The App Store Landscape: Major Players and the Discovery Challenge

Apps are a major part of everyday life for a large portion of the population. There are billions available across multiple app stores. How do you get yours to stand out? First, let’s start with an understanding of the current App Store landscape.

Discovery Challenge

THE RICH GET RICHER

The biggest challenge to any app developer is visibility in the incredibly competitive space. There were 70 billion app downloads between 2008 and 2013, but over 50% of those downloads went to 0.1 percent of the available apps. The problem makes sense (show of hands: how many readers have Facebook, Yelp, and Twitter installed on their iPhones?), but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to overcome.

OPTIONS FOR DISCOVERY

App marketers have five main options for discovery:

1. Paid campaigns that enable e-commerce and push their products via organic and paid social media, AdWords, etc.

2. Distribution platforms that push apps with certain themes or mega portals (Android) to bypass app stores

3. Recommendation algorithms that tie app marketing to the information that consumers and their friends reveal online

4. Search engines (e.g. Google, Bing, YouTube) that scour the app store by topic and keywords

5. Search within App Stores

In this post, and in a follow-up post on App Store Optimization, we’ll focus on App Store search since 53 percent of app shoppers find apps by searching directly in the App Store for their device. You can increase the likelihood of yours being seen (and downloaded) using a process that’s very similar to SEO.

Note: it’s important to make the distinction between app store search and search engines; while you can absolutely benefit from organic discovery in search engines like Google and YouTube (pro tip: YouTube is hugely important, so make sure to create a video that enhances awareness and discovery), it’s a relatively small piece of the discovery pie.

google

SEARCH FUNCTIONALITY BY APP STORE

Just like other search engines, search functionality is different for each of the stores, and we’ve scored the different app stores based on how comprehensive their search is.

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Google is the best at search (surprised?), and search is vitally important. The Google Play Store rankings are based on downloads and search criteria, implying that you can’t just rely on download volume to attain and keep top status.

Yet the search functionality in all app stores, including Google, leaves much to be desired. Furthermore, making changes to any of the ASO parameters (keywords, conversion optimization) is fairly difficult in the app stores, particularly with Apple’s. It’s best to try to nail it as well as you can the first time.

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In a nutshell: the landscape of the different App Stores is… not great. You can definitely get by with effective App Store Optimization, but none of the stores are really built for you to have success right out of the box. Look for our next post, which will cover the basics of App Store Optimization!

ASO is the new SEO – App Store Optimization Webinar – Sept 17th – 2pm

ASO Sep 17thApp Promo and 3Q Digital are pleased to present a one hour webinar on Thursday September 17th from 2-3pm on the topic of #ASO is the new SEO -Tips and Tricks on Getting your Apps Discovered. Mark your calendars for this date and listen to Gary Yentin, CEO of App Promo and Craig Weinberg. Vice-President Mobile Strategy of 3Q Digital discuss the timely topic of #ASO.

The business skills app developers need now.

App Developer Association’s OpenX, Millennial Media and more walk through idea generation, feature selection and monetization.

Smith

“You’ll hear these guys say, ‘We weren’t even thinkingabout monetizing. We were just making something we really liked. Now we’re billionaires!'” said Smith, CEO of mobile game developer XMG Studios. “If that were true it would have been free and it would have no way to make money.”

Smith, whose firm’s titles include Fashion Star Boutique and Drag Racer World, was speaking at an event recently hosted by the App Developers Alliance that took place in Toronto, one of several stops it has made in a tour across North America where it has been trying to teach app makers to act less like hobbyists and more like entrepreneurs. For Smith, thinking about apps as a business from the outset is a must.

“If you think you’re just going to build something from a great idea and ‘the money will come to me,’ it won’t,” he said.

