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How app usage patterns change during holidays

Many key verticals saw immense changes in installs and sessions over Christmas or New Year

While certain peaks and troughs are expected throughout the holidays, it’s vital for mobile marketers and advertisers that they retain the users acquired throughout the festivities

By April Tayson

The holidays are always interesting to keep an eye on in app marketing, as user habits and behaviors shift rapidly from day-to-day. Users engage with their mobile phones as much as ever, with overall session and install numbers remaining consistent, but the apps they engage with shift for a few weeks. Someone who typically uses a health and fitness app every day might take a break and gravitate toward food delivery, and a person who uses a gaming app every day might find themselves streaming music more often.

We took a look at the global trends from the week of December 25/Christmas 2021 through to New Year’s Day of 2022 to determine how the data measured up against the average for 2021 and for the month of December.

Music streaming increases dramatically over the festive season

Usage of mobile streaming apps surged over the entire week from December 23 to January 1, but Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve hit impressive new heights. On December 25, installs for the vertical were 86% higher than the yearly average. People were feeling festive in general throughout December, as the month’s average installs were 15% up on the rest of the year. Moving away from Christmas carols, music streaming spiked again globally on New Year’s Eve, with numbers up by 24%.

Home-cooked meals for Christmas and food delivery on New Year’s Day

In addition to the regular peaks and troughs seen in the food delivery vertical, where the weekend consistently outperforms the rest of the week, our data indicates that use of apps in the vertical also dropped globally as many users around the world celebrated Christmas. On December 24, installs were 9% below the yearly average, and were 6% down on December 25. Sessions for December 25 came in at 3% lower than the 2021 average, and 9% compared to the rest of December. Conversely, by New Year’s Day, users turned their attention back to food delivery. On January 1, installs were up 16% compared to the 2021 average, and sessions spiked by 24%.

Health & fitness bounces back after a quick break

Health and fitness apps dip significantly in the last week of the year every year as many people take a break from their regimes, and 2021 was no exception. In fact, December 24 was actually the worst day of the year for installs in the vertical, sitting at 48% below the yearly average. December 25 was a little stronger for installs, but was still 32% lower than average. In terms of sessions, Christmas Day was the slowest day of the year, at 39% below average.

By January 1, however, we see users shifting gear as they move into the new year, with installs and sessions back up. Installs for the first week of 2022 are up 39% compared to the 2021 average (and 160% compared to December 24), with January 3 the top day so far. Sessions have also jumped, with the first week of January up 54% compared to Christmas Day.

‘Tis the season for gaming apps

Gaming apps perform consistently throughout the year, but we noticed a considerable spike in usage over the festive season. Users may have been playing games with friends and family, or perhaps had more time on their hands to lay back and use their phones. Either way installs and sessions were up. Gaming app installs for the 25th and 26th of December were 28% higher than average. It’s the New Year when things really start to kick off, however. Over the first three days of 2022, installs performed at 58% higher than the 2021 average, and sessions increased by 8%.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on these verticals throughout 2022 and are excited to see how users continue to engage, and when the peak moments occur. While certain peaks and troughs are expected throughout the holidays, it’s vital for mobile marketers and advertisers that they retain the users acquired throughout the festivities. From there, marketers can build a devoted user base, increase revenue and improve their app’s return on investment. To learn more about user acquisition, you can download our ultimate guide to scaling your app here.

(The author is regional vice president, INSEA, Adjust. Views expressed are personal.)

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