Identifying underlying patterns in apps data (Playtime 2019 – Apps)

ALYSSA PEREZ: Hi, everyone My name is Alyssa Perez And I’m on the developer business growth team in Google Play Does anyone know what that team is? Maybe? OK What my team does is partner with developers like yourselves leveraging Google Play platform data in order to help you identify opportunities and improve your business’s performance Now, I’ve worked in mobile most of my career And I’ve always loved it because it’s so diverse and it’s data-driven And apps specifically has been really interesting to me since joining the Google Play team And that’s because apps can have different user motivations, retention mechanics, and monetization models, even for titles that are in the same category So I thought it would be interesting to try to identify a general understanding of the app categories that we have on Google Play So in today’s presentation, we’re going to go through some category trends together, and then we’ll jump into some engagement trends And finally, we’ll cover similar engagement trends for our buyers I’m going to be upfront and honest with you guys This presentation has a ton of data So have your cameras ready if you want photos, but I will be talking you through it as well I’m going to be sharing some brand new data points that haven’t been shared anywhere else, providing you with benchmarks on what to expect in Google Play, but really hoping to help you identify opportunities where you can explore in order to drive better performance and expand the value that your users are seeing from your title But to start off, let’s cover some of the category trends that we see in the apps ecosystem Probably one of the most common questions that we get from app developers, and game developers for that matter, is how many titles does a user engage with in my category? And when I came from mobile, this is the first question I had We want to understand what overlap looks like not only across categories, but also across titles within those categories And it’s a pretty tough question to answer because we have 32 app categories available on the Google Play Store And I won’t have time to dive into every single one But to start off, let’s go through the percentile bands of the unique number of apps that a user opens in a 30-day period for these six categories Now, hopefully, these categories resonate with many of you in the room, but I promise this won’t be all that I will share So starting off with the 50th percentile or the median, we see that majority of users engage with few titles across most categories So majority of them are seeing one here with only social seeing two titles being engaged with the majority of their users But what about the top 25% of users? We could see some categories here saw a step up So social went up to three Entertainment and music and audio stepped up to two But we still see the remaining three categories having 75% of their users only engaging with one title in a 30-day period And finally, the top 10% of users– naturally, every category has that subset of power users that are engaging with multiple titles We can see it ranges here Now, hopefully, this helps answer the question for some of you in the room But I know when I pulled this data, it actually sparked another question I’ve now shown that majority of users are engaging with few titles across categories So my question was, well, what titles are they? And as developers, I’m sure you’re thinking, how can I be that one title that a user is engaging with? And I’m going to be honest, I don’t have the answer to that I don’t think that there’s a silver bullet that will make it happen because every app is different, satisfying different needs for different users But what I will share is that we see significant diversity in Google Play app usage We have nearly 20,000 apps with over 100,000 monthly active users So even though few titles are being used across these categories, the app that is being used can vary quite a bit And given this diversity, we see the potential for your app to be critical to the user I know some categories do have global leaders But there are still needs within local markets, giving you the opportunity to be that one title that a user engages with Now, one last thing I do want to call out is that I’m showing you data for a particular month So it is important to take into account any impacts from seasonality And depending on your app’s use case, seasonality can impact your title differently

So there may be natural times where users’ demand for additional titles will fluctuate Maybe they just have more time available to them Maybe there is a specific content release that will increase the demand for a different app in your category or even seasonal changes across different markets So these are all things to consider as each category has different seasonal trends that will naturally impact the number of titles that a user engages with Now, we only covered six categories together And I don’t just want to spend my whole presentation on this So what I’m going to do, instead of going through every single one, is share with you some of the similarities across category use case and title engagement So what I did was look at the percentile band that we just covered, as well as the overall average, to understand the distribution curve for each category And by doing this, I was able to come up with three distinct groupings of app categories We have categories where users are engaging with many titles It’s usually a little over two, but this can