Pre-Install App Demos: An AppChat with AppOnboard
AppsFlyer spoke with AppOnboard following the announcement of their Google Play product two weeks ago. This conversation is the first in a new video series we will be releasing, titled ‘AppChats’, where we sit down for informal dialogues with mobile industry players about the latest news, trends, and insights. Stay tuned for more video conversations just like this one!
Shani Rosenfelder: Hey, everyone, I’m Shani from AppsFlyer. I’m here today with Matt and Luke from AppOnboard. So, in case you missed the news, AppOnboard recently made some major headlines in the app industry. Google Play is using their technology to show App Store demos in Google Play. So, basically, you have this really cool button near the install button in the app page where it says “Try Now.” It kind of gives you a playable experience before installing an app.
So, we’d love to talk to you guys about your company, about your product, and about the pre-install, playable experience. It’s definitely gaining momentum in the app industry.
Let’s just start with telling us a little bit about yourself, a little bit of your background, your title. Luke? You want to start?
Luke Auger: Thanks, Shani, and thanks to AppsFlyer for hosting us and having us on here today. We’re definitely excited about it and are excited to get a chance to talk more about what we’re doing with App Store demos. In terms of introductions, my name is Luke, I’m the Senior Director on our business development team. My focus here is really on growing our business development from the user acquisition side globally.
Before coming to AppOnboard, I actually was at AdColony for about four years on the performance advertising team. Similar there, I was focused on really growing and evangelising the performance advertising business from a global perspective.
Matt Chin: Hi, my name is Matt. I’m the VP of Analytics and Insights here at AppOnboard. I also was at AdColony previously, as well as Phunware, which is a mobile app development firm and platform.
My job here is really to extract the insights from the heat maps that we get from our App Store demos and all the demos we build. So, yeah, thanks for having us and we’re super excited to talk about the new product today.
SR: So, tell us a little bit about AppOnboard, the company, what you guys do, the product.
MC: Sure. So, at AppOnboard, we specialize in high-quality demos, which we make through our proprietary technology and we have an internal builder tool. And primarily, that runs on our hundred percent SDK platform currently and other apps and games. But like you alluded to before, we recently announced our app store demos product a couple of weeks ago and so now our demos are actually living on the Google Play store.
So, super exciting time for us and, you know, we look forward to working with a lot of the developers to enable that “Try Now” button on their App Store pages. And, you know, our vision is “demo before download.” We really want every app to get demoed before downloaded and we truly believe that. And starting with the Google Play Store, we hope to enable more demos in more places in the near future.
SR: Cool. So, let’s dive in a little bit to talk about specifically App Store demos or this recent move with Google Play. So, what can you say about this product in general and, more specifically, how it applies to app marketers?
LA: Yes. So, you know, App Store demos have really kind of been a long time coming. It’s really, I think, kind of a culmination of our vision here. Like Matt said, we believe every app should be demoed before downloaded. And really, we thought what better place than kind of the final point of conversion.
Being able to work with Google is definitely exciting for us; we’ve worked pretty closely with them. We really see this as an evolution in the ecosystem as it becomes more and more of an industry moving towards readily available content and instant experiences. Now, app developers have the opportunity to actually put demos of their games right on the Google Play Store.
So, we’re super excited about this, we’re super excited for what it can do for our partners. You know, we’re already looking at how this can really improve conversion rates, how it can improve LTV curves on retention. Really being just another added layer that our partners can help leverage to really drive more downloads and drive more high-value users to their user base.
SR: I was thinking like, for me, I think that a pain point that I see and, in my opinion, the biggest pain point in our industry, is retention or rather, lack of retention. Our numbers at AppsFlyer, we see anywhere between 5 to 8% on day 30. So, huge churn over there.
So, I assume that’s kind of a major pain point that [app store demos] help solve. What have you been hearing from your clients?
LA: Yes. So, in terms of big pain points that we typically hear, retention is definitely always up there. It kind of always goes hand in hand with ROAS and, really, the returns in LTV that they’re getting from their user bases, as well as discovery.
