There are gaps in the two most common methods: panel-based and
direct-measurement via analytics code embedded in apps. While the
directly-measured approach can pick up on apps with a relatively
small pool of users, panel-based methods usually don't.
"The panel and what's reportable is going to be limited by what
meets our minimum reporting threshold," said Andrew Lipsman, VP of
industry analysis at comScore. In other words, despite the fact
that the panel method can measure demographic data like gender, age
and income in addition to usage information such as unique visitors
and reach, a long- or mid-tail app probably would not be on
comScore's radar. The company is now supplementing its panel
research with direct measurement.
Flurry and Quantcast -- which got its start
measuring website audiences -- also deliver mobile analytics to app
developers. But their directly-measured view only encompasses apps
that use their tracking technologies, not the whole universe of
"I doubt there's going to be a one size fits all approach ever,"
said Mary Ellen Gordon, director of industry insights and analysis
Today's typical approaches to mobile app measurement "scare the
hell out of" Anindya Datta, CEO and chairman of mobile app research
firm Mobilewalla. The startup estimates audiences for apps by
tracking users who have reviewed apps, grouping those users into
clusters with similar interests, then layering on additional data
to isolate audience segments.
The idea is to go beyond traffic and usage numbers and app
content categories to show demographic information and affinity, or
what other types of apps users of one app are likely to use.
Mobilewalla provides data on mobile app user age, gender,
ethnicity, income, and language in addition to estimating app
affinity. The company's method for determining app affinity could
be likened to the approaches taken by Netflix and Amazon to surface additional
films or products someone might like.
Companies including mobile app platform NativeX plan to A/B test
for ad effectiveness using Mobilewalla data, according to Rob
Weber, co-founder and SVP of business development at NativeX.
The IAB is just starting to ponder mobile app measurement
standards, said Mr. Laszlo. "With the desire to make in-app
advertising a significant part of a digital advertiser's budget,
buyers naturally want some assurance that they know the audience
that they're reaching, and they can depend on the numbers that
they're using to plan their buys," he said.