The final article in the 10 part-series: What the Top 50 Games do with In App Purchasing that the Rest of Us Don’t
By Mike Hines (@MikeFHines)
In the previous article in this series, we looked at how lowering barriers to new app sessions paves the way for more sessions, and more minutes in the app per day. We also looked at how tuning the difficulty for a game can make a significant impact in user engagement, retention, and IAP conversion. This week we’ll see how the top 50 see what to change, and how they implement change.
To address the right offers and messages to your customers, to know where you may have a retention issue, and to know other key metrics about your app, you need to be able to see inside, and see how your users interact with your app. App analytics packages are services put together by quite a variety of providers, and are a great way to get started with the basics, as well as progress up through full custom instrumentation. To help scope an analytics implementation project or provider decision, you should start with knowing what you need to know to make smarter decisions. (like how long has this user had the app? How many purchases has this user made? How long did it take this user to complete the last task/level/milestone?) If you’re not going to use a metric to influence your actions, think twice about how much you really need to implement that metric.
Seeing inside your apps is critical, but it doesn’t do anything. Being able to do something about what you see is how your app starts performing better. In order to optimize your apps, you’ll need to have a lot of levers in you app that you can manipulate to change the behavior of your app (like difficulty). These levers come in the form of A|B testing. A|B Testing lets you find out if you should make your game easier or harder, and how much more so to make it to meet your goals. A|B Testing tells you which items are the most popular or profitable for you to offer your day 1, day 7, or day 30 users. While I’m partial to the Amazon A|B Testing service because of it’s flexibility, ease of implementation, and price, you can get A|B Testing services from several vendors. Remember, the top 50 don’t guess. They know.
That’s it for the series What the Top 50 Games do with In App Purchasing that the Rest of Us Don’t. For more insights on how to keep users engaged and boost revenue check out our free eBook, “In-App Purchasing Lessons from the Top 50 Game Developers”.
In the mean time, I’d love to be working on the next subject you’d like to learn more about or see data about. Let me know, and ping me on Twitter @MikeFHines.
The Amazon Mobile Ads API allows you to monetize apps and games across the Android, Fire OS, and iOS platforms by displaying ads to customers in the US, UK, France, Italy, Spain, and Germany. Ads can be banner or interstitial and will advertise products or services coming from Amazon or other well-known brands. You are paid on ad impressions served whilst some other Ad networks only pay on clicks. To get more information on the benefits of using the Amazon Mobile Ad Network, check out the Success Stories.
This blog is about how you get started with using the Amazon Mobile Ads API in your Android Java based app or game that is running on an Android device, Amazon Fire OS tablet or phone device.
The Amazon Mobile Ads API is part of a single SDK (the Amazon Mobile App SDK, which you can download here) that also provides access to other Amazon mobile services and APIs such as GameCircle and In-App Purchasing. The same download also includes the necessary files to use the Amazon Mobile Ads API in apps developed for iOS.
You can use the Android Java version of the Mobile Ads API in projects that have been created in Eclipse or Android Studio. First, download the SDK and extract the zip file to the appropriate location on your development machine. Here’s what the SDK folder looks like on my machine…
Before you can use the Amazon Mobile Ads API in an app, you should create an Application Key that is unique to the application. This key is used by the Amazon framework to identify your app so it’s essential that you use the correct one so that you will be paid.
To create a new key you need an Amazon Apps & Games Developer Portal account. If you don’t have one, you can create a free account by clicking here. Also note, because you will be receiving income into the account, you will need to add your payment and tax information details to your developer account profile.
You can bypass this step for now if you want to just try out the API using one of the sample apps. Just make sure you create your own key (and account) later.
