like Tapjoy, which recently went direct to consumer with its own free app portal. But there are few viable options for paid app developers, who don’t want to make their apps free, he said.

“For many paid developers, they don’t want to go with a free-to-play version but they’re forced to because they don’t have a good marketing channel. Our goal is to reverse the trend and give people a viable alternative and reason to stay as a paid app,” Adler said.

There are some challenges with this model. It will depend on getting enough free app developers to join this program, which is separate from Fiksu’s existing program. And those developers must be convinced that the downloads they get are worth the cost. The problem is some research shows that most people who download an app through an incentive abandon it. Adler said that the fact that users can pick out the app they want to download can help them engage more with the app. And because Fiksu confirms that a user actually used the app, it’s more likely that a consumer will stay with it instead of apps from other distribution models, which rely on just a download only. He said in the future, FreeMyApps will offer more personalization tools to help users find more relevant apps to download. The model also relies on users leaving an app to go to this portal, which may not be attractive to users who want to stay inside their app.

Though we already have a number of services aimed at helping users find apps, it still seems to be a growing opportunity, especially in a world with more than 1 million available apps. I think Fiksu has an intriguing tool for paid developers, who are reluctant to give up charging for their apps but struggle to keep up in a world dominated by free apps. It will have to prove its model over time but it’s another option for developers.