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“The What,” “The How,” And “The Why” Of Native App Preloads

Marissa Delisle
Marketing Specialist at Digital Turbine
Mar 10, 2017

Discover the secret to app UX and advertising in the digital age!

The term “mobile apps” should be considered synonymous with “mobile users”… i.e. without users, apps would cease to exist.

When engaging in the process of mobile application creation, the one universal goal for all development teams is to get as many users as possible. It is from this initial goal that all other goals originate. And yet, while each and every app development team is guaranteed to focus on user acquisition, the actual acquisition strategies they employ are likely to vary. According to a recent Mobile User Acquisition report put together by Venture Beat, some of the top user acquisition strategies include social media, video ads, cross-promotion, and incentivized installs.

And yet, an in-depth review of the report’s 16 “most effective” user acquisition strategies reveals one obvious and fatal flaw:

They neglect native app preloading!

In simple terms, user acquisition is the need to capture eyeballs and cut through the clutter of the app discovery process. It is the process of generating app awareness and building strong relationships with your target market demographic. Understanding the basics, it is clear that native app preloading solutions are a highly visible way to educate and engage your target users. By focusing on exclusive relationships with leading carriers, including access to millions of premium customers activating new devices each month, native app preloading can put your app on the most exclusive consumer real estate available…

The mobile phone home screen.

As you may not be very familiar with the concept of native app preloading, we have put together a basic guide on “the what,” “the how,” and “the why,” of native app preloading.

Let’s take a look!

Native App Preloads – “The What”

What exactly is native app preloading?

Mobile app preloading is a revolutionary delivery service that allows mobile operators to seamlessly manage applications uploaded to a phone upon first boot. While a user’s phone is engaging in its initialization process, the mobile applications that are specific to that user’s demographic are downloaded onto the device. Typically offered by service providers at a cost-per-install payment plan that allows advertisers to take advantage of the delivery system, it is a highly cost effective option for user acquisition and app delivery in the digital age.

Going hand-in-hand with native app preloading, the rate of “mobile app installation” is another vital success determining factor that is often overlooked by today’s advertisers, publishers, and developers. As many publishers get paid for ad hosting based on the the number of installs that their app receives as part of an ad campaign, native app preloading offers a lucrative and direct line to target app users.

It is here where mobile carriers are starting to change the user acquisition game with new and innovative partnerships. Global carriers, such as Verizon and T-Mobile, now provide preloading partnerships and solutions that do not disrupt the phone setup process of mobile users. These users, as an added benefit, have the ability to delete any unwanted apps, and developers/advertisers are able to work with top carriers in order to customize their specific acquisition needs.

As a result, publishers and developers can now control, manage, and monetize their preloaded applications with ease.

Native App Preloads – “The How”

Turning to our second question, let’s focus on the actual functionality of native app preloads:

How exactly do they work?

Looking at the native app preload scene today, it is clear that successful preloading campaigns begin and end with a focus on the user.

By engaging in advanced user profiling, developers can easily acquire target market demographics (i.e. age, gender, location, and device model) and select the most relevant apps for these specific users. When combined with OEM partnerships, these apps can then be installed while a device is authenticating on first boot with zero user disruption, as well as real time delivery. It truly is imperative to understand that not all app preloading campaigns are created equal. As we begin 2017, the longstanding “bloatware” debate between mobile purists and the new generation of mobile users rages on, with no sign of reaching its end. The term “bloatware,” according to the Android Dictionary, refers to:

“Applications — usually unwanted — that are preloaded onto a device. It’s a bit subjective as to what constitutes bloatware…”

The key term to note within the definition is “subjective.” This refers to one of the most common misconceptions when it comes to native app preloading — i.e. that all preloaded apps are unwanted, non-negotiable, and intrusive. Yet, as we all know from our experiences unpackaging and turning on new phones, this is simply not true. Yes, some preloaded applications (either by the manufacturer or at the request of the carrier) are unwanted, but what mobile users deem to be bloatware really depends on their subjective preferences.

