Apps we like: Epicurious

tags: advertising, apps

Great recipes (zillions of them) – and in-app advertising done right.

Back in the web 1.0 days, Conde Nast put all of the recipes from Gourmet and its other food magazines online at The recipes were searchable and over time Epicurious added ratings and other community features.

It’s been a fabulous resource for cooks. They are great recipes, and there are lots of them – including the 1955 recipe for steak au poivre that keeps me from going vegetarian.

Epicurious has now come to the iPhone with the free “Epicurious recipies and shopping list” app… .

That whole recipe database is now searchable from your iPhone. And, yes, it will make a grocery list from the recipes you pick.

  • search the entire Epicurious recipe database -- from the phone
  • see how other Epicurious users have rated the recipes
  • save favorite recipes
  • generate a shopping list from the recipes you pick
  • check off items as you buy them
  • price: free

It’s a great app, and the shopping list makes it the best way to use these recipes.

But how do they pay for that? The app is ad-supported, but in the least-intrusive way I’ve seen in an app. Here’s how it works –

A search tells you how many results were found (see the second screenshot below). If you click to see the results, the app then splashes an ad while it retrieves the recipes (third screenshot). The experience feels perfectly natural. “Oh,” I thought, “I’m waiting anyway, may as well view an ad.”

Woah! This is completely different than, say, the New York Times approach – where the splash ad get between you and content you may not want anyway.

What’s the difference? With Epicurious, I’ve seen enough to know I want to go on, so an ad is okay with me. Search confirms my intent.

The Times, though is a browsing operation. From a headline I don’t often know if the story will be what I want – or worth sitting through an ad.

For me, the result of the experience is annoyance or, for Epicurious, gratitiude.

Can you afford to annoy your users?