The App Developer Business KitLearn how to grow your app idea into a successful business.
From an Idea to an AppUnderstand the principles for success, and hear advice from some of the world’s top app developers.
GrowthAttract more users, expand into more markets and use analytics to improve your app.
Thinking BigHow to go from one great app to a portfolio of great apps and important considerations for expanding your business.
Nine TipsQuick tips to help you shape your app project.
Marketing your appIn this chapter we cover the major ways you can attract more users and when to use a particular tactic.
The life cycle of an appLet’s get the ego thing out of the way: you built your app to be used. You built your app for thousands - no - millions of users, and it won’t improve the world, or your bank balance, if you’re the only one using it. But your chances of going from tens of downloads to millions can be improved by having a marketing plan. Thinking about the life cycle of an app can be an effective way to create a plan because you can match certain tactics to phases of the app. As an example, we’ve outlined six different phases of an app’s lifecycle and tactics relevant to those stages.
The Life Cycle of an App
Your app is merely an idea but you can build interest in what you're doing and establish an early following.
The alpha version of your app is in the hands of a few trusted testers. You’re ironing out the kinks and adapting your app to early user feedback. At this point, focus on getting the basics right.
When launching, focus on a strong app store listing and invest in distribution channels.
The stage where your app gains traction and acquires many more users, i.e. the tipping point. Be prepared to take advantage of new marketing opportunities.
Your app has achieved a steady number of users but isn't growing. Paid ad campaigns can give you a boost.
Your app is using losers; it's time to focus on the next idea.
Phase 1: Concepting
At this stage your app is conceptual and you haven’t written a single line of code or even have a name for your app, so how can you market it? In the concept stage you’re marketing yourself and your ability, not necessarily your app.
Crowdfunding: If your app needs funding then a crowdfunding platform (see Chapter 2) is a good way to validate your idea and source income. When you post your app on a crowdfunding site, you’re in effect posting your first ad. You’re announcing to the world what it is you want to build and why it’s a good idea, but really you’re promoting yourself. View websites like AppStori and Appbackr for crowdfunding examples.
Building a website and social network presence: Even without a working app, you can still begin to establish your brand through a simple website and build your community on social networks, like Google+. Whether your crowdfunding appeal is successful or not, you’ve still exposed your idea to interested people who may become testers or paying users later on. So set up a way for these people to follow your story and begin to build a community. Grand Cru is a development company based in Finland that focuses on mobile and social games. Prior to the launch of their debut game, Supernauts, they created an online presence with their website and also created a social network page to build excitement.
Phase 2: Testing
By now, the alpha version of your app is in the hands of a few trusted testers. You’re ironing out the kinks and adapting your app to early user feedback. At this point, focus on getting the basics right.
Name your app. You might not consider your app’s name to be a part of your marketing strategy, but get it wrong at your peril. If you choose a name that doesn’t resonate with users, is too hard to pronounce or is misleading then your app may flounder. Check out Dan Rose’s article, ‘Top 10 Tips for Naming Your App’, on the Creative Bloq website for some excellent advice.
Marvin Paul, co-founder of Out of Milk, knew that a good name was important to their overall strategy. “For me, the name is very important. I feel lucky that we came up with the name ‘Out of Milk’. Before I start any project I need a name for it. So for this app I posted a message to my friends asking for name suggestions for a shopping list app, and people gave me some ideas. The final name didn’t come about through that, but it was a good process and helped us eliminate some ideas. Eventually, we chose a well-known expression.”
Design your app icon. Your app icon may be small, but it does so much. It serves as a key visual element on your app store listing page to draw users in; it captures what your app is about in a single image, and it serves as the button that will get tapped countless number of times each day by users to open up your app. A good designer can help you realize what you want to communicate with your icon. Or, you can do it yourself, which is what Szymon Klimaszewski, creator of the Blood Pressure app did. The logo for his app looks good and conveys the purpose of the app. “Having a good app icon is very important. Fortunately I’m familiar with Maya, a 3D software design package, Photoshop and Gimp because of my interest in graphics. That gave me a knowledge base to create a logo myself. I had the idea of a heart icon, and I wanted to connect this idea with blood pressure, and the idea of an ECG graph. So the icon was designed and became my logo.”
AdMob research shows that 54% of smartphone users in China think an attractive app icon and logo is an important part of the overall app experience, and users in other markets agreed.
Tell friends and family.
During this phase you can establish beta testing groups among friends and family. Consider them to be your inner circle of testers, but keep them engaged and empowered by listening to their feedback. Create simple surveys using tools like Google Spreadsheets to collect their thoughts in a structured way. You may want to cast a wider net and solicit testers via social networks.
Phase 3: Launching
The day has come, your app has launched and it’s available for download by users other than your friends. You await eagerly the world’s reckoning.
Create an excellent app store listing: By now, you’ll have an app store listing, and getting this page right will be critical to your success because it’s your global shop window. Here are some pointers:
Invest in high-quality screenshots. Many users view screenshots before downloading an app to see what they’re getting. Make sure the screenshots in your listing give the user a good overview of the major app screens, or have them ‘tell the story’ of your app. And be authentic; make sure they’re accurate and up to date. PicsArt has great visuals on their listings page.
Invest in a video. As users browse through an app store deciding which app to download, it’s useful to have as much information about the app as possible. Videos are an excellent way to show a user the app’s functionality, especially for paid apps.
“Video is one part of the marketing puzzle but it’s an important one because
next to trying an app, it’s the best way for a user to know what an app is
about and explain its value.”
“Different apps require different types of video. For instance, videos for games should show the gameplay. For other apps it’s good to explain the use case and show how the user will be using it in situ. Ideally videos should be between 30 to 60 seconds long.”
“Also, a video is a good way to engage journalists and bloggers. These
people receive many press releases for apps but won’t be able to download each
app to try. Including a video link gives them a taste of the app and encourages
them to download it so they can review it in full.”
But remember, “Having a good video won’t fix a bad app, so make sure your product is good.”
We like Vyclone’s clever video, which serves to promote the app but also doubles up as a demonstration of what the app does!
Build word of mouth and choose good keywords. Family, friends or colleagues recommendation, app store as well as search engines are where many US users discover new apps, according to Google/Ipsos Media CT research. 52% of app users surveyed discover new apps through family, friends or colleagues, 40% through browsing the app store and 27% through search engines.
So writing a good title and description in your listing, and choosing relevant
keywords, can be essential to help drive discovery of your app.
There are many app listing pages which are poorly written, so keep in mind these tips when writing your listing:
- Write for your audience. For example, if your app is an educational tool for kids (such as Raz-Kids), call out the benefits to the parents.
- Don’t make it hard for users to understand what the app does. State its purpose up front and include 2-3 of the app’s killer features.
- Highlight great reviews and testimonials, from either users or the press if you have them. Vyclone does a good job of this.
- Be clear about its limitations. The description for the Blood Pressure app, for instance, makes it clear that users still need a blood pressure monitor to use the app.
Use house ads and cross promotion. If you have a portfolio of apps with existing users already, why not give your app a shot in the arm at launch by using house ads? These are ad units which help you cross-promote your new app to users of your other established apps. When it comes to set-up, manually placing these ads in your apps would be time consuming, so many developers choose an ad network to handle the ad serving. AdMob offers a free house ad service, and has a simple process for creating house ad campaigns. You can refine the targeting settings of the campaign to reach the right audience (such as showing ads to users in certain countries, or even targeting ads based on demographic criteria). When you choose an ad network look for those options as they’ll help you achieve better results.
With AdMob, you can combine house ads with mediation (see Chapter 4) to take
advantage of every impression in your app. This is useful when the networks in your
mediation stack can’t fill an ad request. Instead of an empty ad slot, you can show
ads from your house ad campaign instead to promote your other apps. This can help
you attain new users at no cost.
App development company Fingersoft had a lot of success promoting their Hill Climb Racing game with house ads. It wasn’t their first app: other apps, created in 2011 and 2012, such as ‘Cartoon Camera,’ and ‘Night Vision Camera’ already had users, so it made sense to cross-promote and leverage that user base.
Try peer-to-peer distribution. There are two major ways
that peer-to-peer distribution can help you acquire many new users. First, it’s a
method of marketing where you partner with other developers to advertise your app
on their apps. Developers you seek out for this purpose may have a good-sized
portfolio of apps, or maybe a handful of really popular ones, but the point is they
have a much larger volume of users than you that they can leverage. So why not seek
out friendly developers open to doing a deal with you? As you reach out, be
prepared to bargain because these types of deals are unlikely to be free. In many
cases the distributing developer will want a share of your app’s revenue.
