Tag Archives: google

Android Adds Adaptive Icons

Android Adds Adaptive Icons

Google has revealed a new tool for app creatives, allowing for adaptive launcher icons. With this, developers can set up their apps’ icons to display as square or circular images, better matching the device it’s being viewed on.

Additionally, adaptive icons allows for new visual effects to capture users’ attention. By utilizing a foreground and background layer, it enables movement on the icon image.

The adaptive icons will be available on all devices running Android Oreo, according to the device’s settings.

What is it?

Adaptive icons are introduced with Android Oreo (8.0) and is made to let icons be displayed in a variety of shapes across device models.

The idea behind the tool is simple: when developers make an icon for their app, they can control its look to take different shapes depending on the device being used. In addition to the ability to adjust the icon’s shape through a variety of masks, it can use two layers to add animated visuals.

adaptive icons
Image via https://developer.android.com/guide/practices/ui_guidelines/icon_design_adaptive

Developers can create adaptive icons by setting up two layers and a mask. One layer serves as the background on the icon, the other as the logo. By using two separate layers, icons can use minor animations and effects, such as making the logo move about the background when the device tilts to a side or bounce when selected.

The mask is provided by the device the app is displayed on and cuts a shape around the background layer while maintaining the logo’s placement. This turns each icon into the shape the device uses, creating a uniform design across the device.

Icon layers must be sized with the new guidelines in mind, which replace the previous 48 x 48 dp standard:

  • Each layer must be 108 x 108 dp
  • The icon itself must be sized at 72 x 72 dp and placed within the masked viewport
  • The outer 18 dp on each side of the icon is used to create visual effects

Developers can also create adaptive icons with Android Studio and in XML.

Adaptive icons are also used in shortcuts, settings, sharing dialogs and the overview screen.

What Does This Mean?

First and foremost, developers looking to utilize adaptive icons must design new icons. Icons not updated with the proper layers run the risk of looking inconsistent with others, in addition to lacking visual effects.

It’s important to keep the main focal point of the icon viewable in every format, as it is the first thing a user sees when browsing the Google Play Store and makes an important first impression. They’re vital to an app’s click through rate (CTR), so app design best practices must be taken into consideration.

Keep in mind that icons displayed on the Google Play Store will still be the same shape. The adaptive icons are displayed on the device after installation.

However, with the adaptive icons enhancements, developers will be able to transform their icons with animated effects while keeping the formatting uniform for the devices they’re displayed on. Developers who prepare their icons now may find the added effects will help keep their users active in the days to come.

Google Machine Learning Ads

Google Empowers Advertisers with Machine Learning

On July 10, Google unveiled new marketing tools designed to help marketers create more effective ads. This will provide marketers with machine learning technology, so that they can create more responsive search ads, maximize performance and better reach their revenue goals.

Google’s announcement includes four new products:

  •  Responsive Search Ads, which uses machine learning to find the best performing ads for search categories
  • Maximize lift, which uses machine learning and smart bidding to automatically adjust bids for the best ad performance on YouTube
  • Local Campaigns, which is designed to bring customers in to physical stores
  • Smart Shopping campaigns, which uses machine learning to help marketers meet specific goals

According to the company, advertisers already testing these services have seen a 15 percent increase in clicks.

What is Machine Learning?

Machine learning uses statistical techniques to let computers utilize data to continually improve and “learn” from a certain task. With machine learning, it’s possible to analyze vast amounts of data to find actionable insights and identify patterns, which can be utilized for marketing purposes.

Essentially, it is possible to use machine learning to identify consumer trends and habits so that ads can better target them. This is a great tool for marketers, so Google’s new products will be useful in a variety of fields.

How Will This Impact App Marketing?

Local Campaigns is designed strictly for physical stores, and thus has minimal applications for app marketing. However, retailers that have apps, including rewards programs, can still benefit from it if it brings customers to their physical stores and encourages them to utilize the store’s app.

With Responsive Search Ads, marketers can provide headlines and description lines, which Google’s machine learning will use to determine what is performing best for various search queries. This means app advertisements can display more frequently in front of relevant audiences. For instance, ads for mobile games will show up in searches for similar topics, or ads for vacation apps will appear when someone is searching for travel sites.

The Maximize lift product is designed for advertisements on YouTube. App developers can, however, take advantage of this product due to YouTube being a great place to advertise apps. 51% of marketing professionals worldwide state that video content provides the best ROI, and 64% of consumers make purchases after seeing social videos, making it a valuable tool for advertisements. Marketers can make video ads to play before videos relevant to their apps and Maximize lift’s smart bidding strategy will ensure they get the maximum impact from their ads.