go all the way up to seven or eight in a 30-day period We also have categories where users are engaging with a few titles, two or three And then we have categories where users engage with only a couple of titles, mainly one, but sometimes a little over one, so one to two titles Now, just for ease of the analysis in this presentation, I’m excluding more utility-based categories, so things like tools or personalization are excluded And that’s just because I didn’t think they were as relevant for you today But let’s go through the use case descriptions for each of these groupings, starting with categories that have users engaging with many titles These are inclusive of categories that provide some type of social value to the user They’re anchored on the idea of connecting the user to the rest of the world And that can be done in many ways, right? But they’re still providing that connection to others So if your app falls into this type of category, consider how your offering is distinctly different from other social value apps or categories Is it enough to incentivize that additional app that’s being used because it’s an additive experience to other titles on mobile? Or is it unique enough to replace an existing social value app that is being used? Now, categories where users are engaging with a few titles, closer to two, maybe three, are providing entertainment value They’re helping the user pass the time or just generally keeping them entertained And most commonly, these may be more content-based So if you do fall in a category like this, consider what type of content you have that will impact the demand for your title But also, it’s really important with these categories to take into account any cross-platform offerings or real-world replacements that are available because that can impact the mobile title engagement And finally, categories where we see the average user is engaging with only a couple These are categories that users are engaging with in order to reach some type of goal And that goal can be many things It could be learning something new, promoting a healthier lifestyle, booking a vacation, or even finding love And a lot of things go into play with these categories So I want to do some real-world examples to put us all in the same mind frame of what I mean by goal-oriented How often do you go out and join multiple gyms? You likely don’t have a need to invest in multiple You’re probably trying to find one that checks all the boxes It’s close to my house It’s close to work It’s within my budget I’m really comfortable working out there But you don’t have that need for two of them How about hiring a tutor for a specific subject? You may be doing this a lot if you’re in school or infrequently if you’re not, but how many tutors do you need for the same topic? So you can see there are clear needs with these actions– very specific goals someone is trying to reach or a specific use case And the same is likely true for mobile users as well And considering that we only see a couple of titles being engaged within these categories, it’s really important to understand how you’re differentiating your product from others in the category Why should a user engage with your title over another? How is it unique and valuable to them? But more importantly, how are you showing them that value immediately, whether that’s on the Play Store or during onboarding? So as you can see with these app category trends, it’s really important to understand the type of value that you’re providing to your users Is it social value? Entertainment value? Or are you helping the user reach some type of goal? Really thinking through how many titles does a user need for each of these motivators because we see varying title usage across them But also remember seasonality So capitalize when there is a change in demand within your category I just covered a lot

So we’ve defined some similarities and some distinctly different groupings And we’re going to carry those forward throughout the rest of the presentation, keeping a bird’s eye view to understand some engagement trends So really think about which grouping do you fall into– social value, entertainment value, or goal-oriented? Another popular question that we get from developers is around demographics information So with the new groupings that we’ve defined, I wanted to share some data to help us all understand how Google Play user demographics might differ across them So what we’re looking at here is the median distribution of monthly active users across the categories within each of the groupings that we created The left is showing you the gender distribution and the right the age bracket Now, across all three of these groupings, we can see some similarities, but let’s go through the differences We see goal-oriented style categories, or the blue bar chart, have the most even distribution across gender They have 45% of their users being female But when we look at social value or entertainment value, which are the green and the orange bars respectively, they both have over 60% of their users being male We also see goal-oriented has a slightly larger share of older users They have 42% of their user base being over the age of 34, especially when we compare that to social value and entertainment value categories, with over 60% of their users being under the age of 35 Now, this is unique Google Play platform data And we’re sharing it in hopes to provide you and your teams with an understanding of the audiences that are engaging with these different types of category groupings And