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Big Spenders, Smart Purchases: Whales Drive Mobile Profit

Posted Apr 7, 2016

The reports are in and despite a small dip as a share of combined app downloads in 2015, games actually increased to 80% of overall app spending! That’s another year of mobile game developers and publishers proving once again that mobile is the space to be in.

These awesome numbers come from App Annie’s Gaming Spotlight 2015 Review, released last week.

Additionally, volatility amongst the most successful apps is decreasing as large mobile publishers become more sophisticated in their engagement and retention strategies. Compared to handheld games, only one of the top five grossing titles on Google Play and two of the top give grossing titles on the App Store premiered in 2015. On handheld game consoles, all but one was released last year.

Where the Whales Fit

WhalesThe top five success and stability has been good news for other developers and publishers as well. A small subset of customers still make up the vast majority of spend across mobile gaming, but true “casual” users are slowly growing more comfortable with in-app purchases as well, bringing up revenues across the mobile space.

Interestingly, the initial idea that whales are users who purchase indiscriminately with poor impulse control seems to be changing as these users prove they’re smarter than the stereotype. “Whales” take on average 18 days to make their first purchase, emphasizing retention as the most important part of gaining that first, very literal buy-in.

Big spenders are clearly more strategic purchasers than many experts have given them credit for. They’re learning their favorite games, and purchasing when it’s most beneficial to them, not giving in to their impulses at the first opportunity.

As engagement strategies and techniques spread throughout the industry, effective techniques keep players in apps longer. This increases their willingness to view ads when presented smartly, and purchase IAP.

To continue to grow revenues through 2016 and beyond, successful developers and publishers need to continue refining their monetization strategies for whales and other users alike. The key is not only to target users at the right time, but with the right products – whether that product is a traditional ad, rewarded video, or just the right IAP offering for that moment.

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Jonathan

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