Reports: It’s cheaper to drive app-installs but harder to retain “high value” consumers

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A report from Adobe declared the “app boom” over in developed markets like the US, with a marked decline in app installs. Two new reports from Fisku and Sensor Tower offer a slightly different and more nuanced picture of the app landscape in the US.

Fisku said that in December and January, the cost of media to drive app installs declined. These lower advertising costs drove an increase in app install rates across both iOS and Android.

By comparison, Sensor Tower found that year over year app downloads per device (iOS only) declined from a total of 35 in 2015 to 33 in 2016. In particular, social networking apps saw the largest declines across the top five categories.

But while app installs declined somewhat, Sensor Tower reports that iPhone users spent more money on paid apps and in-app purchases in 2016 than in 2015.

Owners of iPhones spent an average of $40 last year on apps. The bulk of that spending came in the games category ($27), which increased from $25 in 2015. Entertainment category apps, however, saw the most growth in 2016, driven by video apps such as HBO NOW, Hulu and Netflix.

Fisku observed that while users were downloading more apps, they were using and retaining a smaller number. In other words, increased downloads didn’t translate into loyalty.

The company speculated that higher-storage devices were allowing people to download and test-drive more apps but that didn’t change retention challenges that developers and brands face. The company reported that 87 percent of their sample of users were active in “less than ten apps on a daily basis.”

Fisku also reported that while it was cheaper to drive app installs overall, the cost of users who will make purchases or take other high-value actions in apps was actually up year over year.

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.


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