How a new measurement approach can help identify the best customers

When 81% of people have smartphones, and one third are mobile-only, it’s safe to say that the audience for content on the move and apps has grown. The data tells us that 86% of smartphone owners are regular users: accessing mobile apps every day.

This behaviour heightens the importance for content providers, app publishers, and advertisers to more closely monitor consumer mobile usage patterns every day.

Many companies are finding that traditional audience measurement services are grossly lacking for monitoring mobile usage patterns. Many of these services were built in the desktop era and simply measure device usage.

What’s needed is a framework for measuring consumer-centric behaviors in which users move seamlessly between content and screens, from hour to hour and day to day.

While companies do have access to mountains of their own data and analytics, very few get insights on competitors’ usage patterns or market trends as a whole. A new raft of consumer behaviours requires a new standard of measurement.


Take the example of mobile apps. Cost per install is a common metric that app publishers use to measure how successful an app launch has been. But this metric isn’t actually an indicator of long-term success.

Less than 40% of installed mobile apps are used in any given month. If those are free apps, then where’s the benefit? What ultimately matters for app developers, is monetisation.

In-app purchasing is becoming the foremost means of creating revenue. However, only 5-15% of downloads lead to active 30-day users. From those, only 10-20% are monetised over time via in-app purchasing.

Companies need more granular information, more often, in order to make impactful conclusions

In order to capitalise on loyal users and grow these small percentages, publishers need to understand how usage patterns lead to purchases. They need to get insights about how other publishers are more or less successful. Getting more visibility into this path to revenue is paramount to sustained success.

In this light, monthly usage numbers are not the most enlightening statistic when trying to understand user behaviour either.

They give an important sense of scale, of course, but no intelligence on how well they could convert into paying users. The more telling metrics are stickiness and time spent.

How often is the user returning to the app on a daily and monthly basis? For example, Facebook’s user numbers dwarf those of Snapchat, but Snapchat’s time spent per user is far higher – showing greater stickiness.

Deep-dive data

Companies need more granular information, more often, in order to make impactful conclusions. If you can pinpoint that users log into the app for an hour on their way to work, you can begin to promote in-app purchases at relevant times and with relevant promotions.

Similarly, if you know that users tend to come back into the app multiple times in one day, or how they use it across multiple devices, then you can tailor your promotions accordingly.

The metrics that should be part of every organisation’s analysis include: engagement, stickiness, daily usage, cross-device behaviours as they relate to a specific demographic such as gender or age. Packaged together, these give a deep level of insight into the people that use an app, when, and how.

Companies that can use identify valuable users and their behaviours will give themselves better opportunities to monetise and grow.

Assessing the value of users is important – you do that by focusing on the right measurements not just metrics that are there to be collected, with little value. Once you know when and how they’re acting online, you can structure everything around ROI.

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