Category Archives: Mobile App Marketing News

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Google Play Developer Console Gets an Update

At the Google I/O Developer Conference , the tech company announced the new updates coming to the Google Play Console to help developers create more apps and improve their current app’s performance.

Last year for the Play Store alone, users downloaded 82 billion apps, and now there are 2 billion active Android devices around the world. These stats reinforce the importance for more data regarding where users are coming from details if the app struggling to get visibility. This data would help developers understand what channels their app gets the highest traffic from along with information regarding their app’s performance in the Play Store.

Google has continually tried adding more tools and features that help developers publish apps, but now developers will have specific data regarding app crashes, a dashboard to track and monitor metrics after a release and more.

Breakdown of the New Features

The Google Play Developer Console was updated with new tools to improve their app’s performance. Here is a list of the new tools available to developers on the Play Console:

1. Android Vitals

This tool allows developers to monitor and fix any ongoing issues to improve user experience. Data can view aggregated or anonymized by device from users that provide crucial data from their certified Android device.

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 10.23.07 AMThis tool is mostly for understanding stability (crash rates and App Not Responding [ANR] Rates), battery usage (stuck wake locks and excessive wakeups) and rendering time (slow rendering or frozen UI frames.)

2. Release Management

The Release Management tool had several new features added to help developers understand key metrics tied to their app’s release.

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I. Release Dashboard: Tracks a release as it happens by monitoring how the release affects important metrics.

II. Android Instant Apps: Can iterate quickly with a developer to gather feedback from trusted users on the pre-release. This also allows for users to test the app without having to install to their device’s home screen.

III. Device catalog: Developers can search and filter across device data for thousands of certified Android Devices. This tool shows the number of installs, rating and revenue contributed by each device. Developers can also use this tool to make specific exclusions to certain devices based on RAM and more.

IV.  App Signing: Developers can now securely transfer their key to Google to manage an app on their behalf. Those that opt-in for upcoming assistive services like app optimization for APK size, will have their APK versions delivered via Google to save data.

3. User Acquisition

Acquisition Reports can help developers understand where users are coming from and if they go on to install and buy in-app content. The report also includes retained installer data, which further breaks down to data on specific channels and geographies that drive valuable users who keep the app installed for up-to or over 30 days.

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4. Financial Reports

Google has added the subscriptions dashboard which lets developers see how their app’s subscriptions are performing. Monitoring their subscriptions performance allows for developers to make any necessary business decisions to improve revenue growth.

Developers can also analyze the total number of subscribers, revenue and retention across multiple dimensions.

The new tools Google has added to the Play Console will surely help developers understand their users better along with the capabilities to monitor their app’s current performance in the Play Store to make any necessary improvements over time.

Key Takeaways

Aspects of both the Apple and Google Play updates are very similar, showing that Apple and Google understand that developers need key information to make vital changes to their app’s performance to retain and engage with users better. These improved tools to the Google Play Developer Console will help developers ensure the development of quality apps and generate more revenue to grow their businesses.

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Google I/O: Big Changes Coming to Android

Google’s I/O conference kicked off with major announcements that will help users and developers. CEO Sundar Pichai made a stunning announcement that there are now 2 billion monthly active Android users, and there were 82 billion app installs in 2016.

Google showed off its technology by starting its keynote on Wednesday addressing its advances in artificial intelligence that will be coming to Google Assistant soon. The tech company is also making big changes to Firebase, Google Photos, Android Instant Apps and Gmail along with unveiling Google Lens, Android O and Android Studio 3.0.

Here is a list of Google’s announcements and how they will help users and developers alike:

1. Google Assistant Updates – Now for iOS

Google discussed its Software Development Kit for Google Assistant and how it will now let third-party device makers inject the conversational technology into home appliances. Order-taking, payments and receipts will also be integrated into TV allowing you to make orders and payments while watching your favorite shows. Users will now be able to type requests and questions rather than speaking.

