Most Branded Mobile Apps Fail

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If you want to promote yourself with an app, make it useful, says Deloitte… unless you are Barclaycard

Eighty percent of mobile apps fail, according to research by Deloittle LLP, which says that to get more attention, businesses should use location information, and understand their audience.

Consumers are downloading lots of apps, and many businesses believe an app will be a good way to promote their brand and interact with customers – but apparently eighty percent of apps designed this way fail to get any significant downloads, and less than one percent get more than a million people to download them.

Do something useful!

Deloitte says that 45 percent of smartphone users download an app at least once a week, and Apple reckons that 15 billion apps have been downloaded from its App Store. But with the massive expansion of branded apps this is not enough to get apps noticed.

To look at apps as a branding tool, Deloitte searched the major app stores (Apple, Android, BlackBerry) and compiled a list of 250 that related to major consumer and business brands.

Deloitte then decided how successful the apps were – using some sort of guesswork and magic to estimate how many times they had been downloaded (download figures aren’t normally public).

Apps do not register on Deloitte’s charts unless the company believes they have had more than 1,000 downloads – and 80 percent fail to do this, the firm said.

The way to get noticed is, essentially, to do something useful, said Deloitte – and preferably something which is specific to the mobile device.  Apps are more likely to make the charts if they make use of portability and location.

Deloitte puts “portability” separately from “location services”, but only mentions apps which use both – for instance, pet-food manufacturer Purina, did well with an app which located vets, parks and pet shop, and Tesco has one to help you find your nearest Tesco store.

Other apps are 77 percent more likely to get downloaded if they use the phone’s accelerometer – for instance beer company Miller made a pedomoeter to persuade its sedentary consumers to get out and exercise more.

“Location data is important for the evolution of the app market,” said Deloitte media partner Howard Davies.

Making money from apps

The survey is, in the end, all about the bottomn line, and ways to make money from apps, which are basically a new form of advertisement: “If data gathered locally could be exchanged with data from the cloud, whether about location, environment and motion or specific to that individual, then targeted advertising could be developed and this would help brands to make money from their app,” said Davies.

These apps are asking users to give personal details, and have to overcome their reluctance, said Davies: “Consumers need to see the benefits of receiving more personalised advertising on their smartphones, devices that have previously been advert free. They also need to consent to let their personal data to be used in this manner.”

However, anyone who has watched other people playing Angry Birds [or played it themself of course] will know that applications don’t actually have to do anything useful to succeed, and this also applies to branded ones.

Barclays Waterslide Extreme, inspired by an advert which showed an office worker stripping off and riding round town on a waterslide, apparently scored 12 million downloads by offering users a similar experience on their smartphones. “People online were saying they wished they could do it for real, so we thought up the app,” Toby Horry, managing partner of digital agency Dare told AdAge: “Barclaycard behaved flexibly and found a budget to make it happen.”

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