Toura platform helps brands test app market

Toura's Mobile App Producer is a platform for creating apps that are accessible across a range of devices.

Toura's Mobile App Producer is a platform for creating apps that are accessible across a range of devices.

$200 to $1,000 per month, depending on volume – there is also a revenue-share or download fee, depending on whether it's a paid-for or free app.

Arik Abel, VP of digital services at French West Vaughan, began using the platform last November for the agency's client Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA).

How do you use it?
It allows you to build a mobile application from templates. You log into a sandbox; select from a series of templates; add content; and publish it live, either to a link that you download to test it on your phone or to the iTunes or Android store.

There are templates for schedules, photo galleries, selling tickets, videos, blog posts, and so on. You fill out the information in a template and decide on colors, background image, or header image – give it some style. There are options for shapes, sizes, and buttons. You piece it together almost like a jigsaw puzzle.

If there was any technical problem in building the app, our dedicated account person would troubleshoot. If our app wasn't in iTunes or users were reporting glitches, we'd speak to technical services.

With any new or innovative platform, you risk not knowing how long the company is going to be around or if it's going to get acquired and your content suddenly disappears. We built in contract contingencies to ensure we were protected fiscally if something happened and wouldn't be locked into a year-long contract if the platform breaks.

How does it serve your business needs?
CIAA was heading into its 100th anniversary and its annual basketball tournament. We knew website visitors were increasingly trending to mobile before and after this critical tournament. Toura provided an easy way to create a mobile app so we could see how the tournament audience would respond.

The platform gives us another weapon in our arsenal for proving the value of being responsive in real time to communications trends such as mobile adoption.

Realistic costs help our client test more quickly with less up-front risk and prove ROI before making a more significant investment.

How does it integrate with your existing infrastructure from an IT standpoint?
We access it through the web.

What are the main benefits?
It's really easy. It's great that our account strategists or supervisors can do the work.

We get to make our client look like a hero.

The main benefit for CIAA's end users is that they get all the basic information they would otherwise have to search for, and searching several times through mobile is a poor user experience. The main benefit for us is that our client was better able to give its audience what they need in a really positive, user-friendly way and offer something new of value at no cost.

What are the main drawbacks?
The templates aren't really customizable, so that limits what you can do visually. The rigid template approach did constrain things we wanted to do to make the app experience just as exciting as being at a basketball game.

We had issues with making changes after the app was published. Companies wanted to sponsor a page after it was published, but we couldn't change it. Because it was a free value-add service to CIAA's audience, sponsorships were important, and our hands were kind of tied there.

What would you like to see improved/added?
More customization of templates would help, as would the ability to make live changes on the backend without everyone having to update their app. But that's not a problem unique to Toura - it's the same for anyone who is publishing a native app.

Red Ant – specializes in bespoke app development for mobile devices.

SmartOnline – provides a platform to build customized and template-based apps.

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