In mobile marketing, an active user is a person who accesses an app for a given period of time. During this period each user is counted uniquely to provide an app developer with an accurate figure of how many people use an app, whether it be daily, weekly, or monthly.
From a business perspective, active users are important because they generate revenue. An app needs active users to survive, so a healthy count of active users is a positive sign of success.
Furthermore, an accurate user count offers additional benefits for app marketers and advertisers. Calculating the number of active users in-app over a period of time can help assess the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. Spikes in active user counts caused by a push notification on one day, or a weekly offer, can be analyzed against like-for-like campaigns, which can be also be used to assess performance.
Knowing active user numbers is also essential in calculating key metrics. Figures like retention rate rely on finding out whether users remain active over a period of time, and metrics like lifetime value (or LTV) can’t be calculated without retention. Therefore, active users feed into discovering an app’s LTV.
In this context, active user counts act both as a way of checking on the general health of an app and as a first step to calculating deeper and more informative metrics further down the line.
There are three commonly used active user definitions:
Daily Active User (DAU): A daily active user is someone who interacts with an app over the period of a specific day (e.g. January 1st).
Weekly Active User (WAU): A weekly active user is someone who interacts with an app over a period of seven days (e.g. January 1st-7th).
Monthly Active User (MAU): A monthly active user is someone who interacts with an app over a period of 30 days (e.g. a user who opens the app in January).
The usefulness of each measurement period depends on the business. While it’s beneficial to maintain a healthy number of DAUs, an app that is based on seasonal or occasional usage, such as a last-minute hotel booking service, might place more emphasis on MAUs.
By themselves, active user counts are blunt indicators of an app’s health. Knowing daily, weekly and monthly active user count both on a particular day and over the course of time will give you an indicator of app performance. To make the most of these figures, marketers and advertisers must attribute individual active users with other information. In-app spend, demographic data, session counts, user behavior and other metrics need to be mixed to determine whether those users are truly delivering value.
Adjust’s KPI service tracks this data on an advertiser’s behalf, with the metrics accessible either through the Adjust dashboard or the KPI service’s API.