During the keynote address, Pichai stated that Google Assistant is coming to iOS devices. This makes Google Assistant available to hundreds of millions more users that do not have an Android device. Unlike Siri for iOS devices, Google Assistant cannot be used with the home button but must be opened by tapping the app icon.

Part of Google Assistant is the newly launched Lens, a service that uses AI technology to quickly recognize objects, locations, businesses and other things in the world all through your camera lens.

2. Instant Apps

The concept of Instant Apps was first announced at 2016’s I/O conference, but on May 17th, Google announced that the Instant Apps SDK was available to all developers. Currently, there are about 50 apps that have created Instant Apps, and some have seen increases in purchases and views.

Instant Apps give users an opportunity to use an app without having to install. They can tap the URL of an app to launch it without having to go through the Play Store. Once the user closes the app, it is gone without the app ever being installed to the device’s home screen.

3. Firebase Updates

Since Google first acquired Firebase back in 2014, the company has grown the service to provide more help to developers build apps for Android, iOS and web. Besides releasing more features to help with app development, the company also started open-sourcing Firebase’s SDK kits.

Firebase is also getting analytics updates making analytic reports available across the Firebase Console and Google Analytics interface. For those that monetize their app, they will see that Firebase now shares data with AdMob.

4. Android O

Google launched Android O Beta where developers can start testing their apps against this release by downloading the new preview that includes an updated SDK with system images for several devices, the Android Emulator and an emulator for Android Wear 2.0.

Vice President of Engineering for Android, Dave Burke, highlighted two themes that Android O will focus on: Fluid Experiences and Vitals. Fluid Experiences includes features like Picture-in-Picture, Notification Dots, Autofill and Smart Text. Vitals, a newer concept, includes features for security enhancements, OS optimizations and developer tools.

5. Improvements for Developers

Google I/O highlighted three major improvements to developers such as the Google Payment API, a redesigned AdMob and App Attribution Partners.

I. Google Payment: The expansion of payment solutions now allows merchants and developers to give their users the option to pay with credit and debit cards already saved to the user’s Google Account. Users will have access to multiple Google Payment options like previously saved credit and debit cards via Android Pay, payment cards used on the Play Store or a form of payment stored via Chrome.

II. AdMob: Currently, AdMob has already paid over $3.5 billion in ad revenue to developers across iOS and Android. It has been redesigned to allow developers to easily pick an app, view its key metrics and make improvements to its performance. Google is also introducing new ad placements on the home and app list pages in the Play Store to reach users in “discovery mode.”

III. App Attribution Partners: A new program to integrate data from seven global companies like Adjust, Adways, Appsflyers and more directly into AdWords. The integration of AdWords with these partners will provide developers with data to review their app metrics and improve their app’s performance.

6. Play Console Update

Google launched another set of tools for developers that use the Play Console. The new tool called Vitals will automatically analyze app reports to show developer pertinent info about any app issues such as crashes or freezes and monitor battery usage. Adding a tool such as Vitals can help developers better pinpoint the source of problems and understand why users might be uninstalling their app to create solutions that retain more users.

The announcement is reminiscent of Apple’s announcement a couple weeks ago about their updated App Analytics tools. Both tech companies are shifting their focus to providing developers more information to correct issues within their apps to avoid negative user reviews and engage with users.

Key Takeaways

Google’s I/O developer conference unveiled the direction the tech company is headed in the future and provided developers more tools to make developing apps simpler and faster.

The updates to Firebase and the Play Console are sure to continue increasing the number of apps on the Play Store and encourage more users to install more apps. The future is bright for Google and they are sure to only continue producing more updates to help developers and improve users’ experiences.

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Apple App Analytics: Referral & Search Data

Apple’s App Analytics update is now giving developers access to specific data on App Store Sources and Referral Data, making it easier to find where their app’s current customers come from.

