What We Can Learn From: eMarketer and Data.Ai (formerly App Annie) Reports

eMarketer covers worldwide ad spending, while Data.Ai (formerly App Annie) takes on macro trends and mobile habits. Where do these two reports converge? Let’s explore.


If there was a year to be in mobile apps, it had to have been 2020 and 2021! By the end of 2021, mobile users had downloaded almost 140 billion new apps. That’s 10 billion more than in 2020. Total worldwide ad spending set a record too. 


Downloads and app installs


Data.ai (formerly App Annie) records that iOS and Google Play app downloads climbed toward 230 billion — which is a 30% growth in two years. To break it down further — Appsflyer’s State of Gaming App Marketing shared that there was a 30% increase in gaming app installs in the US between September and December for both iOS and Android — a testament to how critical and effective the holiday season is for apps and their loyal users. 


India leads the pack by contributing 20% of global downloads across iOS and Google Play combined; followed by the US (9%) and Brazil (8%). 


Digital Ad Spending


Despite predictions of a slowdown, the app economy just keeps growing. According to eMarketer, total worldwide ad spending set a record for growth in 2021 and exceeded pre-pandemic figures by more than $120 billion. 


Who’s playing games? 


While the legacy belief is that mobile gaming is stereotypically young males, the majority of gamers are female. The accessibility to smartphones and increase in App/Play Store content has opened the door to the masses. Mobile Gaming is not just for the Gen-Z market anymore, every generation is engaging with their phones more than ever before. This means big floods of new titles, emerging sub-genres, and breakout apps. Data.ai revealed that Tinder is once again at the top in dating apps, across the world. The pandemic accelerated existing mobile habits and with social apps like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, photo and video apps have seen an increase in the market share of time spent — amounting to 7 out of every 10 minutes.


Breakout apps in the download charts were full of casual games. With titles such as Hair Challenge, Project Makeover and High Heels, we can see a common trend in which games users are leaning to. 


App Annie Breakout Apps

Gaming monetization in a privacy era


Since the rollout of Apple’s ATT framework, (a pop-up requiring users to opt-in to app tracking or decline) collecting user-level data has been a challenge. Adapting to a new privacy era led to a 13% YoY drop in spend on iOS and a 35% surge on Android. 


Android in the U.S. saw a 98% uptick in IAA revenue as developers took advantage of ads integrated into the gaming experience. Despite IDFA fears, mobile has been driving digital ad spend globally. 


2 million new apps and games were released in 2021 with Google Play accounting for 77% of all the apps and games released in 2021. New apps are a refreshing sign that demand for engaging customers is on mobile. So if you haven’t already boarded the app train, eMarketer’s data should be convincing you to with their reports of mobile commerce doubling its share of U.S. retail sales by 2025. This will eventually result in revenue generation of over $728 billion. Now is the time to create a mobile app (if your brand hasn’t already) and optimize functions for mobile web and app.

Why should brands take note?


In their State of Mobile 2022 report, Data.ai reports that consumer spend on mobile apps reached $170 billion in 2021, up 19% year-over-year despite pandemic lockdowns, supply issues, and more. Consumer spend aside, users are also reported to be spending more time on mobile than watching TV in 2021. If brands and advertisers aren’t already convinced to focus on mobile, after seeing the trends and behaviors of consumers shift to spending more time and money on mobile, brands and advertisers should be motivated to do the same with campaigns and ad spend. Brands should be looking at advertising with a mobile-first mindset and fighting to be first on a users’ phone and top of mind. This will eventually lead to more time spent with the brand, more awareness, and higher conversion rates.


Getting a deeper understanding on how downloads, users, and opportunities are reacting to privacy and industry updates should play a critical role in how you strategize for the coming year.

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