Smart Shopping campaigns is the most niche, as it will only be useful for shopping apps. With machine learning, marketers can optimize where their shopping ads show and simplify campaign management. While this feature is more geared towards mobile websites than apps, developers can chain this new feature together with supplementary marketing strategies to the advantage of both platforms. For instance, Smart Shopping campaigns can capture the initial mobile web user, where implementation of a Smart Banner can drive users to download the app- which has been shown to have more long-term user engagement than the mobile web. This can create a more engaged user and have further retention opportunities such as sending push notifications about deals on items in their wish list.

In Summary

Google’s new machine learning tools for advertisements will be useful for a wide range of marketers, but app developers can also benefit from them to target more niche audiences. The new products can help ads for apps reach relevant users on YouTube and in search ads, which developers can use to direct users to their app store pages. Developers will need to ensure that once users have found their product page, that they’ve created an ASO strategy to optimize it. The combination of Google’s new products and ASO will seriously help developers bring in new app installs.

google-play-update

Google is Making Waves with Updates to the Play Store

Google is at it again with new updates to their Google Play Store that seem to have come out of the blue. Within the past few weeks, users have been reporting new updates that help improve the user experience both in the Play Store and while using apps and playing mobile game. These changes will help users navigate the Google Play Store more easily, discover apps, engage better with ads and even allow users to try apps without installing.

1. Product Page Redesign Test

The first redesign varies depending on whether or not an app is installed on a user’s device. When a user lands on a product page for an app they have not downloaded, the Install button now spans across the entire screen and is followed by important metadata, screenshots and the description.

In older versions, the Install button was smaller and just above the screenshots, but by making it larger, Google is drawing the users’ attention upward and encouraging them to download faster.

However, when a user has the app installed, the screenshots, metadata and description are pushed down the page and replaced by the “What’s New” section. Most noticeably, users are reporting that that the preview video and feature graphic appear to have been removed from the top of the page, but only for apps they already have installed.

As a result of moving the majority of this metadata down, the developer’s contact information and “Rate This App” section are displayed higher on the product page. This update means that developers will have to be more active with customer engagement, as their reviews are on full display.

The repositioned “What’s New” section will also prove useful for instantly letting previous or returning users know what they can look forward to in the latest update without the information getting buried under the description they’ve already read.

2. Playable Ads and In-Store Ads

Advertisements are used to catch user’s attention to encourage them to buy the intended product. As such, Google’s AdMob advertising service is testing interactive ads that allow users to play small snippets of a mobile game.

The new interactive ads are a form of in-app advertisement called “rewarded ads,” where users gain rewards for watching the ad. This is typical of mobile games, where players can get an extra life, bonus item, currency or small reward for watching 30-second video advertisements. However, the new ads are interactive demos of other games, where they have to play to gain the rewards. This creates more user engagement, turning the advertisement from a passive experience to an active one.

Additionally, Google launched beta video ads in the Google Play Store, which is an extension of the videos developers already use on their product pages. These videos will appear while users are searching the Google Play Store, rather than clicking on the specific app to view its video.

Another beta feature is an extension of the Universal Ad Campaigns (UAC) tool, which will utilize Google’s machine learning algorithm to better target customers according to the game’s features. This will allow developers and marketers to find potential users whose interests align with their current intended audience and ensure that their ads reach the users that will most likely to want to download their game.

3. “Try Now” Button

Google has given game developers a gift in the form of a closed beta of their “Instant Apps” feature on the Google Play Store just in time for GDC. Currently, the beta displays a “Try Now” button alongside the “Install” button once users tap into a game’s product page. So far only six games feature the new button, including popular games like Clash Royale and Words with Friends. You have to be on the latest build of the Play Store, but it’s likely that Google will begin to offer this new feature as they continue beta testing.

The “Instant Apps” concept was first presented in 2016 but didn’t gain any ground until 2017’s Google I/O conference. The tech company addressed that they were making headway on rolling out the feature to more users. Essentially, users will be able to play a small tutorial to understand game mechanics without having to install the game.

This feature means that users can take the time to determine whether or not they like a game enough to install it. This may save developers from having higher uninstall rates when users end up disliking the game.

4. Enhanced Navigation Bar

While the rollout was slow at first, the new navigation bar under the existing tab bar seems to be here to stay. It is currently live on all updated Android devices worldwide.

