Study: Mobile App Ads Don’t Lead to High User Retention — Organic Does


The main goal for app developers today isn’t simply the install — it’s retention. According to Nielsen, the average device has 42 apps, while the iOS app store has a 1.5 million app catalogue (and Google Play gives 1.4 million choices).

As developers find the best way to keep users engaged past day one, a new study released today of non-gaming apps by AppsFlyer finds that organic installs actually lead to much higher retention than ad-based installs.

AppsFlyer tracked more than 450 million installs from clients on iOS and Android from May to July. Only apps with at least 5,000 installs were included in the study.

AppsFlyer found a wide gap between organic installs and paid on both platforms:

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 8.37.11 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 8.37.14 PMAppsFlyer also found that Facebook and Twitter indeed reign supreme on both platforms, when it comes to driving app retention. Apps advertised on Twitter had the highest retention rate on Android and Facebook topped the retention power rankings for both iOS and Android.

Ran Avrahamy, head of marketing at AppsFlyer, talked about the mobile power of Facebook and Twitter on mobile:

Just like in our Performance Index for the gaming industry, Facebook still reigns supreme in our power rankings, coming in at the top spot on both iOS and Android because of its rare combination of strong retention and unrivaled scale. Meanwhile, Twitter made the most significant leap in the power rankings, in large part due to its exceptional retention rates.

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 8.45.23 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 8.45.15 PM

Overall, the two platforms are roughly equal in long-term retention rates.

  • Day 1: Android 29.06 percent vs. iOS 25.53 percent
  • Day 7: Android 10.99 percent vs. iOS 10.21 percent
  • Day 30: Android 3.29 percent vs. iOS 3.17 percent

To read the full study, click here.

Top image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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