this is the median So you may see something different But hopefully, it gives you a good directional benchmark, because it’s really important to consider who your target audience is based on the use case of your app And if you’re seeing something different here, how can you expand the audience that you’re currently reaching by understanding how these motivators are driving different types of users into their titles? But let’s also understand the difference in engagement trends across these groupings Days active is a really popular metric And it’s a great apples-to-apples comparison across categories with different use cases So what we’ll do is look at the median percentage of monthly active users broken out by the number of days that they were active in a calendar month, looking at the histogram of days between 1 and 25 with 26 or more days bucketed together So starting out with goal-oriented style categories This is showing you the median percentage of monthly active users’ engagement rate for the first half of 2019 And we can see about 65% of the users are only active one to two days per month, telling us that many titles in this category are seeing more infrequent usage from their entire user base But that’s not to say that power users don’t exist in these categories We can see the subset of users that are logging in 16 or more days But this only makes up 5% of the entire population So if you are a goal-oriented category, and you do see infrequent usage, consider how you can shift a larger percentage of your user base to the right You’d expect someone who’s trying to reach a goal and only logging in one or two days is likely not progressing very far towards that, so more regular engagement will drive stronger retention and purchase potential from your users And yes, maybe some of these categories have a paywall, but it is important to ensure that your title is allowing the user to engage enough in order to see the value to become a subscriber or make an in-app purchase But now, let’s compare what goal-oriented categories engagement looks like versus the other two category groupings So now, we’re looking at all three of them– social value in green, entertainment value in orange, and goal-oriented in blue And we can quickly see the different shapes that are forming here So we already covered goal-oriented, which is the blue one– very left skewed, showing us infrequent engagement But with entertainment value categories, we see more than 50% of users active three or more days per month And they have 10% of their users engaging 16 or more days versus that 5%, so they see a little bit more regular engagement relative to goal-oriented categories And finally, with social value categories, you see it’s very right-skewed, meaning the majority of users are active almost every day of the month In fact, that rightmost bar chart is showing us that 25% are active 26 or more days And remember that this is the median value,

so some categories are seeing more engagement than what we’re showing here But what I want to highlight is that there’s still an opportunity for all three category groupings with a large percentage of their users only engaging one to two days So how can you drive more sustained engagement? We’ve now learned that social is naturally driving daily engagement So how can you utilize that understanding for your own title? If you’re an entertainment value or goal-oriented style category, is there an opportunity to leverage this in your own title? Because if I’m no longer doing something alone, but instead I have a community that is working towards or enjoying similar things, that can naturally drive stronger engagement Maybe you need to create personalized push notifications based on what users love about your app Maybe it’s a certain workout or a certain show, a certain book, whatever it may be But you want to make sure you’re creating strong return mechanics for your users Now, up until now, I’ve stayed very high level with the category groupings that we define I want to dive back into the six categories that we covered earlier to show you how engagement can vary across titles, even if they’re in a similar category grouping So here, we’re looking at the average days that a user is active across the titles included in the listed categories So we’re seeing entertainment and health and fitness come in at the lowest with about five active days per user Dating, music and audio, and news and magazines see more regular engagement on Google Play And we can see that the social category sees the highest engagement with over 10 days for every user But now, we can start thinking about why we’re seeing the variances So let’s go through some of the use cases and differences across them As mentioned, social already has that sense of community creating that habitual check-in for its users, but entertainment and health and fitness come in at the lowest And we do normally see these titles have a paywall, which may drive down the overall user engagement rate But we also know that these have non-mobile replacements I can go to the movie theater I can go to the gym instead of using a fitness app one day So you have to take these things into consideration The remaining three, however, are ones that we’re starting to see become a bit more embedded into the mobile space So we can quickly check the news on our commute to work We can listen to our favorite music And we’re seeing dating become very popular on mobile So consider your app’s user motivations, any real-world replacements, your retention mechanics, and your