Mobile App Trends 2022
Global Application Growth
In 2020, people have changed their attitude towards mobile applications: more and more users are choosing digital formats for entertainment and everyday tasks. When quarantines began to be introduced around the world, the number of downloads and launches of applications quickly broke all records of previous years and the wildest assumptions. Total mobile app spending worldwide in 2020 exceeded $112 billion, and iOS app spending accounted for 65% of that amount. Despite the fact that mobile marketing with the release of iOS 14 is waiting for changes that will completely turn the industry upside down, the market continues to grow strongly in 2021. For app developers and marketers, this year, like last year, will be very different from the previous one.
In this report, we’ve analyzed our internal data and compiled an overview of the state of the industry to give developers and marketers a better understanding of audience sentiment.
“The mobile economy experienced a boom in 2020 as people around the world realized how much use mobile devices bring in many areas of everyday life. Opportunities to attract new users are greater than ever, but the competition among mobile marketers is just as great. After the transition to iOS 14, which will occur in 2021, the importance of automating and understanding user behavior patterns in the application throughout the conversion chain will increase by several orders of magnitude.”
In this report, we will focus on data from three areas — fintech, e-commerce and gaming — and look at all the aspects that are important for promotion: trends in installs and sessions, how much time users spend in applications, how often they reinstall them and get re-attribution.
Fintech continued to conquer mobile devices in 2020. Many classic banks have begun to cooperate with fintech companies, and users are increasingly using financial services in a digital format.
In this report, we considered hyper-casual games
and all other genres in aggregate, since user behavior in these segments is very different.
Games still hold the title of the largest mobile vertical, accounting for 33%3 of all mobile app downloads.
A 58%9 increase in in-app transactions in 2020 compared to 2019, as well as record growth in the first quarter of 202010 due to the introduction of quarantines, make this the most successful year in the history of e-commerce.
Three main conclusions
In 2021, the mobile app market continues to grow. Installs increased by 31%.
Hypercasual games generate maximum revenue per user in the first two days, and then the retention rate drops significantly.
Ecommerce app installs increased by just 6% in 2020, but sessions increased by 44%, which means users are more engaged.
“2020 clearly demonstrated how important it is to strike a balance between user acquisition and user retention for the gaming, fintech and e-commerce verticals. A huge number of people have turned to mobile applications to solve their problems, and many for the first time. However, to keep them, you need to make some efforts. Many marketers have achieved this through data-driven ad campaigns that are bright and immersive.”
In 2020, compared to 2019, the number of installations across all verticals increased by 50%. This increase is most evident in March and April 2020, at the time of the first lockdowns around the world: figures increased by 74% and 76% YoY (year-on-year, compared to last year). Despite the drop in installs after this peak, growth continues in 2021, with first-quarter results 31% better than the same period in 2020.
Installs across all verticals: 2019 and 2020
“The pandemic has clearly shown that it is the visual channel of communication that makes it possible to most effectively deal with isolation and loneliness. The Snapchat generation prefers to explore the world and interact with friends and brands through a variety of visual content, from photos to augmented reality. This is a new category of shoppers who want sincere, eye-catching and engaging messages from brands on their mobile devices.
The number of fintech app installs in 2020 increased by 51% compared to 2019, and at the beginning of 2021 this figure increased by 12% compared to the average data for 2020. March and April turned out to be the most successful months of the year: the first week of March showed an increase of 34% compared to the average value for the year, and at the peak in the first week of April,
the increase was 41%. Another peak occurred in the first week of July, where an increase of 19% relative to the average was seen.
Fintech installations for 2020
The number of search queries for investment and exchange applications grew by 115% YoY14. The wave of popularity of trading applications began with Robinhood, and then new players began to enter the market, reducing commissions and reducing fees to attract users. Among
The most popular investment apps include Cash App, Revolut, Gatsby, Coinbase, Binance, Kraken, eToro and Freetrade. All of them attracted a record number of new customers in 202015. The cryptocurrency market has shown unprecedented growth – in particular, Bitcoin has broken records more than once over the past 12 months, breaking through the price ceiling of $30,000 on January 2, and then reaching the bar of $40,000 just 10 days later16. This caused a surge in the popularity of cryptocurrency apps, with downloads up 81% YoY. Innovations such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs)17 have also had a strong impact on the market, and the crypto application ecosystem is optimistic about the future.
Games (hypercasual and other genres)
In 2020, hyper-casual game installs increased by 43% compared to 2019, while games in other genres saw a 26% increase. The most successful for games of other genres were the last week of March and the first week of April 2020. Their results were 51% and 90% higher than the average for all of 2019. Subsequently, the number of installations gradually decreased, but in December it began to increase again.