I think if you look at an app ecosystem in a platform like Google Play that has 3 million plus apps on it, getting discovered on there by users is a huge challenge. We look at App Store demos as being a huge lever that developers can pull to basically increase their chance of discovery – I mean, drive more conversion.
Not only does that mean that you can give users the chance to play the game more often, but we also really imagine a world where app demos are really on the front page and front facing for all platforms. Theoretically, any user could go on and try apps before they actually download them.
In terms of discovery, [app store demos] really give app developers a chance to showcase their product. It should be exciting for product teams because they now get the chance to showcase what they’ve built in a small, ingestible format.
From the retention standpoint, for sure, everyone’s looking for more retention, they’re looking for users to be a bit stickier. And what we’re seeing is that, what we’re driving are what we call “prequalified users” – basically, users who have tried the app before they downloaded it. So, early day retention is back out, LTV curves look a bit stronger.
We’re already seeing some of that preliminary data come in. You know, we’re working on full-funnel analysis, seeing LTV increase by 20 to 30 percent, early day retentions increase by 30 to 40 percent. This is definitely becoming something that we look at as changing, the way that apps are showcased on an App Store, discovered, and then also the way that they’re driving users on a daily basis.
SR: So, Matt, I’m interested to hear how this whole marriage with Google came about.
MC: Sure. So, it actually started earlier this year at GDC. And Google, around that time, announced that they were expanding their Google Play Instant program to developers worldwide. Upon seeing that news, our CEO, Jonathan Zweig, shot an email to Google and literally 30 minutes later, they were on the phone talking about the shared vision of getting every app demoed before downloaded and also just how we can work together to get as many “Try now” button experiences live on the store as we could.
Since then it’s really been a whirlwind couple of months, working directly with Google to streamline the process, deliver a turnkey solution to these developers so that those who may not have as many engineering resources or time to develop a Google Play Instant App can actually leverage App Store demos as a way to get their “Try Now” buttons live faster.
So, Google has been a super awesome partner and has really enabled and motivated us to get as many “Try Now” buttons live with developers. So, we look forward to working with them in the future and it’s really been a fast couple of months but definitely exciting times, for sure.
SR: It’s super cool. I mean, this combination. So, you guys obviously specialize in this pre-install experience. Any best practices to share with marketers or, you know, pitfalls to avoid? Kind of how to make the most of this tech.
LA: Yes. So, when it comes to best practices, we’ve always really had a few core concepts of best practices for building demos. I would say they all really fall back into user experience: building something to ensure that users are going to really take away a good experience from the app. That’s not necessarily a one-size-fits-all for every app. You know, there’s some apps that you can showcase potentially the tutorial and there are other apps which might want to get a little bit deeper into gameplay.
Really, it’s genre-specific. We work with our partners pretty closely on scoping that out and what would look best for their game. So, something more like an RPG game might be a little bit different than something for an idle game.
You know, I think one of the questions that always comes up from someone who has a hardcore strategy game is, “You know, my game is not that exciting. My game doesn’t play well for a playable experience”.
And we really feel like there’s a real ability to showcase any game to fun, engaging demo format. And for us, it’s all about what we call “finding the fun” – finding the fun in an app and showcasing it in its best possible way, so that you’re being true to what the app is, but also showcasing it in an adjustable format that users can take away as a solid user experience.
We’ve been doing this for close to two years now. So, we kind of look at ourselves as being more experts in that space and really take a hands-on approach to building out something so that we can leverage the expertise of the developer, what they know about their app, and what we know about users, and build out the best possible user experience to drive the most impactful results.
SR: Great. So, are there any analytics so far or feedback from the apps already running with app store demos out there on Google Play?
MC: Yeah, definitely. We actually just released the case study with Jam City for their Match 3 game Cookie Jam Blast. We built an App Store demo for them and then compared users who played our app store demo before installing and users who just installed right away.
