“App store affiliate” : a no brainer for all app developers (tutorial)

itunes apple app store affiliate program

“App store affiliate”: what does it mean?

To understand what “App Store affiliate” means, you first need to know about affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is something I had heard of many times, but always thinking it was for the others. A few weeks ago, I decided to spend a few minutes on Wikipedia to feel a little less stupid and then I understood after a few google searches that I could implement the concept for my website ReviewFordev and all of my apps.

With my bad-english vocabulary, here’s my definition of affiliate marketing: you are M.Nobody and WantsMore is a big company; WantMore will give money to M.Nobody each time:

  • M.Nobody brings people to a specific place (generally a website belonging to WantsMore)
  • M.Nobody gets people to purchase products from WantsMore.

In my case we will say that M.Nobody is an affiliate of WantsMore. Pretty simple isn’t it? So in our specific case concerning the App Store the idea is that a developer becomes an affiliate from Apple (sort of): each time he’ll bring people to the App Store, he’ll get a chance to make money. The be precise, he’ll generally earn 5% from everything the “other people” will buy during the following 72 hours. For instance a user click on the affiliate link of my app, doesn’t buy it, but decides to buy 3 seasons of “Friends” on iTunes that will cost $50, then I’ll earn 5%x50 = $2,5.

So the idea is that when you send users to the app store from your website or social media to your app, you want Apple to be able to know that those guys came thanks to you so that (indirectly) they can reward you. Here’s the before after for your link (real example for my App Tapikeo HD:

How do “they” know that the guy was sent by me? Simply because of the grid=1191 which is my unique identifier.


Should I contract directly with Apple to become “App store affiliate”?

It could have been an option but it’s not the case and you have to contract with “Affiliate specialists” who make the in-between job between you and Apple. Actually since there are several specialists for the different countries in the world, you even have to sign-up with several companies (it took me a lot of time to understand this…).

The 3 major Affiliate companies who work with Apple regarding the App Store Affiliate program are:

  • LinkShare: if you use their program, your links will start by http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/stat?[...] They manage Mexican, American and Canadian App stores.
  • Tradedoubler: http://tracker.tradedoubler.com [...] – They manage European app stores and Brazil App store.
  • DGM Pro: I don’t know, lol. They manage Australia and New-Zealand in particular.

So at that point your normally think “O my god, does it mean I have to choose specifically one of these companies each time? Would this system be so stupid that if I send my link with Linkshare format and that a user from French App Store click on it, then I won’t make any “affiliate” money?

Well, fortunately, some guys already thought about that. And the magic company here that comes into play is Georiot. Here’s the idea:

  1. You create an account with the 3 affiliate companies presented hereabove,
  2. You create an account in Georiot and you indicate in your account what are the identifications for your 3 other accounts,
  3. You create your links with Georiot so that when a user clicks on your Georiot link, it redirects him to the good App Store using the ID of the consistent Affiliate program !


Practically speaking what should I do to become an “App Store affiliate” ?

Here are the steps:

  1. Open a LinkShare account www.linkshare.com (take a look at the link: it’s an affiliate link !! If you click on this link, Linkshare will know that you register thanks to me and they’ll pay me $1,5 if you generates at least one click-through within 30 days of registering) => so for you it makes no difference if you click this link or directly type the URL but on my side, there’s a big difference since I get a change to become a millionaire thanks to you !
  2. Once they accept you, go to Programs > My Advertisers, and in the field “advertiser search” type “iTunes” (I’ve lost many minutes because I first type Apple then App Store).
  3. Apply for all the “Apple” programs that you’ll see: Mexico, Canada, US and UK (and don’t ask me why their names are so totally different!). They’ll review your request and a few days later they’ll send you an e-mail to confirm that you’re in.
  4. Open an account for http://www.tradedoubler.com, and do the same as for Linkshare (Publishers > Affiliation programs, then look for iTunes in the search field). You’ll only get to apply to 1 affiliate program (related to the country of your account). This is not a problem, you actually don’t need to register to all tradedoubler “country programs”.
  5. Do the same for DGM Pro (I’m too lazy, I didn’t do it personnaly up to now).
  6. Go to http://www.georiot.com/ and click the “sign up button”.
  7. In the registration form you’ll have to enter a “Sample Affiliate Link from your app or website”. To do so, go to your Linkshare account, click “Programs > My advertisers”. Click on the “US iTunes App Store” program. Click “Link maker tool”. Click “Bulk”. In the field items link, copy paste the iTunes address of any app (it’s not important), then click “Get Affiliate Links”. Then copy the new Affiliate link created into the field of the Georiot Sign-up form.
  8. Once you’re in in Georiot, you’ll have to tell Georiot about all the ids given by Linkshare, Tradedoubler and DGM Pro.
  9. So for each of the 3, and inside each of them for each program to which you applied, you have to create an example affiliate link (as we did in step 7.) and input it in your account. To do so, in Georiot click “Account”, then “Manage traffic sources”, then “Manage affiliate program set”, then “Add a new affiliate program”. The info on that screen are pretty straightforward I think.