Before you start including the Amazon Mobile Ads API in your project, I recommend that you first build and play with the three samples that come with the SDK. You can find these samples in the /Android/Ads/Samples folder and they are as follows:
Displays a banner ad and is a good introduction to the APIs
Builds upon SimpleAdSample
Displays a full-screen interstitial ad
To build the samples in Eclipse is pretty straightforward. Once you have imported the projects, you just need to add the mobile ads JAR file library to your project and ensure that the library file is included in the build process. There are some good instructions in this Quick Start Guide about how to do this but do note that you need to check the JAR library file in the “Order and Export tab” so that it is included in the build. The screenshot below shows how to do this:
This step is quite easy to miss and unfortunately, if you don’t complete the step, the project will still build successfully but you will get runtime errors saying that methods in the API cannot be found!
The Mobile Ads API samples were created using Eclipse but you can also use the samples in Android Studio very easily. As this is currently not described in the Quick Start Guide I’ve written some instructions below on how to do this…
Where: x, y and z will be substituted with the actual version numbers
Once you have added the library file to a sample project, you should be able to build the code and try it out on a device. In the SimpleAdSample project, for example, you should see something similar to this when it runs:
Using the Amazon Mobile Ads APIs in your own code is relatively straightforward and this Quick Start Guide goes through the steps that you need to follow. There are, however, a few things that are worth delving into a little deeper which I discuss below.
To use the APIs, you need to add a least one permission to the project’s manifest file. You have to add the permission android.permission.INTERNET as this enables the app to communicate with the ad server. Additionally, it is advisable to add the other permissions suggested in the Quick Start Guide as doing so will give the ad framework a better chance of delivering ads that are more relevant to the user - see also section “Loading the ad” below.
There are two main ways in which you can request an ad. The simplest way is just to call the version of the Ad object’s loadAd() method that takes no parameters. However, the problem with this approach is that you will get ads delivered to your app that might not be applicable to your user’s geographical location. A better approach is to use a different version of the same API that takes some parameters…
final AdTargetingOptions adOptions = new AdTargetingOptions();
In the snippet above, the code uses the Mobile Ads API to send the position of the device to the Amazon Mobile Ad Network so that potentially more targeted ads are delivered to the host app. Note that the user may still choose to disable this feature by disabling location awareness on a system level in the device settings.
During development, it’s a good idea to enable logging and testing using the associated methods in the AdRegistration class. Doing so will for example make it easier for you to track the messages sent to the ad framework in the logcat window. Just make sure to disable logging and testing before launching your app to production.
Once an Ad object has been created, it’s possible to hook into events that are generated by the API. This is done via a special listener class from the Mobile Ads API called DefaultAdListener. When you do this, you can trap several events related to an ad and these result in calls to methods that you override. For example, the onAdFailedToLoad() method is called when the ad has failed to load and in that scenario you could determine the possible cause of the failure and if applicable choose to fill the advert using an alternative ad network.
See this article about event tracking and error handling for more details.
The Amazon Mobile Ads API provides you with additional ways in which you can monetize your mobile apps and games via ads relating to products or services that come from Amazon or other well-known brands. Integrating the API into your Android Java app or game is quick and easy. Once you have integrated the API, you are paid for ads on impressions rather than on clicks.
Here are some more links to useful articles on using the Amazon Mobile Ads API in your Android Java based app:
In upcoming blogs, I will discuss how you can use the Amazon Mobile Ad API in games or apps running on iOS and those that have been developed using popular frameworks such as Unity and Marmalade.
Simon Howard (@SimonH109)
A good first impression is critical for getting downloads for your app. In the past, we’ve talked about making good icons, how to grab app screenshots & video, and getting the submission details right.
In this post, we’ll cover how to add localized screenshots.
If you want to grow internationally, speaking to the customer in their language is important. Imagine that you have a top selling app in Germany and begin to expand into Spain or France or Japan or the US but you always use German text in the promotional materials – I think we can agree that potential customers in those locations won’t convert well. People want to understand what they’ll get when they download the app. So, beyond having language specific versions of the app content, make a great first impression and entice downloads by making sure that your screenshots and promotional images are also localized to the proper language.