Don’t like apps that are tied to Google services? The apps are bloatware…

Love apps that are tied to Google services? The apps are value-driven…

It is important to remember that one user’s bloatware is another user’s favorite application. In 2017, technology has freed us from the archaic preload processes of the past. The native app preloading of today is driven by intelligent and dynamic AI decision making logic. Today’s preloaded apps are specifically tailored to their users, and this results in a smarter, more engaging, and user friendly experience. Not only do publishers now have the ability to customize their app preloading campaigns, but mobile users, whether they prefer Apple or Android, also have the ability to delete the majority of preloaded applications. Recalling Apple’s infamous U2 fiasco from a few years back, the ability to delete preloaded apps is especially important when it comes to those rare times that a preloaded app happens to miss its mark in regards to its target user.

As a final point, it is also important to note that preloaded apps do not automatically count against a mobile users data usage. Therefore, if a mobile user has a preference for an app that has been preloaded, it is a win for all the parties involved in the preloading process.

Native App Preloads – “The Why”

As previously stated in the introduction, when it comes to user acquisition and visibility, the mobile phone home screen is the most valuable piece of user real estate that exists. It has long been understood, with the average person checking their device more than 40x per day, that the mobile home screen is the most direct point of contact between publishers, advertisers, and app users.

It is here that we find ourselves confronted with our final native app preload inquiry:

Why go with native app preloading?

While the previous sections have not so subtly hinted at the many great benefits of native app preloading, we should finish with a quick review of the diverse advantages that native app preloading offers publishers and advertisers alike. Compared to traditional methods of user application (i.e. paid advertising and organic channels), the competitive market advantages offered by native app preloading are tremendous. Not only is user acquisition expedited, but the process of capturing users is fully customizable, and can be based on the characteristics of the specific UX campaign and app in question.

As a necessary component of any multi-prong digital age strategy, some additional benefits of native app preloading include:

  • Relevancy: Native app preloads, by their very nature, require a certain degree of relevancy due to their creative development and custom implementation. As users and advertisers alike are continuously provided feedback, native app preloads present the best opportunity to deliver relevant and compelling apps.
  • Higher Conversion Rates: With native app preload installs achieving average conversions rates as high as 25% (as compared to 1-2% with traditional paid advertising), native app preloads present a feasible means of avoiding costly ad campaigns, grabbing the attention of thousands of digital age customers, and providing a remarkably better brand experience.
  • Less “Exit Points”: Native app preloads are helping carriers, publishers, and advertisers come face-to-face with one of the greatest challenges of the digital age, i.e. user exit points. Traditional display advertising presents multiple points of exit throughout the app install process, and as a result, advertisers and publishers can easily lose a potential customer. Slow load times and the mundane “click, click, click” of traditional app installation are things of the past when it comes to native app preloads.
  • User Engagement: Native advertising, as a whole, is much more effective in driving user engagement than traditional marketing channels (i.e. banners, organic, ASO, etc). They not only register a 18% higher lift in purchase intent when compared to banner ads, but they are also viewed 52% more frequently.
  • Scalability: With media buyers set to spend $84.5 billion on mobile advertising by 2020, the fast growing ad format can be found in third-party in-app native advertising. Understanding this, the most efficient way to reach scalability is to use native app preloading as a means to reach your target users where they spend the majority of their time, i.e. their mobile phone home screen.

Recognizing the great benefits listed above, and the fact that over 70% of app usage comes from the top 200 apps on the Google Play and iOS App Store, native app preloading technology presents a compelling opportunity to engage the right users, at the right time, and through a global targeting strategy.

In Conclusion…

With “the what,” “the why,” and “the how” now fully answered in regards to native app preloading, developers, publishers, and advertisers alike should look to leverage and integrate this great tool as a key component to their value driven media toolkit strategy. Failure to do so could ultimately impact the reach of your app driven success in the digital age.