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Thriving in the New Mobile Analytics Ecosystem

Jeremy_Levy_IndicativeIn this special guest feature, Jeremy Levy of  Indicative illustrates how to navigate the new realm of mobile analytics. Jeremy Levy is CEO of Indicative, a web and mobile analytics platform designed to radically simplify data-driven decision making at high growth startups. Previously, he co-founded Xtify (sold to IBM) and Meetmoi (sold to Match.com).

A lot is changing in the world of mobile analytics, driven in particular by three factors: access to attribution data, deeplinking and new platforms from some of the largest players in mobile. So, what do these things mean for you and how do you navigate this new realm?

Access to Attribution Data

The rapid evolution of the mobile analytics ecosystem is driven in particular by the moving target of mobile attribution – e.g. understanding what caused a user to download your app. Companies like Adometry and Convertro have been very successful in blending offline data (e.g. the likelihood of a user seeing a TV commercial, subway advertisement or billboard) with online data (e.g. the views of a banner ad, a search engine).

The digital portion has been traditionally relatively easy to monitor on the web and on Android devices due to the ability to track the URLs  tracking, but iOS has always been a walled garden as that information is not passed on to app publishers by Apple.

More importantly, recently major ad networks, such as Facebook, have started allowing less and less access to mobile app attribution data available to third parties as they seek to consolidate their position as dominate advertising platforms and stop data leakage that can help other

Facebook has previously allowed a major third-party ecosystem to thrive utilizing their attribution data, but ad networks and publishers continue to learn the hard way that building on someone else’s platform is a risky endeavor, as has been evidenced in the past. This means that from an analytics perspective, if you’re relying on one of these players, the the data you’re depending on can get pulled out from underneath you overnight.

Deeplinking

Deeplinking, linking to a specific location or function within a website or mobile app, has increasingly become a major tool in the advertising arsenal to decrease the friction for converting traffic both from paid advertising and partners. This means that a link can take a user directly into an app and users can even bounce from app to app without hitting the outside web.

While it creates a more streamlined user experience, it makes attribution and tracking even more difficult. Players like Deeplink.me and Button make the deeplinking process easier by making tools for developers and marketers to build deeplinks  and measuring their success, while Apple just announced deep-linking features that are going to be built into the next version of iOS that will be released in the fall.

Mobile analytics teams will need to ensure that however the apps they are analyzing have implemented deeplinking, they have have a way to get this tracking data.

New Analytics Platforms

With the value this data has for developers and marketers, new analytics platforms are emerging. Not content to shake up attribution and deeplinking, Apple and Facebook have also entered the mobile analytics game.

Apple recently launched a beta mobile analytics platform and invited a select group of developers to test it. While complete details about the free service remain under wraps, it will allow developers to track how often users open their app, visit their app page in the App Store, creating custom marketing campaigns and see which websites drive the most users.

Meanwhile, Facebook launched Analytics for Apps in March, enabling users to see how marketing campaigns performed across demographics. These powerful tools plus all of the third party services out there that have mobile app analytics tracking, are giving companies a wealth of insight into how their mobile initiatives are performing.

For most companies, these tools will serve as complements to existing analytics solutions, but may also be the only source for more granular performance data.  Analytics and marketing teams will need to keep a wary eye out for further moves from the big players.

Navigating the New Mobile Analytics Landscape

Success in this new mobile analytics landscape is dependent on a few factors:

  • Clean attribution: Stay on top of the partner ecosystem and make sure you have a reliable source of attribution data, especially if like most brands you’re increasingly dependent on mobile traffic.

  • Track deeplinks properly: Deeplinking is still a nascent activity, and standards for tracking data haven’t been established yet. Success requires being smart in how you interpret attribution data in your analytics and picking a data partner that meets your specific needs (e.g. an e-commerce deeplinking partner will fill different needs than a publishing partner).

  • Flexible analytics tools: You’re not going to be successful with an entry-level or out of the box analytics platform, and increasingly analytics teams are finding that multiple tools to accomplish different goals on top of the same data set is required. General rules of thumb for adding a new tool to your arsenal is ensuring that it is:

    • cross-platform & cross data-source (not just for web tracking or mobile tracking)

    • is accessible to a wide swath of users (including non-technical people like marketing and product)

    • has analytical depth (and not just pre-packaged reports) that handles both both cross-platform and attribution complexity

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