Second, a more formal version of peer-to-peer distribution is when the larger party publishes the app on behalf of the smaller party. It’s a chance for you to piggyback on others’ success and it’s been proven to work well. Some large developers, Rovio for example, launched their Stars program recently which is designed to help app developers with distribution (Rovio has a user base numbering more than 100 million across their games). Kalle Kaivola, Senior Vice President of Product & Publishing at Rovio Entertainment, explains some of the benefits: “We have a lot to offer to the developers in terms of helping them put the finishing touches to the project. Under Rovio Stars we do a bit more than a traditional publisher does in helping with the game project, things such as lending our expertise in QA and marketing.”
Leverage social media and blogs. If you maintain a blog, or are active across several social media channels, then time your launch announcements in a coordinated way to maximize the impact. And don’t desert your followers. If you start using social networks then post regular updates; it’s the only way you’ll maintain a following.
Granted, not everyone has time to manage a social network. So another tactic is to let your users do your social marketing for you. If you have a great app then users will tell their friends about it. You can enable these conversations by adding social features to your app. We like how social sharing has been integrated into the Hill Climb Racing game. After you crash your car, the app generates a screenshot which you can post to your social networks along with your score.
Phase 4: Accelerating
The stage where your app gains traction and acquires many more users, i.e. the tipping point, is likely to be one of the most critical. If you reach this point you may find many new marketing opportunities coming your way.
Featuring on the app stores. To many developers this is the holy grail of free app marketing; a prominent position on an app store’s front page, or at least on a category page, can significantly boost your number of users in a short space of time. For example, the messenger app Cubie was featured on the Google Play Store’s frontpage for nine days, and according to their business development manager, James Hill, it had a huge effect, “Before we got on Google Play, our total downloads across iOS and Android were averaging between 15,000 to 20,000 per day. After being featured on Google Play, we were getting over 50,000 downloads per day on Android alone.”
So what’s the catch? You can’t choose to be featured on Google Play, the Play Store’s editorial team picks you. However, you can improve your chances by building a great app which adheres to Android design best practices and also has a great rating from users. To learn more about featuring, read this overview on the Android Developer website.
Respond to user feedback and fix bugs quickly. While fixing
bugs may not sound like a classic marketing tactic, it can directly impact your
rating and hence downloads. During this phase of acceleration your users will
surprise you by discovering new bugs, and frustrated users can be unforgiving in
their reviews and give your app a low rating. But users are equally vocal and
delighted when you fix the problem.
License your app to a publishing house. As your app takes off you may suddenly have more work than you bargained for. You might have support issues to contend with (emails from users), as well as thinking about new ways to improve your app. That can leave you with little time to build an app for another platform, so licensing your app to a publishing house is an option. In this scenario you negotiate a deal with a publisher, whereby they pay you a licensing fee for a period of time to build, publish and promote your app. They earn a share of the profits from your app until the agreement expires.
Phase 5: Leveling
You’ve achieved a steady number of users but growth has plateaued.
Run paid in-app ad campaigns: You can pay to advertise your app inside other apps, which is known as in-app advertising. It can be a very effective way to grow your user base because you’re addressing a highly engaged audience. In other words, app users who are exposed to ads in apps are often willing to try new apps, and gratification is instant (courtesy of the app download). AdMob research shows that more than a quarter of smartphone users in the US and UK feel comfortable with in-app ads which promote games or apps similar to ones they already use.
Costs for paid ad campaigns can be easier to manage once you have a reasonably-sized user base, and you understand more about how users are engaging with your app. One of the first mistakes an app developer makes when running a paid ad campaign is paying too much or too little for users. Once you have users, and you’re collecting data on how much money you’re making from your app, you can calculate your average revenue per user (ARPU) or even daily average revenue per user (DARPU) if you need it. This gives you a good guide for what a user is worth to you and can help you with your ads bidding strategy.
- Each of your users earns you $10.
- The average cost per click of your campaign is $0.10 and your number of clicks is 5000, so the cost of your campaign is $500.
- Your campaign has driven 100 installs.
- Your cost per install (the cost of your campaign / number of installs) is $5.
You know that each conversion, although costing you $5, gives you a great chance of
earning $10 from each user!
Remember, downloads don't always equal customers and revenue. You’ll want to track the effectiveness of each marketing channel where your ads are placed, since some may provide better users (more loyal ones, or higher spenders) than others.
Paid Ad Campaigns
Experiment with multiple ads. Most ad networks give you the option of running multiple ads for free. So when you create your campaign don’t settle for one text ad, try two or three, each with a different message and let the one that generates the most downloads be the one you use most frequently. With AdMob it’s easy to edit your ads on the fly to keep your ad copy competitive and current.
Try the Conversion Optimizer. The Conversion Optimizer is a free tool in AdMob that helps you maximize the return on your investment. You set a target cost per acquisition (e.g. say you’re willing to pay $1 for each install), and the Conversion Optimizer will automatically adjust your campaign to serve ads to users who are most likely to click on the ad and install your app. Games developer GREE saw a 150% improvement in their app download rate when they used the tool.
Know the value of different channels. If you chose to run ads across different networks, you’re likely to see a range of results with some performing better than others. Actively manage each channel so you know which are costing more than others.
Track conversions. Install conversion tracking into your app so you know which ads are driving installs. You can learn more about this topic with this article from the AdMob Help Center and can track conversions across Android and iOS.
Use remarketing to boost engagement and revenue. Let’s say you’ve got fifty thousand users of your gaming app. Half are 7-day active users who spend a lot in your app, the rest are 30-day active users who don't spend much at all. If you could get the 30-day actives to play the game more often they’d become more engrossed in the narrative and would increase their spending. But how do you bring users back to your app? Remarketing lets you target users of your app with ad messages as they engage with other apps. This prompts them to return to your app, and you can incentivize their return with special offers or promotions.
Phase 6: Declining
In this stage, your users are engaging with the app less frequently and the number of downloads is dropping. AdMob research shows that the number one reason for someone to stop using an app is simply because they lose interest, as the chart below illustrates.
Use this time to migrate your users to your new apps using the methods from the other phases we mention in this chapter, such as house ads, remarketing and social media.
Going global: unlocking the secrets of app localizationLocalizing your app can unlock lucrative opportunities to reach more users: here we explain why you should do it and how. Insights from AdMob’s survey of app consumers in major markets help you make informed decisions about building, monetizing and promoting your app.
Why localize?The global opportunity created by the
app economy is amazing. As a developer you create your app, make it available in an
app store, and within one day it’s possible to have customers from every corner of
With smartphone penetration growing globally, it’s no longer sufficient to provide your app in only one language if you hope to retain users.
You can lose over a third of users in all markets if you neglect cultural and language differences. Product Marketing Manager, AdMob
Localizing your app means more than adapting the user-interface language, it’s
about being culturally sensitive too. App developer, RV App Studios, created the
popular Zombie Ragdoll game in twenty languages. They immediately began
seeing significant usage in countries where they hadn’t seen much traction before.
Part of their success comes not only from localizing text within a game, but also
localizing game features to specific countries and cultures. Vivek Dave, founder of
RV App Studios emphasizes this point, “Users want a personalized experience, and
by offering a localized game with translation of text and graphic assets, we
believe users will connect at a much deeper level with the
In an effort to better understand consumer app behavior, perceptions, and preferences, AdMob conducted a new survey across five major markets: China; South Korea; Japan; the United States, and the United Kingdom. The study provides you with data and analysis to help you optimize your design, marketing, and monetization of your app. Key insights from cross-country comparisons can help you understand adjustments you could make for consumers in different markets.
Though users in all surveyed markets have experienced poor localization, app users in Asian markets are much more likely to feel the pain. A staggering 53% of Chinese respondents and over a third of Japanese and South Korean users have felt the app they were using was poorly adapted to their needs. Approximately 25-30% of users discontinued app usage as a result. Even for an app that was good quality, over 10% of users in China and Japan responded that they would stop using the app due to poor localization. If your goal is to distribute to a worldwide audience, we strongly encourage you to localize.
Google Translate. For simple words or phrases, Google Translate is a quick and free option. It’s ideal for apps that contain a small amount of text and covers many languages.
Google App Translation Service. Purchase professional translations through Google Play’s Developer Console.
This new service has a list of pre-selected vendors who’ve been vetted by Google to provide high-quality translation services at competitive prices.