Hyper-casual games experienced exponential growth in early 2020, peaking in February, with results 19% better than the full year average. In March, this indicator decreased and remained stable throughout the year. If we remove the huge peak in the first quarter of 2020 from the statistics, hyper-casual games will still show significant growth for the entire year as a whole. The trend continues into 2021.
While online shopping app installs grew by only 6% compared to 2019, 2020 has been a strong year for this category as well. The most impressive growth was shown by sessions and the level of engagement –
below we explain the reasons in more detail. Unlike 2019, when the number of installs grew steadily, in 2020 there were ups and downs in this indicator. The low point of the graph is in March, where the results are 10% worse than the average annual value. In May, the values rise again, and the growth continues until the beginning of July: the results of these months are in total 10% above average. The period of the most active growth, caused by the approach of the holidays, begins from the second week of November, which shows an increase of 19% above the annual average, and gradually decreases until the end of the year. At the moment, 2021 also looks promising: the first quarter ended with an increase of 11% from the 2020 average.
E-Commerce Installs 2020
The number of installs across all verticals increased, with fintech showing the largest growth — 51% YoY.
2020 has also been a triumphant year for games, especially hyper-casual games, with a 43% increase in installs in this segment compared to 26% for other genres.
Growth in e-commerce installs was modest (only 6%), but was stable throughout the year. The peaks and troughs of other verticals are uncharacteristic for this space, as offline stores were closed for most of the year, and people were actively shopping online.
“2020 has completely revolutionized the mobile app economy, demonstrating the critical importance of promoting across multiple channels at the same time. People have begun to use mobile devices much more actively, however, competition in this area has also increased significantly. Campaigns that are tailored to the needs of users and tailored to specific promotion channels, involving both marketers and developers, show excellent results in installs and sessions, and the users acquired through them have a higher lifetime value.”
Paid and organic traffic
The highest share of paid installs in total was observed in the first and third quarters of 2020, when there were 0.45 paid installs for every organic install. This figure remained relatively stable throughout the year. The lowest value was recorded in the second quarter –
0.39. The hypercasual gaming segment has the highest paid installs to organic installs ratio, reaching 3.17 in the fourth quarter, well above the gaming industry’s overall result of 0.69 in the same quarter.
There are also significant differences between different categories in the e-commerce vertical. The share of paid installs for shopping apps peaked in the first quarter at 0.85. Marketplaces and message boards performed significantly worse in the same quarter with a score of 0.32. In the fintech sector, the share of paid installs is also not too high: among payment
systems, it is slightly higher than among banking applications. The values range from 0.1 to 0.13 and 0.08 to 0.2, respectively.
2020 paid to organic installs ratio
Effective cost per installation (eCPI)
The most expensive acquisition of new users in all areas was in the fourth quarter with a median install cost of $1.88. In e-commerce, the price rose from $1.06 in the first quarter to $1.56 in the fourth. For fintech, by contrast, setup costs were the highest in the first quarter at $1.57. In the second quarter, it fell to $0.53. In the hyper-casual segment, new users are very cheap, while for other genres, the cost of installation is relatively high. The installation cost for hyper-casual games was the lowest, to $0.27, in the fourth quarter, while for other
genres this quarter was the most expensive with a cost of $2.52.
Number of partners per application
The average number of app partners across all verticals combined hovered around five, rising to six in Q4 2020. In games, this figure is above average, with nine partners in hyper-casual games and seven in other genres. The median online shopping app works with four partners, while fintech works with three. Accordingly, for these verticals, there are ample opportunities to diversify and expand the set of partners to find a new audience of potential users.
Sessions and Behavior in Applications
“User attention is shifting to digital formats and touchpoints: people are ready to devote much more time to them than before, and this leads to a rapid growth of all verticals. This race will be won by marketers who can quickly and efficiently analyze this huge amount of new user behavior data and turn it into personalized offers for each customer. Sometimes such proposals will have to be created from scratch, but in the near future new machine learning technologies will automate this process. User loyalty and lifetime value (LTV) need to be continuously improved. The sales funnel
In general, the number of sessions in 2020 increased by 30% compared to 2019, and this growth continues in 2021 (by 4.5% so far). April 2020 was the most successful month, where this indicator increased by 45% YoY. May almost caught up with it with a value of 40%. In general, the results of May were the best for the whole year: the number of sessions increased by 9% relative to the average value.
Sessions across all verticals: 2019 and 2020
The growth in the number of fintech application sessions in 2020 was 85% YoY, and in 2021 this indicator added another 35%. During the year, the number of sessions showed a steady upward trend. The most successful can be considered the beginning of October with results 22% above average and the end of November with 24%. Another peak with an increase of 15% was recorded in the first week of July.
