In the iPhone App Store, as in life, popularity begets more popularity. And while success in that space is a goal for many
brands, getting people to download a mobile application is about more than simply creating a great interface. 

In the case of Sherwin-Williams, the company had created a fun and entertaining application that was useful in the mobile environment and promoted the brand’s products. After a $15,000 ad buy with AdMob, they moved up the ladder of popularity in the App Store, reaching the iPhone’s coveted top 25 most popular applications list. And as AdMob promised, the app got even more popular after they stopped running ads.

Mobile ad network AdMob has learned that the majority of downloads in the App Store are limited to applications that have already met a base level of popularity. AdMob has 2500 iPhone apps in its publisher network and found that 93% of customers surveyed download apps directly from their phones. Furthermore, 60% of iPhone users polled discover apps when browsing through the app store rankings. 20% said they are responding to ads about applications.

That means that advertising applications in the right places can be a very effective means of picking up new users. “That’s the two things we do well,” says Tony Nethercutt, AdMob’s VP of Sales. “We run ads. And we raise people’s rank in the app store.”

For Sherwin-Williams, they raised the rank of the company’s app with a $15,000 burst campaign over two days. The ColorSnap app allows users to snap colors from real life and get a color sample of a matching Sherwin-Williams paint color and
coordinating palette, for free.

According to AdMob, a text-ad campaign run
over two days in May generated a 1.08% click rate on 11.9 million
impressions and a 500% increase in downloads of the Color Snap app. After the company stopped running ads, iPhone users continued to download the app because it was appearing in the iPhone’s top apps. The application went from a ranking as the 70th to 18th most popular app
available on the iPhone.

According to Nethercutt: “Promoting an app with media is really the only way to ensure that you’re going to be highly ranked.”

Of course, it’s not always going to last. As of this week, the Color Snap app has fallen back
to No. 33 among utilities apps,.

But creating a great app and then hoping it will take off (or praying that Apple will pick the program to feature in one of its coveted iPhone commercials) is a much less effective strategy. As for Color Snap, even a ranking of 33 is still 50% higher than it ranked
before the AdMob campaign.