Adding localized images is straightforward in the Amazon Appstore developer portal.
To do this, sign in to the Amazon Appstore developer portal, choose your app from the dashboard, then choose “Add Localized Media” from the “Images and Multimedia” tab and change any of the images that you need to.
This video shows you step by step how to add localized images on the Amazon Appstore.
-Paul Cutsinger (@PaulCutsinger
Article 9 of 10 in the series: What the Top 50 Games do with In App Purchasing that the Rest of Us Don’t
By Mike Hines (@MikeFHines)
In the previous article in this series, we saw how making it easier to buy resulted in a lot more sales; a conclusion that is not rocket science, but can be challenging to implement correctly. This week, we’ll take a look at some strategies that the top 50 have used to increase the number of minutes users spend in each session, and increase the number of sessions the users have per day.
Updating game content frequently keeps users engaged and coming back to see what’s new. While we didn’t see a demonstrable trend differentiating the top 50 from everyone else with regards to content updates, the developers we’ve interviewed are all fairly unanimous in this regard. Stale content kills long-term retention. And if you’re going to update your content, that might be a good time for a sale on IAP items.
If you can, time your sales and content releases together. Playtika plans IAP sales when aggregate hard currency balances are low. Playtika also plans new content releases to go live during sales to give the purchased hard currency somewhere to go.. If customers don’t have a place to use their newly acquired IAP items, customers will just keep them in inventory, and you will see a resulting post-sale slump in purchases.
The first thing to do is reduce barriers to entry of additional sessions. Flappy Birds is a great example of how easy it is to get started. You simply tap on start and start flying the bird. And when you crash, you tap start once more and you start flying again. Compare that to apps where we’ve got to go to a splash screen, welcome menu, and options screen before we can even start playing. That’s a lot of work, particularly if you’re standing in line at the grocery store.
Another barrier to entry is not starting where you left off. If you’ve gotten to level 14 of a game on your tablet at home, and then pull out your phone when you get to the grocery store, will you really be willing to start all over again at level 1? Or will you close the app and play a different game? That developer has just lost a re-entrant customer. They just lost a potential re-order. What you want to do is use one of the game engines that will synchronize your progress across devices. I’ve got a screen shot of Amazon GameCircle here which has an active sync API that synchronizes the customer’s progress so that when a customer gets to level 14 on their tablet, they pick up right on level 14 on their phone; no barrier to entry.
One way to increase session time is to tune game difficulty. Imagine if you’re the small guy here. You’re going to do this once, and you’re to give up. That would get un-fun really quickly. But it’s not fun if you’re the big guy either. After crushing the little guy a few times it just gets boring. The top 50 do A|B testing religiously to tune the difficulty and find the sweet spot that keeps users in the game and increases IAP purchases. So absolutely do A|B Testing on the difficulty assumptions or other assumptions you make in your app. It’s free, and it’s surprisingly easy.
In the next article in the series, we’ll look at what you can do to see what’s going on with your customers inside your app, and how the top 50 use that data. For more insights on how to keep users engaged and boost revenue check out our free eBook, “In-App Purchasing Lessons from the Top 50 Game Developers”.
Article 8 of 10 in the series: What the Top 50 Games do with In App Purchasing that the Rest of Us Don’t
By Mike Hines (@MikeFHines)
In the previous article in this series, we saw how differentiating offers to users based on their time in game works well for the top 50. We also saw that doing your best to eliminate confusion is not only a good customer service tenet, but a profitable one as well. This week, we’ll look at other ways the top 50 make it easier to buy.
Above is an example of a good IAP purchase screen. Not too many items crowd the page, no items are off the screen (customers just don’t scroll to get to those…), there are a reasonable number of price points, but it’s a bit unclear what the value is.
