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Mobile User Frustrations: Paid Content and App Updates

Posted May 3, 2016

With app growth and user retention a top concern for mobile publishers, it’s important to understand the aspects of mobile apps that make users tick. Examining the data from a recent survey of nearly 6,000 mobile users published by Business Insider, a few trends are clear.

adcolony - mobile user frustrations & attitudes toward mobile apps

Simply, mobile users are not inclined to pay for premium content. A vast majority (78%) only install free apps, and only a small fraction (23%) feel that apps are worth the money they invest in them.

While some paid app publishers are hopeful that user sentiment will shift in their favor as users spend an increasing amount of time on their mobile devices and in-app, they must not hold their breath. Last year, 75% of mobile app users reported that they expect mobile content to be free. This year, 78% only install free content. If anything, the mobile user’s expectation for free content has only intensified.

This trend is even stronger among casual gamers and entertainment seekers. Combined, these groups accounted for 33% of total respondents.  Interestingly, they also were the groups most apt to be frustrated by app updates.

While the data regarding app update frustration may seem insignificant on the surface, it is important to note the language used in the survey. Across the board, half of all mobile users surveyed felt that app updates are frustrating, not a mild inconvenience or somewhat annoying, but frustrating. A secondary emotion to exasperation and anger, frustration is hardly the emotion mobile publishers would wish to evoke of their users.

Granted, many mobile publishers with to frequently update their apps to refresh content, add new features, and alleviate user concerns that often express themselves via negative reviews on the app stores. To address these needs without frustrating users, some have called for publishers to turn to targeted, micro-updates for apps. Meanwhile, other publishers are becoming more savvy with with their content delivery and turning to third party solutions for dynamic content delivery, from interstitial videos to supplement existing app content to custom, in-app messaging that updates in real time.

Lessons for Mobile Publishers
So what does all of this mean for mobile app publishers? Simply, mobile users expect a painless experience, whether pain is caused by an app’s price tag or the time it takes to update an app. As such, it is imperative for mobile publishers to consider freemium monetization solutions and seamless means of updating their apps.

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