monetization model, and really try to understand how it can impact the engagement of your entire user base You really want to try and figure out how to enhance the value proposition and give them an additional incentive to continue to engage with your title But my whole goal of sharing this was to figure out what you guys can learn from what other categories are doing, those motivators and their engagement trends, to drive different behaviors in your own title So to summarize what we’ve learned from our entire user base, you want to make sure that you’re considering who your target audience is on Google Play and what their expected engagement is If your audience is different than what we covered today, maybe there’s an opportunity to test your Google Play Store listing in order to expand the audience that you’re reaching And you really want to think through how your user engagement maps to your users’ motivations and if there’s any factors that are naturally impacting it, because we see the opportunity to drive more sustained engagement across all three category groupings, with at least 20% of users only logging in one to two days per month And sure, I’m sure some of you are not striving to be daily destinations But how can you ensure that you’re optimizing your definition of success for your app’s engagement rate? Is that through personalized push notifications, your return mechanics, or maybe just leveraging something that another category is doing really well? Now, for buyer trends, I’m not going to focus on pricing Sam will be on a little bit later to talk about pricing for subscriptions specifically But I’m going to go over buyers’ engagement across the categories, so similar to what we did for the entire user base Now, apps monetize through many different business models on mobile But in today’s presentation, I’m going to focus on subscriptions, mainly because most of you in the room are monetizing through subs, but also because we’ve seen sustained growth in subscription revenue on Google Play over the last three years So we’re going to follow the same thing We’re going to start with that bird’s eye view But in this section, we’re going to focus on the entertainment value and goal-oriented categories, as those are the two groupings that most commonly monetize through subscriptions So who are these subscribers?

How are they different across these category groupings? But also, how are they different from the entire user base population that we covered earlier? So now, we’re looking at the median distribution of active subscribers across the categories in entertainment value and goal-oriented groupings Again, the left is gender distribution, and the right is age bucket And similar to what we saw earlier, you can see an even stronger skew to a slightly older population for the goal-oriented categories And if we think back, goal-oriented categories had 25% of their users in the 18 to 24-year-old bucket, but they only see 11% of subscribers in this age group So entertainment categories are seeing a much larger share of young subscribers relative to goal-oriented And as we look across gender, we see both having about a 75% to 25% split leaning towards males, but we previously saw about 40% of the users being female So consider if there’s an opportunity to increase your share of female subscribers by making your subscription offering more appealing to them Because not only did we see a difference across who will use your app, but we also see a stark difference about the types of users that will see enough value to subscribe to it But now, let’s understand if subscribers engage differently We saw different engagement trends for the entire user base, but let’s look at subscribers But before we can understand that, I first wanted to share that subscribers are naturally more engaged than non-subscribers I know it’s not news to anyone in the room But I still wanted to give you the benchmark Looking across all subscription apps on Google Play, we see 75% higher engagement from subscribers’ median performance versus non-subscribers But now, let’s dive in and understand how it’s different across the two category groupings So what we’re looking at here, again, is the median percentage of active subscribers in a 28-day period bucketed into the number of days that they were active And the first thing that we notice is we see 50% of active subscribers logging in six or more days across both category groupings, which is much higher than what we saw previously But what really stood out to me here was the different shapes that we actually see across the groupings We see more frequent usage from subscribers in goal-oriented categories It’s very right-skewed, which is different than the infrequent usage we showed previously So we see even more engagement in goal-oriented category subscribers even compared to the entertainment value And that makes sense, right? High engagement is likely a good indicator of subscription conversion for goal-oriented categories because users who are driven to reach that goal are likely engaging enough to actually see the progress But entertainment value still sees majority of subscribers active somewhere between 2 and 10 days, so still lower engagement but still relatively regular But now, let’s dive back into the category level to understand how subscriber versus non-subscriber engagement can vary by category So now we’re looking at the median number of days that a user is active in a 28-day period for the subscriber and non-subscriber populations across five categories And what I want