Take a look at this IAP dialog:
I really like two things about this screen. One is that it doesn’t mix different kinds of things on the same page. The page has one thing; soft currency purchases. If I want to buy a different kind of thing, I can use a different tab/page. The second thing I like is that the value is clearly identified by the BONUS labels. The value is clear. I don’t have to do any math in my head to see why I’d want to buy $9.99 instead of $4.99.
Making ‘Easy to Buy’ part of the design requirements is very important. Adding IAP functionality after you have designed your game is a mistake. Take a look at this example of the Ninja Kiwi game Bloons Tower Defense 5, a game in which adorable monkeys toss darts at balloons trying to escape the maze. The game is challenging but not impossible, yet occasionally, as the balloons approach the exit, and you are at a loss to stop them, you can’t buy anything to help you! You can’t purchase anything that will pop all the balloons on the field or make one of your dart throwers a turbo-manic dart thrower for a few seconds. The fact that I can’t buy anything when I need it makes it really hard to give Kiwi Ninja my money.
Well they figured that out, and in their next tower defense game, SAS Zombie Assault TD, they got it right (below).
In this game, I can build towers with my soft currency using the menu items on the left. But if a horde of flesh-eating zombies is rushing towards the exit, I’ve got hard currency items on the right, so I can spend $0.99 to get 3 Nuclear Hand Grenades and vaporize that mass of zombies. Soft currency on the left, hard currency on the right, no confusion. Hard currency items are obvious and available for purchase when my need is greatest. Perfect. When the apps in our study made it easy to shop, ARPPU increased by 75%.
In the next article in the series, we’ll look at what the top 50 do to increase the time their customers spend in the app and how they maximize repeat sessions. For more insights on how to keep users engaged and boost revenue check out our free eBook, “In-App Purchasing Lessons from the Top 50 Game Developers”.
Article 7 of 10 in the series: What the Top 50 Games do with In App Purchasing that the Rest of Us Don’t
By Mike Hines (@MikeFHines)
In the previous article in this series, we saw how teaching customers about your IAP items and how showing them how to use those items makes a big difference for the top 50. In this article, we’ll look at how the top 50 arrange their IAP offers to maximize customer satisfaction and revenue.
You need to give customers something to order. Certainly you need to give customers items that are appealing to them, but what we found was that as you add more items your catalog, you start making more money. For example, if you have 12 items in your catalog, chances are you’ll make about 45% more money than you would if you only had 6 to 10 items in your catalog. But it’s easy to get the wrong take-away from this data. I don’t want you to think “Holy cow, if I just put 10 more items in a catalog I’ll be in the top 50!” It doesn’t work like that. It’s true that the top 50 have larger catalogs, but they don’t show the entire catalog to the users all at once. They show the right offers to the right people at the right time. They show different items to people on day one than they show to people on day seven or day 30, and they are using their larger catalog to get that breath of offers. Again we see the top 50 differentiating offers to different groups of users.
Now while variety in terms of offers is great, variety in terms of price points is not so great.
Take a look at the data and you’ll find that the more price points you have the lower your revenue is going to be. This doesn’t happen because they aren’t good prices, this because they’re confusing. It is really hard to communicate the value difference of items between $.99 $1.99, $2.99 and $3.99. A confused customer doesn’t go out and buy the most expensive item. A confused customer doesn’t go out and buy the cheapest item. A confused customer doesn’t buy anything. If you have too many price points competing for a customer’s attention it can be hard to determine the value difference between the price points.
In the next article in the series, we’ll look at how the top 50 make it easy for customers to buy what they want. For more insights on how to keep users engaged and boost revenue check out our free eBook, “In-App Purchasing Lessons from the Top 50 Game Developers”.
Article 6 of 10 in the series: What the Top 50 Games do with In App Purchasing that the Rest of Us Don’t
By Mike Hines (@MikeFHines)
In the previous article in this series, we saw some stats that help drive smart app design, including the importance of securing day 1 customer orders. This week we’ll look at some of the smart things the top 50 do to increase their order and reorder conversion rates.
