Faking Google Play Users for Your Android App

Posted By Debbie on October 26, 2012

I was at a conference last week showing off my startup, which has an Android app and an API. The focus of our biz is our platform and API. The smartphone app is nice and can make money, but I think of it more as a testing ground for our ideas and features. So it’s our in alpha in Google Play so people can try our core features.

A guy came over to my demo table to tell me about his company, who I won’t name. He started telling me that his company can get me more customers for my Android app. OK, that’s interesting. So it’s some sort of marketing? Yes. And can I say that I want to target Moms or Realtors to check out our app? Well, he tells me that’s like 5 levels into customising the demographic, so that’s going to cost me. OK, tell me about what this costs.

He starts telling me that if I want his customers to download my app from Google Play, and let’s say I’m open to it being anybody (without getting specific on the demographics), it might be 50 cents a user. If I want them to actually OPEN the app and try it, that’ll cost more. IF I want them to actually REGISTER and become a customer, it’ll cost more. He went on a bit more, but by now, I was pretty disgusted. I’m sure you can pay for those uninterested people to leave fake 5 star reviews too.

Maybe that explains the happy reviews I see of crappy apps. Someone bought those reviews.

“So these aren’t real people,” I said. No, he was sure they are real people. Their company gives them rewards in their own company’s currency (oh Lord, shoot me now) to do these things. He says he’ll show me more. I said, “No, please don’t. This is not a match to me.”

He acted like I must not want to market my app to people. I told him that 1) the public and my investors will NOT fall for fake vanity metrics about Google Play downloads or installs. These are not real customers. 2) As a UX person who cares about my product, I want REAL users to REALLY use it and give me feedback. I don’t need to artificially bump up my Google Play numbers. I need, more than anything, to get honest feedback from people who like our idea and want to try our app.

I wrapped that up and was still disgusted. This is cheating and lying. At best, it’s trying to fake popularity and make people think your app has more of an audience than it does. At worst, it’s lying to investors or potential investors, which I find unacceptable. I’m against lying. But lying ALWAYS comes back to bite you in the butt. Cheaters never win. Transparency and honesty win, at least in my book.