Now, developers can view attribution and conversion metrics with a clearer picture tied to organic versus non-organic installs in iTunes Connect. The updated App Analytics tools will provide key insights to pertinent data regarding how many users find the app via browse and search in App Store, along with data on how many users are directed to an app from another app or the web.

Data on where organic users view the app is pertinent to developers looking to improve visibility, conversion and installs. As Apple has stated in the past, up to 65 percent of all downloads comes from search. The data that the new analytics tools provides only proves how important search and organic traffic are to an app’s conversion rate.

Announcement Breakdown

Apple’s updates to App Analytics give developers specific tools that provide data on where users find their app. The breakdown of new features added to App Analytics goes as follows:

  • App Store Browse: Customers who found the app while browsing the Featured, Categories and Top Charts sections.
  • App Store Search: Customers who found the app from searching within the App Store.
  • App Referrer: Customers who were directed to the app from another app.
  • Web Referrer: Customers who were directed to the app from a website in Safari on an iOS device.

Overall, the updated App Analytics tools will help developers understand where their app gets the most traffic to improve marketing campaigns that will in turn increase downloads and installs.

How Developers Can View Source Data

Developers monitor how their app is doing in the App Store to understand where their app generates the most impressions, page views, installs and user activity.

There are a few places within App Analytics where developers can view source information.

1. Metrics

By clicking on any one of the charts, developers will be redirected to Metrics. From here, they can add a number of filters, including filters for Source Type. By selecting Source Type, developers can then select App Store Search, App Store Browse, App Referrer and Web Referrer.

Here, you can assess how different changes in featuring, marketing or ASO may have impacted your app in terms of visibility (Impressions & Page Views), Downloads (Installations or App Units), and usage (IAP, Sales, Paying Users, Sessions, Active Devices/Active Last 30 Days).

metrics-edit2. Sources

Sources allows developers to understand the relative proportions of source traffic at various stages in the user funnel – from visibility, to install, to engagement. This section also allows developers to further break apart various sources from within App Referrers and Web Referrers.

  • App Referrers: If developers want information on App Referrers, they will see which apps are directing most users to their app. By looking at usage data such as Sessions or Sales, developers can understand which apps bring the highest quality users.
  • Web Referrers:  If developers want information on Web Referrers, they will see which websites from Safari while a user is an iOS device, are directing most users to their app. By looking at usage data such as Sessions or Sales, developers can understand which websites bring the highest quality users.

ITC graph3. Retention

Developers can see how users from various sources are retained over time. The filter options, which are available in Metrics and Sources, will allow developers to see when users first purchased or downloaded their app. Developers can continually monitor how often users opened the app after the initial download.

Keep in mind that retention rates are important; they gauge how active users are in an app. The data provided in Retention makes developers more aware of organic vs inorganic downloads and where more app units come from.

retention-editThe updated App Analytics tools give developers key insights into the current app market and how to adjust based off the amount of traffic their app generates. App Analytics is shaking the developer community and will ultimately affect the way developers market their apps along with increasing revenue for Apple.

App Analytics & the Current Market

Apple is finally providing developers with more detailed analytics and information to source data, essentially creating their own analytics package for developers to monitor users.

Apple App Analytics give developers access to more data like App Store Search, App Store Browse, App Referrers and Web Referrers, all tools that can help developers tap into their customer base.

The updates to App Analytics are not only benefitting developers, but are also increasing Apple’s revenue. The company could potentially double their services revenue including current revenue from the App Store, which was recently announced to be over 40 percent year-over-year.

This monumental announcement brings a new level of clarity to help app developers understand user behavior. The updates to App Analytics show that the mindset is growing toward developers needing to embrace ASO: App Analytics and ASO will aid developers to better connect with users.

