Getting a download is easy, but what about long term value?

Authored by Sandeep Balani, Head of India at Outbrain.

Is there an app for that? In the time of Covid-19, most of us are relying on apps more than ever and they become central to our day to day routine. The stats are overwhelming, app downloads are certainly on the rise. In the US alone, categories such as groceries, restaurant deliveries, remote work and telehealth apps have all seen well over 50% increase in downloads in February 2020 vs December 2019.

While apps are happy to be benefiting from more downloads, what they should be thinking about is metrics like lifetime value. Downloads is great; however the end goal should be to retain them well after the Covid crisis is over.

In a poll taken at the App Promotion summit in April, 86% of marketers said they had amended their marketing plans in light of the crisis and the vast majority of them thought Life Time Value was the most important metric. On the Outbrain Native platform we are seeing that brands who are adapting the crisis, testing new images, headlines or targeting are getting great results, far beyond just downloads. Unsurprisingly on average between February and March we saw lower cost per install across the board, ranging from 33% lower for education apps all the way up to 46% lower for Health and Fitness apps. However more interestingly, these same brands are also seeing lower cost per in app conversion, ranging from 17% lower for Finance brands, up to 46% lower for health and fitness apps. And last but certainly not least Life Time Value is up by up to 30% for verticals such as gaming.

During this Covid-19 period a comparison can be drawn between apps and publishers, both are benefiting from increased traffic, but the successful ones will find ways to retain those new users, primarily through strategies such as subscriptions. More than ever marketers should be focusing on channels that bring in qualified users versus just quantity of users. With so much scale being widely available the focus should be on identifying the users that will not just download your app but will actually use your app.

This is where a debate around the role of content comes into play. The marketers polled at the app promotion summit were split down the middle on this question. In terms of conversions alone, 53% thought sending the user straight to the app store was more effective, whereas 43% thought sending them to a content page was more effective. Testing scenarios is probably now more than ever the key to success, as we all navigate these strange and uncertain times.

Innogames, an early adopter of Native, is a great example of a brand that is always testing. The video game company specializes in desktop and mobile games, and while their games are

free-to-play they monetise through in-game purchases. In a campaign for Forges of Empires for instance, depending on the device, the user was redirected to either a landing pages hosted on the InnoGames site or directly to the App Store or Google Play Store. Using the right targeting tools, they were able to reach the right audience on the right device/OS and maximize the profitability of each new user.

What to expect next? Nobody really knows but we can safely assume that consumers will continue to adapt during this crisis, and that might mean downloading new types of apps or using existing apps differently. Take dating app Tinder as an example:  We might have predicted a decrease in activity following social distancing and lockdowns across most countries, however instead the app has seen a 20% increase in conversations since February, and on March 29th was the busiest day for swipes in the app's history. Singletons have adapted to their new environment and marketers must too.

More data from App Annie, confirms that "time spent in apps in Italy grew 30% in March from Q4 2019, while France, Germany, and the US have all had 15%, 10% and 10% growth respectively.” While engagement is high, what the data does not tell us is how many apps that attention spreads across. It’s one thing to download an app, it’s another to make it part of your daily routine.


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