By Ashwin Shekhar
As we enter another year in the era of the new normal, it would be imperative for app developers and brands alike to stay on top of the key trends in mobile marketing, which they can leverage to enhance their user growth opportunities. These would play a pivotal role as brands and app developers chalk out cohesive strategies with smartphone OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) advertising platforms like Xiaomi, OnePlus, Oppo, Vivo, Samsung or HUAWEI.
It’s time that Indian marketers stay on top of key trends to reap the most out of their brand’s growth opportunities. Undeniably, advertising in alternative app stores of Smartphone OEMs needs to be added to any mobile marketing mix in 2022 to give brands the competitive edge they are aiming for.
The adoption of OEM marketing by marketers, user acquisition, brand managers and app developers are on a steady rise across major geographies. OEM advertising platforms such as Xiaomi, Huawei, OPPO, OnePlus and Vivo have already grabbed attention due to their global sales and wide reach amongst consumers this year. Take for example, Xiaomi which replaced Samsung to become the top-selling mobile manufacturer in Europe. In India as well, the brand held the maximum market share as recent as Q3 ‘21 as per the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. Infact Xiaomi led the Indian smartphone market shipments in Q3 2021 with 22% share, as per Counterpoint’s latest research. Samsung remained the second-largest smartphone brand in India with its shipments reportedly registering a 19% share. These OEMs also benefit from offering a wider range of more affordable smartphones as compared to other global giants like Apple.
The OEM ad platforms of players like Xiaomi, Samsung and Vivo have aggressively penetrated into western markets and steadily coming to the forefront in India- a trend that is expected to continue throughout 2022. This includes some of the most sought-after branding opportunities in the world, such as Vivo’s exclusive deal to become the official smartphone sponsor of the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Indian mobile marketers and app developers should leverage these opportunities to expand their user base by launching their apps in alternative app stores. We expect the Indian market to utilize Smartphone OEMs such as Xiaomi, Huawei, OPPO, OnePlus, Vivo and realme as an alternative to far more expensive marketing channels, to drive user growth through 2022.
By offering their own dedicated app stores, Smartphone OEMs are aggressively challenging the duopoly of Google and Facebook. The world’s leading OEMs such as Xiaomi, Huawei, OPPO, realme and Vivo already have a 45% market share, and their threat to the industry’s duopoly will become even stronger as a result of continued innovations that help brands and developers leverage OEM advertising platforms. In addition to their increasing market share, OEMs are developing sophisticated advertising products that enable developers and brands to gain new users.
Additionally, these OEMs are also able to compete against the duopoly of Google and Facebook due to their low price points for user acquisition, brand-safe advertising options and by offering a fraud-free alternative. As more developers choose to leverage the power of OEM ad platforms, Mobile Measurement Partners (MMPs) such as Appsfyler and Adjust are choosing to integrate leading smartphone OEMs – empowering developers to track incoming users from those platforms. The most recent AppsFlyer Performance Index for example highlights the status of smartphone OEMs as being highly rated for their volume and high quality of their users.
OEM channels will be harnessed by more and more mobile game developers than ever before
Until recently, there have been several misconceptions regarding OEMs and ways in which their advertising platforms could be monetized for mobile games. For example, it is important for developers to know that Smartphone OEMs can be used without adopting new billing solutions. There are solutions available for stores such as Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi that integrate billing solutions so that developers can publish on these stores. Moreover, it is not mandatory for app developers in India to use unique billing solutions for OPPO, OnePlus, Vivo and Xiaomi.
A common myth regarding mobile game monetization is that distributing on alternative app stores will mean that their monetization won’t be recognized by video ad companies like Unity and AppLovin. The truth is that there are no limitations from the app developers side, as long as the alternative app store has no objections to distributing an app with Google Play services installed.
It’s time that Indian app developers break away from such misconceptions which have prevented them from harnessing the benefits of Smartphone OEMs in the past. As more developers become knowledgeable and correctly informed about the way monetization works on OEM ad platforms, we expect to see an increase in adoption throughout 2022 from mobile games developers.
Next year the market will diversify at an extremely fast rate. There are already examples of powerful global publishers, such as Epic Games, making considerable changes to the market. An international case in point is that of Epic Games, which highlighted the dangers of a monopoly by releasing an updated version of its popular game, sidestepped the App Store and Google Play’s payment options. As these companies went head-to-head, Fortnite was removed from the App Store.
Such cases of monopolistic actions are bound to motivate developers to seek out Smartphone OEM ad platforms. We are already witnessing this in regions such as South East Asia, where developers benefit from a more balanced ecosystem. When PayTM was temporarily removed from the Google Play store, it caused Indian tech companies to look for alternatives. Prominent entrepreneurs in India have now joined forces to create their own app store.
Once the market begins to diversify, the ripple effect will be extremely fast. We expect this to lead to a move towards many more app stores competing for market share in 2022.
(The author is co-founder and chief revenue officer, AVOW. Views expressed are personal.)