Mobile Growth News - Issue 33 From branch

Source: Branch.IO newsletter

A couple days ago, the latest issue of This Week in Apps (a newsletter from Ariel Michaeli at AppFigures, and one of my favorite weekly reads) published data that appears to show Apple purging over 420,000 apps from the App Store…right as AppTrackingTransparency went into broad effect with the launch of iOS 14.6 in June.

The hypothesis is that this was a massive, ATT-related enforcement crackdown by Apple.

While the timing is certainly coincidental, I’m skeptical about this explanation for a couple of reasons:

  1. Apple has a precedent of mass-purging ‘dead apps’ from the App Storein the past.
  2. There’s a fairly broad consensus that Apple hasn’t actually done any ATT policy enforcement to date — in fact, the only ATT-related enforcement noise happened at the end of April, not the middle of June, and was related to situations where developer-provided info in Privacy Nutrition Labels didn’t match up with an app’s implementation of the ATT permission modal.

Granted, most of the apps in question here would have been the longest of the long tail, but the ATT rollout was one of the most closely-watched App Store developments in years. It’s implausible that almost half a million of them could simply vanish because of ‘ATT violations’ without chatter surfacing somewhere.

In my opinion, it’s much more likely that Apple simply decided it was time to clean up abandoned apps again, and they felt this was a good opportunity.

In any case, it’s water under the bridge at this point. Let’s dig into some more recent news!

Alex Bauer


The perilous mythology of Brand Marketing for digital products

“Brand marketing” is often interpreted deductively by marketing teams as, “all marketing activities that aren’t immediately measurable,” and thus it exists as whatever isn’t classified as direct response. That’s obviously misguided.

On mobile, I feel a major contributing issue is that last-touch attribution makes it very difficult to assign value to marketing activities that aren’t quickly followed by a conversion. Multi-touch attribution was supposed to solve that, but MTA is the promised land that never really arrived on mobile (though next-gen modeling approaches may help in future).

A good article with some thought-provoking points.

Predictive marketing: How to do more with less

Speaking of modeling, a nice overview from AppsFlyer on one specific type: predictive analytics.

The type of ‘modeling’ getting most of the airtime in digital right now is attributionmodeling, which is generally a backward-looking analysis to answer questions like ‘what happened and why?’ In contrast, predictive modeling involves using historical/partial data to create forecasts, answering the question ‘what will happen in future?’

As access to raw data continues to become more difficult, both will be useful tools for making business decisions.


Apple legal filing indicates it intends to collect commission regardless of whether developers use IAP or a competing payments platform

Google is already preparing to do this in South Korea, as a result of recent legislation there.

Commissions on outside payment methods are something most analysts agree are specifically allowed under the terms of the Epic v. Apple ruling, but ‘allowed’ and ‘preferable’ are quite different — one theory I’ve seen is that this filing is simply leverage, intended to get a stay on the ruling that is due to allow links to external payment methods starting on December 9.


DuckDuckGo Wants to Stop Apps From Tracking You on Android

This product is being cast as ‘AppTrackingTransparency for Android’, but that’s not quite right — it’s actually a VPN-esque system, similar to a number of others already on the market (for example, the third-party Lockdown Privacy service on iOS).

The premise of solutions like these is basically more like an ad blocker: by re-routing all outgoing network requests from an app, it’s possible to block traffic to any URL flagged as a ‘tracker’ on a static list.

Obviously, the definition of ‘tracker’ is subjective, and this is a sledgehammer-type solution that can have sledgehammer-type effects on app functionality: one of the app categories that DuckDuckGo currently excludes is ‘all mobile games’, because they found too many of them stopped working.

Clean rooms, explained: How they became the buzziest tool in ad tech

With the increasing impact of privacy regulations, limitations on mobile device IDs, and looming deprecation of third-party cookies, ‘data clean rooms’ are becoming a hot topic. Like Switzerland for data, they promise a solution for aggregated audience insights, without requiring brands to expose PII across companies.

Of course, user consent is still technically required, and a clean room is not a silver bullet…

“A clean room is not a washing machine, you cannot throw your data in there, throw a tide pod in, and think that it’s okay to use […] Be very cautious about being told that a clean room is going to solve all your problems.”


ASO tips & tricks to increase your app’s ranking.

A nice selection of pithy, tactical reminders around basic best practices for store search optimization. For example:

Duplication of keywords should be avoided. Only the last occurrence (in the app name, subtitle, and keywords fields combined) is considered meaning it will get less weight.


UI design trends of today and how to apply them in your apps

Mobile and desktop UIs have evolved a lot over the last few years. If you like pretty comparison visuals that show the differences (and similarities!) across platforms, this article is for you.

“Tiny signs that, to me, show that an iOS app’s probably being designed and engineered primarily for cross-platform alignment…”

Bridging the gap between UI trends and cross-platform developmentconsiderations, here’s a nice list of things that are easy to miss but often frustrate users.