Why App Stores Suck For Marketers

There’s a popular way of showing the growth of mobile by charting the growth of app stores. The only problem is the growth of mobile, from a marketer’s perspective, might be inhibited by the growth of app stores.

Imagine investing your client’s money into different marketing tactics and sending the traffic to the app store of your choice (Apple AppStore in this case) only to have absolutely no vision or clarity into what led to the download of the respective app. None. I have to imagine that around $100 million of media investment is spent on app promotion, and it’s virtually unmeasurable from a tactic level. App stores are closed ecosystems. Once a consumer is inside, it’s nearly impossible to understand their movements and actions.

There are a few ad networks such as Millennial Media, Fiksu, Tapad and others that have created a software-development kit that gets implemented into your clients app to measure downloads. This information in isolation is OK because it only measures the individual partner’s performance. For a larger plan, which has more than one mobile ad network on it, it isn’t great.

At The Media Kitchen, we work a lot with our strategy and analytics team (also part of KBS+P), and they have created correlation models that measure the impact of each media vehicle on each other when at different weight levels. These models have been our secret sauce but as a digital native. These should not need to exist in the digital world when everything should be directly measurable.

It’s frustrating because the Internet has been down this path. Closed ecosystems don’t allow for innovation to cross into their walls without much kicking or screaming. We shouldn’t have to be reliant on correlation models, which is what I’d expect to use for an offline plan. In the best case, I’d like to see app stores open up their ecosystem, specifically Apple.

In a world of transparency, API’s, platforms and ecosystems, closed app store models aren’t the future but a return to the past.

Darren Herman is chief digital media officer at The Media Kitchen, the media-buying arm of Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners. Follow him  @dherman76.

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