This new navigation replaces the old green circles and allows users to easily select what types of apps they’d like to see based on recommendation and categorization.

Google-play-store

The new bar acts as a sub-navigation and changes depending on which tab you’re currently viewing. Users will get recommendations whether they’re looking at games, movies, books or music to help them find new products based off their interests.

The recommendations are based off user activity and history, so users who enjoy shopping apps and fruit-themed casual games, for example, will see more apps and games in their navigation bars.

In addition, Google has also placed the “My Apps and Games” option on the sidebar menu at the very top, making it easier for users to access.

Why Are These Changes Important?

Google is well-known for constantly making tweaks to the Play Store, and these changes could potentially shake up the way users view, discover and download apps.

For the changes we talked about above, it appears that the product page redesign, playable videos ads and “Try Now” button are all still in beta, so not all users are seeing it yet. Developers have some time to prepare for the change, but there’s no telling when these updates will go live across all devices. Everyone should stay on their toes to be prepared to make the most of these new Google Play Store changes.

They should ensure they have an ASO strategy in place that will help their app be sorted into the proper recommendations in order to take advantage of all these new updates.

Mobile App Store Data

Reports Worth Reading For The Latest Mobile App Store Data

Although there are many sources reviewing and opining on mobile app data, there are a few exceptional resources that generate original data.

These resources are uniquely positioned to access and report on mobile app and app store data (data they collect and often only they can collect) or offer solid and thoroughly researched information and analysis.

Let’s take a look a few reports and sources worth subscribing to or bookmarking.

ComScore

ComScore is one of the leading market research firms globally that covers more than ten industries including financial services, media, technology, retail, and telecommunications.

In addition, it regularly carries out research and publishes its findings via press releases, whitepapers and case studies.

Additionally, businesses and other organizations regularly commission ComScore to carry out research on their behalf. As such, ComScore is well suited to cover trends in mobile app development and usage.

A recent article published by ComScore focuses on the way a mobile first approach has enabled tech entrepreneurs to build brands worth more than one billion (unicorns).

For instance, a ComScore study found that 98% of Snapchat users access the social networking site via mobile devices. Coming in a close second is Uber, which receives 85% of its traffic from smartphones and tablets. Mobile traffic accounts for 57% and 54% of the users that visit Pinterest and Spotify websites.

Flurry

Flurry is a mobile analytics and ad company owned by Yahoo that gathers and analyzes data from 150 million iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, HTML5, and JavaME platform app sessions per month.

Moreover, Flurry provides data analytics solutions to more than 170,000 developers globally, meaning it has the industry connections and data required to identify both current and developing mobile app trends.

Flurry maintains a Tumblr blog where it publishes mobile app related content.

For instance, a recent article published on Tumblr covers the emergence of messaging apps as the new frontier in the retail-banking niche. In particular, it quotes figures from a Goldman Sachs study that the retention rate of messaging apps is 5.6 times better than the average for all other apps over 12 months.

eMarketer

eMarketer is a leader in the digital technology information and data analytics space. In fact, eMarketer says that more than 1,000 businesses including media companies and ad agencies rely on it to make better and data driven decisions on issues related to digital technology.

To illustrate this better, an article published by eMarketer in March is based on a survey that found voice-controlled personal assistants are becoming increasingly popular.

emarketer-app-data

Presently, 13% of mobile device owners in the US use a voice-controlled personal assistant daily.

Furthermore, 14% and 10% of American mobile device owners use the same technology weekly and monthly respectively.

Google Insights

It is virtually impossible to talk about mobile app data without including Google Insights because it covers a wide range of interesting niches such as consumer surveys, mobile app developers, Google Trends, Google Analytics, Google Correlate, Google Business Solutions, and Adometry by Google.

For example, you can use Google Correlate to find industry-specific patterns that correspond to real-world events or occurrences. This enables entrepreneurs to gain better understanding of consumer beliefs, influences, and changes in purchase behavior.

think-with-google-mobile-app-data

Think with Google is a free weekly “thought-starter” that can keep you plugged into the latest Google research findings.

Ben Evans

Ben Evans works at Andreessen Horowitz’s venture capital firm “a16z” and runs a website focused on disseminating information related to technology and mobile devices.

Evans also emails a newsletter every Sunday to about 49,000 subscribers that covers mobile and technology topics – well worth subscribing.

Ben just updated his popular “Mobile is Eating the World” slide deck (note the new title!).

ben-evans-mobile-ate-the-world

One of Ben Evans’ latest post covers the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in conversational chat bots such as Google Now and Apple’s Siri.

