The outbreak of COVID-19 has upended economies throughout the world, including the App Economy. A multitude of government measures aimed at halting the spread of the COVID-19 virus, from social distancing and shelter-in-place to lockdowns and travel restrictions, have caused major disruption as countries around the world rally to halt the virus’ impact.
While the App trends 2020 report focuses on long-term trends based on data from 2019, it includes an analysis from data gathered in Q1 2020 to provide some perspective of how COVID-19 has affected the App Economy so far.
Perhaps to no surprise, Gaming has seen a significant uptick in installs. In the last week of March, the vertical saw more than double (132% increase) the amount of installs compared to last year, as populations across the globe have been spending more time stranded at home. In total, Gaming apps saw a 47% increase in sessions and 75% increase in installs in Q1 2020 compared to Q1 2019. The anticipated slowdown in gaming for 2020 has faded for now, as idle time has spurned more users to look toward gaming and the sense of community in shared playing that this vertical often engenders.
E-commerce has taken a turn downward as shelter-in-place and social distancing gathered force in late March. Installs have been trending below the established baseline for 2020, down 12% week-on-week. With people at home and longer wait times for online orders becoming more prevalent, users may be turning to other pastimes to keep themselves busy, and have less need to shop.
The stark uptick in installs for Entertainment apps tells the most clear story of where the App Economy is headed in the age of the coronavirus: toward the comforts of streaming. Installs have increased rapidly since people began staying home, trending 55% above where they were last year.
The data shows increases in sessions and installs across many other verticals. With the pandemic forcing the majority of employees to work remotely, it’s no surprise that Business apps have also seen a huge rise in sessions (up 105% from Q1 2019) and installs (up 70%). Revenue events are also up 75%, as users opt for premium versions to help ease the transition to working from home. And as many restaurants are forced to turn to takeout-only, Food & Drink apps also saw a significant increase in sessions — up 73% on this time last year, while installs increased by 21%.
No one can predict whether these trends will sustain over the course of 2020 — but the data offered in this report offers valuable insights into app marketing overall. Beyond these abrupt movements in installs, there is little evidence to suggest that there’s been a fundamental shift in user behaviour, with users often taking the same predictable actions in-app, such as averaging a little above two sessions a day, to churning at predictable points in the customer journey. The silver lining for the App Economy in this period of uncertainty is the resilience of mobile technology to weather a shock as significant and far-reaching as a global pandemic.
The top three takeaways from the report
- The current state of the market means newcomers have a difficult time in breaking through. As such, marketers are advised to build up their paid activities and focus less on organic. One tip to improve paid? Marketers have to make sure that campaigns are tied to the seasons and the contexts that allow you to engage and retain valued customers.
- App marketers are looking to a broader range of networks to find new audiences. Our findings show that across the board, there is more experimentation with networks. So open the aperture of your view, but don’t go all in — the more you succeed, the more you have to handle. Alongside fraud prevention, marketing automation promises to unlock this potential, giving marketers more time to manage even more campaigns.
- The importance of re-engagement differs depending on your vertical, but many app marketers agree that not enough emphasis is placed on re-targeting. In 2020 this activation technique could take more of the spotlight — Shopping leads the pack, but others could follow.
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