Founder Pieter Olivier of G4A Indian Rummy says, "When we heard that the App Translation Service was available in the Developer Console, we jumped at the opportunity. We've now been using the App Translation Service for several months and found that the cost per translation is much lower than with local companies and the process is much easier." G4A Indian Rummy saw a 300% increase in user engagement after localizing apps in specific countries where the game was popular, but not in the country’s native language.
Find the App Translation Service in the Google Play Developer Console. You can start a new translation or manage an existing translation here.
ICanLocalize. Toni Fingerroos, founder and CEO of Fingersoft, uses this paid service when translating his games. “Most of our game interface is simple enough that you can understand the controls and gameplay without needing instructions. For things that we do need translations for, we use a service called ICanLocalize.”
CrowdIn. One low-cost option is CrowdIn, which users crowdsourcing to translate app files. When you create a project you can either make it public so anyone can contribute, or it can be private and you invite selected translators. There are more than over 100 languages to choose from, and thanks to CrowdIn, Minecraft is almost fully translated into Klingon.
Build better apps with these essential insights into mobile app consumer behaviorAdMob surveyed a thousand daily mobile app consumers in markets with high app downloads. Click on a country to view the insights.
Build better apps with these essential insights into mobile app consumer
AdMob partnered recently with research company Parks Associates to survey smartphone consumers in the US, UK, China, Japan and South Korea. We had 1000 responses in each market from people who are daily users of mobile apps.
We’ve divided the survey data by country and key learnings. Each market has five categories for which we’ve pulled significant statistics from the study and provided recommendations on how to best use these statistics to your advantage.
1. Choosing a Business Model
App users’ purchasing trends and downloading habits vary widely among the different markets. Use these recommendations to help guide your monetization strategy.
2. Getting Discovered
It’s hard to get noticed when you’re first starting out. Here are some ideas that we’ve compiled based on our study of how users explore and choose apps.
3. Keeping Users Happy
What do users look for in a good app? What keeps them engaged and coming back for more? Follow these tips to create the best app experience for your users.
4. Making Great Games
Find out what qualities and features are most important to gamers in your market, as well as what their in-game purchase habits and trends are.
5. Integrating Ads
What drives ad engagement has always been a tricky question to answer. We’ve compiled some market-specific suggestions of which ad types provide the best ad experience based on user preferences.
Choosing a Business
Of the markets surveyed, China is the only one in which the majority of users are willing to pay for apps.
Fact 68% of users budget some amount for app purchasing. However, paid apps are also quickly being pirated. The New York Times reports that digital piracy is widespread in China and that alternative app stores often provide unauthorized knockoffs for download.
Recommendation Experiment with different app monetization models, and don’t exclude the paid model. An alternative strategy is to use a freemium model and release new versions of your app frequently to avoid being pirated.
Chinese users are more likely to try freemium apps in comparison to other business models.
Fact 46% of users have upgraded from a free to a paid version of an app. In the 30 days prior to the survey, 72% of gaming app spending was on in-app purchases.
Recommendation Since users are likely to pay for an upgrade of a good free app, be sure that your initial free version is high quality.
The strength of a brand is very important to Chinese users.
Fact 80% of respondents in China reported downloading their gaming apps from a major brand or company they knew well before downloading the app.
Recommendation If you’re a new developer, consider teaming up with a well-known publisher who can release the app on your behalf.
Chinese users rely most upon search engines to find new apps.
Fact 26% of Chinese users use search engines, versus 14% who browse app stores.
Recommendation Users feel more comfortable searching for brands that they’re already familiar with and trust, as a filter through the overabundance of apps and app stores. In addition to working with established publishers, research your local market to find the right stores to reach your app’s target audience.
“In practice, if we could cover 10 app stores that would get us access to over 70% of users. But China changes rapidly so it's difficult to keep up. Naturally there's a risk associated with doing business without knowing the local situation. That's why we have local partners, who we rely on primarily to provide user support. We don't actually meet with these local partners; everything is done via email. We work to instill high motivation in our partners by setting up a scheme where success benefits both sides.” (Keiji Takeuchi, Representative Director of Link Kit, creators of the popular Samurai Defender game app.)
Keeping Users Happy
Chinese users rank loss of interest and lack of fresh content as their main reasons for discontinuing app use.
Fact 49% of users marked a loss of interest while 41% of users stated stale content as their explanation. It’s important to note that app users in China are much more sensitive to lack of fresh content than users in other surveyed markets, such as the US at 19% and Japan at 9%.
Recommendation Adding fresh content on a regular basis is essential for retaining users.
Nearly half of users think that good quality apps have frequent app updates.
Fact 44% of users prefer monthly app updates and 33% prefer weekly updates.
Recommendation Update your app at least monthly to keep users happy.
Making Great Games
Gamers in China are much more likely to spend money on buying virtual goods and personalizing characters and avatars.
Fact 32% of Chinese gamers have spent money on personalizing characters, while 43% will pay to stock up on virtual points and coins.
Recommendation When developing games, providing character personalization and virtual gold as in-app purchase options, could be an incremental monetization strategy.
Chinese gamers report they make in-app purchases with much higher frequency than gamers in other markets, but they spend the least on in-game purchases.
Fact 36% of Chinese gamers spend money to advance gameplay or unlock features on a weekly basis, three times greater than other markets surveyed.
Recommendation In your game, have options of in-game purchases with different price points.
Chinese smartphone users are much more likely than others to engage with in-app ads.
Fact 92% of users in these markets will click on ads. In the US this figure is 35%.
Recommendation You should strive to create the best possible ad experience inside an app; where an ad is placed and how it affects gameplay and user experience is important.
Choosing a Business
South Korean users are likely to participate in freemium monetization models.
Fact 29% of users have upgraded from a free to a paid version of an app.
Recommendation Since users are more likely to pay for an upgrade of a good free app, be sure that your initial free version is high quality.
In-app purchases are the top revenue generator for gaming apps.
Fact South Korean users say that 92% of their total gaming app spending is on in-app purchases.
Recommendation Use an in-app purchase monetization model; even a small number of users making regular in-game purchases can generate a high proportion of your revenue.
When looking for a new app, the majority of South Korean users spend some time comparing apps before downloading them.
Fact 61% spend some time on research, while 15% do substantial research before downloading an app.
Recommendation Be aware of your app and brand’s reputation by maintaining a good app store description and monitoring user reviews.
Cost is the most important factor in choosing an app for South Korean users (according to 67% of users), but reviews and star ratings, plus family and friend recommendations are important too.
Fact 54% of users say user reviews and star ratings are ‘very important’, while 20% of respondents rank family and friend recommendations as their number one method of discovering new apps.
Recommendation While the cost of an app is an overarching factor in buying apps, it’s important to recognize that users rely heavily on recommendations from others when deciding what app to download. Consider building a reminder into your app to ask users to rate it after use.
Keeping Users Happy
South Korean users rank loss of interest as their main reason for discontinuing app use.
Fact 60% of users marked a loss of interest as their number one reason for discontinuing app use. 42% no longer needed the app and 41% found a better app to use.
Recommendation Update your app often to keep users engaged and prevent user turnover.
Ease of navigation and the ability to personalize an app are important factors for users.
Fact In overall app experience, 44% of users marked easy navigation as ‘very important,’ and 43% said both app instructions and the ability to personalize the app were ‘very important’.
Recommendation Keep apps simple and intuitive, and localize well. If adding extra features, personalization options are the way to go.
South Korean users prefer a high frequency of app updates for the best experience.
Fact 40% of South Korean respondents liked weekly updates for their apps, while 47% of South Korean respondents preferred monthly.
Recommendation Users need fresh content to stay engaged and loyal to an app.
Making Great Games
Similar to China, South Korean users are more likely to spend money on personalizing characters in games.
Fact 42% of South Korean gamers have spent money on personalizing characters, monthly.
Recommendation Consider offering character personalization as a feature in the South Korean market to boost your revenue.
Gaming apps are consumers’ top priority upon buying a new handset in all markets except China.
Fact In the US, UK and South South Korea, more than 60% of respondents from each market said they downloaded games within a week after getting their smartphone, and it was the top priority. Users in China said finance apps were the most important to download first.
Recommendation Developers should market aggessively to new phone owners to stand a better chance of having their app downloaded.
South Korean smartphone users are very likely to engage with in-app ads.
Fact 68% of South Korean users have clicked on ads.
Recommendation You should strive to create the best possible ad experience inside an app. Where an ad is placed and how it affects gameplay and user experience is important.
South Korean users prefer full screen video and in-app ads to be displayed when an app opens.