So once all is configured how do I create my affiliate link with Georiot?

The best way I think is to use what they call the “Quick Build” method. Let’s assume that you want to get the affiliate link for your app http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tapikeo-hd-create-your-kids/id462923679?mt=8.

Your first need to know what they call GR-ID (GeoRiot Id). To do so, in your GeoRiot account click on “Account”, then “Manage traffic sources”, then “Manage affiliate program set”, then find the line related to United States (in the “LinkShare” section), and copy paste the number indicated in the GRID column (see picture)

find GRID number from GeoRiot

As seen on the picture, my GRID is 11191.

Then select the iTunes App id of your App (the number after “id”). For instance, in http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tapikeo-hd-create-your-kids/id462923679?mt=8, my app id is “462923679“.

To get your affiliate link, you just need to enter the GRID and App ID into the following framework URL: http://target.georiot.com/Proxy.ashx?grid=11191&GR_URL=http%253A%252F%252Fitunes.apple.com%252Fus%252Fapp%252Fid462923679%253Fmt%253D8

This also means that if you want to create GeoRiot affiliate links for many apps you can create a routine. For instance, all the links on http://www.reviewfordev.com are created with this php function:

function makeGeoriotLink($itunesId)

$newLink = “http://target.georiot.com/Proxy.ashx?grid=11191&GR_URL=http%253A%252F%252Fitunes.apple.com%252Fus%252Fapp%252Fid”.$itunesId.”%253Fmt%253D8″;
return $newLink;

In exchange of this service (and as far as I understand) Georiot will take a 15% margin from your revenues.

That’s it, I hope you understood that becoming an “App store affiliate” will just request a few minutes hours of your time, but then it’ll generate extra passive income very easily. Let me know if you need more details or if you think I should have more details in any of these steps.

In a few weeks/months, I might also share the revenues I got out of this :-)

Special thanks to Carissa Kluver who first introduced me to Georiot and to her awsome husband geek Mark who helped me several times with my coding!


[EDIT 2012 10 11] Here are some stats I get about this experience:

  • Weekly number of clicks on my Georiot links: 1113,
  • Weekly number of affiliated clicks (for which I might get a commission): 979 => 88%,
  • Total revenue on Linkshare since I started 25 days ago : $25,64 (corresponding to $452 in sales),
  • Total revenue on TradeDoubler since I started 25 days ago : 5,35 euros (yes, it’s for Europe :-) )
  • Total revenue on DGM PRO since I started 15 days ago (I had trouble to set up the account, and i set it up only for Australia): $0,55

So Bottom line it seems the average revenue is around 25,64/25+5,35*1,28/25+0,55/15 = $1,33 / day.

So for the moment, it’s definitely worth it, since it’s totally passive income !!

To the developers who will read this post: be careful when reading these stats as I get most of my traffic and clicks from ReviewForDev I think. I didn’t take the time to implement tracking parameters up to now so I don’t really now the part of this revenue coming exclusively from my apps…

26 thoughts on ““App store affiliate” : a no brainer for all app developers (tutorial)

  1. Several colleagues mention that another competitor of Georiot called Skimlinks is worth visiting. Depending on my conclusions as regards Georiot after several months, I might update this post with A/B testing between Georiot and Skimlinks!

  2. Thanks for this detailed guide. It’s very thorough on how and what affiliate mobile marketing is.

    However, I’m still left with the question of “what to expect?” As background, I run a series of pretty large websites and I’ve found that affiliate advertising has never worked out for me. I’ve invested millions of page impressions in it and the revenue has been paltry. Specifically, if I had used that same 300 x 250 spot to put up a ValueClick CPM ad I would have gotten paid $1 CPM (a dollar for each thousand page loads). If I had put up Google Adsense, I would have gotten probably theequivalent of about a $1.50 for those same page loads (it’s PPC so it’s a eCPM basis). I’ve found that affiliates have much less return. (More details here: http://learn-to-market-online116.blogspot.com/2012/08/mobile-app-advertising-metrics.html )

    But, giving our choices for monetization on mobile, it’s a whole new question. Do you have any petrics to share of how many sales you tend to get for each installation of your original app?

