ThinkBoxly is the personal developer blog of Lucas Chasteen, author, programmer, artist, and always learning. Read more

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

AppTrailers Review – the Best and Worst Mobile Money-Maker

Although it’s been a while, I was a bit surprised by the popularity of past reviews on points-for-cash smartphone apps and services like FreeMyApps, AppBounty, and FeaturePoints. I suppose I shouldn’t have been—the prospect of earning a little cash on the side for performing simple tasks on a smartphone or tablet is certainly enticing, and considering there’s usually the most money to be made in simply referring other people to use these services, it makes sense that word would get around. Now, back when I first started reviewing these types of things, the apps I chose to review (or—full disclosure—was approached by a company to review), were basically the only options out there. Today the Android and iOS app stores are flooded with them, most promising high and delivering very, very low. There’s no easier way to scam people than to promise money for little to no effort, and while most of these points-for-cash apps genuinely do offer redeemable gift cards or direct payouts, you’d be hard-pressed to earn $5 in any reasonable amount of time and effort with them. In fact, if you’ve got a PC handy, you might be better off using a slightly different service, Amazon Mechanical Turk, to pad your wallet a bit.

But as I’ve gone on using and reviewing all of these apps and services, in secret there’s always been another that I’ve consistently fallen back on instead, not because it’s so much better or the payout is so much higher, but because it’s just so darn simple. I don’t have to dedicate time to using it, it’s just something I leave running in the background while my devices are on the charger. Yes, it does require your constant presence and maintenance, but once you get in the swing of things it’s perfectly possible to multitask it. And what’s more, I’ve discovered a few apps through it that I actually like, not junk apps that clutter my history and internal phone memory. Oh, there are junk apps aplenty, trust me, but the formula of this particular service eliminates the problems with them and lets you move on without wasting data or artificially raising an app’s download ranking on Google Play or iTunes.

What it Says on the Tin

I’m talking about AppTrailers, the more popular of two clone apps by parent advertising company AppRedeem (which shares its name with said clone). Just as you’d expect, AppTrailers is all about watching trailers of apps—usually games—to earn points which can then be redeemed for gift cards or direct payout to a PayPal account. The range of rewards here is actually quite impressive. Of course there’s always the staple Amazon gift codes, but AppTrailers doesn’t stop there. Points can be redeemed for practically any gaming platform on the market—Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo, even Steam—not to mention retail stores like Target, BestBuy, and HomeDepot. And that’s literally not even the half of it. The selection does fluctuate a bit over time, and the less common the reward, the steeper the minimum payout, but they do work, and if they don’t, AppRedeem customer support is surprisingly good and prompt at addressing the problem and ensuring their users get the rewards they worked for (and again in the interest of full disclosure, I used the regular customer support process and did not receive special treatment from AppRedeem).

Sound like a good deal? Well, it is…sort of. While it’s not much effort to amass points—you’re just watching a 15-30-second ad paired with a 30-second app trailer—as a tradeoff it will take you time. New users will make 5 points per trailer viewed, and after a while that figure drops to 3. In AppTrailers currency, 10 points = 1 US penny. That’s right: you’re making half a penny or less per trailer—and that’s better than average for these kinds of apps. It does add up, though, and AppTrailers makes it pretty easy to keep the flow of ads running. In my experience I’ve been able to earn as much as $50-60 a month, or one free videogame a month if you prefer (since that’s usually what I personally use the extra cash for). AppRedeem makes out like a bandit by comparison, but hey, I can’t complain. You’re never required to download an app in order to get points for previewing it (though in some cases downloading will earn you bonus points), contrary to other services like FreeMyApps. It’s about the easiest process you could ask for, which is probably AppTrailers’s biggest draw. It’s not the fastest money making app, but it is the easiest and requires the least amount of attention and interaction from the user.

So why hesitate so long to review AppTrailers? Why call it ‘the best and the worst mobile money-making app’?

Apps, Spam, Trailers, Spam, Spam, Spam, and Spam

While there is a lot that’s great about AppTrailers, unfortunately these things are closer to the exception than the rule. So long as you stick to the beaten path you’ll be fine, but it would be a disservice not to include a firm warning along with my solid recommendation.