Fact For nearly all types of apps surveyed (shopping, entertainment, gaming, etc.), nearly 50% of users prefer to see full screen ads when they open their app.
Recommendation If you decide to use full screen ads, display them at the point a user opens the app.
Choosing a Business
The majority of Japanese users are not willing to pay for apps.
Fact 56% of surveyed users reported that they only download free apps.
Recommendation Try using freemium or in-app monetization models.
The option of downloading a free trial of an app is an influential factor in deciding between several apps of the same type.
Fact 33% of users prefer to download apps that have a free trial version.
Recommendation Try using a freemium model to encourage users to download your app.
Over two-thirds of users conduct background research before downloading an app.
Fact 14% or users do substantial research on apps before downloading, and 58% spend at least a little time comparing apps before downloading.
Recommendation Capitalize on app users’ habits of conducting some app research before downloading an app. In addition to current search, browse, and app curation features, consider adding premium app review content by outside experts or revealing to shoppers which of their friends use or have reviewed particular apps.
User reviews and ratings, free app trials, and app descriptions in app stores are important factors when deciding between apps.
Fact Japanese users ranked these three factors as ‘very important.’ 40% of users rely on reviews and ratings, 33% on free trials of the app, and 31% on app descriptions in the app store.
Recommendation Be sure that your app store presence is strong. Provide informative app store descriptions and make it easy for users to leave reviews and ratings.
Keeping Users Happy
Japanese users report the worst experience with app technical support.
Fact 91% of users are not willing to download another app from the same developer after contacting customer support and receiving poor service.
Recommendation Be aware that the care and attention you provide to users facing difficulties with your app is a large determinant of your retention rate.
While cost is the most influential factor in app selection, Japanese users also highly value user reviews and free app trials.
Fact 60% of users say cost is an influential factor, and 40% rely on reviews and star ratings to ultimately select between several apps of the same type.
Recommendation Build a feature into your app that reminds users to review it, and be sure to monitor and respond to reviews when they come in.
Making Great Games
Japanese gamers are least likely to purchase in-game features.
Fact 63% of respondents report they have never spent money to unlock features or advance gameplay.
Recommendation When developing games for the Japanese markets, consider other monetization methods, such as ads.
However, those gamers who do make in-game purchases at least monthly, spend more than gamers in other markets on those purchases.
Fact In a 30-day span, Japanese gamers reported spending $24.06 on smartphone in-game purchases (and $40.27 on tablet in-game purchases), in comparison with US gamers who spent $10.07 and Chinese gamers who spent $7.81.
Recommendation Cater for gamers in Japan who are willing to spend more for in-game purchases.
Gamers in Japan are much more likely to spend money on personalizing characters and avatars.
Fact 38% of Japanese gamers have spent money on personalizing characters, monthly.
Recommendation When developing games, providing this as an in-app purchase option could be an incremental monetization strategy.
Gaming is the most popular app type when smartphone users in all markets have 30 minutes of spare time.
Fact In Japan, 40% of users said they would play games over other types of apps given this amount of spare time.
Recommendation Users are engaging deeply with mobile app content and this challenges the notion that users only want to play games on their phones for a short amount of time. When developing games, foster engagement by creating multiple levels and storylines.
Japanese app users are more likely to prefer banner ads shown on the screen (top or bottom) than in-between app activities.
Fact 62% of users prefer banner ads at the top or bottom of screen during main app activity rather than between activities. Specifically, 32% prefer top of the screen and 30% prefer bottom of the screen.
Recommendation Japanese users prefer to see banner ads when using apps.
Search ads and website display ads are most effective at driving app downloads in Japan.
Fact 22% of users downloaded an app after seeing it as the result of an online search. 20% downloaded apps after seeing them displayed on a website.
Recommendation Prioritize ad spend for search ads, website display ads, and ads placed within similar apps.
Choosing a Business
Cost is the most influential factor in app selection in the US.
Fact 76% of users marked cost as a ‘very important’ factor in deciding between several apps of the same type.
Recommendation US users will decide against downloading even a good app if they feel the cost is too high. Don’t rely only on a paid monetization model to build your business.
The majority of US smartphone users only download free apps.
Fact 54% of respondents said that they only download free apps, and only 7% of users “commonly” spend on apps that cost $6.99 or more. Over a third of US smartphone gamers and non-gamers have paid to upgrade an app, either for a game whose free trial has ended, or for an app’s free to paid version.
Recommendation Use a freemium business model to make the most out of your monetization strategy.
Users are most likely to download an app after seeing an ad for it in another app or on a social network.
Fact 24% of users have downloaded apps after seeing ads in social networks and within other apps.
Recommendation Prioritize ad spending on ads within similar apps and leverage social media where appropriate.
US users rely on recommendations, app stores and search engines to find new apps.
Fact According to Google/Ipsos Media CT research, 52% of app users surveyed discover new apps through family, friends or colleagues, 40% through browsing the app store and 27% through search engines.
Recommendation Make sure to manage your app’s online presence, including user reviews on app stores pages, websites, and social media. Make it easy for current users’ to share their experience with friends. Here are some tips on getting discovered on Google Play and SEO best practices.
Keeping Users Happy
US app users are particularly concerned about an app’s ease of use.
Fact 72% of users felt that ease of navigating an app and making it quick to open were the two most important factors in overall app experience.
Recommendation Focus strongly on simple navigation and smooth user experience to create a winning app.
Smartphone users, both gamers and non-gamers, expect frequent app updates.
Fact 43% of users prefer monthly updates, while 25% would like weekly updates.
Recommendation Update frequently to avoid stale content and keep users engaged.
Making Great Games
Gaming is the most popular app when smartphone users in all markets have 30 minutes of spare time.
Fact In the US, 37% of users said they would play games given this amount of spare time. In comparison, the second highest choice came in at only 17%, for reading books and magazines.
Recommendation Lengthy smartphone gameplay is increasing among users and you can accommodate by adding levels and complexity, or by introducing storytelling elements to your games.
Game design & aesthetic, quality of graphics, and limited ads are the most important qualities to US users.
Fact 53% of users rated quality of graphics as ‘very important,’ with game design & aesthetic and limited following at 50% and 49%, respectively.
Recommendation Graphics, design, and smart ad placement go hand in hand when creating great apps.
US gamers spend the least amount of money, in total, on smartphone gaming apps.
Fact Average spending on gaming apps over a 30-day period was $4.53 for US users, compared to $14.03 for South Korean users. This statistic includes paying to download games, in-game purchases, and gaming subscriptions.
Recommendation Since US users spend the least on gaming apps, consider emphasizing ads as your monetization model, keeping in mind that smart ad placement is key.
US smartphone users prefer ads for apps or games similar to the ones they use.
Fact 27% of users preferred this type of targeting over ads based on personal information or online and mobile activities.
Recommendation When setting ad filters for US markets, refine based on this statistic.
US app users are most likely to prefer banner ads between app and game tasks, or activities.
Fact 46% of respondents prefer in-app banner ads between activities over ads at the top or bottom of the screen during gameplay.
Recommendation When choosing placement of ads, keep in mind that US users prefer their ads between activities or levels, which is actually the preference in all markets we surveyed.
Choosing a Business
Gaming is the most popular entertainment app type among UK smartphone users.
Fact 62% of respondents play games at least once a month, more than any other entertainment activity.
Recommendation Games is a lucrative space to consider developing apps for the UK market.
In-game purchases generate the most revenue in total gaming app spending.
Fact 94% of spending in gaming apps have been on in-app purchases.
Recommendation Develop games with in-app purchase options such as unlocking new levels and upgrading from free to premium games.
UK smartphone users are most likely to discover new apps by browsing app stores.
Fact 35% of users rank browsing an app store as their number one discovery method. Family and friend recommendations, and specific search queries in the app store search bar come second and third, with 18% and 13%, respectively.
Recommendation Be sure to have attractive screenshots, good descriptions and strong reviews for your app store listing.
When deciding between similar apps, users highly value reviews and ratings, and app store descriptions.
Fact When evaluating apps, 50% of users consider reviews and rating to be ‘very important,’ while 45% highly value an app’s description in the app store in their app selection process.
Recommendation Write app store descriptions in a clear, concise, and compelling way. Be sure to monitor and respond to app reviews in a timely fashion to demonstrate to users that you care about their input.
Keeping Users Happy
UK app users are particularly concerned about an app’s ease of use.
Fact UK users prioritized quick to open, easy to navigate, and battery saving as their top three characteristics of a good app.
Recommendation Focus strongly on simple navigation and smooth user experience to create a winning app.