One way the top 50 make buying on day one (or any day, for that matter) is through tutorials. The top 50 apps introduce hard and soft currency in their tutorials, and show customers how to make in-app purchases. Across the board, we found that apps that described in-app purchasing in their tutorials have about 2 1/2 times greater conversion rate than apps that don’t. And what do you do after someone buys something? Teach them how to use it!
Apps that have instructions on how to use an item that was just purchased have 65% more repeat orders than apps that don’t. We know that if a customer don’t know that an IAP item exists, they can’t decide to buy it. It makes sense that if a customer doesn’t know how to use what they just bought, why would they ever want to buy more? The top 50 are remarkably consistent in their inclusion of IAP in tutorials. Think about whether you want to do that in your app too.
In the next article in the series, we’ll look at how the top 50 make sure they have the right things to sell to the right people.
Article 5 of 10 in the series: What the Top 50 Games do with In App Purchasing that the Rest of Us Don’t
By Mike Hines (@MikeFHines)
In the previous article in this series, we saw how important the 20% of customers who stick with us past 7 days can be. To maximize that number of users, and to make sure they are having good experiences, the top 50 app developers design their app experiences and marketing plans around some crucial stats.
We found the top 50 know the numbers. They have internalized the data on this graphic. They know that 64% of the revenues they get come from customers third or later order, and they market and target specials accordingly. They know they need to give the users a reason to keep coming back into the game, because they know that almost ¾ of their revenue will come from users after they have been in the app for 7 days, and just over half of their revenue will come from users in the app for 30 days and longer.
They also know that 40% of their repeat orders are going happen within one hour of a previous purchase. (Okay, I’ll bet that some of you remember the graphs showing you that the average session length was a little over seven minutes. It’s fair that you should ask how this data fits into that data.) They key take-away from this data point is that the repeat order comes from a completely different session! That’s why the top 50 make it a very low-friction experience to enter their game and start playing right away. How easy it is to start engaging in your app will make a big difference in whether or not you capture that repeat order. The top 50 also get that 37% of the customers who will every buy anything will spend money on day one. And to that end, the top 50 make buying on day one really easy. See how they do this in the next article!
In the next article in the series, we’ll look at some of the smart things that the top 50 do to increase their orders and repeat orders.
Article 4 of 10 in the series: What the Top 50 Games do with In App Purchasing that the Rest of Us Don’t
By Mike Hines (@MikeFHines)
In the previous article in this series, we finished looking at what being in the top 50 looks like from a raw data point of view. In this article, we start to look at how the top 50 got these results, beginning with why the top 50 care so much about the small number of users still with a game after 7 days.
If you were under the impression that day 7 was a big cutoff for customers and apps, you are partially correct. After 7 days, about 80% of the customers who installed your app will not launch it again. But the 20% of customers that remain can mean a great deal to you. The graph above is how purchases break down by hour.
The first day of sales is a pretty big spike! Obviously the first day is really important to you; you’ll get about 18% of your revenue from that first day. But what I want you to take away from this graph is the 82% of the revenue that’s left. This graph has a long tail, and while it doesn’t go out for 30 days, the pattern continues even well beyond 30 days. So let’s go ahead and take a look at seven days. Seven days is 168 hours, and it’s true that by seven days you may have lost about 80% of all of your active users. Buy you should know that after seven days, you still have 74% of your potential revenue on the table. After 30 days, there is still 54% of your potential revenue left on the table. That’s what a long tail means, so please a lot to pay attention to the users to stay with you after seven days, and stay with you after 30 days.
One of the reasons that taking care of the long tail is such a big deal is because the average price a customer is willing to pay for an in-app item goes up significantly over time. If you were wondering how the top 50 were able to increase the prices paid for their IAP items? They are offering a different array of items with more expensive selection to users who’ve been there longer. Once an average customer has been using an app for 30 days, they will typically purchase items that are 60% more expensive than they did when a day one customer. The top 50 app developers get this, and you would do well to take a closer look at this as well. If your apps are offering the same in app purchase items to your customers at day 30 that you did at day zero, you may be leaving some money on the table and leaving your best customers unsatisfied by not filling needs they have in your app.