Google, Apple and Facebook Quarterly Results

The quarterly reports released by Google, Apple and Facebook contain a wealth of actionable information that only they can provide.

Some recent examples include:

  • Google sharing the majority of search in the US (and several other countries) is from a mobile device
  • Google/Youtube announcing more video is viewed via mobile than desktop
  • this image of Facebook’s ad revenue over last several quarters

Infographic: Facebook's Growth Is Entirely Fueled by Mobile Ads | Statista

There you have it, a few newsletters (Ben Evans and Think with Google), a few reports to subscribe to or monitor and a reminder that the leading tech companies are increasingly mobile-first.

 

What to Track in Google Mobile App Analytics

What to Track in Google Mobile App Analytics

The Google Mobile App Analytics tool enables app developers and marketers to track a wide range of metrics as well as gather and use data on other analytics platforms.

However, first time users of Google’s feature-rich analytics solution may face difficulties selecting the metrics to track from the many options available.

As such, marketers and developers should focus on the following metrics:

Demographics

The demographics metric provides marketers and developers with key information about their app users. This includes gender, age, e-commerce activity, affinity categories, in-market segments, and interests exhibited when making bookings and purchases online, as well as other categories.

With this information, you can target specific app users more efficiently and effectively.

Install attribution

It is important to track consumers who install your app. Luckily, the Google mobile app analytics tool makes this easier via the Install Attribution feature that you can use to determine the origin of your app’s users (both Android and iOS).

More specifically, this feature is linked to the Google Play Referral Flow feature, which makes it possible to view data related to an app’s installation process. This includes every bit of activity from viewing the app on the app store to installing and launching it.

More importantly, iOS developers can use the iOS Install Tracking feature to determine where app users originated from before they even got to the App Store.

In-app actions

You should track the activities that consumers undertake inside your app to determine whether they are using in-app features, how frequently they use each feature, how often they open your app, and how much time they spend in-app.

Thanks to Google Mobile App Analytics’ Events feature, you can do so easily in several ways. To start with, you can order/group in-app events according to a custom category descriptor. For instance, you could create a category called “videos” to track how many times app users downloaded or watched video content.

Moreover, you can track several metrics within an event category. For example, measuring how long it took to download a video or music file, as well as the number of clicks on video play, pause or stop button.

Lifetime value (LTV)

The lifetime value metric enables you to determine the value of app users based on their actions. According to Google, metrics that one can track in this category include:

• Sessions per user
• Appviews per user
• Transactions per user
• Revenue per user
• Goal completions per user
• Session duration per user

The LTV report has two essential elements: acquisition date and X-axis in the graph. The former element covers a specific date period.

For example, you can use this element to view the number of users acquired during or after a marketing campaign. The X-axis in the graph element can be set to cover a day, week, or month (incremental in nature) up to a maximum of 90-days.

Since these metrics can be viewed on graphs, it is even easier for app developers to make sense of the abovementioned LTV metrics.

Cross-device activity

Since many consumers own and use multiple Internet-enabled devices, it is necessary to track their cross-device actions. Once again, you can do so via a feature in the Google Mobile App Analytics called Measurement Protocol.

This protocol enables developers to query Google Analytics servers for raw app user interaction data. As such, developers can access data related to offline and online activities, analyze user activity data using other tools, and transmit data from the server as well as client.

Furthermore, developers can implement the Android SDK’s “userId” field to gather more accurate cross-device user data.

Cohort analysis

Cohort analysis enables users to examine the behavior of groups/categories of users related to each other by a common attribute. A good example would be using this metric to evaluate and measure the performance of a marketing campaign relative to the number of new users acquired.

Benchmarking

Benchmarking allows one to measure his/her app metrics against aggregated industry metrics.

Google says that it covers more than 1600 industry categories that can be refined further by geographic location and traffic size. Benchmarking data can be viewed according to location (country/territory), device (desktop, tablet, mobile), and default channel grouping (social, email, referral, organic search, display, and paid search).

Developers can compare their app metrics against industry benchmarks such as:

• New sessions percentage
• Bounce rate
• Pages/session
• Number of sessions
• New sessions (initiated by new users)
• Average session duration

Conclusion

The Google Mobile App Analytics solution gives users the ability to track a wide range of key metrics. Some of the metrics that marketers and developers are likely to find useful include lifetime value, cohort analysis, install attribution, demographics, in-app actions, cross-device activity and benchmarking.