Two-thirds of UK users feel that their customer support experiences have been inadequate.
Fact Only 33% of respondents felt that their app experience was improved as a result of contacting customer support, and only 33% said that they would be more likely to download another app from the same developer as a result of contacting customer service.
Recommendation Invest resources into providing fast and reliable channels for customer support to prevent users who are experiencing issues from submitting low ratings and poor app reviews in app stores.
Making Great Games
Game design & aesthetic, quality of graphics, and limited ads are the most important qualities to UK users
Fact 46% of users rated quality of graphics as ‘very important,’ with game design & aesthetic and limited ads following at 41% and 48%, respectively.
Recommendation Graphics design and wise ad placement go hand in hand when creating great apps.
UK users engage with multiple types of in-game purchases.
Fact The most popular types of in-game purchases for UK users were unlocking new chapters, upgrading after free trials, buying special bundles of items, and paying to clear difficult levels.
Recommendation When developing your monetization strategy, be sure to include a few of these in-app purchase models for your game.
UK smartphone users prefer ads for apps or games similar to the ones they use.
Fact 28% of users preferred this over ads based on personal information or online and mobile activities.
Recommendation For higher ad engagement, avoid the use of demographic information and prioritize ad spending for ads placed within similar apps.
Ads within other apps and social networks, are effective at driving app downloads.
Fact 19% of users have downloaded an app after seeing an ad for it within another app, and 18% after seeing an ad while on a social network.
Recommendation Smart ad placement is key in gaining exposure and downloads. Consider buying ad space within similar apps, advertising on social media, and offering your users the option to display game scores or app reviews in their social network streams.
Choosing a Business
Italian smartphone users are more likely to engage with freemium apps than with other business models.
Fact 36% of the users surveyed (including the non-purchasers) have upgraded from a free version to a paid version of an app, and 57% of the users consider free trial of the app to be “very important” when choosing which app to download.
Recommendation Since upgrading from a free version to a paid version is the most common, make sure that your initial free version has a high quality experience.
Italian users are more evenly split between free apps users and potential purchasers.
Fact 46% of users have upgraded from a free to a paid version of an app. In the 30 days prior to the survey, 53% of smartphone users surveyed say they only download free apps and 47% would budget some amount to spend on apps. This is similar to UK and Germany.
Recommendation Don’t leave money on the table by only applying one business model.
Italian users are more likely to download an app on impulse
Fact 28% of Italian smartphone app users download apps almost immediately without researching or shopping around – the highest rate of app users in the European countries surveyed
Recommendation In addition to making a high quality app with good word of mouth, think about how to make it appealing to those impulsive users and turn them to loyal users.
Italian users value good app descriptions and rely more on preview videos
Fact 51% of Italian smartphone users consider app descriptions in the app store very important for making app selection decisions, and 40% would rely on preview video (highest in all European markets surveyed)
Recommendation Write app store descriptions in a clear, concise, and compelling way. Consider produce professional video previews for your app. Here are some tips on how to build a good presence on Google Play.
Keeping Users Happy
Italian users rank loss of interest and failure to fulfill main purpose as their top reasons for discontinuing app use.
Fact Loss of interest is the most common reason to stop using an app. 41% of users surveyed said loss of interest has caused them to stop using an app. 39% give up an app because it does not fulfill its main purpose well and 33% stop using an app because they find a better alternative.
Recommendation Update your app often to keep users engaged and regularly benchmark against competitors to review if your app is still delivering a great experience.
Instructions to use an app are an important factor for Italian users.
Fact 48% of user surveyed rate instructions for using the app ‘very important’.
Recommendation A step-by-step instruction for first time users could go a long way to retaining your users.
Italian users prefer apps that open quickly, are easy to navigate and don’t drain battery life.
Fact 66% of users surveyed marked easy navigation as ‘very important’ for overall app experience. 63% and 54% think a good quality app should open quickly and does not drain battery, respectively.
Recommendation Keep apps focused and intuitive. Optimize apps so that they open quickly and do not drain the battery excessively. Here are some tips for optimizing battery life.
Making Great Games
Graphics quality, limited ads, the ability to save and continue gameplay across devices are the most important features for both smartphone and tablet gamers in Italy.
Fact 59% of smartphone users surveyed who play mobile games at least monthly rate ‘Quality of graphics’ for gaming apps as very important. Italy also has the highest percentage of smartphone gamers (28%) rating social log-in features as very important, compared to other European markets surveyed.
Recommendation When creating gaming apps, prioritize graphics and smart ads placement. Keep in mind the multi-screen world that users usually play your games in. Leverage social network platforms to give your users the ability to share among friends their gaming achievements. Here are some tips on integrating Google+ into your Android apps.
In addition to upgrading from free to paid app, paying to unlock new chapters is also popular among Italian mobile gamers.
Fact 35% of the users who make in-game purchases at least monthly have spent money to upgrade from free trial to paid version. Also, 30% have paid to unlock new chapters.
Recommendation Consider creating freemium gaming apps that have a free and appealing gaming experience, and keep offering new content.
Ads are very effective in driving app downloads. People generally prefer targeted ads.
Fact Ads for apps are particularly effective for gamers. 72% of gamers have downloaded an app after seeing an ad for it, compared with 61% of non-gamers. 81% of Italian smartphone users prefer some type of targeted in-app ads to non-targeted ads.
Recommendation AdMob serve ads to your app using contextual, placement or interest-based targeting. You can also apply filters to suit ads better to your users.
Italian users’ preference for ad type and position varies across app types, but in general prefer ads that are not interruptive
Fact For entertainment and gaming apps, more than 45% of the users who use those apps at least monthly prefer ads shown only between activities and not in main activity. Full-screen and video ads that show between tasks and levels are the second preferred ad format by mobile gamers, following traditional banner ads.
Recommendation When using full-screen interstitials, be mindful to protect user experience and to show ads at the right time to the right users. Here are some tips to get you started on implementing interstitials with AdMob.
Choosing a Business
Similar to some other European markets surveyed, cost is a very important factor in downloading an app.
Fact 72% of users surveyed marked cost as a very important factor in app selection.. 23% said they made a purchase to upgrade from free to paid app and 6% have made an in-app purchase.
Recommendation A high quality app with a freemium model would be appealing to cost-sensitive users in Spain.
The majority of Spain users make purchase via either credit card or carrier billing
Fact 43% of users enter credit card information manually and 42% bill purchases to their mobile phone bills.
Recommendation Make the in-app payment process as easy as possible. Don’t ignore providing the carrier billing option for your users. Google Play supports Movistar and Orange for Spanish users.
Ads are effective at driving app downloads for Spanish users.
Fact 22% of users reported downloading an app as a result of seeing a search ad. 21% downloaded an app from an ads displayed on a website, and 17% from in-app ads.
Recommendation Leverage advertising platforms such as AdWords to have your apps presented to the potential users at the right time. Here are some guidelines to get you started.
Users in Spain spend more time researching before downloading an app.
Fact 89% of smartphone app users in Spain surveyed conduct some background research before downloading an app - a higher rate than in other European markets we surveyed. 55% of the users also consider recommendations from friends or family as a very important factors to download an app.
Recommendation Make sure to manage your app’s overall online presence, including user reviews on app store pages, websites, and social media. Make it easy for current users’ to share their experience with friends. Here are some tips on getting discovered on Google Play.
Keeping Users Happy
Poor localization remains an issue for Spanish users.
Fact Properly localizing apps is important; of the 37% of Spanish smartphone users surveyed who have experienced a poorly localized app, 41% stopped using the app due to localization issues. This equates to 15% of Spanish smartphone users discontinuing app use due to poor localization.
Recommendation If you are entering the Spanish market, make sure your localization is high quality. Be sure to check out Chapter 6: Going Global for more resources and tips.
Spanish smartphone users expect frequent app updates.
Fact Nearly a quarter of Spanish app users surveyed have stopped using an app due to lack of fresh content – a rate higher than any other markets surveyed. About 80% of the users prefer an app to be updated monthly (49%) or weekly (31%).
Recommendation Provide new content updates regularly to retain users.
Making Great Games
Game design & aesthetic, quality of graphics, and ability to save and continue gameplay across devices are the most important qualities to Spanish mobile gamers.
Fact 49% of smartphone users who play mobile games at least monthly rated quality of graphics as very important, with game design & aesthetic and the ability to save and continue gameplay across devices following at 48% and 48%, respectively.
Recommendation When creating a great game, prioritize investing in high quality game design and engines that enable cross platform development.
