Note: App tracking really is the topic of this post. Just bear with the first few paragraphs because they are a sort of parable about the importance of evaluating all KPI-relevant app tracking measures instead of focusing solely on a surrogate “vanity measure”.
There’s a story in Adweek this week about an agency called Solve in Minneapolis, which produced a 4-minute video to demonstrate how vanity metrics (in this case ad views) can’t possibly tell the whole story about advertising effectiveness.
What Solve actually did was post four minutes of blank video, so my comment above about the agency producing a video is a bit of an overstatement. But posting it was a great creative idea, because Solve wanted to demonstrate how video views can be garnered for not much money, and how views alone are no indication of creative quality, or brand impact, or or or.
There are some amazing stats about viewership that you need to see. I won’t reprint them here because Adweek deserves the click.
But why are we talking about this on a blog about mobile app marketing?
Because there’s a lesson here that’s EXTREMELY RELEVANT to app tracking.
At Apsalar, we think it’s easy to draw parallels between video views and app installs on iPhone and Android devices. In app tracking, install counts are the app tracking metric that marketers focus on more than anything else. See the eMarketer chart on app measurement below:
Thus, it’s easy to argue that views are to video measurement as installs are to app tracking.
We’re certainly not saying that installs are unimportant. People need to install your app in order to use it. But far too many app marketers focus far too much attention of installs alone.
Install counts and “buzz” are more important for games than for mcommerce apps. In fact, they are only a tiny part of the story for retail and other apps that are designed to drive revenue. And even for games they only tell a fraction of the story.
Our research shows that mobile application installs don’t correlate all that highly with customers and revenue for mcommerce apps. They are necessary, but by no means sufficient. App installs vary wildly in quality. Individuals who install as a result of incentivized, APK and side load marketing programs tend not to convert well to payers/customers. And yet the obsessive focus on installs drives lots of mcommerce app marketers to pour money into ad networks and other vendors that use these approaches to drive huge download counts at a low cost per install.
Solve’s point about video measurement is a good one. And the core idea is just as relevant to iOS and Android phone app tracking. Because in order to understand the strength of a mcommerce app – you need to measure lots of things. Things like:
- Number of Customers
- User to Customer Conversion Rates
Just to name 5 that are (arguably) far more relevant to the true goals of a mcommerce app than installs. And in addition to hard financial metrics, it’s also important to measure consumer actions that take place before an app user clicks to transact and sees a thank you screen. At Apsalar, we think of these in-app consumer events in the context of four buckets:
- Authentication events that tell us about the user’s mobile device. Stuff like a device ID and gps tracking location coordinates
- Engagement events that show how a consumer interacts with an app before they have decided to transact
- Intent events that demonstrate that a user is getting ready to make a purchase
- Conversion or purchase events that confirm that a consumer has transacted
Unlike app installs, these types of events help us understand buyer flow and the bottlenecks that may be hindering people from buying things in your app. They are a big part of what mobile app tracking is all about. These help marketers to evaluate the health and vitality of their Android or iPhone apps at least as well as installs.
Again, we aren’t suggesting that installs are unimportant. Rather, installs are part of a larger story, and need to be understood and evaluated within a larger context of consumer actions. And that’s where strong app tracking – including marketing attribution and behavior measurement – play an essential role for the app marketer.