The former group actually showed an upwards of 30 percent increase in retention for day 1 and day 7. So, it’s really validating for both Google Play Instant and also our App Store demo products that we’re really prequalifying users, like Luke said, on the Google Play Store and we look forward to releasing more insights about more campaigns.
One of the benefits of our app store demos is that we’re actually able to see visualized heat maps via our technology and can work with developers to provide full insight reports with heat map analytics, deeper interaction data. We’re able to work with the developers to not only optimize their App Store demo and their Google Play Instant App, but also to even optimize their game if it was for a tutorial or a level of the game that they were trying to get feedback on.
So, this whole feedback loop is also built into the App Store demos product and we’re really excited to share those results – and more of these results coming soon.
SR: So, obviously we’ve been talking about games and, of course, demos and playable ads are a natural fit for games – what about other verticals? Can you share some use cases?
MC: Yes. So, we launched our first non-gaming App Store demo recently for Simple Habit Meditation. In the unit itself, you’re able to try two different meditation experiences before reaching the end card. And so, it’s a really good chance for the user to get a feel of the app, experience the user interface, and we’re really excited for a lot of the non-gaming verticals that app store demo should lend itself to. So, we look forward to working with more of those down the line.
LA: Yeah. I think we moved on gaming first just because I think it was a natural fit, but non-gaming is not far behind. So, you know, Simple Habit was the first. Really excited about what this can do for the e-commerce, travel, utility sectors, and really even looking at paid apps – you know, apps that would be paid-for downloads, subscription-based apps.
We really do think that this is relevant for all apps on the App Store. So, regardless of if it’s paid or if it’s free, being able to try the content before you either downloading or paying for it, you know, is an exciting feature. So, we’re definitely continuing to roll this out to anybody who’s looking to give users a trial of the app before they actually install it on their device.
SR: Interesting. So, speaking of the future, what are some of the things that you can share, of course, your plans for the future, the company’s plans, the whole playable or pre-install experience, what do you see in that area?
LA: Yes. So, there’s a few trends that we see happening now that we think are going to play out real big in the future of our company, but also in the future of what we look at as game demos.
For one, there is this growing focus on these “instant experiences,” whether those are instant games or mini games – really small content experiences that you can try without being in the native app. You know, people even talk about apps streaming down the line.
There’s a lot of application there, but we really still think that there is going to be a core focus and a really big user interest in trying apps before they’re downloading them. So, this “demo before download” is going to be huge for us. And really, that means putting demos in all places that apps can be accessed and downloaded.
That’s why the future for us at AppsOnboard is really about supporting that vision for developers, so that for every app in every place that people can download apps, users have the chance to actually try. You know, that try-before-you-buy mentality and also looking to streamline the way that people can make apps.
So, we make all these [demos] in-house today in about 1 to 2 weeks. Of course, we want to accelerate those timelines. We’ve even been looking into opportunities of automating that. In other words, ways that we could empower developers to actually take the tools to build these themselves. Now you’re talking about just the ability for developers to create their own demos and really just grow and envision our plan of putting demos everywhere.
We look at this as having a lot of global application as well. In places where data usage is limited, users are really cognizant of what’s being downloaded to their device. I think a huge growing focus is how to get not only more users coming in, but also more users who are of higher value to break down conversion barriers and keep them in the game for longer.
SR: Yeah, you’re right. Cool. I mean, that’s it for me. Super interesting. Anything else you guys wanted to add that we didn’t touch upon?
MC: No. Thanks, AppsFlyer, for having us on your blog and we appreciate you giving us the time to speak about app store demos. We really think it’s a revolutionary change to the biggest app store in the world and just a great change for developers to help pre-qualified users on soar.
We’re really excited about app store demos and look forward to working with you and working with Google and all the developers in the near future.
LA: Yeah. And thank you again to AppsFlyer. I’m looking forward to talking to our partners about this more and, shameless plug, I guess if anyone’s interested in learning more and talking to us about it, feel free to reach out. There’s also some more information on our website, but you know we’re really excited to see how we can bring more apps to our demos to Google Play.
SR: Alright, guys. It was a pleasure. Thanks a lot for being part of this.