Spanish gamers engage with several types of in-game purchases
Fact Spanish gamers engage with several types of in-game purchases, such as buying virtual coins/goods, unlocking new chapters, upgrading to paid version, personalizing characters or clearing a difficult level.
Recommendation When developing your monetization strategy, be sure to include a few of these in-app purchase models for your game depending on your game type and audiences.
Banner ads is the most-preferred ad unit, but other ad types also have potential
Fact More than a quarter of Spanish smartphone users who play games at least monthly prefer to see full-screen interstitial ads between tasks or game levels.
Recommendation Take advantage of AdMob’s country targeting and different ad types to optimize your monetization strategy for Spain market.
Ads are effective in driving game downloads for Spanish mobile phone gamers.
Fact 72% of gamers surveyed have downloaded an app after seeing an ad for it, compared with a 51% of non-gamers.
Recommendation Don’t miss out monetization opportunities by leaving out advertising if you are creating a gaming app for Spanish users. Consider selling your inventory to similar games.
Choosing a Business
More than half of German smartphone users only download free apps, but...
Fact Although the majority (53%) of German smartphone users surveyed said they only download free apps, 5% said they are willing to pay up to €10 (2%) or more (3%).
Recommendation Identify your most valuable users, provide meaningful paid upgrades to them without compromising experience for the rest of the non-paying users. Check out AdMob’s latest feature addition - in-app house ads - to make your monetization strategy even smarter.
Carrier billing is common in German
Fact 50% of users surveyed who make in-app purchase at least monthly bill purchases to their mobile phone bills, followed by 27% who enter credit card information manually.
Recommendation Leverage marketplace’s service to provide the carrier billing options for the users. Google Play offers carrier billing in Germany for E-Plus, T-Mobile and O2 subscribers.
Customize your monetization strategy based on app type
Fact According to our survey, unlike US and UK users, German users spend much lower on communication and social apps, whereas they would spend similar amount on gaming apps as US users.
Recommendation Consider advertising model for communication and social apps, and a hybrid model for games.
German users are less likely to download apps on impulse
Fact 85% of users surveyed would do some amount of research before downloading an app. 27% would do substantial background research on the app before downloading it. App descriptions, user reviews and star ratings are rated by 50% of users as very important factors during app selection.
Recommendation Spend time monitoring and improving your app’s overall online presence, including: user reviews, star ratings, app store presence, app website, and social media. Be responsive to problems reported by users. Here are some tips on managing app presence on Google Play.
German users rely more on searching in app stores than other major markets surveyed, but have less specific search terms.
Fact 21% of users surveyed (highest among US, UK and France) rate searching in an app store as the most common way to find new apps. 84% say they use generic keywords when conducting a search.
Recommendation This further calls for diligent effort to provide comprehensive, high-quality app descriptions in an app store, and maintain high user ratings to improve your app’s visibility when users are searching for it.
Keeping Users Happy
German users are concerned about an app’s ease of navigation.
Fact 64% of German users surveyed rate ease of navigating the app as very important to their app experience, followed by instruction for using the app (39%).
Recommendation Focus on designing effective navigation, and consider providing a step-by-step instruction for first time users. Here’s a great training on designing effective navigation.
Loss of need and interest are top reasons that users stop using an app
Fact 45% and 44% of the users report that they have stopped using an app because they no longer needed the app or lost interest, respectively.
Recommendation Keep close contact with your users and the market trend to constantly evaluate your app’s value to the users. Provide fresh content regularly to keep users engaged.
German app users are significantly more likely than those in other markets surveyed to associate paid apps with higher quality.
Fact 34% of German users think that being a paid app characterizes a good quality app. This is significantly higher than other markets surveyed (US, UK and France).
Recommendation Don’t shy away from considering premium model to be part of the business models in your app portfolios targeting German market.
Making Great Games
German users are open to in-game purchase that expands their experience further.
Fact 37% German smartphone users who make in-game purchase monthly have made purchase to unlock new chapters. 30% have purchased to upgrade after a free trial.
Recommendation Build engaging, high quality free game content, communicate to the users regularly that there are even more exciting game play experience to unlock.
Almost a third of smartphone gamers make in-game purchase at least monthly
Fact 8% German smartphone users who play games at least monthly report that they purchase daily. 15% purchase weekly, and 6% monthly.
Recommendation Provide new content or upgrade to your gamers at least monthly to keep them engaged and maximize your monetization.
German gamers favor puzzle & trivia, card & board and strategy & simulation game.
Fact The top 3 smartphone game types in Germany are puzzle & trivia (52% smartphone users playing games at least monthly report playing this type of game), card & board (46%) and strategy & simulation (35%).
Recommendation Consider these three game types if you are strategizing which type of games to build for German users to play on their phone in their spare time.
Similar to other surveyed market, German smartphone users prefer ads for apps or games similar to the ones they use.
Fact 24% of German smartphone users surveyed prefer the aforementioned ads over ads based on online and mobile activities. A similar percentage of users (23%) prefer ads targeted based on age, gender or other personal information.
Recommendation For user acquisition, target your potential users by bidding for inventories in similar apps; for monetization, prioritize selling inventory to similar apps.
Ads are effective at driving game downloads.
Fact 20% of users surveyed have downloaded an app after seeing a search ad (highest percentage), followed by 16% after seeing an in-app ad. 63% of gamers have downloaded an app after seeing an ad for it, compared with 51% of non-gamers. 29% of German users who play games at least monthly prefer full screen ads between tasks or game levels.
Recommendation Leverage interstitials to monetize your gaming apps. Here’re some best practices on implementing interstitials from AdMob.
Choosing a Business
Over two-thirds of the smartphone owners surveyed in Brazil are willing to spend some money on apps.
Fact Only 31% of the Brazilian smartphone users surveyed said they only download free apps. 20% would spend up to R$2.99 and 19% up to R$4.99. 13% would spend R$10 or more.
Recommendation Similar to other fast growing market such as China, experiment with different app monetization models, and don’t exclude the premium model.
The option to download a free trial of an app is an influential factor in deciding which app to download.
Fact 64% of users consider free trial of the app very important in choosing which app to download between several apps of the same type.
Recommendation Try using a freemium model to encourage users to download your app. Offer high quality, uninterrupted experience before offering users the options to purchase.
Three out of four smartphone app users in Brazil conduct some background research before downloading an app.
Fact 29% or users surveyed do substantial research on apps before downloading, and 45% spend at least a little time comparing apps before downloading.
Recommendation Spend time monitoring and improving your app’s overall online presence, including: user reviews, star ratings, app store presence, online search, and social network. Here are some tips on managing app presence on Google Play.
Like other emerging markets such as China, users in Brazil value brands, app reviews from experts and preview videos.
Fact 41% of users surveyed rate brand as very important, 57% would be influenced by app reviews from experts, and 51% consider preview videos as very important in selecting which app to download.
Recommendation Consider working with established publishers to leverage their brand power. Consider adding premium app review content by outside experts. Market your app with high-quality, professionally-produced videos.
Keeping Users Happy
A vast majority of smartphone users surveyed in Brazil who value frequent app updates prefer updates at least monthly.
Fact Of the users surveyed who think good quality apps should have frequent update, 40% prefer monthly updates and 45% prefer weekly. This is also similar to emerging markets like China.
Recommendation Update your app regularly to keep users engaged.
Nearly two-thirds of smartphone users surveyed in Brazil have experienced a poorly-localized app, the highest of any market surveyed.
Fact 64% of users surveyed have used an app that they felt was designed for users of another country or a different language.
Recommendation As one of the fastest-growing markets, Brazil certainly deserves a higher level of attention to localize. Be sure to check out Chapter 6: Going Global of the Business Kit, for more best practices and tools for localization.
Making Great Games
Gamers in Brazil spend money for many purposes.
Fact 28% of smartphone users surveyed who make in-game purchase monthly have spent money to personalize a character, 27% to unlock new content, 26% to stock up on virtual goods/coins, 23% to upgrade from a free to a paid version, 22% to clear a difficult level.
Recommendation Try having more than one monetization strategy. Depending on your game type, try offering multiple in-app purchase options to enhance the gaming experience and your monetization opportunity.
Brazilian gamers also are willing to spend money more frequently.
Fact 16% of smartphone users who play mobile games at least monthly spend money to unlock features or advance gameplay daily, 20% weekly and 11% monthly. Only 37% said they never spend any money on games. However, the average spend among users who spend money for games at least monthly is around $10, much lower than Japan and comparable to the US.
