Mobile app measurement needs to go beyond downloads

update Companies should collect data of users' interaction with apps, analyze interaction and apply information in next development of mobile app, says market observer who adds this will improve mobile ad relevancy.

update The number of downloads in an appstore is not adequate in measuring the success of an app and companies need to better track users' interaction with the app so they can optimize mobile apps in the next development cycle.

Siva Ganeshanandan, director of digital marketing suite at Adobe Systems, said companies typically base the success of an app through the number of downloads or its rating on the appstore. However, this is not enough.

Ganeshanandan noted that companies need to collect "every interaction" the user has with the mobile app to understand how users are using it. This includes determining the type of device the user has, number of times it crashes and use-flow of the app, he added.

In the case of a flight booking app, for example, the company will need to know how often the customer "drops off" from the app and calls the contact center, he said, noting that the customer's shift from self-service mobile app to call center can be costly for the business.

To collect a user's interaction with the app, companies need to include a lightweight tracking mechanism during the development of the mobile software, Ganeshanandan suggested.

After gathering the data, the companies then needs to analyze the information and apply the findings to the next development cycle of the app, he said. After optimizing the app, these organizations should test the app--a step which Ganeshanandan noted is not yet a standard in mobile app development.

Measurement key to mobile ad relevancy
Besides optimizing an app, measurement also ensures relevant advertising content is pushed to the right user at the right time, Ganeshanandan said. For a publisher selling ad space in its mobile app, collecting user interactions with an app will allow it to segment consumers into different groups. This will make it easier for advertisers to know who they can target, he added.

On the subject of location-tracking, Robert Woolfrey, managing director for Southeast Asia at mobile advertisement network Millennialmedia, shared in a separate presentation that pushing advertisements based on where the user has been is more effective than showing an ad based on where the user is currently.

For example, a user who has visited a car dealer several times has more intention of buying a car than a user who is currently at a car show, Woolfrey said. Thus, it is more effective to display a car ad to the first user rather than the second, he said.

Avantash Sharma, commercial director media monetization at Alcatel-Lucent Asia-Pacific and Africa, said in his presentation users are often put off by mobile marketing messages that are not relevant to them.

To make consumers more receptive to mobile marketing, Sharma said businesses should ensure they obtain the user's explicit consent before sending mobile marketing messages. They can then build the user's profile and preferences to deliver relevant messages, he said.

During a panel discussion, Emmanuel Allix, CEO of mobile advertising platform Aditic, said advertisers need to build long-term relationship with their customers, noting that currently most mobile advertising campaigns target mainly on-the-spot buying or product launches.

"No company is using the full potential of the mobile platform," Allix said, adding that the mobile phone is a unique marketing tool as it is the user's personal device and allows advertisers to "talk directly" to consumers.

Thus, companies need to find ways to "milk" this relationship, he said.