  3. I have no clue about what to expect, honestly !
    I just think that it would be stupid not to implement it because it doesn’t cost anything and can just bring additional passive income (even if it’s $500 / year !)

    I’ll share my data once it’s representative…

  4. Skimlinks (and their direct competitor VigLink) are not really competitors of GeoRiot. Sure they are both models to help with affiliate linking but there is a fundamental difference between the two. Skimlinks (and VigLink) have great breadth (they support building affiliate links for tens of thousands of DIFFERENT affiliate programs) while GeoRiot has great depth (we support the building of affiliate links for a single program but for ALL the countries that exist).

    App Developers looking for an additional revenue stream you will find much more value from GeoRiot then Skimlinks because that is 100% our speciality and just one fraction (1/18,000 th) of Skimlinks specialty.

  5. I don’t believe this recommendation to be true. We (GeoRiot) have many clients who leverage social media almost exclusively (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.) for posting their affiliate links.

    The concern may be that you need to use your own site when you apply for the affiliate programs. Your application will likely be rejected if you include a Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or even your iTunes Preview page URL in your application.

  6. Very helpful article – thank you! Even though LinkShare offers affiliate marketing, we have been looking at it primarily as a way to track sales in iTunes of our apps – to complete the circle in knowing whether someone that clicked on an iTunes link associated with our app, actually converted and bought it. Is this something you’re benefitting from with your apps too?

  7. Hello Amy,

    I had thought of using it this way, but i found it too inaccurate to be able to draw any conclusion: how can you differentiate the purchase of your own app from all the other purchases that occured within the 72 hours once the user clicked the link?

  8. It’s really a cool and helpful piece of info. I am glad that you just shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Yes I see what you mean (We are just testing it now). The main thing, if you use a deep link, is getting an idea of the category and price point of what was bought – this allows you to draw a reasonable conclusion (not 100% full proof) of whether they converted. Thanks again for the detailed info – very helpful!

  10. Great post lots of thanks ! Due to this post I think I will try it ! Does the Georit service work if I post the link on my facebook page and the customer reach iTunes via a link on my facebook page ? Does it work if I post a link on Pintrest ? If I display other apps on my Pinterest can I use this program also ?

  11. Hi Gil,

    Yes, once you set up your account you can very easily transform any link even from an app you don’t own so that you get the 5% commission if it gets clicked. It works on FB, Pinterest, twitter… anywhere.

  12. Thank you Jean-Eudes,
    I just started the process following your instructions,
    In the registration I was asked for my web-site, does this mean I will gain affiliation only when reaching the iTunes from my site or after I will be approved I will be able to add the URL of my app or am I missing somthing?
    Thanks again

  13. I’m curious if there is something like this for Google Play or the Amazon App Store?

  14. Ummm… following your notes for linkshare but it seems to only ask for website url at signup… nothing about apps. Was I supposed to put my app link in where it asked for website? I don’t think many app purchasers are visiting my site.


  15. Hello Laura,
    It asks for a website but this item doesn’t seem very important. In any case you’ll be able to use your affiliation IDs for your apps after the setup process is completed.

  16. Pingback: The Ultimate iPhone App Marketing Strategy Guide | Apptamin

  17. Hi Jean-Eudes, i was approved by itunes on dmg AU yesterday and i findout there linkmaker is “http://itunes.apple.com/au/linkmaker?output=lm&partnerId=xxx&partnerUrl={click_url_encoded_deeplink}&cc=AU” but when i added to georiot a problem apear Please check your link and try again.
    Could you help me to findout what real dmg aff link?

  18. Thanks for the helpful guide on affiliate marketing Jean.

    Tradedoubler asks for a country when I try to sign up. However, I don’t see the United States or India in the list. Do I have to reside in one of those countries to sign up ?

  19. It’s been a while now. Is this info still up to date? Is this still working? Why is this article directed towards app developers, I have a website, can’t I just link to any app related to my content and then benefit for 72 hours of whatever the visitors buys on iTunes?

  20. Hi Jean-Eudes, I’m curious after a few years, has using affiliate links on your app been working out for you?

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