“The quarantine effect is still evident in app behavior,” but what comes next?

/ 28 July 2020

AppsFlyer, a leading mobile attribution and marketing analytics company, is monitoring the amount of app installs and sessions throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, and has released some really interesting data.

In the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact on App Installs and Marketing Budgets report (data running to the 7th May), it reported “the quarantine effect is still evident in app behavior,” and that gaming apps in particular were “reaching new heights,” with in-app revenue increasing 37 percent globally.

This has dropped somewhat in the last couple of weeks (Casual and Social Casino games revenue has dropped -8% for example). However, what has been clear is how popular gaming apps are when people are stuck at home with extra time on their hands. It’s not surprising considering gaming in general is being seen in a somewhat different light right now. Not just because it’s inherently compatible with physical distancing efforts and acts as an important distraction in difficult times, but also because it can help people stay connected virtually. Even the World Health Organisation (WHO) has acknowledged the important role gaming has in facilitating social connections in all of this.

In-app revenue is booming, but lifetime value will be reliant upon effective digital audience engagement.

The AppsFlyer data also shows significant revenue uplifts across Health & Fitness, Education, Food Delivery, Music and Social apps. “The desire to work out, use educational apps for kids, order food, and listen to music is high, and these verticals have made the most of the opportunity,” says the report.

This should make interesting reading for businesses that are scrambling to understand the ‘new normal’. Services that were once the sole realm of the physical world have had to adapt and are seeing apps boom.

But now is the time to think long term. How do those apps remain ‘sticky’ when things go back to varying degrees of normality? Revenues already seem to be dropping.

Brand food delivery apps may be popular right now, but how can those channels ensure consumers remain engaged in the long run?

Engagement mechanics, behavioral economics and motivational psychology must play a vital role here. Questions should be asked such as can food and drink brands make the best of both worlds, offering branded games that offer tangible rewards (the likes of vouchers) and gather important data at the same time?  Can health and fitness companies gamify their apps to motivate users to stay the course and create lasting, deeper engagements? Can brands form long lasting value exchanges that ultimately retain users beyond the pandemic?

Shani Rosenfelder, Head of Content & Mobile Insights at AppsFlyer expects that, “in the longer-term, an economic recession will decrease overall consumer spend and lower user lifetime value.” We will certainly be watching future data closely. It will be fascinating to see which brands and apps survive and thrive long term.

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