So, what’s the basic takeaway? Well, we’ve seen that share of non-organic installs grew hugely in 2017, by 11% from the beginning of the year to the end. That’s a sizeable chunk that’s been taken away from organic dominance (though their installs grew as well).
There could be a number of reasons behind this behavior, though it’s likely due to how much more difficult app discovery has become. With two million new apps released in 2017, it’s hard for an app to be found, let alone installed. And that’s why we’re seeing more apps investing in advertising spend for acquisition, as well as more downloads from paid sources.
Beyond discovery, advertisers could just be that much better at advertising itself - improved creatives, better targeting and ultimately better apps could be driving more downloads regardless of source.
But that’s just half the story - it’s increasingly important to get to know users beyond the install, and to see how they perform once an app has been downloaded. So let’s first look at retention, then sessions, and see how differently users behave, depending on the channel of origin.
Retention: Which channel keeps users around the longest?
Retention gauges a user’s app interest by monitoring the point at which a user drops off over a certain period - in this case, 30 days. We’d expect organic users to stay longer because they installed apps based on self-interest and not because of enticing advertisements. So, how do users from either channel do?
In 2017, organic users retained better, and the effect was more pronounced over the length of the cohort. On the first day after install, the three channels sit within a 3% difference of each other. By day seven, the gap widens to 4% difference in retention, meaning there are 4% fewer users from paid users staying around than from organic downloads. This gap remains consistent for the lifetime of the cohort.
Sessions: Organic remains on top
Now, it’s time to talk about sessions. Adjust defines a session as a span of activity separated by 30 minutes (minimum) to the next. This is mainly because apps don’t necessarily close at the end of each session - instead, they tend to remain hidden in the background, but still active. As such, we look at activity (such as a new event triggered), instead of opens and closes.
Sessions perform similarly to retention in the distribution between channels - organic users have 12% more active sessions on day-after-install than those from paid. This figure of around 12% remains relatively consistent over the 30 day period. In real terms, this is about .25 more sessions over the lifetime of our cohort.
Ultimately, organic users are more engaged with their apps than paid counterparts. That’s to be expected, but the fact doesn’t rule out paying for users.
The differences in use are slight, and mobile acquisition strategy in 2018 requires a clever mix of paid, retargeting, and well-executed ASO. There’s no doubt that the number of apps in the world will continue to grow, making discovery that much harder. Therefore, using a broad range of acquisition channels effectively will be the main challenge for app marketers in 2018, and beyond.
If you want to get an edge on the competition, and better understand how the mobile marketplace looked in 2017, download Adjust’s mobile benchmarks today to view mobile app performance from a variety of verticals, countries and OSs. The report goes in-depth to help contextualize what’s happening in the market and provides a wealth of data to back up our discoveries.