Recommendation In conjunction with the recommendation above to provide multiple purchase options, price those options at a lower level to increase purchase from the potentially price-elastic gamers in Brazil.
Quality of graphics and the ability to play across devices are important to gamers in Brazil
Fact 66% and 61% of smartphone users surveyed who play mobile games at least monthly rate as very important quality of graphics and the ability to play across device, respectively.
Recommendation When developing games, optimize for a smartphone’s smaller screen and a tablet’s larger screen. Consider cross-device capable game engines and build login mechanisms to allow gamers to load progress and continue gameplay across devices.
Again, similar to emerging market like China, Brazilian users engage with ads more frequently than users in US and Japan
Fact Of those who notice ads in the last 30 days prior to the survey, 74% report ad engagement; this rate is much higher than in the US and Japan. 58% click on ads some of the time and 16% all of the time.
Recommendation Don’t miss out on monetization opportunities via advertising.
Brazilian users prefer ads on top or between activities.
Fact 40% of the smartphone users surveyed prefer ads shown on top of the screen and 35% prefer ads shown between activities. For entertainment and gaming apps, a third of the users surveyed prefer full screen ads that appear between game levels or tasks.
Recommendation In addition to banner ads, try interstitial units for entertainment and gaming apps. Here are some tips to get you started on implementing interstitials with AdMob.
Choosing a Business
The majority of French smartphone users only download free apps.
Fact 72% of smartphone user surveyed said they only download free apps, the highest percentage among developed markets surveyed such as US, UK and Germany.
Recommendation When creating apps for the French market, consider an ad-supported model to expand your monetization opportunities.
Carrier billing is the most popular payment method for in-app purchases.
Fact 49% of smartphone users who made an in-app purchase at least monthly use carrier billing.
Recommendation Similar to Germany, leverage the marketplace’s service to provide the carrier billing options for the users. Google Play offers carrier billing in France for Bouygues, Free, Orange and SFR subscribers.
The majority of French smartphone users do research before downloading an app
Fact 48% of smartphone users surveyed do substantial research before downloading an app, the highest among all countries surveyed.
Recommendation Managing your app’s online presence is critical in the French market. Capitalize on French users’ high reliance on online research. Invest more in monitoring and improving your app’s overall online presence, including: user reviews, star ratings, app store presence, online search result, and social network. Here are some tips on managing app presence on Google Play.
Online display ads and search ads can be effective in driving app downloads in France, followed by in-app ads.
Fact The top 3 types of ads driving app downloads are mobile display ads (17% of users have downloaded an app after seeing it), online search ads (16%) and in-app ads (15%).
Recommendation Consider promoting your apps to the French users via these types of ads.
After cost, user reviews and star ratings are the most influential factors driving app download.
Fact 52% of smartphone users surveyed rate user reviews and ratings as very important. 50% rate the app description in the app marketplace as very important.
Recommendation This is not a surprise as French users research more than any other markets surveyed before downloading an app. Be sure to monitor and respond to reviews when they come in, and provide informative app store descriptions (texts, screenshots and videos).
Keeping Users Happy
Similar to other markets, French app users are particularly concerned about an app’s ease of navigation.
Fact French users prioritized easy navigation, instruction for using the app and app design as their top three important factors for smartphone app experience.
Recommendation Focus strongly on simple and intuitive navigation. Consider providing step-by-step instruction for first time users. Here’s a great training on designing effective navigation.
Users in France are more likely to experience localization issues
Fact 32% of French smartphone users have experienced a poorly localized app, the highest rate of all European markets surveyed.
Recommendation Be sure to check out Chapter 6: Going Global of the Business Kit, for more best practices and tools for localization.
Making Great Games
French mobile gamers are more likely to spend on unlocking new chapters than other content.
Fact 31% of the monthly purchasers surveyed have spent money to unlock new chapters. The other common purchases include: purchase to clear a difficult level (20%); stock up virtual goods (19%), and upgrade to a paid version (19%).
Recommendation Keep providing new levels to your game to expand your users’ lifetime value and keep them engaged.
Game designs, quality of graphics, award systems are important to French mobile gamers.
Fact 53% of smartphone users surveyed who play mobile games at least monthly rate game design as very important, followed by quality of graphics (47%), and the ability to earn points, rewards and achievements (43%).
Recommendation A high-quality game should be aesthetically appealing and have rewarding gameplay.
Tablet gamers care about quality of graphics and cross-device compatibility more.
Fact 59% of tablet users who play games at least monthly marked quality of graphics as very important, 12 percentage points higher than smartphone gamers. 44% said it’s important for high quality games to be playable cross device.
Recommendation If you are targeting tablets gamers, spend extra time optimizing your games for larger screens, and use cross-device capable engines and build in mechanisms to allow gamers to continue progress wherever they are.
French smartphone users prefer ads promoting apps similar to ones they already use
Fact Almost half the users (47%) surveyed prefer ads that promote similar apps/games.
Recommendation Leverage mobile ads platforms’ ability to promote either your own apps or another advertiser's similar apps through a direct deal. See how AdMob house ad campaigns can help you achieve that.
Similar to other surveyed markets such as the US and the UK, French users prefer to see ads between activities and on top of the screen.
Fact Almost half (48%) of smartphone users surveyed prefer to see ads shown between activities and not in main app activities. 28% prefer to see ads at the top of the screen.
Recommendation Focus on maximizing users’ ad engagement without interfering with their experience if you are monetizing your apps. Also, here are some tips to get you started on implementing interstitials with AdMob.
Choosing a Business
Similar to China and Brazil, Russian smartphone users are more likely to spend money for an app.
Fact Only 38% of the smartphone users in Russia surveyed said they only download free apps. 26% would spend up to 100 RUB and 15% up to 200 RUB.
Recommendation Similar to other fast-growing markets, experiment with different app monetization models, and don’t exclude the paid model.
Gaming apps and m-commerce apps have the highest levels of spending.
Fact Russian smartphone users spend most of their money to pay bills, purchase goods and services through an app, make payments via wallet apps, and play games.
Recommendation M-commerce is rising. Traditional businesses should invest in it and build apps to expand ways for potential customers to shop and purchase products or services more conveniently.
Top ads placement driving app download in Russia is online search ads.
Fact 35% of the Russian users surveyed have downloaded an app after seeing an ad from an online search.
Recommendation Include mobile search ads in your user acquisition strategy.
Russian users prioritize free trials of the app, user ratings and family and friends’ recommendations when selecting apps to download.
Fact Russian users ranked these three factors as ‘very important.’ 59% of users rely on free trials, 58% on user reviews and star ratings, and 48% on recommendations from friends or family.
Recommendation Consider freemium models. Provide a free but complete experience to your app users. Make it easy for users to leave reviews and ratings and share with friends. Be responsive to user-reported issues in user ratings.
Keeping Users Happy
A vast majority of smartphone app users in Russia who value frequent app updates prefer updates at least monthly
Fact 51% of the smartphone users who think good quality apps should have frequent updates prefer monthly updates and 32% prefer weekly.
Recommendation Update your app regularly to keep users happy.
Russian users value easy navigation, ability to personalize and app design.
Fact 67% of the users rate easy to navigate as very important, followed by ability to personalize the apps to your need (57%) and app design and aesthetic (48%).
Recommendation Create apps with intuitive navigation. Depending on app type, consider adding customization elements for users to personalize their experience. Here’s a great training on designing effective navigation.
Making Great Games
Racing, education, action/adventure and strategy/simulations games have different popularity between smartphone and tablet.
Fact These are the percentage of smartphone users surveyed who play mobile games at least monthly playing different type of games on smartphone vs. tablet: racing (32% vs. 49%), education (28% vs. 38%), action/adventure (27% vs. 44%) and strategy/simulation (23% vs. 39%).
Recommendation Don’t miss out opportunities on the larger screen. When creating games of these genres, keep in mind they can be more popular on tablet than on smartphone.
Russian gamers are more likely to stock up on virtual points or currency than gamers in any European market surveyed.
Fact 44% of the Russian smartphone users surveyed who made in-game purchases at least monthly reported they have spent money to purchase virtual goods/points/coins. 41% have purchased to unlock new chapters.
Recommendation In-game purchases for virtual currency to advance gameplay, and for new chapters to expand gameplay, can be a good monetization strategy when creating games for the Russian market.
Russian users have the highest ad recall rate
Fact 67% of users surveyed recall seeing an ad in app in the last 30 days prior to the survey, highest of all European markets surveyed. And about half of these users engage with ads some of the time or all the time.