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Apple Now Shares App Attribution Data for Organic Search

Apple Releases Updated App Analytics with new App Attribution Data; App Developers Can Now View Search & Organic Installs

Apple announced that it has updated App Analytics inside of iTunes Connect with new datasets that provide attribution into installs that come from App Store search.  This bombshell announcement is ushering in a new level of transparency around app attribution.  It also underscores the importance of search as a channel and the value of users that come from search.  Not surprisingly, this update comes on the heels of Apple rolling out its Search Ads platform globally.

Apple has previously stated that up to 65% of all downloads come from search, however there has historically been a challenge pulling apart sources of “organic” traffic using traditional attribution tools.  As of today, marketers can now see app attribution for which organic downloads come from App Store Search, App Store Browse (charts and “featured” placement) and unrelated App Referrers / Web Referrers (typically paid sources of traffic).

New Definitions From iTunes Connect Resources and Help:

  • App Store Browse.  Customers who found your app while browsing the Featured, Categories, and Top Charts sections of the App Store.
  • App Store Search.  Customers who found your app from Search on the App Store.
  • App Referrer.  Customers who found your app while using another app.
  • Web Referrer (formerly Top Websites). Customers who found your app while on a website in Safari on iOS.

As one of the largest App Store Optimization companies in the world, Gummicube manages optimizations for 1000’s of apps globally.  To help marketers get a preview of what this might mean for their strategy going forward, Gummicube created a sample index which looks at apps across high volume categories in the App Store at scale.  We averaged this data to demonstrate what the broader ecosystem looks like – and most importantly how this data may change mobile marketing forever.

  1. The Organic User Acquisition Funnel and the Paid UA Funnel are NOT alike

Apple has broken out conversion metrics for their store in the form of impressions and page views for a long time.  This new data indicates organic users from search largely skip the app page and download directly from search.  In our index, on average 3% of users originating from search visit an app page while generating an average of 39% of total installations for the typical application.  It is important to note that this data suggests there are serious differences in the user experience across organic and paid channels.

  1. Page Conversion is the WRONG Metric for Organic Traffic Optimization in iOS

Marketers frequently conduct A/B testing of elements in their app page to increase conversion for their apps.  This activity has really been driven by innovations in Google Play which allow for very effective split testing of an app page live in the store.  While this is effective for Google Play, and certainly some learnings can be carried from one store to another, it is now very clear that the App Store user experience is quite different.  This data when extrapolated could mean that 95% of downloads in iOS that originate from search are triggered by the “GET” button in the search result.  Apple reports these users as impressions, but not as page views.  That means a high converting app page presentation doesn’t necessarily mean a high converting search presentation that maximizes organic downloads.

Apple Search Data

Gummicube Data Sample

  1. Chart Position and “Featured Placement” Matter Much Less Than Search

In Apple parlance, the impressions that you receive from chart position or being specially featured in the App Store as a source are called “App Store Browse”.  Thanks to the new app attribution data available, Gummicube has concluded that App Store Browse can generate an average of 68% of impressions, but only 7% of total installations for most apps.  This is an almost inverse relationship to search, which, as you may recall from earlier, generates an average 21% of impressions but nearly 40% of total installations.  For marketers, this should make improving search based installs a top priority.

  1. As a Measure of User Value, Sessions Indicate Search is the Most Valuable Channel

While App Store Browse activities generate an average of 68% of impressions, they only generate 5% of sessions on average across Gummicube’s index.  This compares to Search, which generates 21% of impressions and an average of 56% of the sessions for measured applications.  While App Referrers and Web Referrers may vary for every app depending on the size of the brand and level of marketing activity, metrics pertaining to Search v. Sessions and Browse v. Sessions were fairly consistent across the board.  This data shows that long term investment in ASO and paid search clearly pay off, because users are seeking out a specific product or service.  Downloads coming from simply browsing the App Store result in users who have a more passive interest.

New Data Has the Potential to Disrupt Mobile Marketing

For many apps, search within the App Store alone can generate nearly 5X the number of installs over time vs. all sources defined by Apple as “App Store Browse”, which include featured placements and chart position.  The new app attribution data from Apple helps prove this.  Further, users coming from search are 11X more active than users who passively install when they stumble across the app in other areas of the App Store.  If sessions and activity translate into revenue, which they usually do, this means that organic and paid search are the most valuable acquisition channels.