While app trailers are indeed the main focus of AppTrailers, there’s plenty else going on to try and distract the user from it. I’m not talking about the alternative genres of video clips like TV, movies, and gaming trailers. Those are all well and good, though they’re usually much longer than normal app trailers and won’t earn you many points. That’s something to be aware of, but it’s not the problem like the other sections of AppTrailers are.

First and possibly the worst offender is the ‘Promos’ section. Here you’ll find all sorts of enticing point rewards for completing various ‘offers,’ but here’s a word of advice: don’t touch them. Anyone even a little bit internet-savvy will immediately recognize that filling out a form for a pre-approved auto loan for some company nobody’s ever heard of is probably a scam, and they’d be correct. What’s more, completing surveys and signing up for raffles and free trial subscriptions doesn’t even earn you the points advertised. You just sign your private information away and don’t even make a buck off of it for your trouble. Trust me. It’s not worth it. There are better ways. You may occasionally find a ‘watch the video’ offer promising 50-100 points, and these are usually safe to try out, but you’re mostly better off just watching regular trailers and earning little by little instead of spending the same amount of time trying to earn a lot in one chunk only to end up scammed in both the phony offer and in AppTrailers not giving you the points promised for it. This section is so bad, in fact, that it is the main reason I hesitated to review AppTrailers at all. Stay away from it.

Then there’s the user-uploaded videos section, which, while not dangerous like AppTrailers promos, is simply inane. Similar to how advertising programs work on sites like YouTube, in AppTrailers users can upload videos which are then coupled with ads and served to other users. Viewers earn the standard 3 points just for watching, and the uploader earns the same for every ‘like’ viewers put on the video. What’s so bad about that? Well, if it encouraged quality original content, there’d be nothing wrong with it at all. But it doesn’t. Instead it’s a hotbed of copyright infringement, with many of the most popular videos being pulled from licensed movies or copied from high-profile YouTube content creators. There’s no rhyme or reason to it other than to draw the most attention to generate the most clicks, and AppRedeem does nothing to discourage it. We’re talking real money going into people’s pockets because of content other people created. It might not work out badly for users of AppTrailers, but it’s certainly in poor taste at the very least. That being said, there’s certainly nothing stopping anyone from using the video uploads section correctly. If you want to make points faster, give it a shot. Just be sure to make something original, and don’t hit the ‘like’ button on unoriginal content. The same goes for ‘tips,’ AppTrailers’s version of comment sections, only here you’re basically out of luck with any good intentions. “hdhsgditjr” will almost surely earn way more likes (and therefore points) than a real tip about the product featured in an ad. Disheartening, to be sure, but at least in comments nobody’s copyrights are being infringed on.

It’s also worth mentioning that Android users are required to connect a Facebook account in order to redeem points for rewards. You can opt out of letting AppTrailers post on your behalf, but the requirement still might concern some users who’d rather not give an advertising company a direct path to their friends’ timelines.

A Word to the Wise

I make $50 a month using AppTrailers, $100 if I really work at it and get a little lucky. That’s real money made by running ads on a smartphone or tablet, and that’s pretty awesome. Few competing apps deliver that kind of extra income. No, it’s not much, but it’s enough to make a difference. What would you do with $50 a month off the record? Go to the movie theater? Buy a new video game? Dinner for two? Save it for something bigger? A little extra can go a long ways, and make you feel more free to do what you want without worrying about the budget. For its minimal effort and maximum payout, AppTrailers is a great service…so long as you explore all it has to offer discerningly and responsibly. The high number of scams and copyright violations in peripheral sections of the app make it difficult to recommend as a whole, but if used wisely it can easily eclipse similar services by its sheer convenience, ease of use, and great customer support.

As a final note, bear in mind that while I don’t mind people sharing their referral codes in the comments on these reviews, please do not claim that your code is worth X-thousand number of points. That’s not how these things work. Referral rewards are fixed, meaning no code is better than another. Do not try to bait referrals by claiming your code is worth more than someone else’s.

AppTrailers is available for Android and iOS on GooglePlay and the Apple App Store.