Interested in mobile marketing for the arts? What I learned from my app.

It has been a little over two years since we debuted our “At The Booth” TKTS app, thanks to the creative inspiration of people like you (read the backstory here).

We were immediately blessed with a lot of incredible press attention, including a spot on Entertainment Weekly‘s “Must List” (right next to Will Ferrell!  And sales skyrocketed.)

When I called for iPhone app ideas in the first blog I wrote about the subject of theater apps, I promised the people that came up with an idea a piece of the profits if we made the app.  Well, when I saw the sales of our app in the first week I thought I’d be writing checks to them in a month or two (not a bad recoupment rate, don’t you think?).

But all that new capital coming in, as well as the emails I got asking for Blackberry and Droid versions, started tickling my big business funny bone.  And I thought, “Invest back in the business . . . and expand.  Expand.”

So we rushed the Blackberry and Droid versions to market, which was the logical move that I would expect most people would have made.

And, well, while the iPhone versions continued (and continue) to move quickly off the electronic shelves . . . the Bberry and Droid sales pale in comparison (and, to make matters worse, were more complicated and expensive to make – and don’t have the same rich user experience).

It was the logical move, but not the most profitable move, and we’ve yet to write one of those checks to those fellow app inventors because of it.

At a recent internal meeting about the app, we had a post mortem to find out why.

And, because I know several of you are considering entering the mobile marketing space for your arts organization or have an app idea of your own, I thought I’d share with you this important fact.

Arts audiences don’t use Blackberries and Droids.

Ok, that’s an enormous generalization, but our At The Booth case study certainly bears it out, as do these stats from a survey that compared iPhones to Droids.  iPhone users are . . .

  • 18% more likely to be women
  • 29% more likely to be 35+
  • 17% more likely to be politically liberal
  • 37% more likely to have a graduate degree
  • 67% more likely to have an annual household income of $200k

Here’s another demographic study of all three that points to our audiences being on the iOS platform as well.  And while this one demonstrates that Blackberry users are closer to the iPhone demo than the Droid users (which is also consistent with our case study, as we sell more Bberries than Droid “At The Booth” apps), iPhone still trumps in our key demographic areas, including annual household income and age.

So your takeaway?

If you’re developing mobile platforms for the arts, or planning a mobile marketing campaign, and you are limited by budget (who in the arts isn’t?) then my recommendation based on our experience and on current research is to focus on iPhone users.

Because that’s who our audience is.

Oh, and if you don’t have our app, you can get it here or in your app store.  We’re so close to being able to write those checks to those folks who helped make it happen, and I’d love to do so by the end of the year.  In case you haven’t figured it out – it’s available on all platforms.  🙂


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  • Reports were out yesterday that there were 500 million Android devices in the wild. I felt like it was BS because just about everyone I know is on iOs. Your post just answered why. I am surrounded by three worlds: arts, TV/film, and sports media. And these three worlds are almost universally iOs.

    I should also add that young people seem to gravitate towards iOs as well because most of my son’s friends are iPhone people. And my daughter’s.

    And I guess we should add women to that because my wife and all of her homeys are AppleHeads.

  • Kevin Morales says:

    I liked this article because my App Audition Prep does very well and I considered putting out for Android but really didn’t want to do the work or spend the money. Now I feel I made the right decision.

  • It’s not just the arts. I edited a book for a guy who made millions on apps, and he doesn’t bother with anything besides the iPhone. It’s simpler, cheaper, all the screens are the same size and people who buy iPhones are willing to spend money– they already showed that by buying a more expensive phone. Bigger commitment on the phone means they will also spend more money on apps, especially the people who are consistently buying the latest and greatest versions. OTOH, my iPhone hasn’t gotten a new app that wasn’t free in about a year.

  • Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    The iPhone culture is just different than Android. Iphone users are simply more “apt” (no pun intended) to purchase the apps they use. Apple has done a great job of creating this dynamic. The “Apple Tax” is happily paid by those that demand the Apple experience they have come to expect. The Android culture, harkening back to it’s open-source Linux roots is a culture of sharing. The DNA of open-source Linux based operating systems is to make software freely available. The Android user expects free software, has received it in many cases, and is reluctant to pay for apps.
    Your conclusion that your audience is not to be found outside of the iphone sphere may be clouded by your own Apple bias. Your analysis of the sales of your paid app reflects only upon your apps sales, and can’t be considered in a vacuum when there is a free competing app freely available. I would imagine that Android users would lean in the direction of the TKTS free app, rather that paying for At The Booth, but only TDF can quantify that. Perhaps you can inquire of them what the breakdown of downloads is.
    Now that a new larger iphone is out, with a bigger screen, the advantage of uniformity of hardware no longer exists for iphone, and the scourge of fragmentation will no longer be limited to Android. Then again, another word for fragmentation is choice. The sheer numbers of Android phones make it a platform to ignore at your own risk.
    The free apps are often ad-supported, so the is an opportunity for creating revenue on Android. But,like producing live theater, no one said creating mobile apps would be easy.

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