Recommendation Even as Russia users are more likely to make in-app purchases for apps like games, don’t leave money on the table by including advertising in your monetization.
Gamers in Russia have the highest preference for interstitial full-screen ads or video ads than users of other types of apps.
Fact Across different types of apps, gaming apps have the highest percentage of users (30%) who prefer to see video ads or full-screen ads shown between tasks or game levels.
Recommendation Consider implementing engaging full-screen interstitial or video ads for gaming apps. Here are some tips to get you started on implementing interstitials with AdMob.
Optimizing for SuccessSuccessful apps use data to optimize on their designs after launch. In this chapter, we explore how to optimize your app to reach your goals.
Now that you’ve built and launched your app to the world, how do you know whether
or not it’s successful? It can be tempting to focus on the total number of
downloads as the sole metric of success, but in doing so you may be missing most of
the story. Having a lot of users is great, but if your goal is to monetize via
in-app purchases, or to promote the adoption of a specific set of new features,
focusing on total downloads won’t give you much insight into whether you’re
achieving those goals, and what you can do next to improve your app.
In this chapter, we’ll discuss how to design and implement an analytics and optimization strategy that can give you deeper insight into how your users are engaging with your app, and how you can use that data to optimize your user experience over the long term.
Certain Affinity is one of the most experienced independent game developers in the industry. Based in Austin, Texas, with more than 80 full-time employees, they have shipped more than a dozen products with combined sales of more than 75 million units. The most notable among those are co-development on the Left 4 Dead, Call of Duty, and Halo franchises. Most recently, Certain Affinity has been working on their first mobile Title, Age of Booty: Tactics. Age of Booty: Tactics is an asynchronous turn based tactics game hybridized with a collectable card game. Certain Affinity wanted a solution enabling them to measure and analyze specific metrics to influence both the pre-release and post-release designs of the game. They researched a number of analytics solutions, but were frequently frustrated by the cost, size, and limited flexibility offered.
Ramping Up Reporting
Certain Affinity has used Google Analytics for website analytics since 2005, and began talking to mobile partners after becoming aware of Google Analytics’ (GA‘s) application in mobile gaming. Given their existing experience, the relative cost of the platform, and the extensive feature set, Certain Affinity quickly and easily integrated GA into the game. The early inclusion of GA into the design process resulted in easy access to analytics to assist in influencing direction across design, art, and ultimately production.
Google Analytics provides an intuitive way to understand engagement across multiple screens and events. By leveraging engagement flow and average screen time analytics, Certain Affinity understood when specific areas within the UI were either too complex or buried to drive the desired behavior. They identified that the storefront was overly complex and required significant streamlining to become easily accessible. Additionally, they found that a number of options withinthe menus were too complex and lead to users looping within the UI prior to engaging in an actual game.
Certain Affinity wanted to better understand the average duration of play to optimize the experience on mobile. Given that users tend to spend less time gaming on their mobile devices than in the console space, it was vital to ensure the game was consumable and enjoyable in the “bite sized” engagement window. Certain Affinity leveraged session durations to understand the existing top-level behavior. In analyzing the data, they found that the typical session was over 25% longer in length than was ideal. They tracked events such as turn submission, undo, and return to main menu to identify any behavior that was artificially extending the average duration of play. Certain Affinity then specifically targeted optimization to the areas requiring the most work.
By leveraging Google Analytics Custom Dimensions, Certain Affinity could measure analytics across a number of key metrics in the mobile gaming space including retention, virality, and monetization. While this data was not widely used until launch, the ability to verify collection was instrumental in ensuring a successful soft launch. “The flexibility GA provides is quite amazing. While no analytics provider will ever have everything you need out of the box, it is great to have a solution that allows us to implement our own requirements [through custom variables], so easily!” explains Certain Affinity’s Lead Server Engineer.
The Power of Data
Since Certain Affinity began leveraging Google Analytics, there was a shift in how they develop and implement within their studio. Development is no longer a strictly qualitative process, but is supported and elevated through the use of analytics and data on a daily basis. Reporting is streamlined due to the increased simplicity, fidelity, and accessibility that Google Analytics provides.
About Google Analytics
Google Analytics is the enterprise-class analytics solution that gives companies rich insights into their digital audiences and marketing effectiveness. With features that are powerful, flexible, and easy-to-use, companies large and small can measure engagement to create more effective marketing initiatives, improve user experience, and optimize their digital strategies. Sophisticated conversion attribution and experimentation tools help savvy marketers determine the best allocation of media and resources to drive results. For more information, visit google.com/analytics.
At a glance
- Leverage analytics to help inform games design and optimize monetization
- Quantify and improve overall retention, monetization, and virality of Age of Booty: Tactics
- Provide timely cadence of analytics driven feedback to influence development and live team
- Establish data driven decisions as a key pillar of the design process starting in pre-production
- Integrate Google Analytics to understand and optimize UI flow, customer behavior, and accessibility
- Leverage GA for A/B testing to better understand estimated price elasticity and impact of marketing campaigns
- Moved the total time spent in games. Other screens from #4 to #1
- Optimized average turn durationfrom 3.08 minutes to 2.10 minutes
- Reduced screens per session from 15.5 to 8 (cleaner UI/less back and forth)
- Reduced time per screen from 2 minutes to 1:33
Setting up for SuccessBefore collecting any data or
running any reports, it’s critical to spend some time determining what business or
user experience questions you’d like to be able to answer. For example:
- Are you increasing the rate which users complete an in-app purchase or non-monetary goal (like a signup or level completion)?
- If the length of each engagement with your app is important, are you improving the average length of a session with your app? Or the average time spent on a particular screen? View Figure 1
- If you’re running marketing campaigns to acquire more users, which are performing at or under your target cost-per-acquisition (CPA), and which aren’t? View Figure 2
List out all the data points you’ll need to answers those questions. For example,
which screens do you need to measure impressions for? Which user interactions, like
button presses, form submits, in-app purchase completions etc. would you need to
If you’re running paid marketing campaigns, consider which channels you’ll need to measure, and which downstream user activities, like goal completions or in-app purchases, you’ll want to measure to gauge the return on your marketing investment.
Getting the Data you NeedNow that you’re ready to
implement a solution for your app, how do you know which third-party solution to
use, or whether to develop tools in-house? When considering an analytics solution,
whether it be third-party or your own, consider these questions to help you decide
what’s going to be the best fit for your app and your business:
- Will this solution get you the data you need to answer your top acquisition, engagement, and monetization questions?
- What is the cost of implementation and maintenance for this solution?
- Do the benefits of getting answers to your most pressing user experience and business questions outweigh these costs?
As you think about the costs of deploying and maintaining your analytics solution, consider using Google Tag Manager, which enables you to configure your analytics implementation from the cloud and can dramatically reduce maintenance and deployment costs. View Figure 3
Measure in-app purchases to understand the value of your users and track progress against monetization goals.
Create Custom Dimensions and Custom Metrics to measure goals and create segments important to gaming, like level completions, character level advancement.
Create user segments that show metrics for players who meet certain lifetime criteria, or who have completed a specific sequence of events.
Use the Engagement Flow report to understand whether and where users are getting lost in your UI.
Use Google Mobile App Analytics to measure effectiveness of paid acquisition campaigns.
Collecting data and building reports adds no value to your business on its own. The
value comes from being able to use that data to answer your most important business
and user experience questions, and then being able to take action on those insights
to improve your app and grow your business.
In order for this to happen, the data you collect needs to get into the hands of those who can do great analysis, and who can actually affect change on the product. Sometimes these are the same person (and maybe it’s you), but in larger companies and development studios, it’s important to identify who can do the analysis you need, and who can actually implement changes based on that analysis, like a product or engineering team.
Google Analytics can make providing access to data to the teams to the right people within your company easy. Google Analytics offers flexible, enterprise-ready user permissions, the ability to generate and share custom reports and dashboards, and a Core Reporting API that allows you to export your data into your own visualizations and other internal systems.
Ultimately the real value of gathering data and performing analysis comes from the actions you are able to take as a result of your insights. Are users not using the new feature you just launched? Try making the button or link more prominent, and compare week-over-week or month-over-month adoption. If a particular marketing campaign is driving downloads under your target cost-per-acquisition (CPA), consider increasing investment in that campaign and measuring whether you can acquire more users within your target CPA.
To make changes to your application more quickly based on your analysis, consider using Google Tag Manager for Mobile, which enables you to push updated configurations to your app on the fly, without needing to resubmit your app to marketplaces, or waiting for users to choose to update to the latest version. View Figure 4
Continue reading to the next section: Thinking big.