This is big news for the mobile marketing community, as it has the potential to further shift the focus away from install volume alone and toward acquiring quality users.  It demonstrates, at least in the iOS ecosystem, how users behave in the organic user funnel and why that is differs from the funnel that exists for paid user acquisition.  Finally, it shows marketers who may have been slow to embrace ASO that there is a sea change happening in the mobile world and search is becoming the preeminent channel to connect with their audience.

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iOS 10.3: Customizable App Icons

Apple’s newest software update, iOS 10.3, made waves when the company announced that developers could now respond to user reviews. While developers are making time to respond to reviews, others detect another hidden gem of iOS 10.3. Before the software update was released, developers took notice a new function in the SDK that allows for multiple app icons for one app.

While iOS 10.3 is only two weeks old, one company has already implemented the new function in two of their apps. MLB at Bat and the NHL app were the first two to update to the under-the-radar option and allow users to change the app’s icon to their favorite team. While it may seem easy to customize an app’s icon, there is more that goes into the update than some realize.

Here’s how it works:

While the concept seems flashy, the implementation isn’t as dynamic as developers had hoped. For those that want to offer personalized icons, they must include the icons within their app files, and these icons should be created in advance. Once an app features the option to change the app icon, users then see a prompt to choose an icon. They will then manually pick one of the new icons within the app’s settings or the prompt.

User customization isn’t that far-fetched of a concept, especially for sports apps MLB at Bat and the NHL app. While these apps want to give users the ability to customize based off their favorite teams, Apple recommends that only apps that offer theme customization as a primary feature to consider implementing user-selectable icons. The company has also given a guide that explains that the icons can only be changed at the user’s request. On top of this, if users choose to change the app icon, a confirmation must show the change has occurred.

Those interested in changing their icon for MLB at Bat, will see a prompt asking if they want to change the app icon based off their favorite team. For NHL, however, users must go into the app’s setting to change the icon. At any time, if users no longer want the app icon to feature their favorite team, they can revert to the app’s original icon.

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With every new software update, there are pros and cons to what has been implemented. While the ability for developers to allow customizable app icons seems like a good idea, there are still pros and cons that developers should consider before updating their app to use this feature.

Pros:

  • Users have responded saying how much they love the customization ability.

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Dave’s Mets Dugout.

  • MLB states that more than 93 percent of At Bat’s millions of subscribers now use the customize feature.
  • The apps have already put a focus on helping users get more information about their favorite teams.

Cons:

  • While it’s easy for users to change the app icon, developers must first include the new icon files with the newly updated app.
  • Despite users enjoying the ability to personalize the app themselves, it means that developers are not allowed to change the app icon at will without a major software update.
  • In Apple’s guide, developers that use this feature in their apps must have various images in different sizes to keep consistency throughout the system.
  • Not only will developers have to design customizable icons in varying sizes, they will need to design an icon selection screen that feels like a natural extension of the app. Developers can, however, select not to make a selection screen and can instead redirect users to the app’s settings.

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  • While there was speculation at first that weather apps could use this new feature, it turns out developers will not be able to use dynamic app icons. Unfortunately, this limits the feature to a select group of apps, meaning only apps that offer customization as a primary feature will benefit from the new feature.

Key Takeaways:

MLB at Bat and the NHL app, both run by the company BAMTech, were the first to update their apps to feature the ability to change the app’s icon. So far, they have seen great responses from their current user base and have seen their conversion rates improve. These two apps have taken customization to the next level through Apple’s newest software update, but like all new features, there are pros and cons developers should pay attention to before implementing an update. The move MLB at Bat and the NHL app have taken is only the first step in a long line of developers sure to use user-selectable app icons.