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App discovery still an ongoing struggle for marketers

App discovery is still a critical challenge for marketers to overcome and many are struggling with how to best solve the problem.

Companies who have their own mobile applications are doing everything in their power to promote them and have consumers coming back to them time and time again. However, not everyone will be prominently featured in Apple?s App Store or Google Play.

?Our research shows that 53 percent of app downloaders learned about the app through a search in the app store,? said David Gill, vice president of emerging media at Nielsen.

?Half of app store searchers go straight to top-rated category to browse and 34 percent sort by most popular,? he said. ?With so many titles in the store, it is very hard to be noticed which is why we see a lot of app publishers allocating ad spend in digital to drive awareness and conversions.

?What?s encouraging is that word-of-mouth is a hugely successful way to drive download activity. Fifty-four percent of app downloaders prefer friends and family recommendations on apps which means that marketers should think about how to use social media channels as much as possible to aid in discovery.?

Overcoming hurdles
There is a tremendous amount of mobile applications out there and the number keeps growing daily.

Nowadays, there is a mobile app for everything.

Therefore, marketers are constantly struggling to be kept top-of-mind.

?I think it?s going to be a struggle for a long time, but I don?t think the solution is a discovery strategy,? said Carin Van Vuuren, chief marketing officer of Usablenet.

?It?s about the experiences you want to create,? she said. ?It?s about your consumers and your app has to have a real utility for the user to have them put that on their homescreen.?

Marketers need to make sure their customers know about their mobile apps through the channels they own ? including social media.

Additionally, companies need to leverage the social graphs of their users ? one of the key ways that people learn about apps is through recommendations from people they know.

It is also important for marketers to market around big device launches and gift-giving holidays ? although users download an average of 6-7 apps a month, those with new devices download a lot more in a short amount of time

?App discovery is a struggle only if marketers have the ?build an app and they will come? mentality,? said Chia Chen, senior vice president of Digitas. ?An app is really a software product ? and I don't think anybody would think that a piece of software is just going to distribute and market itself.

?That said, marketers are very interested is getting people to really engage with the apps, so the more enlightened ones are planning for that when they make the decision to build an app,? he said.

Breaking in
Breaking into the Top 100 in a category is the goal of nearly every company creating an app. In a sea of apps that have traction, competing is a real challenge.

To date, traditional marketing has not been a viable solution for many apps, creating more questions than answers.

?App discovery is the number one issue that faces app publishers, whether they know it or not,? said Russ Whitman, chief strategy officer at Ratio Interactive, Seattle. ?Unfortunately the tools simply do not exist for users to easily find and recommend apps and most don?t go far beyond the featured pages of the various app stores.

?Search is a real challenge in how apps can define the searchable data and how the stores present results,? he said.

According to Craig Palli, vice president of business development at Fiksu, app discovery is an ongoing challenge for marketers who not only have to continuously adapt to ever-changing app store environments, but also stand out from amongst millions of app offerings created by increasingly sophisticated app developers.

The mobile app ecosystem is the most dynamic environment marketers have ever encountered.

The pace of innovation in handset and OS variants is driving a seemingly never-ending stream of updates required by mobile marketers to remain relevant with the latest and greatest opportunities.

?The biggest challenge marketers face is the pace of change itself,? Mr. Palli said. ?Innovative breakthroughs are regularly achieved and thousands of app developers world-wide remain on the ready to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by those changes.

?Marketers must support their apps with strong marketing technology,? he said. ?Such technology must support all current forms of marketing attribution including UDID, Digital Fingerprinting, HTML 5 1st Party Cookie, MAC Address, Referrer and be flexible enough to seamlessly incorporate new methods such as the one anticipated from Apple.

?Perhaps more important still marketers need a system that can tie App Store and Google Play rank back to their marketing investments as rank improvements often yield big increases in organic downloads where those organic users have the highest propensity to be come loyal value driving users. Marketers have the choice the build such systems in house or partner with 3rd parties who can support such functions.?

Final Take