to do is go through the variance between the two populations by category So we can see that the entertainment category and the health and fitness are seeing similar engagement for both the non-subscribers and subscribers There’s a close gap between the two So even those that do see the value in converting, they’re still not utilizing these apps as daily destinations But categories like music and audio and news and magazine, they see a much larger gap between the two populations And finally, dating sees the most drastic difference between subscribers and non-subscribers But again, let’s think about the why, but this time trying to understand how subscribing is expected to change a user’s engagement rate Now, based on the similarity in entertainment and health and fitness, I think we all know it’s not a daily destination But subscriptions in these two categories most commonly unlock premium features or premium content And they’re not necessarily driving additional subscriber engagement But music and audio, as well as news and magazine, these subscriptions most commonly allow for more uninterrupted engagement or unlock additional content that will naturally increase a subscriber’s engagement Dating also has a similar model to removing some type of engagement wall, whether that’s how many matches I can have, likes, messages

But again, it’s allowing a user in this that subscribes to engage at a much higher rate So you want to make sure that you’re considering your users’ motivations for subscribing, the subscription offering that you’re giving them, and if and how it’s expected to impact their engagement Are you unlocking that additional content to increase subscribers’ engagement? Or are you unlocking premium features that really only impact their experience during their standard login? But also think through whether or not you can expand that offering by learning how to take something from a different category to drive stronger engagement from your subscribers So let’s talk about a fitness app, for example I don’t work out every day And I’m sure most users don’t work out every day But how can you encourage users to continue to come back even outside of the act of exercising? Maybe it’s investing in content consumption that’s still helping them reach their goal It’s a recipe, an article, or even a video But is there a way to provide that incentive for them to continue to come back, even on days they may not be utilizing your app to work out? Now, there’s one last thing that I want to circle back on Why is almost 20% of the subscribing population only engaging one day? Now, we have seen that the low engagement thresholds are impacted by things like use case, turn mechanics, and subscription offering But generally speaking, low subscriber engagement can be an indicator for low subscriber retention So where do you stand with your subscriber retention? When we look across all subscription apps on Google Play, we see a median of 59% retention from a subscriber’s first to second payment for the monthly offering and a median of 46% for yearly offerings And you may fall above or below this threshold, but consider how you can drive app engagement when subscriber engagement is low, as it may be a leading indicator for churn And based on the title usage that we covered earlier, it’s probably a lot harder to win back a subscriber than it is to retain an existing one In fact, I looked into this And we found out that for the monthly subscription skew, we see the median distribution of win back subscribers being less than 20% of the entire subscribing population So consider how you can really optimize your subscribers’ engagement to drive stronger subscription retention So on top of considering the audience you want to get into your app, you also want to consider your target subscriber audience on Google Play, their engagement, and their subscription retention Now, hopefully, you can use some of these as a benchmark to help you define what low subscriber engagement is for your own category use case and really trying to understand how the user motivations for subscribing and your subscription offering is expected to impact it But also think through, when you see subscribers falling below that threshold, how you can ensure that you’re optimizing that to drive low retention, as it’s a leading indicator for churn So to recap everything we’ve covered, consider how you fit into the Android ecosystem Understand your use case, your Android audience, and understand the expected engagement rate, as all three of these things interact with each other The goal of this talk was to give you some insights on your category, but it was also to share with you the category performance of everyone on Google Play to see whether you can learn from what others are doing successfully Because as we discussed, we see different title usage across three motivators of social value, entertainment value, and goal-oriented categories We also see different demographics across users and subscribers for those three So really think through whether there’s an opportunity to leverage those different motivations to expand your audience, change their engagement, or maybe adjust your subscription model to be more appealing to those you might be missing Now, I know we just covered a ton of data, but I hope that this talk helped you identify what areas you have an opportunity to explore in order to expand the value that your users are seeing from your titles And if you have any questions, I’ll be in the Playground after these sessions Thank you [APPLAUSE]