In the next article in the series, we’ll look at some of the stats that the top 50 app developers know that help them make smart decisions when building and promoting their app and in-app purchase items.
Article 3 of 10 in the series: What the Top 50 Games do with In App Purchasing that the Rest of Us Don’t
By Mike Hines (@MikeFHines)
In the previous article in this series, we took a look at retention, usage and IAP results of our participants for the first two weeks. Now we start to see where the expertise of the top 50 comes into play.
Two weeks after first install, the retention numbers are getting a little ugly for the rest of us. Now the difference is about 40% in favor of the top 50, and the top 50 are also seeing increased advantages in both time in app and average revenue.
A month later, and the retention differences are overwhelming. This is a 100% advantage for the top 50. Not only that, but the top 50 app users are spending a lot more time in the game giving them just about a 60% advantage in minutes spent in game, and they’re spending a lot more money buying a lot more things from the top 50.
I have read several articles that state that most apps have lost 80% of their users at day 7, so worry less about performance a month out; there is just not the volume of users to make a difference. Even Playtika (interactive division of Caesars Entertainment) had believed this. That is until they analyzed the data. So does day 7+ matter? Well, it matters a lot.
In the next article in the series, we’ll break down when purchases happen, including a look at purchasing by hour, and see just what kind of revenue is still on the table after 7 days.
According to a new report from Newzoo, gamers using the Amazon Appstore are the most likely to spend money. More specifically, 64% of mobile gamers that use the Amazon Appstore spend money on mobile games, versus 37% for Google Play.
The report also digs into the profile of the mobile players versus mobile spenders. According to the report, mobile games equally attract male and female players but when it comes to spending money, the demographic skews male. The majority of big spenders on mobile are male and have kids, have a large income and more than a third play together with their children regularly, spending a large share of their gaming budget on their kids.
CEO of Newzoo Peter Warman says:
“Game developers should consider shifting marketing resources towards the Amazon Appstore for two reasons: gamers using the Amazon Appstore are the most likely to spend money and Amazon is best at reaching the big spender, which is typically a family man with a full-time job.”
To download the full report, click here.
Sometimes seeing is believing. Certainly that’s true for me and the games I might want to play. Take Spheriod Cyclone, for example. It’s $0.99, so it’s not risk-free. if I get it and I don’t like it, I’m out a buck. But Alex Swan, the developer, gave me a way to see what it would be like to play the game by posting game play video to the app detail page.
Take a look at the video on this detail page for yourself and see if you think the video does a much better job of selling the game than the static images do. Interested in having your own video? Here is how to do it!
Don’t pull our your phone and take a video of your app running on another device; that makes your detail page look a bit like amateur-hour. Instead, you can record the gameplay directly from your Fire OS 4.5.1 devices and KitKat Android devices using Android Debug Bridge (ADB). Here is how you do that:
Connect your Fire OS 4.5.1 device or KitKat Android device to a computer with ADB installed (currently Gen 3 & 4 Fire HD and HDX tablets). From the Terminal app on your computer, run the following ADB command:
adb shell screenrecord --bit-rate 4000000 --time-limit 15 /sdcard/vidcap.mp4
This command creates a 4mbps video 15 seconds long in your sdcard directory called vidcap.mp4. This gave me a file 7.7MB on disk with acceptable video quality. When I want better quality, I use bit-rate 8000000 and get a 12.5MB file.
You can then upload that video to Amazon via the instructions below:
If you want to submit up to 5 videos for your app on your detail page, do the following:
In your developer portal, go to the images and Multimedia tab.
Scroll to the bottom of the page, click the Upload Video button, and select the MP4 you created in the steps above.