Phase One: Choose (And Assess) The Right Idea

According to Greg Blackman, senior director of business development with Los Angeles-based ad tech company OpenX, the best way for developers to start is by “scratching their own itch.” In other words, think about an app or game that meets a need that hasn’t otherwise been met, and start from there. Don’t stop there, though. Blackman suggests doing a round of interviews with potential customers to ensure you’re on the right track.

Blackman

“Once you present it to enough people, you can see your target audience, and you see how much they light up,” he said. “When you put the idea in front of them, you should see a pattern where they light up every single time the value proposition is made clear to them.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean total originality has to be core to every single app. Smith said it’s more a case of picking a project with which you, as a developer, would engage as a consumer.

“If something already exists that you want to do, find that and ask yourself if you could do it better,” Smith suggested. “More than likely it’s out there. If it’s not on the app store already, it’s web-based.”

Phase Two: Choose The Features That Matter

An app has to do something, and in some cases it will do a lot. Developers may sometimes stumble over figuring out how much to pack into that first release, said Gary Yentin, co-founder and CEO of Toronto-based marketing firm App Promo. The easy answer is an economic one: If you create a business plan around the app, the numbers should provide some insight into what can reasonably be available at launch.

Yentin

“You can afford thousands of features if you have thousands of dollars,” he said.

Blackman recommends a “less is more” approach, particularly for developers who are new to apps or to a particular category.

“Boil it down to one thing, get it out as quickly as you can, then see if the code you put down can prove the value prop works,” he said. “All of the additional bells and whistles, the social hooks, they don’t matter if you can’t get the one thing down that makes a dollar from the app.”

Phase Three: Establish The Metrics Behind Your Monetization

James Hughes, associate director of publisher sales at Baltimore, Md.-based mobile ad firm Millennial Media, says developers and even publishers sometimes look at him as though he has two heads when he asks about their revenue strategy before an app is created. The problem is that too often monetization isn’t considered until after the fact, even though there are so many options to choose from. This includes push notifications, in-app purchases and display advertising.

Although some degree of experimentation might be necessary, Hughes said doing careful analysis of the first crop of users can help determine the best long-term approach. For example, those who are already looking at mobile ads may not want to be presented with in-app purchases, but that’s okay if they’re already generating revenue. Instead, target those who aren’t helping monetize the app at all.

“Experiment with your friends and family. Put it out to your beta users,” he said.  “Segment and understand who’s spending time where.”

Yentin agreed, adding that developers should ensure they have the right SDKs built into their app to track things like downloads and retention, even if they haven’t gotten a lot of users yet. “If you don’t have the tools, you’re not going to be successful.”

Also think about how much friction you want to put in your app, added Blackman. In other words, how often do you want to interrupt the experience with ads or in-app purchase offers?

“There’s often a pattern that everybody follows. Learn, understand and exploit that pattern as much as you possibly can,” he said. “Watch the behavior rather than listen to what they say.”

This is probably the biggest business lesson for developers to remember. As Smith suggested, there isn’t an app user alive who will advocate for a particular monetization approach.

“They want free, with no ads, forever,” he said.

