New index measures 'power,' 'loyal' app users

The fourth quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014 were volatile quarters for app engagement--in opposite directions, according to Localytics.

In the fourth quarter, against the backdrop of the iPhone 5s/c and the new iPad launches, power users were at an all-time high, peaking at 30 percent. But during January 2014, all bets were off, and the percentage of loyal users plummeted sharply, dropping to 16 percent.

The analytics firm said the drop likely was due to a  combination of traditionally low marketing spend in January, the reduced need for certain apps after the holiday season and overall reduced content consumption as people went back to work and found other uses for their time. By the end of the first quarter, however, the metrics had evened out.

Localytics looked at more than 25,000 apps from December 2011 through to March 2014 for its first App Stickiness Index. Localytics defines loyal users as the percentage who return to an app within three months of their first session, while power users are those who have more than 10 sessions a month. App stickiness is the average of these two groups.

  • The Travel & Lifestyle vertical increased app stickiness by 1 percent, while all the other verticals decreased their app stickiness.
  • Media & Entertainment and Technology verticals experienced a 4 percent and 7 percent decline in app stickiness, respectively.
  • For March, the apps in the index enjoyed 25 percent of power users, 19 percent of loyal users and an aggregate app stickiness value of 22 percent.


Localytics app stickiness index graph

By the end of the first quarter, the Media & Entertainment vertical led app stickiness with 25 percent, while the other verticals all came in either side of 20 percent. (Source: Localytics)

"Unlike 2012, when power and loyal usage tracked very closely, 2013 and Q1 2014 saw these two metrics starting to diverge quite considerably. Looking out to Q2, it will be interesting to see if App Stickiness starts to trend upwards," the report said. "It will also be interesting to whether app developers will favor one metric (power or loyal users) over the other or try to improve both simultaneously. Either way, we believe that a rigorous, data-driven approach to app engagement and app marketing will help app owners increase their overall App Stickiness."

Some might consider the concept of "app stickiness" to be just a fancy way of talking about engagement, but there were some data points in the Localytics study that may be worthy of greater scrutiny. For example, the company showed that mobile games lag in terms of loyal users but not necessarily power users. The conclusion Localytics draws is that once you successfully work through all levels of a game, there's no reason to come back to it.

Developers might want to think about using this information as they experiment with things like in-app purchases or native mobile ads to cross-promote other titles and find ways to keep consumers coming back. 

For more:
- click here for the complete App Stickiness Index

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