Mobile app frauds increased in 2021: AppsFlyer report


AppsFlyer launched the State of App Marketing in India 2022 Report, highlighting the meteoric growth, challenges and opportunities of the Indian mobile market in 2021 as new users from semi-urban and rural India significantly contributed to the rise in the app economy. The emergence of new players amplified the competition and 57% uninstalls were recorded on an average in the first day itself. From a critical lens, despite posing competition, these new players have not expanded the realms of their user acquisition strategies. The quest for installs became intense with the share of NOIs rising from 8.3% to almost 70% of total installs (from 2020 to 2021). With 83% of non-organic installs stemming from non-metro cities, adopting a focused regional strategy will be the promising next step for new user growth. On the other hand, the looming uncertainty around the continuously evolving privacy measures has demanded marketers to become more agile. The need of the hour for marketers is to focus on optimizing their measurement methodologies to have an edge over their competitors.

The study represents an analysis of 8,168 apps covering verticals like Gaming, Shopping, Finance, Entertainment, Travel, Food & Drink, News, Utilities, Health & Fitness, and Education. Data sample also includes 8.9 billion installs, 565 billion app sessions, and 5.8 billion remarketing conversions (app opens) recorded in India from January 1st to November 30th, 2021.

Sanjay Trisal, General Manager, INSEA/ANZ, AppsFlyer, “The report is a complete package of valuable insights, data, and recommendations on today’s app economy. The New Bharat that lives within Tier-II cities and beyond has been key behind India’s explosive app growth. With an impressive spike in markets other than India’s top cities over the last year, these New Bharat users are now actively contributing to India’s mobile-first economy. Financial inclusion and self-reliance in rural and semi-urban areas are rising – the New Bharat users being responsible for this surge – as more and more users become digitally savvy and hyperconnected. And this growth is here to stay as India reaches a billion mobile users.

The five I’s of intent, inclusion, investment, infrastructure, and innovation drive growth and progress in these areas, which are now at par with the metros. Pursuing growth in rural and semi-urban markets with a well-defined regional strategy and vernacular content, particularly in Finance, Gaming, News, Shopping, Utilities, and Entertainment categories, will be a promising approach for app marketers to realize the potential of New Bharat. Further, the share of paying non-organic users saw a significant increase (47%), coinciding with lockdowns in several key states during the second wave, indicating that in-app purchases tend to be seasonal or event-driven. Taking a cue from this, marketers can time their regional campaigns to make the most of the event-driven or seasonal increase in user activity vis-à-vis purchase.

The overall fraud rate in India (19.61%) was significantly higher than the global rate. It continues to be a rising challenge, with privacy regulations limiting access to granular data. Hence, investing in fraud prevention and detection solutions (especially in Food & Drink, Travel, Entertainment, and Finance app categories) will help in the ability to measure, attribute and optimize marketing activities.”

Remarketing to drive growth and retention: In 2021, the likelihood of 30-day retention rate of re-marketed users was seen to be 63% more than that of non-remarketed users. With 3x more likelihood of app stickiness, a high retention rate among remarketed users was seen in the entertainment category as opposed to the non-remarketed install base. While the overall remarketing adoption rate dropped by 15%, Health & Fitness category saw an increased remarketing adoption by 71%. Remarketing has been one of the most cost-effective strategies to boost retention (mainly among Entertainment, Finance, and Food & Drink apps), drive user growth, revenue and reduce uninstall rate and marketers continue to realise remarketing’s value amidst the growing app economy. Relooking at the measurement frameworks to optimize the remarketing strategies will be an important focus area for marketers to drive growth and retention in 2022.

Lower tiers to be the game-changers: Rural India demonstrates a promising opportunity for app marketers (particularly in Finance, Gaming, News, Shopping, Utilities, and Entertainment) with the surge in rural mobile-first users while overall share of NOI of India’s largest metropolitan cities dipped. These metropolitan cities accounted for 12% of all organic installs whereas almost half of all non-organic installs were found to be from 6 states including Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra (with almost 12%, ranked 2nd in NOI), Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. A well calibrated semi-urban and rural strategy will help marketers to expand their user base further.

Contrasting trends in Android and iOS: Categories like Travel (4.65%) and Food & Drink (2.51%) are more popular on iOS, while Finance, Health & Fitness, and Shopping also have higher-than-average usage among iOS users. The retention rate in iOS and Android have demonstrated substantial variations vis-à-vis last year. Remaining constant (2.5% in last two years), iOS retention rate became twice that of Android (dropping from 2.5% in 2019 to 1.23% in 2021). While Android should continue to be a 2022 focus area owing to the country’s appetite for Android and rising Chinese OEMs, the great overall lifetime value, better retention rates and higher share of paying users (more than twice of Android) that iOS offers would be a sufficient ground for marketers to target premium segments in popular iOS verticals.

Mobile ad fraud seeps into non-finance categories: Due to its hyper-growth, the Food & Drink sector suffered heavily from mobile ad fraud with a 37.43% fraud rate followed by Travel, Entertainment and Finance. Utilities, Health & Fitness, and Education sector (for once, Finance did not report the highest fraud rate). The trend highlighted that larger apps (by app install volume) tend to have a higher proportion of app installs attributed to fraud. Also, Android apps were more impacted by fraud than iOS apps, although iOS apps were comparatively more vulnerable to click flooding. Click flooding was seen to be a major concern for Gaming, where almost two-thirds of fraudulent installs were linked to that fraud activity.


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