GoWide on App User Acquisition in 2014 and Beyond

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GoWide is a mobile ad platform that connects mobile consumers via partnerships with mobile publishers and app owners. Artyom Diogtev and the GoWide team shared their thoughts with us on app user acquisition in 2014 and beyond. Over to them.

Artyom Dogtiev

Christmas has come and gone and, now that we’re all well-stuffed with wine and turkey, it’s time to kick back and take a look at what 2014 brought into the app user acquisition picture.

Paid rivals Organic

According to a recent Localytics report, there are several crucial trends we can highlight within the past year. The first trend is that finally app marketers managed to improve their ad campaigns so that paid users performance equaled organic users.

This means that people who discovered and installed mobile apps via ads became as good as the ones who found and installed the same apps on their own. For app owners this means that they’re getting a lot of paid users to get increased volume and ranking on the app stores or a much smaller number of loyal users who they know will interact with their apps. 2014 is the first year in the mobile era when this paradigm was shifted. It is now possible to acquire users equally engaged with apps as organic ones.

Two major metrics that support this finding are 3 months retention (people who are still using apps after the 3 month period) and power users percentage figures (users who opened the app more than 10 times). The numbers for retention were 16% for organic users and 17% for acquired users, which means that people who installed apps via ads were likely to spend a few more sessions with apps. For power users, 27% for organic users and 26% for acquired ones. Certainly this trend will continue next year and will require app marketers to keep the current level of app marketing ad campaign sophistication in order to acquire quality app users.

Increasing app engagement

The next metric to look at is app engagement. In 2014, with more than 1.2 million apps on the App Store and similar figure for Google Play market, people had on average 41 apps installed on their mobile devices. The most important metric to measure user engagement is how many times they launch the app. In 2014, it went up 22% for mobile app launches. Of course the number of launches alone doesn’t say much, but the paper also reveals that last year we saw a 21% increase for how much time people spent with their apps. In conjunction, these two figures provide clear evidence for app engagement growth in 2014.

The major reason for such growth is a smartphone screen size, Apple and Samsung are two of the biggest advocates of this trend. The first part of 2014 was dominated by the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the second by iPhone 6 and 6 Plus from Apple. Given the phenomenal demand on iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, it’s safe to say that Apple has won the phablet market as it did with the smartphone market – not in terms of the number of units sold but in quality, profits and customer satisfaction. The large number of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus units sold was almost instantaneously reflected with the special option to target ads specifically to these iPhone models in the Facebook Mobile App Install ads platform dashboard. According to the VentureBeat report, Facebook was the major user acquisition channel in 2014 so it’s reasonable to assume that Facebook app install ads and app re-engagement ads helped to increase user app engagement.

Push notifications boost retention

App retention is the next key metric to analyze. According to the Localytics study in 2014, 20% of apps were launched only once, which isn’t great but is 2 points less than in 2013. On the other end of the spectrum we see 39% of app users who downloaded an app and used it 11 times or more.

Push notifications were named as one of the major contributors to the retention level increase. Using push notifications allowed marketers to increase retention by 2-3 times. We can also mention the overall increase in the quality of apps and how helpful they have become in our lives.

Trends for the coming year

Let’s look at what we may expect to emerge in 2015 based on the trends of 2014. Applification, as defined by the guys from Localytics, is when mobile apps cross over web, wearable devices, cars and soon our houses. If we look at websites such as Google Maps, YouTube and Facebook we can see that these web apps are approaching native mobile apps in terms of their functionality. It’ll be interesting to see what AppleWatch Kit, a development platform to build apps for AppleWatch, will bring next year.

The next trend we can predict for the upcoming year is cross-channel marketing. This year mobile traffic for the first time overtook web, and even though it leads marketers toward mobile as the major channel, it doesn’t mean that they will need to abandon traditional channels such as web and email. The really smart approach will lay in combining all three – apps, web and email.

Personalization in app marketing will become even more important. It’s useless to accumulate information (location, gender, age, interests, etc.) about app users without shaping this information into more personal and effective app promotional campaigns.

Finally, predictive app marketing will most likely become the next big thing in mobile app marketing. It’s a natural progression with any kind of information. As soon as you’ve accumulated enough information and are able to analyze it, it’s time to build models to predict user behavior. It remains to be seen how effective predictive app marketing will be but we’ll have to start with something.

Thanks to GoWide for the interesting analysis and explanation. You can find out more about GoWide over on their site.