App Tracking

The term app tracking refers to the tracking and evaluating of app usage on mobile devices. Both native apps and web apps get used as a database. The key factor is that mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets or phablets are used to access apps. Possible data are the number of downloads, the type of device used, operating systems, languages, and mobile operators as well as numerous events during the actual use of apps.

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General information

The tracking and analysis of usage statistics is in the interests of publishers who program an app and marketers who do the marketing for it. Mobile apps tracking provides information to both parties on how many times an app has been downloaded and how it is used by users. The goal is to analyze performance and popularity. Based on such data, the app can be optimized for different operating systems and devices in particular. These findings are also of benefit for future developments and potential marketing campaigns (See App Marketing).

The reason for the increased interest in tracking methods for apps is the increased use of mobile devices and number of apps. Based on estimates, by 2014 more than 3 billion apps were downloaded in Germany alone.[1] Service providers such as Google or Apple now offer appropriate development environments (SDK - Software Developer Kit) to implement app tracking. In this way, not only the number of downloads can be evaluated, but also active usage of it.

The areas and functions most visited and utilized by users tells the developers where optimization potential exists and where parts of the app are well accepted. Usability testing is often done. Users become testers and a through a study of tester behavior apps can be optimized specifically. At the same time, the data is used to assist in placement of ads.

Features

You can detect various different indicators by using app tracking. In individual cases, the type of information you receive depends the tracking system used. Some of the basic statistics are listed below:

  • Number of installations
  • Mobile devices
  • Operating systems (Android and IOS, etc.)
  • Mobile operator
  • Version of the app data

More data can be collected with certain types of tracking solutions:[2]

  • Unique users and new users
  • Events such as clicks on buttons and menu items
  • Screens and screen size
  • Useful life of the app
  • Conversions (for example, purchasing a product with a shopping app)
  • Error messages and crashes

App tracking tools

Numerous app tracking tools are available on the market.[3] Some are free; others have to be paid for. The range of functions increases with increased investment, but there are also solutions that are free and offer many features.

  • App Annie
  • Appfigures
  • Flurry
  • Mobile App Tracking from HasOffers
  • Apptamine

Some tools should be regarded as integrated solutions. This means that app tracking is not a main function, but tracking and web analytics can also be done on other resources.

  • Google Analytics Tracking for Mobile Apps
  • Piwik Open Analytics Platform
  • Etracker
  • Webtrekk
  • Econda

Importance for mobile marketing

Similar to web analytics, app tracking can be a very valuable data basis for developers and marketers of apps. However, app-usage tracking and analysis is only useful if other factors are also considered, for example, the design and usability or app store optimization and many other aspects of mobile marketing. App tracking is ideally downstream of these factors and supplements them.

Currently, tracking is still associated with a relatively large amount of effort and requires technical expertise, especially when dealing with development environments and frameworks. However, the current trend indicates that app tracking tools, development environments and frameworks are increasingly being used. Google, for example, integrated tracking into the free Google Analytics software. If you already use tracking with web analytics, you can now also install it on mobile devices. This is an important advantage when the app is merely an extension of the portfolio and not a separate business model.

Apple offers several options for tracking of apps. Apple identifiers for advertisers (IFAs) are specifically designed for the placement of ads, while identifiers for vendors (IFVs) are able to track number of downloads and other statistics. And this is a rather sensitive point. Mobile devices are known for the fact that user behavior can be traced almost entirely. To what extent users reject that is unclear. But it can be assumed that the majority of users would not accept it if they knew the settings for it. Certain services still require users to accept the terms of use before usage to the detriment of data protection and privacy. This applies to both Apple and Google. Wenn users do not want to be tracked, they must usually seek the appropriate settings independently.

References

  1. Number of downloads of mobile apps in Germany de.statista.com. Accessed on 01/06/2015
  2. How to Track Mobile apps usage (clicks, phones, errors, etc.) or track analytics software piwik.org. Accessed on 01/06/2015
  3. A List of Mobile App Analytics Tools 2013 mobyaffiliates.com. Accessed on 01/06/2015

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