DIGIDAY:APPS – Introduction and the App Economy

Sorry for the delay in getting another blog post up, but I’m back on the marketing newsbeat.  If you want to see what’s been keeping me busy (especially if you rive in northern NJ), check out the growing Social Media Coffeehouse.

Similar to how I reviewed and recapped a number of events during Internet Week, I want to share some of my reactions and comments on the events of DIGIDAY:APPS.  Rather than try to recap each of the nineteen panels in one or separate posts, I’ll just share some key points and observations.

Early in the morning, the focus started wide, on the “app economy” as a whole.  Mike Germano of Carrot Creative gave a morning keynote.  After he spent a few minutes to getting his ego (or maybe it was just his pride in his company) under control, he highlighted some key differences between apps on different types of platforms: mobile (e.g., iPhone) and social network (e.g., Facebook).  He highlighted successful case studies and unsuccessful ones (like how Delta managed to maintain only 18 monthly users for a Facebook ticket-buying app.)  In the case of Delta, they ignored a key point: users want utility from mobile apps, but not from social networking apps.  Several auto insurers have demonstrated an understanding of this behavior.  They have built mobile apps to offer their customers the ability to interact with their accounts and games to help promote their brands on social networks.

Following the keynote address, the first panel sought to digest and explain current app trends.  They discussed the variety of platforms, the many options that developers and brands have when it comes to free vs. paid vs. “freemium” distribution.  One important point was that no major brand should offer a paid app.  Many users are resistant to paying for apps in an environment where so many options are free.  A speaker from National Geographic, however, noted that their apps were all paid, based on a resistance to assign zero value to their content.

There was also a lot of discussion on which mobile platforms developers and brands are focusing. One questioner complained that Palm was being ignored in favor of Apple despite a claimed technological superiority.  However, as the panel explained, developers follow users and other developers.  If there is not a critical mass of users and apps, then a brand is resistant to spend valuable resources on a platform.

While app analytics is a new game, it’s a critical tool for brands and developers.  With a variety of platforms and channels and finite resources, brands must know where apps have succeeded.  Brands and agencies view metrics very differently from developers.  The former may use the metrics as a success story, but the former uses them to direct where they need to improve.  For both groups, it’s important to look at the right metrics; everyone publishes download figures, but very few look at the number of active users and how often (and why) an app may be deleted.  Also, brands must look for feedback from users, not just from analytics data.

After a demonstration of the Men’s Health Workout application on Blackberry, there was a networking break, although they should have just called it what it was: a coffee break!

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