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Statistics reveal that the UK represents the most expensive market to drive app downloads. In fact we’re 74% more expensive than the USA.

The findings come from the InMobi App Insight Report released yesterday, revealing trends and insights from app developers who ran campaigns on InMobi’s network in Q2 2013.

So what accounts for the UK being such a pricey market to crack?

According to InMobi’s analysis, out of 50m app installs, 60% were downloaded by just five countries: USA, India, Japan, China and Indonesia.

United Kingdom is in eighth place with only a 3% share.

According to Ofcom’s last report, mobile penetration in the UK is at 58%, and 19% of us own a tablet (check out more fascinating stats about mobile commerce here), so there’s a huge disparity between these figures.

In this table we can see the UK’s position in the global market and how much more it costs to drive an app download here than anywhere else in the world.

Using the US as a base rate, we are a 74% tougher market than they are, and nearly 100% tougher than anywhere in Asia.

The UK is one of the more advanced places in the world for mobile usage, so why is it costing so much to persuade us to download an app?

I asked Kathryn Green, marketing director at the UK app developer Poq Studio, her thoughts on the subject...

Why do you think it costs so much to persuade someone to download an app in the UK?

I think it's a combination of the app space now being extremely crowded, and the fact that sophisticated app promotional tools are still gaining a foothold in the UK market.

For example, there are case studies of Facebook Mobile App Install Ads in the US doing really well, but not so many this side of the pond. 02 is an exception, but this would have been an expensive campaign to run.

Most app developers have a real problem distinguishing themselves from the crowd. We work exclusively with retailers who already have an existing audience of shoppers so this makes it a lot easier to get people's attention, but even so a good app marketing plan is vital.

It's very hard for a completely new brand to build an audience from scratch, and that's always been the case, whether it's with an app or any other product.

Is there something more that can be done in terms of marketing or advertising apps in the UK?

More companies need to take advantage of different tools to promote their apps. Banner ads aren't enough! Facebook and Google both now offer direct download app adverts, which should be tried out and tested like any other advertising channel.

There are lots of easy things that app developers can do but most currently aren't, like using the Apple approved banner pop-ups on mobile websites, or using existing channels like email marketing to promote apps.

Once you've got someone to download an app and become a regular user, it's a huge part of their life. Google has said that people look at their phones 150 times a day.

An engaged app user is incredibly valuable to a brand, so it makes sense that they would be expensive to recruit.

Is the cost of an app download in the UK comparable with the rest of the globe?

It's hard to generalise as apps vary so wildly in category and function. What really matters is not the initial cost of getting that download, but what the lifetime value of each download is.

For retailers, the lifetime value (LTV) of app users can be very high indeed, as returning customers are worth much more than new ones. For a gaming app, for instance, this will look very different. UK app developers need to have a clear picture of their revenue stream when they're looking at how much to spend on promotion - the LTV is the key figure.

For more data on mobile commerce check out our Internet Statistics Compendium. You can see the InMobi report here

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 18 October, 2013 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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