The ADB command I list above will create an acceptable file for you to use. If you have video from other sources, it needs to follow these requirements:
Files need to be either: MPEG-2, WMV, MOV, FLV, AVI, or H.264 MPEG-4
Resolution: 720 - 1080px wide (4:3 or 16:9)
Quality: 1200 kbps (1.2 mbps) or higher
Size: Up to 150MB, use the portal control.
(for files larger than 150MB, you will need to use SFTP instead of the upload control. For instructions on SFTP, see: SFTP instructions and naming convention)
So capture some video of your game and post it to your detail page today! Customers will be happy you did.
Article 2 of 10 in the series: What the Top 50 Games do with In App Purchasing that the Rest of Us Don’t
By Mike Hines (@MikeFHines)
In the previous article in this series, we took a look at how we built the cohort study we’re sharing in the series, and described what day 1 looks like in terms of retention, usage minutes, usage sessions, and IAP transactions. This article looks at the rest of the first week.
When we last left our study participants, retention data was statistically equal, and the top 50 had an edge in usage and ARPPU. A day later we still have about equal user retention data (represented in the top part of the illustration above). Notice in the time data (the pie charts on the bottom), that the top 50 still have advantage in minutes per session and number of sessions per day. Over the month, you’ll see Total Session Length go between a 40% advantage up to an almost 60% advantage for the top 50 apps. In terms of Items sold per paying user, the top 50s advantage will stay in the single digits and won’t really move around all that much over the month.
Not so with the average selling price. On day 2, the advantage the top 50 have in average selling price has closed a bit, but it’s not because the top 50 did anything wrong. The gap has narrowed because the rest of us started selling more things for higher prices. As a result the margin of average revenue per paying user shrank to only 14%. But this doesn’t last long.
On day three, the retention data is still roughly equal, and the session time gains favor the top 50. But the top 50 have made some gains on average selling price. Like the day before, this is not because one group is making a big mistake, it’s because the Top 50 are moving higher-priced items in their IAP catalogs, and they are starting to differentiate offers to different groups of users.
A week later, we start seeing some of the difference in retention data becoming significant. There is now roughly a 25% active user advantage to being in the top 50. As far as time in the app is concerned, we are moving a lot closer to a 60% advantage in total minutes spent for the top apps. Regarding revenue, we see a 24% difference in average revenue per paying user. No doubt this is a tipping point for our study participants. Check out how they fare moving forward.
In the next article in the series, things start to change dramatically, and we see what it looks like to be top 50 in the long run.
Learn more about the Amazon Appstore here.
Like people judge a book by its cover, people judge an app by its icon. I met with Liz Myers, a UX designer focused on mobile app projects out of London, and we were talking about this very thing. It came to light that while we’ve covered the importance of great icons for first impressions, monetization and app submission, we haven’t gone more deeply into the process of creating icons. Many app developers don’t make great icons and once they have one, they don’t have a good tool chain and art pipeline for getting the range of sizes needed.
Liz has made a wonderful 20-minute tutorial and set of tools that I’d like to share with you now. The first two videos cover creating icons. These can be used to launch any kind of app or game and they can also be used for buttons and menus inside your app. The third video covers exporting those icons to all the proper sizes needed. In fact, her tool will take one icon and export for all of the fire devices in one click. So, you can start from scratch with the “Setup” video or skip to the “Export for Devices” video if you’ve already made an icon.
Thanks to Liz for this tutorial. You can learn more about Liz and her upcoming book on making app publishing easier, “appGRAFIX”, at www.myersdesign.com.
In this video, Liz will show you the templates and scripts she uses to batch-produce all app icons for Fire Devices in just one click! She will give you a brief overview of the process, as well as help you organize the workspace in Adobe Illustrator CC.
