Are There UA Rules for the New COVID Reality?

While 2020’s COVID reality has disrupted many industries and indeed the world at large, the world of mobile app marketing has been left unscathed. In fact, quite remarkably, this ecosystem surges forward in the face of such hostile adversity – it seems that when COVID hit in March 2020, users began to seek salvation more than ever in their devices.

App Annie’s October 2020 report tells us that users have downloaded 33 billion apps in Q3 of 2020 – that’s a record spend of $28b and a 20% surge from last year’s quarter. The report also shared that 180b hours were spent inside of apps – another 25% surge from the preceding year. Global downloads for hypercasual games shot up and gameplay increased by 72% in March as the pandemic began to hit home.

As we approach month number 10 of this global pandemic we must zoom out, take stock and understand that traffic movement has shifted significantly alongside the mobile app landscape – find below Liniad’s key extractions from this unprecedented era: 

Comfort Is Key to App Success

As populations became cautious and social culture shifted, users turned to their mobile apps for comfort-in-entertainment and UA showed results. According to Liftoff’s 2020 App Trends report, apps that are holding their own value (and then some) with strong retention rates include e-commerce, finance and news based apps – with a significant user increase in fitness, gaming and streaming platform apps as 64% of marketers witnessed a soar in revenue for these segments as they increased market budget by 35% to leverage this surge in usage. In the same report, an impressive 75% of those surveyed found users engaging stronger than ever before.

As global territories adapted to the pandemic, In-App Purchases started to take off as users sought comfort in mobile gaming, significantly shifting spending patterns – but how long can this burst actually last?

The New Norm… But For How Long?

With this new found ‘screen refuge’, numbers are certainly different when compared to behaviors of last year. Paid acquisition has proved a bargain in this era due to lower demand and gaming apps in particular have seen a huge increase in organic usage.

According to Appsflyer’s latest ‘State of Gaming App Marketing’ report<span”>, app installs have seen a 45% increase from last year, yet it’s all a bit too easy to celebrate the win. This drive in results is not a signal to relax and watch the coins roll in- the future remains unknown and short term wins need to be converted into long term growth. As lockdown audiences grow, a growing UA strategy is surely fundamental – we are seeing many developers and marketers remain dedicated to large investments in paid user acquisition which is proving a solid strategy – particularly with users confined to the screens in search of alternate entertainment.

Getting Back in the Habit

Examining the statistics, apps that are seeing longer term results are those successfully creating habits by default. Developers are investing time (and money) into user behavior, whether developing a custom on boarding experience or offering in-app rewards. Yet now that we are (hopefully) well on the way to rolling out a vaccine and the market reopens, app marketers need to realize that user behavior will again change and investment in features to massage habits remain imperative. Brands need to ensure that users will still find value in their apps as times goes on. Developers left  and right are making the same mistake thinking that the same content and features that originally pulled users in will be enough to retain them as time goes on. As there is a direct connection between revenue and UX, content needs to stay fresh and users more often than not need to be constantly incentivized for successful return visits.

Mobile marketers should realize that users have changed their social habits due to the pandemic. It’s now critical to not only adhere to the new reality but also learn from it to thrive from newfound users – finding that secret sauce to retain as many as possible.

Uri Pearl

Uri PearlHead of Marketing - @Papaya Gaming

With hope that the worst of this pandemic is behind us, there is still a great deal of uncertainty on the horizon for 20201-  from the economic impact of the virus to iOS14’s changes to App Tracking Transparency framework and rising CPIs. The future is unpredictable, now more than ever. There is no golden set of UA rules that can be applied to this era, yet paying close attention to numbers and stats has never been more critical as we continue to monitor the state of this industry moving into 2021.

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