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Marketers already flocking to App Store vanity URLs

Marketers and developers are expected to quickly jump on the new App Store vanity URLs from Apple as they look to drive downloads for their mobile applications.

The first of the new vanity URLs appeared at the end of a commercial for the upcoming Star Trek: Into Darkness film that appeared during last weekend?s Super Bowl game. The URL, appstore.com/startrekapp, is likely to be more memorable for consumers than traditional URLs tied to app downloads because it is much shorter and includes the name of the brand.

?I think you are going to have all of the big companies jump on this,? said Scott Michaels, executive vice president at Atimi Software, Vancouver, Canada.

?There is a short window when you can get [specific URL] and if you don?t get it, you are never going to get it,? he said.

?I am sure there will be a secondary market with people registering URLs and then privately selling them to be handed over when some registers an app. I don?t think it will command the same kind of dollars at true URLs do.?

Fast movers
Mr. Michaels reports that Atimi has already been having conversations with clients about the vanity URLs and that everyone is moving as fast as they can to jump on this opportunity.

That is because the vanity URLs could help drive app downloads by providing a link that is more easily remembered than traditional long-form URLs and that can also be searched for more easily.

The new short links, which will be available for company app pages and iOS app landing pages, help developers address the issue of discovery. The short links are likely to quickly begin appearing in print ads, TV spots, radio ads, app trailers and billboards alongside other links such as a Facebook page URL.

Apple says that the vanity URLs will be accessible worldwide and will direct user?s to their respective country?s App Store. The App Store short links replace short links using the itunes.com URL.

Be specific
Marketers and developers are being urged by Apple to use specific names rather than more generic ones because of the possibility of name conflicts or other errors.

More generic URLs, such as appstore.com/airhockey, will return a search page. This could help address the possibility of someone buying up popular short URLs with the intention of selling them to the highest bidder.

?There will always be a grey area, but [returning search pages in some instances] will address some of the problem,? Mr. Michaels said. ?The real issue then becomes what is generic?

?It all depends on the rule set Apple creates,? he said. ?One obvious way is to limit it to the actual app name, since those are unique already.

?The known example is StartTrekApp, and then one would assume /StarTrek would return a search for all star trek related products.?

Spell check
There is also the chance that some companies will try to capitalize on a competitor?s success by coming up with URLs that are similar.

One potential challenge for developers is that they will only be able to register for a URL when they submit a new version of their app.

?I would bet that it won't be long before you even have incorrect spelling URL's being taken by those crap/spammy game developers out there, who clone a game,? Mr. Michaels said. ?Meaning, I expect to see short URL's like ?TmepleRun,? or taking the shorter version like ?Temple? with a copy/clone game.?

?Those dev teams that are working on the larger, more complicated apps really can't just crank out a new version at a moment?s notice, so they are at risk of having the URL the marketing team wants taken,? he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York