In this tutorial, Liz will dive into the art and science of making easy app icons for a wide range of screen sizes and pixel densities. By leveraging just a few tools and techniques, she shows you how to combine a variety of shapes to form recognizable glyphs - without actually drawing! Along the way she also shares her favorite tips and shortcuts to help you “see” solutions and keep ideas flowing.
In this video, Liz will use a handy script to produce and export app icons for all Fire devices in seconds! Also included is a demo of how to export app icons in three separate sizes: Large, Medium, Small - for those who want to fine tune subtle details of their app icons at various sizes.
By Mike Hines (@MikeFHines)
This whole study of ‘the top 50 vs. the rest of us’ started because we were curious as to why some great games didn’t make a lot of money with IAP while other good games were making more. Sometimes a lot more. We do, after all, run an Appstore with millions of customers in over 200 countries and territories, so finding out how to improve our developer’s IAP returns is a pretty big deal for us.
In our search for an answer, we took a look at how the top 50 apps did with IAP and compared those results with similar apps that were not in the top 50. Then, we proceeded to dive deeper to find out what the top 50 did in common that the rest of us weren’t doing (hence the title for the blog series). We found some pretty interesting data and observations to match, and we’ll share all of that with you in this series.
The first thing I’d like to share is how the top 50 did differently. We’ll take a look at the numbers and see what it means to be top 50 versus what it means to be the rest of us. The second thing I’d like to share is what they do differently. What did the top 50 do differently than the rest of us to get those results. Along the way we will share things that you can start implementing now, so that you can try to get results that are a lot closer to the results that the top 50 get.
For the first step, we wanted to find out how they did differently. That is what does a top 50 app look like when compared to the rest of us in terms of retention and usage. To study that, we did a cohort analysis. That’s a fancy way of saying we took 100 users for each of the top-50 apps and the other apps, and compared the groups against each other. Here’s what we found while walking through the first day the users downloaded their apps:
On day 1, 100 people download and install the apps.
What’s surprising is how many people don’t actually launch the app after they download it. So we have just a little bit over 50% of the downloads becoming active users. And as you might imagine, if you’ve downloaded the app but haven’t launched it, you will likely uninstall that app.
Be that as it may, what we really want to look at is how many users became paying users. On the Amazon Appstore about 3% of the total downloads eventually become paying users. I’ll refer to the active user chart at the top of the slide as Retention data. But that’s not all the data we chose to look at.
Look at the pie charts and bar charts below the retention data.
We also wanted to know how frequently the users were engaging with the app. The first chart that you see on the left is the average number of minutes that people spend in an app per session. For the top 50 it’s 7.4 minutes per session, and for the rest of us it’s 6.9 minutes per session. The next pie chart is the number of sessions per day that a user has with the app. Again we see an advantage for the top 50 who 2.9 sessions per day as opposed to the rest of us who got 2.6 sessions per day. Now let’s do the math and multiply the session minutes per session by the number of sessions per day. What we get is Total Session Minutes per day. The top 50 get 21.6 session minutes per day, versus the 18 session minutes for the rest of us. As you’ll see over time, the top 50 continue to get better at earning more session minutes and more sessions per day than the rest of us do.
It’s important to know how much time users are spending in your app, because ultimately it will impact how much they spend in your app.
How users spent money in the apps is what we looked at next. We took the apps from the rest of us and we normalize their earnings at 100% so we could see how the top 50 did in relation to how the rest of us did.
The first bar chart on the left shows how many items were purchased in the day, and we can see right away to the top 50 sold 12% more items than the rest of us did. And they sold for 36% more than the rest of us sold our IAP items for. Okay, let’s do the math again. Take the number of items purchased multiplied by the purchase price, and we find the top 50 have a 54% greater average revenue per paying user (ARPPU) than the rest of us do.
But this is just the beginning. In the next article in the series, we’ll take a look at this data moving out a bit farther in time.
Check out the Amazon Appstore and the In App Purchasing API here.
Read some case-studies on Amazon Appstore Developers here.