The VentureBeat Roadshow made its stop in Montreal Thursday evening and we were there taking in the many insights on mobile app development and user acquisition.
To begin the evening, the keynote speaker, VentureBeat VP John Koetsier, recapped the findings of a series of studies VB completed which surveyed 1500 mobile developers.
“It’s a battlefield out there,” Koetsier said. “Mobile is the fastest paced and toughest marketplace out there. The reason, of course, is because there are millions of apps. Mobile is turning into one of the fastest growing places where you can start a business as well.”
His hour-long presentation covered four key areas of mobile app development: user acquisition, analytics, marketing automation and monetization. Here are some of the most important takeaways:
It’s inevitable that mobile developers will have to do some form of paid user acquisition at some point. The most popular UA method, according to the VentureBeat research, is cost per install (CPI). It’s known to be easy to implement, and the costs are quite clear and upfront. But there is a challenge with this strategy: CPI tends to bring in low value users. It’s a bulk strategy rather than a quality strategy. Cost per click (CPC) is more effective at bringing in high value users, Koetsier said.
Facebook and Google turned out to be the top social media platforms for UA. Koetsier also mentioned a number of other UA platforms that can be effective as well which he called the “hidden horsemen”. These are AdColony, Chartboost, Fixu, and NativeX.
The VentureBeat research shows that the more successful your app is, the more likely you are to use app analytics platforms. Also, it found the most successful app developers use as many as five different analytics platforms, while the smallest app developers only use one. Overall, two thirds of all mobile app developers use more than one analytics platform.
Google Analytics is by far the most widely used. Koetsier referred to it as the “Godzilla of app analytics platforms,” but there are still many other options available. Google just happens to be the defacto analytics tool of choice, especially for apps with relatively few users.
Mobile Marketing Automation
Mobile marketing automation is becoming increasing popular with developers. While analytics allows you to utilize big data after the fact, automation is almost like the opposite. It looks at individual user behavior in real time. It’s almost like a CRM in an app. Mobile marketing platforms give you the buttons and levers you need to customize advertisements to your prospects. 86 percent of the developers surveyed in the VentureBeat studies who use marketing automation platforms reported increased revenue, engagement, conversion, retention, and user insights.
The interesting thing about monetization is that the most popular methods did not turn out to be the most effective. For example, banner ads turned out to be the least effective, but they were also the third most popular. The most effective overall were freemium and premium. In-app purchases and interstitials also ranked high.
The study looked at 49 different monetization companies, although there are many more out there. Google, Flurry and Chartboost turned out to be the most effective, although there was no clear front-runner in this category. There were many other companies making up the “other” category on this chart.
Ads can take away from the user experience, but Koetsier points out that when done well they don’t have to frustrate users. In fact, they can actually add to the user experience.
“If you get likes on your ads, it means you’re doing something right,” he said.