Fintech: sessions for 2020
The number of sessions in hyper-casual games in 2020 increased by 36% compared to 2019, and in other genres – by 27%. The growth began from the second week of March, peaked at 22% relative to the average values for the year in the last week of April and continued until mid-June. At the moment, the number of sessions in 2021 is 9% lower than in 2020, but if we compare the first quarter of 2021 with the fourth quarter of 2020, this figure is 4% higher. If you look at the end of February and the beginning of March, you can see that the vertical is starting to reach results similar to 2020 and even exceeding them by 1.5%.
The number of sessions in the hyper-casual segment in 2020 increased by 36% compared to 2019. The 2020 session boom began at the end of January and peaked in March, up 72% year-on-year. Growth for the entire period from late January to May combined was 49%. The number of sessions in 2021 decreased by 21%, however, if we remove the large peak during the first quarantine from the statistics, the figures will be about the same. As part of 2021, the number of sessions is steadily growing: the results for February are better than January by 47%.
Considering that e-commerce app installs grew by only 6% between 2019 and 2020, a 44% increase in sessions is a big achievement. This indicator gradually increased throughout the year, with the exception of a dip in March, when the value decreased by 17% compared
to the average for the year. The fourth quarter showed the best results with an increase of 18% by the end of November. 2021 is already off to a good start, 14% above average, and at the end of February and early March, this figure set a record increase of 23% compared to 2020 and 76% compared to 2019.
E-Commerce: Sessions for 2020
“Many marketers and mobile app developers have recognized the need to incorporate algorithmic ad buying into their strategy. It is this approach that has led to a significant increase in installs and sessions across the industry over the past 18 months. The mobile ecosystem is growing rapidly, and this inspiring growth is driven by the ability to more accurately and effectively target users and target them for retargeting.”
Number of sessions per user per day
In addition to a high number of new installs and sessions, 2020 also saw high user activity in applications. Every user in our cohort opened the app twice a day on average over 30 days, which is an impressive result.
Number of sessions per user per day for 2020
day after installation
Q1 and Q4 showed the best results for Day 0 (app install day) across all verticals. The median user spent 1.9 sessions per day. The average number of sessions per user on days 3 and 7 from install also increased year-on-year, peaking at 2.1 sessions
in the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter, the number of sessions on the 30th day also increased to 2.14 sessions per user per day.
Here it is necessary to pay attention to the impressive difference between the segment of hyper-casual games and other genres. Once downloaded, hyper-casual games aren’t too far behind other gaming verticals in terms of session count, with the average user launching the app 1.9 times a day.
However, by the thirtieth day, this figure drops to 1.3 – much lower than in other genres. In other gaming genres, the average user starts with two sessions per day and reaches 2.2 sessions by the thirtieth day.
Number of sessions per user per day for 2020 (games)
День после установки
Number of sessions per user per day for 2020 (hypercasual games)
day after installation
Average session duration
In 2020, user sessions have become longer than in 2019. Most likely, this is due to the need to spend more time at home. People in general spent more time on apps, but how we measure app performance varies greatly across verticals. Game sessions tend
to be longer, as they are time-filling entertainment, while a task in a banking or payment app can take just a few seconds.
In general, the duration of the session increased from 19.09 min. in 2019 to 20.04 min. in 2020, and 2021 currently shows a value of 20.31 min. All verticals, except for payment apps, which saw some declines, showed growth from 2019 to 2020. The longest sessions were in casual and sports games: 21.19 and 22.77 minutes. respectively. Session length for hyper-casual games in 2020 was 18.78 minutes, which is below
average, but up from 14.95 minutes in 2019. is a big breakthrough. Overall, users spend 42% more time playing casual games than hyper-casual games.
Average session duration
Number of minutes in the app per session
Time spent in the app
From day 0 to day 1 after installation, time spent in the app nearly doubles across all verticals, increasing from about 10 minutes every 24 hours. up to 20 min. By the third day, it decreases to 17 minutes, decreases to 16 minutes. on the seventh day and reaches a stable value of 14 minutes.
on the thirtieth day. The average user spent the most time in apps in Q4 2020. The same scheme applies here: from zero to the first day, the value increases from 13 to 27 minutes, on the third day
25 minutes are recorded, on the 7th – 23 minutes. and on the 30th – 22 min.
The averages for the gaming vertical are much higher than the others, with times for days 0, 1, 3, 7, and 30 for Q4 being 24, 53, 48, 47, and 45 minutes, respectively.