Published on July 20, 2015 | By , Fierce Developer

Marketing Mavericks: 3Q Digital Interviews @AppPromo CEO- Gary Yentin

3Q Digital Marketing Maverick Series : An Interview with App Promo's CEO Gary Yentin
3Name:  Gary Yentin
Company: App Promo
Twitter handle: @Apppromo
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN YOUR CURRENT ROLE? 
Seven years.
WHEN YOU LOOK BACK AT THE LAST SIX MONTHS, WHAT WERE SOME OF THE BIGGEST SURPRISES OF YOUR JOB? 
The interest for apps in terms of development marketing and promotion continues to grow 
and turn into a mainstream business.
WHAT ARE 2-3 BOLD PREDICTIONS YOU’D MAKE FOR THE NEXT SIX MONTHS? 
Consumers will embrace the Apple Watch beyond predictions, and mobile video will blow out 
all numbers in terms of engagement.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE RECENT AD CAMPAIGN, AND WHY? 
Burberry has some of best campaigns in terms of creative and embracing mobile.
Burberry Pandora Ad
IF YOU HAD $10M, WHICH MARKETING PLATFORM (E.G. GOOGLE, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, ETC.) WOULD YOU INVEST IN, AND WHY? 
I would go to Snapchat and Instagram for reaching Millennials and go to Pinterest to reach women.
IF YOU HAD $10M, WHICH MARKETING TECHNOLOGY WOULD YOU INVEST IN, AND WHY?  
Mobile Video RTB and DSPs.
WHAT IS/ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT METRIC(S) YOU USE TO GUIDE YOUR DECISION MAKING PROCESS? 
Engagement.
WHICH IS MORE IMPORTANT, ATTRIBUTION OR MOBILE? WHY? 
Both, not sure you have to choose one without the other.
ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC BOOKS THAT HAVE HELPED SHAPE YOUR MARKETING STRATEGY? 
Old school going back to the books of David Ogilvy:
51fcdV6eksL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

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So Many Apps, So Much More Time For Entertainment

 Over the span of just a few years, the concept of app usage has transformed from a novelty to an essential part of the mobile user experience. With millions of apps now available and more being rolled out every day, there is an app for everyone, regardless of age, race or interest.

But while marketers and app developers continue to add functionality and robustness to apps, they also must effectively position them to stand out in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Despite the increase in choices, the number of apps used is staying the same. A recent Nielsen analysis found that on average, U.S. smartphone users accessed 26.7 apps per month in the fourth quarter of 2014—a number that has remained relatively flat over the last two years. And consider this: Over 70% of the total usage is coming from the top 200 apps.

However, while there appears to be a consumer threshold to the total number of apps people are willing and/or able to actively use during the month, the time they spend engaging on those apps has increased. In fact, the monthly time spent per person has increased from 23 hours and two minutes in fourth-quarter 2012 to 37 hours and 28 minutes in fourth-quarter 2014—a 63% rise in two years! So the reward for being one of the chosen apps is heavy engagement by the user.

The study also found that while men’s monthly app usage was a bit higher than women (27.2 vs. 26.3 apps, respectively), female users lead the way in terms of time spent. Women spend an average of 38 hours and two minutes per month on apps while men spend 36 hours and 51 minutes per month.

Another key takeaway from the analysis was the diversity of app usage among different races and ethnicities.

African-Americans not only use the most apps per month (30.3), but they are also spend nearly 43 hours per month on them. Hispanics spend 41 hours and 31 minutes (the second highest in time spent per month) across an average of 27.9 apps per month. Asian-Americans average 37 hours and 14 minutes per month, while white non-Hispanic users spend 35 hours and 25 minutes per month.

But what is powering the increased popularity of apps?

Nielsen found that the emergence of the entertainment categories is a contributor to the overall increase in app usage. In fact, not only has the entertainment category seen a 13% increase in unique audience year-over-year as of fourth-quarter 2014, but this audience is spending nearly three hours more on apps over the same period—a 26% growth!

The entertainment category comprises a variety of app functions, from those where consumers can check the weather to those that showcase the latest sports scores. Nielsen found that when it comes to smartphone usage, the Gaming entertainment subcategory is the biggest draw. In fact, 76% of entertainment app users (115 million) played at least one game in fourth-quarter 2014, and time spent on gaming increased by 1:35 per month to 10:02. Music is the second most popular subcategory, with a 13 million increase year over year among users. Meanwhile, video/movies grew to nearly 104 million users and 1:44 per month.

METHODOLOGY

Insights about mobile app usage were gathered using Mobile NetView 3.0, Nielsen’s on-device software, which is installed with permission on panelist smartphones (approximately 5,000 panelists ages 18+ with Android and iOS handsets). The panelists are recruited online in English and include Hispanic, African-American and Asian-American consumer representation.

Source : http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2015/so-many-apps-so-much-more-time-for-entertainment.html

 

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