Time spent in the app (all verticals)
day after installation
In hyper-casual games, things are very different: users start spending much less time on them much faster. In the fourth quarter, the time was 8 minutes. for zero day, 15 min. for the first, 9 min. for the seventh and 7 minutes for the thirtieth. The e-commerce sector also differs from the average values
for the verticals given for comparison: the second quarter here was the best period of the year with values of 6, 13, 10, 10, 30. Fintech shows approximately the same results throughout the year, and the values of zero and thirtieth days are practically differ. In the fourth quarter, the results were 3, 5, 4, 3.5, 3. This is the only vertical that ended the year where it started.
Average time in app by verticals for the fourth quarter
- The average session length across verticals from 2019 to 2020 remained roughly the same, but all verticals showed growth.
- It is critical to evaluate the results of the hypercasual segment separately from the gaming industry as a whole, as the dynamics of these verticals differ significantly.
- The number of fintech app sessions increased by 85%, which is in line with the general trend of 2020 towards digitalization of banking and payment services.
- E-commerce sessions grew by 44% with only 6% install growth. This means that users who are already familiar with the vertical have become much more active in using these applications.
“During the lockdown, people have
digitized many aspects of their lives. Now they are much more likely to perform
daily activities, work and play in mobile applications.
App developers today face the challenge of finding
new ways to reach, attract and monetize new valuable
ad creatives that capture the attention of users
and provide them with a unique experience are becoming critical.”
General Manager of Partnership Development
Retention, reattribution and returning users
The retention rate remained fairly stable throughout the year. The results of the fourth quarter were slightly better than the previous ones. This shows the resilience of the industry: apps have been able to retain a huge number of new users who came to them due to quarantines.
Returns peaked at 28% on Day 1 and 15% on Day 7. The retention rate on day 30 in the fourth quarter was just above 8%, more than the lowest 6% in the third quarter.
Retention rate across all verticals for 2020
day after installation
Considering the fourth quarter of the year as the most successful quarter of the year, when comparing the verticals, we see that the games maintain their superiority on the first day – about 30%. Right behind them is the hyper-casual segment – 27%. From day 3, hyper-casual game performance plummeted, with
only 7.5% of users returning by day 7 (compared to an average of 15.2% across all verticals). The hypercasual segment as a whole is characterized by a low retention rate: this is due both to the simplicity of game mechanics and the “snowball effect”18, in which developers are constantly pulling users into more and more new games from their portfolio. By the thirtieth day, this figure fluctuates around 1.75%.
At the same time, fintech applications become leaders in terms of returning users – 18% on the seventh day and 12% on the thirtieth. E-commerce also performs well, with 13% on Day 7 and 8% on Day 30, so despite the low new install rate of 6%, the
users that are attracted are highly motivated to keep using the app.
Retention rate for different verticals for 2020
day after installation
Share of reattributions
The total share of re-attributions (the number of re-attributions per install) for 2020 increased from 0.06 in the first quarter to 0.077 in the third quarter and decreased to 0.072 in the fourth quarter.
Average share of reattributions in 2020
Number of re-attributions per install
The highest comparative shares of reattribution were found in banking and e-commerce. The banking industry peaked at 0.83 in the first quarter and then slowly declined throughout the year. E-commerce peaked at 1.22 in the third quarter. Payment
systems hovered around 0.03 throughout the year, but reached 0.055 in the fourth quarter. The lowest point for games was in the second quarter with a value of 0.02, and the highest point was in the fourth quarter with a value of 0.074. The share of re-attributions in hyper-casual games was the smallest of all verticals, but in the third quarter it still increased to 0.04.
Share of re-attributions for 2020 by verticals
To successfully promote an application within the vertical, it is important to have a good understanding of the nuances of its work. For example, the obvious differences in dynamics between hyper-casual games and other genres require this segment to be separated into a separate vertical. You can also focus on small differences within the same vertical. Developers and marketers should focus not only on the number of installs and sessions, but also on the behavior of users in the application. When and why do they return?
By looking closely at retention rates, you can spot problems during the introductory phase of the app, see if you have enough content to keep users interested, and test how offers or promotions work for new customers.
The point of self-sufficiency in different areas will also vary. Your app revenue can fluctuate quite a lot as you build a user base whose lifetime value will eventually return on your investment. Tracking eCPI will help you guess at what point the user will start to make a profit, and understand what you want to invest in and how much you are willing to risk.
More and more consumers are using apps for both entertainment and everyday tasks. The mobile ecosystem is growing, with more and more new players entering it, and in order to remain competitive, it is necessary to make informed decisions based on data, taking into account the user experience.
iOS 14 will further highlight the need for A/B testing and a good understanding of audience needs. A well-thought-out strategy with campaign personalization, high-quality communication, automation and real-time measurements will be a key success factor.